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Judgment handed down in DPP v Bowden

23 November 2016

The Court of Appeal today reaffirmed the need for heavier sentences for home invasions. The Court has previously stated that sentencing practice for this type of offending (described as ‘confrontational aggravated burglary’) needed to change —

so that sentences would properly reflect the gravity of the offending and the guidance provided by the maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.

The Court allowed an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions against the sentence imposed on Shane Bowden, who broke into a house at night with a female co-offender. Bowden was wearing camouflage and night goggles and was armed with a hunting knife. The pair fought with the occupants, injured them and stole $700.

Bowden pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, two charges of recklessly causing injury and theft. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on the aggravated burglary charge. His co-offender, who was the instigator of the home invasion, was sentenced to an 18 month community correction order, with 200 hours of unpaid work. The DPP did not appeal against that sentence.

The Court concluded that the sentence of three years imposed on Bowden was manifestly inadequate. In resentencing him, the Court said that it was constrained by the principle of parity, which requires appropriate relativity between the sentences imposed on co-offenders:

The parity principle means that the sentence we propose is substantially less than would otherwise have been the case. As we have sought to emphasise, this is no mere technicality. Parity of treatment of co-offenders is a fundamental requirement of justice and the rule of law.

The Court resentenced Bowden to four years’ imprisonment on the charge of aggravated burglary. Had it not been for the constraint of parity, the Court said, the sentence on that charge would have been six years and six months’ imprisonment.
NOTE: This summary is necessarily incomplete. It is not intended as a substitute for the Court’s reasons or to be used in any later consideration of the Court’s reasons. The only authoritative pronouncement of the Court’s reasons and conclusions is that contained in the published reasons for judgment.

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