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Worrals in the wilds 20th Mar 2014 13:08

Larry Pickering presents an interesting case against mandatory minimum sentencing in his latest editorial. Many (even - maybe that should be 'particularly' - those who can't stand him) might find it worth reading.
It is. Every now and again Pickering makes a decent point.
Mandatory sentencing is policially fashionable. Pollies adore it because it gives them the opportunity to be seen to be Doing Something :bored: without actually making an effort. It's easier for them to have a crack at the judiciary than examine the governance issues that contribute to crime... for instance the hot potato of pub opening hours :ouch:.

Do they want to discuss this governance issue and its contribution to the rates of assaults and violence? Hell no. That would involve annoying a lot of political contributors (to both sides of politics) who run pubs, and that could get ugly. Now, what was that soundbite about mandatory sentencing again? That sounds much easier to spruik on about. :ugh:After all, the judiciary make no financial contributions to political parties and are largely contrained from commenting publically by both professional privelige and a desire to be made SCs/QCs or Chief Justice :bored:.

It ignores the basic fact that almost any dispute involves complex circumstances. That is why the law is generally not cut and dried, even if the statutes seem that way. Pollies like cut and dried; it makes for easy politics. The media also do their best to make complicated issues cut and dried, because then they can sell them as soundbites :ugh:. Both groups continually try to turn complex human interactions into Big Simple Emotive Stories because that suits their interests. However, that doesn't usually provide justice.

Mandatory sentencing works well for simple offences. Park your car in a bus zone; here is the penalty. Get caught driving your car 15-30 kmph over the posted speed limit; here's your fine. Simple penalties work for simple wrongs, but when it comes to more complex crimes then there are more factors at play.

Pickering's example isn't even all that complex, but it illustrates the issues that come to play. This is why we (as taxpayers and citizens) maintain a judiciary; to examine the issues within disputes and sentence or award damages accordingly. This is why we maintain the jury system for criminal trials, even though each member of the jury has to take time off work to hear the facts and make their group decision based on what they hear. That is why we have a 1000 year old justice system that is based upon each party being able to voice their side of the story before an impartial judge (initally the King or his representative); a system that pre-dates politicians by about 500 years and the media by another 400. We have a complex system because we live in a complex society; a society that recognizes strange entities like trusts, corporations and crimes. A bozo politician advocating simple solutions to such complex issues should be treated with suspicion, because these are not simple issues; so therefore, what is his/her intention? Is it about resolving the issue, or about cheap political points?

I suspect that many pollies (and definitely the media) would prefer that we made it simple. They'd prefer we left it all to them to decide on our behalf. Every time I hear a pollie or a media gob advocating mandatory sentencing I get very suspicious about their intent :suspect: , because what they're really suggesting is weakening the judiciary's power; a power that was hard fought for (and won) in the face of both political and royal opposition.

The govenment should govern and the judiciary should judge; when these functions get muddied then I think it weakens the separation of powers. Invariably mandatory sentencing is advocated by pollies not judges; usually (IMO) to score cheap political points with the media rather than to ensure actual justice. :yuk:

500N 20th Mar 2014 16:34


Use the AS policies of the two Gov'ts as an example.

The ABC and two dads etc were quite happy to promote what they saw as a good policy (Labor) even though it cost 1000 lives but castigate TA for his policy even though one of the stated objectives was to stop the boats to stop the drownings.

And it took a few goes for the other side to "get it", although some are still sprouting ideology over life.

I notice the BBC person who reviewed the ABC re bias found 4 instances only ! Now that is a surprise.

Captain Sand Dune 20th Mar 2014 20:25

I know I sound like a broken record on this subject, but here’s yet another example of a magistrate with absolutely no connection with reality. This magistrate even goes so far as to suggest that the campaign against ‘coward punches’ is being driven by the media.
I suggest that the next time this scrote thumps someone it will be on this magistrates head. Australia's judiciary are time and again proving they have little interest in enforcing the communities’ expectations of justice.

