Written by Bill Doogue. Partner, Doogue O’Brien George Criminal Defence Lawyers
What was once confined to dinner-party conversation; or parent’s schoolyard rumination; maybe you could throw in a few random picketers here and there, has now become instant worldwide mass hysteria. Social media is the medium and today’s headline “Why was Adrian Bayley not sentenced to life without parole?”
I understand the human reaction. Again, this case resonated. With Melburnians, especially. It was close to home. But, will whipping ourselves into a frenzy over every sentencing achieve anything? Maybe I am getting too old but the constant desire to emote over ill-conceived ideas leaves me fairly cold.
Let’s keep it simple. There are three reasons we can tone down the outrage over the Adrian Bayley murder sentence;
His current age and spending the next 35 years in prison.
Adrian Bayley, after receiving 35 years, will be released when he is 75. People, often, do not survive long prison sentences. The hygiene is poor, the stress levels are enormous and the food is terrible. Have a look at the decline in health of Tognolini or Mokbel’s heart condition, triggered so soon into his sentence. These problems are amplified for those prisoners who are identified as needing special conditions “for their security”. They can look forward to long periods in solitary confinement.
I’d be astounded, if he was released at 75, that he would have much health left. To be truthful, it will astound me if he does not die in gaol.
There are more charges to be sentenced.
Bayley has a further 2 sets of charges. If he is found guilty of these charges there’s a big chance the sentence will be cumulative. That is, some of the new sentence will be added to the old sentence. Which, will place him in his 80s before being released.
If he lives that long.
And for any stalwarts thinking about the possibility of him beating those charges, just ask yourself how you think a jury in Victoria is going to react to him.
Let’s have ourselves a history lesson.
Let’s look at Peter Knight who heads a long list of people who, it seems, are politically inconvenient to release. These are people they will legislate to keep in gaol (which I think is wrong, but that is another blog). He will never be released. The Government will block him or he will not get Parole till he is in his 80s because of compliance issues.
Now, I for one am doubtful Adrian Bayley can jump all three of these hurdles.
There is one further point to raise regarding Justice Nettle’s decision. The Courts have to recognize the savings to the system on a plea of guilty. They have to. They must reflect that in the sentence if someone pleads guilty to a charge.
Could you imagine what would happen if the plea was not recognized in the sentence as a positive factor? How do I advise a client that he or she would get no benefit for a plea of guilty and you are going to get a life sentence?
They would plead not guilty. With an extremely slim chance of success, but some chance, they’ll roll the dice. What would be the point of a guilty plea? There would be no point. They may as well take the gamble.
So let’s tone down the emoting and recognize that sentencing is a very difficult and complex process that needs to achieve more than pleasing the twitterverse.
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