6 months of periodic detention for sexual assault.

farq 13 November 2008 21

I’m not one who normally bangs on about the need for harsher sentences, but this one from the ABC forces me to comment:

    “A Canberra man who pleaded guilty to committing an act of indecency on a woman has been sentenced to serve six months of periodic detention.”

    ”Dean James Christie, 41, was arrested in February last year and accused of breaking into the woman’s house and sexually assaulting her.”… “In sentencing, Chief Justice Terence Higgins told Christie his act was criminal, reprehensible and caused great harm to the victim.”

6 months of periodic detention.

– A sentence like that has no deterrence value (not that I subscribe to deterrence).
– In no way protects society by separating him from the rest of us.
– It offers nothing to the victim in the way of retribution or justice (again, not that I agree that it should).

So what purpose does it serve? Why bother at all?

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
21 Responses to 6 months of periodic detention for sexual assault.
123qwe 123qwe 2:21 pm 14 Nov 08

Is there a way of finding out why the charge of sexual assault was not pursued? Is the DPP accountable/transparent, or would privacy concerns override a public explanation?

Jim Jones Jim Jones 11:26 am 14 Nov 08

sepi said :

AT this rate there will be noone in the new gaol, except people convicted interstate and transferred across.

Well we can’t let that happen. That would be just terrible.

Nobody in jail – what is the world coming to?!

sepi sepi 10:51 am 14 Nov 08

AT this rate there will be noone in the new gaol, except people convicted interstate and transferred across.

Spideydog Spideydog 10:47 am 14 Nov 08

You need evidence to have a successful conviction, I would suggest that there was insufficient evidence to prove “sexual assault” and that is why it was dropped down to “act of indecency” (just throwing it out there ??) Don’t be so quick to dis the DPP.

Ozi Ozi 9:51 am 14 Nov 08

Higgins? Soft on crime? Never…..

And DPP won’t appeal the sentence. They would have been responsible for dropping the charge from “sexual intercourse without consent” (rape) to an “act of indecency” (which is also the charge if a guy is to squeeze a chicks bum as she walks past him on the bus…)

Gah we have shit Judiciary in the ACT.


mdme workalot mdme workalot 8:30 am 14 Nov 08

Agree with Skid and Jim Jones – the problem is with what he was charged and convicted for, not the sentence.

However – Higgins is a joke, and should not be passing judgment on offenders in accordance with societal views (and yes, I believe that is what a judge is supposed to do). He is completely out of touch. I would be interested to know if he gave the maximum penalty for that type of offence.

Thumper Thumper 8:12 am 14 Nov 08

You get more punishment for driving too fast than for making a woman feel in danger in her own home, probably for the rest of her life.

There it is…

Thumper Thumper 8:10 am 14 Nov 08

Oh, fckuing Higgins again…

When will this guy retire and we can get someone who actually lives up to societal and community expectations.

Seriously, what is wrong with Higgins?

barking toad barking toad 7:29 am 14 Nov 08

#9 Circus – I don’t have a problem with judicial independence. What concerns me is judicial incompetence. Tezz is a serial offender.

Sleaz274 Sleaz274 11:49 pm 13 Nov 08

No the lowest common denominator come out when the process itself is fundamentally flawed and fails to carry out the action that it was designed to do ie protect society from criminals, punish those who do wrong and further deter criminal actions. Fail, fail, fail. In less “enlightened” times the wrong doer would have been publicly shamed, whipped/beaten half to death and exiled from the community to lead a rather nasty, short and brutish life.

How does 52 days over the course of 6 months in “periodic” detention (give me a break) teach this criminal anything. There is a very large gap in behaviour between thinking about or planning something like this and then actually carrying it out, a gap which our judicial system seems to have forgotten.

Let’s spin this around and ask ourselves what really has this criminal learnt from this experience? Remember an act of this kind is the guy’s fantasy this is how he gets off. He has learnt not to let his victim identify him so either wear a mask or disguise or attack a complete stranger. He has learnt to restrain/tie his victim so they can’t flee or carry a weapon and give the threat of aggression in order to make the victim compliant. He has probably figured out that oral sex isn’t going to work next time and to get his member wet. He has also learnt that victims are generally unwilling to face the full testimony of court and he can plea down to lesser charges and escape punishment.

He is now about to be put into the paths of many more like minded individuals who will laugh at the mistakes he made and how easy he has got it which only furthers to encourage him to do it again.

Starting to see why this type of offender needs to be put away and face some real consequences? Crimes against objects and things and animals in some cases are easy. Crimes against people are harder to commit and the degree of difficulty increases with the intimacy of the actual act (ie shooting someone is far easier than stabbing them or throttling them with your hands) so to perform a sexual act on an unwilling or unsuspecting victim is about as intimate and difficult as it gets.