A WELL-CONNECTED law clerk has escaped punishment after a cowardly king-hit in a pub which a lenient magistrate has said was not “gratuitous violence”, sparking concern at the highest levels of government and outrage among anti-violence campaigners.
In letting Virgil Macquarie Power, 29, off without a conviction, Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan also scoffed at campaigns against coward punches being prioritised over domestic violence, which she said was more common. Ms Callaghan concluded Power’s single violent punch, which caused almost $24,000 damage to his victim’s face, was not an example of “gratuitous violence”.
Mr Power, who hails from one of Queensland’s most distinguished legal dynasties, walked away with 240 hours’ community service even while Ms Callaghan admitted she would normally consider a jail sentence for violence.
She said Power’s offer to pay all medical costs showed he was remorseful.
The Courier-Mail understands police prosecutors are outraged and are considering appealing the sentence.
The magistrate’s comments follow two deaths from coward punches on the Sunshine Coast and come amid widespread community support for tougher sentencing for alcohol-fuelled violence. However during the court hearing, Ms Callaghan brushed over the police prosecutor’s pointed comments about One Punch Can Kill campaigns, responding that they were being run by editors of newspapers. Her decision and comments have raised concerns at the highest levels of government and outraged anti-violence campaigners.
Premier Campbell Newman said while he cannot comment on individual cases, “it appeared some decisions failed to reflect community expectations”. Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said: “I’m concerned that a conviction was not recorded and that this person received community service and no jail time at all.’’ Anti-violence advocate Paul Stanley slammed Ms Callaghan, describing her attitude towards one-punch violence as “bulls**t”. “We’re not differentiating between domestic violence and any other type of violence, the point is people die.’’ Ross Thompson of the Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group called the sentence “disgusting” and said Ms Callaghan’s comments “were flippant” and showed how out of touch she was with community values.
Revealing security footage shows Mr Power landed one powerfully swift punch to Michael Halbauer’s head at Laguna Jacks steak house in Noosa Heads in September.
The 23-year-old victim was taken by surprise and collapsed to the floor face first. He suffered extensive damage to his face and teeth and a $23,278 medical bill, which included $15,867 for rhinoplasty surgery.
Premier Campbell Newman rejected assertions that “concern over coward punches was generated by media campaigns”. “In recent months the Government has been seeking the views of Queenslanders about alcohol fuelled violence and it is apparent there is a genuine and widespread concern over this issue,” Mr Newman said. “I fully understand why there are community calls for mandatory sentencing when it would appear some decisions fail to reflect community expectations.”
Mr Bleijie told ABC radio: “If you watch the video of this coward punch, what concerns me most is that the particular judicial officer was saying these were a figment of imagination of editor or journalists.
“I’m from the Sunshine Coast and we’ve had two gentlemen die of coward punches in the last little while. It’s not figure of anyone’s imaginations.’’ He said he was keeping a “watching brief” on the case as police considered an appeal. “There may be avenues for me as well.”
Anti-violence advocate Paul Stanley, whose son Matthew, 15, was punched and killed by another teen at a birthday party in 2006, said Ms Callaghan’s sentencing was grossly unfair. “This scum walked up to the guy and belted him. End of story.
“It’s disgraceful that a judge can turn around and go ‘Oh, There are worse things. Oh, he’s sorry because he’s got $24,000 in his hip pocket. That’s bull**t’,” Mr Stanley said. He said the suggestion that addressing alcohol-fuelled violence wasn’t as important tackling domestic violence was ridiculous.

