A Queensland Supreme Court justice has criticised NSW for the way in which it introduced mandatory sentences for drunken, fatal assaults.
A Queensland judge has criticised former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell for introducing mandatory eight-year jail terms for those convicted of fatal one-punch assaults while drunk.
Kieran Loveridge last week had his minimum sentence for the manslaughter of teenager Thomas Kelly almost doubled to seven years, after an appeal by the NSW director of public prosecutions to his original November sentence.
His unprovoked attack in Sydney’s King Cross in July 2012 sparked community outrage and spurred the O’Farrell government into introducing tough anti-violence measures.
This included eight-year minimum jail terms for those convicted of fatal one-punch assaults while intoxicated.
Queensland Supreme Court justice Philip McMurdo said while Mr Kelly’s death was indisputably tragic, he was disappointed that NSW introduced new mandatory sentencing laws as Loveridge’s case was still before the courts.
“The then premier of New South Wales said that these laws would not be necessary if the judiciary was doing its job,” he said in a Darwin speech on Wednesday night to the Supreme and Federal Court Judges’ Conference.
“Yet the particular case which had stirred the government to this response was one which was still before the courts and the law had not previously required that intoxication was to be an aggravating factor.”
In February, NSW Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Bathurst said it was a mistake to regard an excessively punitive approach as the only way courts could recognise the suffering of violent crime victims.