31st October 2018

Andrew Bushnell in his article HS 31/10/18. “Give victims the right to appeal soft sentences,” is an excellent article and it is about time we had a serious discussion about the impact of sentencing on victims that is solution orientated. Victims not only suffer the consequences of the crime but are too often further traumatised by inadequate and charitable application of the sentences determined by our elected government.

Our Judiciary seem unable to comprehend the impact on victims or how the community may view their appallingly soft application of the law. They are very quick to criticise governments setting minimum sentencing legislation but fail to grasp that this would not be occurring if their sentencing reflected community expectations in the first place.

They also fail to pursue financial compensation from the perpetrators who may well be skint at court but will accumulate wealth at some point at which time they must pay for their crime. Jail time does not expunge the financial debt they owe a victim.

Your Honours have brought this on yourselves –no sympathy exists for your disquiet over this matter.

To have to endure yet another court procedure, Application to seek leave to appeal, and a subsequent appeal may be just too much for many victims leading to undesirable consequences for victims.

We should however reconsider the role of the Victims Commissioner and empower the Commissioner to intervene in cases on behalf of the victims and direct the DPP.

Vitoria has an excellent and very competent Commissioner, Mr Greg Davies and he would be well positioned and capable to undertake this role but the government has so limited his capacity by budgetary constraints he is only part time effectively nobbling the Commissioner from making any meaningful  impact. Given his restraints, he does an excellent job.

Victims may be far better served by having a functioning Victims Commission with the capacity to look after their needs and provide advice, legal representation and guidance for the appeals process.