Sunshine Coast magistrate Bernadette Callaghan has come under fire for lenient sentencing in the past. “If you ever have to kneel beside your son when he’s lying on the ground in a pool of blood with blood coming out of his mouth and nose and ears and then try to turn around and say ‘It’s not as bad as something or other or something else’ that is absolute and utter garbage.”
Mr Stanley said he was glad the media ran one punch can kill campaigns. “It was almost the same as what happened to my son,” Mr Stanley, sho established the Matthew Stanley Foundation after his son’s death, said. “A guy walked up to Matthew and punched him. “These scum are walking the streets, hitting people committing acts of violence and getting away with it. “We’re not differentiating between domestic violence and any other type of violence, the point is people die.
“It doesn’t matter who the person is, this perpetrator is now able to walk the streets again.’’
Ross Thompson said he intended to contact Mr Bleijie to make a formal complaint against the decision. “I’m angry. I don’t get angry, but I’ve been stewing on this all morning. I saw it this morning at 5 o’clock when I woke up and all I saw then was red, and I haven’t gone past that. “The justice system here is absolutely truly blind. They need to open their eyes,” he said.
Mr Thompson said the suggestion by Ms Callaghan that the One Punch Can Kill campaign was a “beat-up” was a slap in the face for those who had spent tireless hours working to curb violence in the community. “All the judiciary are, are feeding it. You know, they’re giving this generation a … free hit. “How are they preventing this violence from happening? Certainly not by giving these sorts of decisions and making these sorts of comments,” he said.
In the coward punch case, Mr Power pleaded guilty and got the best legal representation to try to minimise the damage. He hired one of Queensland’s leading and most expensive criminal lawyers, Tony Glynn QC, who has represented the likes of murderer Max Sica and con man Peter Foster. Mr Glynn impressed the magistrate with a pile of 20 references which he furnished to the court, which included a number of legal professionals, some of whom Ms Callaghan acknowledged had appeared before her in court.
Mr Power, a law graduate whose direct paternal line traces back to the first Queensland-born Supreme Court Judge Virgil Power (1895-1910), is the fifth generation of Virgil Power to enter the profession.
In sentencing, Ms Callaghan took Mr Power’s legal ambitions into consideration and also noted the punch was “out of character”.
Police alleged there was “no suggestion” the victim had spoken to Mr Power that night but Ms Callaghan accepted the defence’s submission that Mr Power had been intimidated by him earlier in the night. She accepted Mr Power had punched the victim because he was “in fear of the complainant” and because his own experiences as an assault victim made him nervous. “Because of this, I do find that this assault could not be defined as gratuitous violence,” she said.
In the same week Ms Callaghan let Virgil Power walk, she gave two years’ probation and no jail sentence to Joshua Wood, whose unprovoked and random single punch to the face of Thomas Cervi in Noosa broke his palate and caused $10,000 dental damage.
Police prosecutor Sgt Phil Stephens told the court Mr Halbauer had been celebrating his birthday and walked inside from the outside balcony to buy a drink. The security tape shows Mr Halbauer being splashed with the contents of a drink unexpectedly hurled at his back by Mr Power. As he turns around, with his wallet in both hands, Mr Halbauer is punched to the left side of his face by a single right-fist strike.
Sgt Stephens said the attack was “out of the blue”, indefensible and an example of “gratuitous violence”.
However Ms Callaghan indicated she did not class this attack in that category.
QUEENSLAND magistrate Bernadette Callaghan has scoffed at the prominence of “one punch can kill” campaigns. The Sunshine Coast magistrate argued the campaigns were driven by “editors of newspapers” and the crime was not as common as domestic violence.
During a hearing for 29-year-old Virgil Macquarie Power, who pleaded guilty to a coward punch on a stranger, Ms Callaghan told the court campaigns against alcohol-fuelled violence were given priority ahead of domestic violence.
The Queensland and NSW governments have made curbing alcohol-fuelled violence a priority, while community groups such as the Matthew Stanley Foundation have campaigned to discourage would-be attackers.
At one point during Power’s hearing, prosecutor Sergeant Phil Stephens pointed out incidents of violent assaults were becoming “quite common these days”.
Ms Callaghan responded with “Not as common as domestic violence”, before clarifying she was making the comment as an aside.
“There are plenty of media campaigns in relation to the ‘one punch can kill’, and certainly there is an attitude of the community that this type of behaviour is unacceptable,” Sgt Stephens said.
Ms Callaghan interjected: “Editors of newspapers, perhaps. Yes. Run the community campaign as opposed to running a campaign against domestic violence.”

Andu 20th Mar 2014 21:53

Capt SD, she's been 'got at' big time by the family, for Junior won't be able to practise law if he has a had a conviction lodged against his name. It's like something you'd read from Frank Hardy's "Power Without Glory"; the Big End of Town looks after its own, particularly its children. It would have been made very clear to that magistrate, no doubt very subtly, and quite probably by a 'friend' who could never be linked to the family, that her career prospects would probably be a tad on the bleakish side if she was to come to the wrong conclusion about Junior's lack of guilt.

It stinks to high heaven, but is probably far better than what happens in similar circumstances in some countries, where the poor bastard with the broken face would simply disappear along with the case against Junior, who will obviously go on to be a partner in the family law firm and very much part of the Queensland Establishment.

