Monday, 17 March 2014

What's going on with our legal system?

Australia; "The land of the fair go". Not any longer. Well certainly not if you place any faith in its justice system.

How many people, children included, need to be killed, raped, abused and/or assaulted by criminals with prior convictions before our system wakes up and changes?

It is common knowledge that our barristers, judges, lawyers and solicitors are amongst the best paid professionals in the world. Yet we have a justice system that is as fair as Essendon using peptides on their players.

60 Minutes ran a report last weekend on the murder of Daniel Morcombe. Daniel was abducted by Brett Cowan from a bus stop, was raped and then murdered.

Cowan was a repeat offender, having previously been charged on two separate occasions for child-sex related crimes. The first involved the abduction and rape of a seven year old boy in a Brisbane park. Cowan's sentence? Two years of which he only served a staggering fourteen months. Queensland District Court Judge Brian Boulton ruled that the seven-year-old victim was “not physically harmed” by the attack.

In 1993, Cowan again raped another six year old boy, physically abusing him and leaving him for dead in the boot of an old car with a punctured lung. Thankfully, he didn't die and managed to escape, but not from the psychological scars that have remained with him since. Cowan's sentence? Seven years, of which he served three and a half.

Heinous crimes. Unthinkable crimes. To commit these acts on anyone, especially young children is evil in its purest form. Cowan's punishment for two separate rapes and one count of attempted murder? In total, just over four and a half years. How just.

It's no great surprise that Cowan re-offended with the rape and murder of Morcombe. Why were Cowan's previous crimes punished so leniently? Why was Cowan even in a position to re-offend?

On a lesser scale of severity, yet still good examples of our inequitable justice system was the punishment given to former high-flying AFL player manager, Ricky Nixon.

Most people know the sad story of the de-railed life of Ricky Nixon. In 2012, he was charged with assaulting his former fiancé, Tegan Gould. The assault involved Nixon grabbing Tegan by the neck, pulling her hair, pushing her into a wall and striking her in the face. His sentence? 200 hours of unpaid community work as part of a 24 month community corrections order which also includes alcohol rehabilitation and a behavioural change program. You'd get more for theft.

During the court proceedings, Nixons' lawyer claimed that his client was of "good character". I'm not sure his former fiancé would back that up. I understand defending lawyers are acting for their clients, but Nixon pleaded guilty. Surely it would have been appropriate to leave that comment out, unless of course, claiming that the guilty is "of good character" reduces the inevitable sentence. Here-in lies the problem. A male can bash his fiancé, have a lawyer say he is "of good character" and walk away with community work owing.

Actor Matthew Newton was charged with assaulting his girlfriend, Brooke Satchwell, who ended up  in hospital with significant facial injuries. During the trial, District Court Judge Joseph Moore claimed Newton was a "gentleman" with the "utmost respect for women". He also claimed Newton would never assault a woman again. He was wrong, Newton went on to assault his next girlfriend, Rachael Taylor, but that's not the point. Moore dismissed the charge without even imposing a good behaviour bond.

Why are our judges, in effect, defending the guilty? Why does our legal system allow a pedophile to rape twice, attempt to kill a 6 year old, and walk out of jail less than five years later? Why was Jill Meagher's killer, Adrian Ernest Bayley, given parole after a string of violent rapes as well as punching a man unconscious whilst on parole? Of course we know what he went on to do.

We are arguably the biggest nanny state in the world with $400 plus fines for talking on a phone while driving, fines for jay-walking, substantial fines for driving 4% over the speed limit on a freeway, etc., etc yet we are incredibly lenient on those who are committing repeated, genuinely evil crimes.

In my opinion, judges and lawyers who allow this to happen, those who defend the guilty in cases of pedophilia, confessed murder, violence against women and children etc, have a lot of blood (figuratively speaking) on their hands. What kind of message does it send out to let the Matthew Newtons of the world off without even a good behaviour bond? What message does it tell young kids when serial, violent rapists get minimal time behind bars? How does this judicial sentencing give any peace at all to parents and families with young children?

Our judges and lawyers are supposed to be the protectors of our society. They are meant to ensure our community is rid of these criminals, to ensure they are in the best place to not re-offend. They are meant to protect and defend the common good, the people of the community. To defend criminal people, for money or otherwise, to claim they are "of good character" and to give them sentences as outlined above is nothing short of scandalous.

Our society is decaying and its foundations are imploding. Our protectors (the justice system) are not protecting. Our doctors are conflicted - saving lives in one room and ending others in the next via abortion and euthanasia. Our education curriculum is failing - my sister said half of year 7 class cannot do simple times tables, among other things my era could do in Grade 2. Failed marriages and relationships are on the increase. Infidelity is rife. Gender identity crisis is increasing. Hideous crimes aren't being punished. It's a bleak picture. 

It's time this country took a seriously hard look at its justice system because at the moment, it is failing us all badly. And the worst thing is, it is failing the most vulnerable, our children.

All the best,
Dom Meese

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Dom,

    Good piece about the legal system. cheers nickie