12th December 2018

Once again CAA acknowledges with gratitude efforts of the Herald Sun newspaper, and in particular of Justin smith, (21/12/2018, p. 57) in pointing out the obvious, and ongoing, folly of our judicial officers’ sentencing practices.

Although we do not agree that the sentence meted out to a very, very negligent bus driver (who injured his passengers by crashing into a low bridge) was too severe, we fully concur that normally the sentences given to repeat, and dangerous, offenders are ludicrously lenient.

That is why, to some, the bus driver’s sentence seemed harsh.  That this previously blameless man was treated as other, worse, offenders are not!

CAA has noted that some judges have recently felt it necessary to acknowledge the public’s strong disagreement with Victoria’s sentencing practices – that is, to acknowledge, and even to attempt to justify their practices – but remarkably to apparently take no further notice of public disquiet.

Perhaps they will take notice of Justin smith.  They have clearly taken no notice of Parliament’s expanding use of mandatory sentencing rules, or the urgings of members of that Parliament, and certainly no notice of the statutory maximum penalties available to them;  serious repeat offenders who have committed extremely dangerous crimes are repeatedly let off with a very strong talking-to but very weak actual sentence.

No wonder we have repeat offenders.  There are clearly too few disadvantages in their chosen courses of conduct. They have learned.

Will our courts now listen, and learn?