I went to school with a couple of utter arseholes like that, who, without family connections, would have been kicked out of the school before they were halfway through their secondary education. And rather than becoming lawyers in the family law firm, or joining dad's real estate agency or used car franchise, they wouldn't have progressed beyond being bovverboys for hire in the local downmarket pub.

Meanwhile, (and as predicted), I see the ALPBC are starting the 'damn with faint praise' campaign against Tony Abbott's premature (for it was) announcement re MH370: "...it's been eighteen hours now," (since TA's statement to Parliament) "and still no sighting." (ALPBC's Linda Mothram on 702 this morning.)

He really should have held off until someone had Mark 1 eyeballs on the debris, or even better, had it in hand.

500N 20th Mar 2014 22:23

I think it was this thread that discussed crime families / cultures.

I notice in Melbourne the Police hammering Middle eastern crime gangs
with the ME Task force.

As well as the bikies of course who seem to get a monthly dose of hit over the head with a sledgehammer !

parabellum 20th Mar 2014 23:52

And the Lebanese community manage to produce their very own bikie gangs too!

7x7 21st Mar 2014 00:11

parrabellum, I see the Lebanese and the bikie gangs in a slightly different light. Their virtual takeover of the major bike gangs (with quite a few of them never once throwing a leg over a saddle seat) could almost be seen as a forerunner of what's in store for the whole country (thank you, Malcolm Fraser, Paul Keating and those who have followed in your misguided footsteps).

Simply through procreating at an exponentially greater rate than the rest of the population, the "Lebanese" (many of whom, of course, are not - but everyone knows who I mean) will, sooner than many appreciate, wield such political power that they will "take over" an increasingly large number of other institutions in this country until they will be calling the shots in many things, far, far before they reach 51% of the population.

There'll be many who'll pooh hoo such a notion, but that doesn't make it any less true. Take a look at Malmo in Sweden, Marseilles in France, and Bradford in the UK and tell me that somehow we here in Australia will get it right were they have not.

Worrals in the wilds 21st Mar 2014 00:22

The dark side of the law :(, though there's no suggestion the other offender (Wood) had any posh connections.

Callaghan's been criticised for light sentencing before these two cases. IIRC there are a couple of other magistrates in the Sunshine Coast area who are also very lenient.

However, I am still opposed to mandatory sentencing, particularly if Boy Wonder wants it. My current POV is to reject anything Blieje supports on the basis that he's an ignorant, pompous, self important, rednecked little media tart.

Anthill 21st Mar 2014 04:26


No Cookies | The Courier-Mail

Daddy's law firm is where Virgil works. The details are given in the Courier-Mail article as Virgil Power & Co, Noosa, Qld.

Virgil Maquarie Power may not have received a conviction, but is name is all over the Internet and any google search will reveal his past.

Those who live around Noosa might consider the use of other law firms if they have an objection to Virgil jrs. behaviour.

It all reminds me of another nut-case who is walking around free when he should be in the Big House:

Road Rage Sentence - Today Tonight Adelaide

Edward Sullivan comes from a very wealthy family and lives in a magnificent pile on south Brisbane acreage. Mom often seen driving her Blue Rolls Royce. Eddie baby's sister is actress Lily Sullivan who starred in the Paul Hogan film 'Mental' - rather ironic, actually.

500N 21st Mar 2014 04:57

Interesting article re media coverage and lack of of the March in March marches !

Plus some other interesting insights into the left and right.

I did like this comment

"It is strange that people who despise the MSM so much are so angry at being ignored by it." :O :ok:

March in March: Two sides to the story we didn't run

Anthill 21st Mar 2014 10:24

Andu- I think at you are right!

SOPS 21st Mar 2014 14:49

Yep, the ABC can't help themselves. During the last 2 weeks of the MH 370 saga, the Malaysians have talked complete rubbish. It took them a week to confirm what they knew on day 1 , the aircraft had turned around. They make statements, deny they have said them, then deny they have denied the denial.

When Tony Abbott makes a clear and concise statement to the House and to Australia, the ABC has to criticise, saying he has jumped the gun.

I know which side I would prefer my information coming from.

SOPS 21st Mar 2014 15:00

And on another subject, while the mad marchers, or what ever the hell they are called, are quite happy to display vile slogans against Tony Abbott, similar placards such as Ditch the Witch against Gillard sent them into spontaneous meltdown.