Now let’s imagine the next scenario where he is a) better prepared b) more careful in his victim choice and c) adapting and learning and this time he carries a small knife just enough to scare someone but in this instance the victim struggles or does something to really annoy him and next thing you know we have another stabbing victim who will probably survive but be pretty messed up for life…

Everyone starting to see the picture now and why these crimes really do need to be dealt with harshly. The “process” which we don’t know a thing about is broken and was let to runs it’s disjointed and horribly over-lawyered course to this point today. It is up to society then to fix it and in this democratic world of ours means our politicians have to change something. The “process” failed in NSW and they fixed a part of it with the truth in sentencing laws and have probably saved many lives as a result. Simply saying it’s a process does not excuse it’s obvious failings and need of attention.

Also what ant said… spot on…. and Skid as always

ant ant 11:27 pm 13 Nov 08

I heard this reported on last night’s TV news (ABC, I think), and I just thought oh bloody hell, not another ridiculous sentance. I man breaks into a woman’s house and assaults her in some way, anyone who hears about this is furious that he doesn’t get what we feel is proper punishment…. is not the law meant to reflect the views of society on these things? It seems the law dwells in some alternative universe, divorced from our society. You get more punishment for driving too fast than for making a woman feel in danger in her own home, probably for the rest of her life.

What a load of rubbish it all is!

Heavs Heavs 9:11 pm 13 Nov 08

… sentencing guidelines set by government of the day. Must be relied upon and referenced in sentencing remarks by judge/magistrate or it will overturned on appeal. DPP lowered the charge so they could get a plea of guilty. Etc, blah blah. Seriously, why bother.

The lowest common denominator always come out to play whenever an ‘inadequate’ sentence is handed down without knowing the first thing about the process.

circusmind circusmind 8:49 pm 13 Nov 08

Once again, let’s mindlessly bash a judge for deciding on a case we know nothing about. I’m sure that with our two line summary of the events, we are all much more capable of issuing an appropriate sentence than a magistrate who has actually heard the case under all the proper procedures.

Those of you who have a problem with judicial independence are playing with fire.

Swaggie Swaggie 7:12 pm 13 Nov 08

The Government appoint our Magistrates and then as we saw prior to the last election wash their hands of further involvement under the banner of judicial independence. I think Corbell’s selection process http://www.chiefminister.act.gov.au/media.php?v=5911&m=53&s=5 is fundamentally flawed when the courts generally seem to viewed by the greater population as far too lenient to be a deterrent for any crime in this town.

barking toad barking toad 6:22 pm 13 Nov 08

Didn’t need to get to the second sentence of the report to guess that it was Tezza – again.

Job for life, no compulsory retirement age. An embarrassment to the legal fraternity and hopefully the government.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 4:23 pm 13 Nov 08

Could be, Skid.

Sadly, the difficult of prosecuting in cases of sexual assault always springs to mind when anything like this happens (I’m also reminded of recent Rugby League cases where cases are dropped for ‘lack of evidence’). Although you’d think that there would surely be sufficient evidence in a B&E with assault case like this.

But there’s also the possibility that the lady in question often is so (understandably) freaked by the whole thing that the option of having the assaulter plead guilty to a lesser crime looks good to her because it doesn’t involve her having to stand up in court and be demeaned by aggressive lawyers and all the rest.

Sexual assault and the law is such a hard thing to wrap your head around – it often seems like everything is pitted against the victim. On the other hand, there are those cases that false accusations ruin innocent people’s lives that make it insanely difficult to figure out where the balance should lie.

dexi dexi 4:22 pm 13 Nov 08

“Why bother at all.”

We all know who he is. We have seen his photo. I take it we have a sex offenders register. Don’t feel you can’t tell him what you think of him, if you meet him. The most we can hope for is that he knows what he did and never does it again.

The victim will have access to “victims of crime compensation”. If she’s got a good lawyer, they will pay for professional help before the compensation is granted. So hopefully she is being supported.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 4:15 pm 13 Nov 08

Sorry Jb, but acts of sexual indecency carry lighter penalties than sexual intercourse without consent.

JJ: Possibly our critically understaffed & resourced DPP?

Jim Jones Jim Jones 4:13 pm 13 Nov 08

Sorry, that should be: “You can’t get stuck into a judge for not giving a sentence that belongs to a different crime than the person was actually convicted for.”

Jim Jones Jim Jones 4:11 pm 13 Nov 08

Yeah, it looks crazy, but do note that “he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of committing an act of indecency”: he wasn’t convicted of sexual assault. If he was, the sentence would have been proportionate.

12 months imprisonment (six of those to be served in periodic detention and the other six to be suspended on a two year good behaviour order) is about as stiff as a sentence for “an act of indecency” can get.

If he’d been successfully charged with sexual assault, the sentence would have been commensurate.

You can’t get stuck into a judge for not giving a sentence that belongs to a different crime than was actually committed.

The real problem here is not the sentence, it’s the fact that the case of sexual assault wasn’t followed through. As for why this was the case, who knows?

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site