Man wins appeal for murder slashing prison time due to mental illness defence.
Criminal lawyer Joseph Correy of Australian Criminal Law Group represented the Sydney man appealing the sentence of 26 years imprisonment with 18 years non-parole set in 2013. The appeal was won on the grounds that the applicant was suffering from mental illness at the commission of the offence and when subsequently sentenced.
The man’s sentence was quashed in lieu of a new non-parole period of 16 years imprisonment with the man eligible for release two years earlier than the original sentence.
Australian Criminal Law Group did not represent than man during the original court proceedings where he was found guilty of murder and received the original sentence.
The murder conviction and sentencing details
In September 2013, the applicant was found guilty of murder after he had murdered a 16-year-old man at Bankstown train station two years prior in May 2011. The two men were known to each other being from different “groups” in the area. The incident was caught on CCTV footage which showed the altercation between the 2 men where the applicant stabs the deceased in the chest on the Blacktown train station platform, killing the man.
The murder happened after an earlier altercation between the deceased and the applicant where there were verbal insults yelled and a short physical conflict where the deceased appeared to have the upper hand. The applicant, intoxicated from earlier drinking with friends, become angry and frustrated, leaving to go home briefly and returning shortly after. On his return the applicant sought out the deceased in order to confront him with a knife, eventually leading to the stabbing and death.
During the sentencing hearing, counsel for the applicant tendered a psychological report by Dr Stephen Allnutt in which it was noted that the applicant was experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms following a prior kidnapping. The report concluded that the applicant would benefit from interventions in relation to violence and drugs and alcohol.
There were also statements read by friends and family on behalf of the applicant in which they testified that the applicant was not normally violent and that the applicant’s behaviour that day was out of character.
The applicant was sentenced to 26 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 18 years.
Mental illness submitted as reason for appealing murder sentence
The applicant was represented by Australian Criminal Law Groups leading Criminal Lawyer, Joseph Correy, who argued that the sentencing judge had failed to properly consider the mental wellness of the applicant at the time he committed the crime and or during sentencing. This was the grounds for the appeal.
The evidence showed that the applicant was suffering from PTSD at the time of the offence and when sentenced due to a prior kidnapping. However, during sentencing the applicants account of the kidnapping was “implicitly reject[ed]”.
It was submitted that the sentencing judge ought to have found reduced moral culpability even if there was no causal link between the applicant’s mental condition and his offending, although on the applicant’s case Dr Allnutt did find a causal connection.
It was further submitted that the applicant’s mental illness would make him a less appropriate vehicle for both general deterrence and specific deterrence and that his time in custody would be more onerous.
As a result of the appeal, the court of criminal appeals quashed the prior sentence. A new non parole period of 16 years imprisonment was imposed.
Mental Illness in Law
The courts have long acknowledged that those with mental health problems be treated with particular care when being sentenced. This often extends leniency to people diagnosed with conditions such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, bipolar, and schizophrenia.
The principles are derived from McClellan CJ at CL in De La Rosa where consideration to the sentencing of those with mental illness is summarised as follows:
“Where the state of a person’s mental health contributes to the commission of the offence in a material way, the offender’s moral culpability may be reduced. It may also have the consequence that an offender is an inappropriate vehicle for general deterrence resulting in a reduction in the sentence which would otherwise have been imposed.
It may mean that a custodial sentence may weigh more heavily on the person. Because the sentence will be more onerous for that person the length of the prison term or the conditions under which it is served may be reduced. It may reduce or eliminate the significance of specific deterrence.”
Australian Criminal Law Group are the best criminal lawyers for mental illness cases
Australian Criminal Law Group criminal lawyers are recognised for their compassion as well as their expertise in criminal law. Our criminal lawyers fight for the best results for their clients every time and feel passionately about helping those with mental illness, ensuring they get the best defence for their case.
Get in touch with Australian Criminal Law Group on (02) 8815 8167, at firstname.lastname@example.org or via website enquiry.
About Criminal Lawyer Joseph Corey
Joseph Corey is the cofounder of Australian Criminal Law Group and is the leading criminal lawyer for all complex criminal law matters. Recognised as the best criminal lawyer in Sydney by multiple third-party publications and industry bodies, Joseph Corey has a track record of success.
Joseph is an expert criminal lawyer for appeals and works with specialist appeals barristers for complex, higher court appeals, forming a powerhouse legal team.