Waste of space, the lot of them. Cancel their welfare payments and if they complain, ship them up to Manus to comfort their country shopper mates.

Clare Prop 21st Mar 2014 15:35

Back to the well connected kids in trouble with the law, who remembers this No Cookies | Perth Now
At least Ma Woolard lost her seat.

Anthill 22nd Mar 2014 00:24

Thanks Clare. Glad to see that the electorate could see what was going on. I understand that Dr Woolard sent a letter to her (then) constituents regarding Kate Campbell. It could be outside the statute of limitations but I wonder if Kate Campbell has shown that letter to a lawyer who specialises in the tort of defamation. My take on the letter is that Ms. Campbell has been portrayed as unreasonably vexatious in her claims for compensation. I would seek damages, but that's just me.

RJM 22nd Mar 2014 01:18

Speaking of getting away with it...

Adelaide Advertiser, Dec 9, 2013

HIT-RUN lawyer Eugene McGee lunched with friends yesterday as Attorney-General John Rau closed the final avenue of justice his victim's family sought.

Mr Rau said he would not refer the 2003 incident, in which McGee hit and killed cyclist Ian Humphrey, to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal for further action.

McGee hit and killed Mr Humphrey on Kapunda Rd between Kapunda and Gawler, fled the scene and then evaded police and alcohol testing before handing himself in hours later. He was fined $3100 for driving without due care.

Independent SA senator Nick Xenophon and the State Opposition urged Mr Rau to release the Crown Law advice that formed the basis of his decision.

"How it can be that a lawyer, an officer of the court, could leave a man for dead on the road, leave the scene of an accident and that not be professional misconduct is just staggering," Senator Xenophon, a long-time supporter of Mr Humphrey's widow Di Gilchrist-Humphrey, said.

"Show us the advice, otherwise his opinion and his decision not to act lacks credibility. He has made Eugene McGee's day, but has just prolonged the nightmare for the family of Ian Humphrey."

Opposition justice spokesman Stephen Wade also called for the release of the documents and said Mr Rau could overturn the Board's ruling not to ban Mr McGee from practising.

"Only by releasing the legal advice will the Attorney-General show that he has a genuine commitment to justice in the McGee case," he said.

The Legal Practitioners Conduct Board said this year Mr McGee was not guilty of "infamous" conduct and could continue practising. Its decision prompted calls for the Attorney General to review the ruling. But Mr Rau said Crown legal advice suggested the decision could not be challenged.

"I am not exactly powerless. I could have ignored my legal advice and done something that was illegal or improper. I chose to follow the advice," he said.

"I'm hemmed in by the law and the facts."

He would review the Legal Practitioners Act next year because the McGee case probe revealed shortcomings.

He had not apologised to Ms Gilchrist-Humphrey for the decision. She is expected to respond today.

Andu 22nd Mar 2014 07:07

Most will be aware that South Australia is heading for a repeat of the Rob Oakeshott/Tony Windsor 'situation' where two so-called Independents will hold the the balance of political power in that State by deciding which major Party they will lend their support to - which will decide which major Party forms a government and which will occupy the Opposition benches.

Now we hear on this evening's news that Mr Sutch, one of those two Independents, has just announced that he is about to go on "extended sick leave", and "extended" apparently may mean "many months".

To which I can only say "WTF?????"

How can this be an acceptable situation for the voters of South Australia? If this man even suspected he had a medical condition that might cause him to seek extended sick leave - possibly for many months - immediately after the election, why in the world did he stand for election? Surely to God it's time legislation was introduced demanding that candidates undergo a medical examination proving that they are fit to carry out their parliamentary duties before their candidature is accepted?

And surely the electors of this man's seat deserve representation - representation that can only be achieved by am immediate bye-election.

Captain Sand Dune 22nd Mar 2014 07:22

An offer he couldn't refuse or a threat he couldn't ignore?

owen meaney 22nd Mar 2014 10:04

Joey returns to wild after being shot in head with bow and arrow - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Rather cute that the joey was rescued and released, but the sense of outrage felt about some random idiot not chasing down a wounded animal and killing it is odd to me.

RJM 22nd Mar 2014 17:01

An offer he couldn't refuse or a threat he couldn't ignore?
Perhaps both...

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