I am not one to bang the law and order drum. I believe that if there is a viable alternative to prison that might salvage a life, then it should be explored.
But it’s hard not to sympathise with the parents of 27-year-old stabbing victim Frankie Prineas, whose murderer will be able to walk free from jail in just nine years if he manages to behave himself.
Jayscen Anthony Newby, also 27, stabbed Prineas 37 times in a callous and chilling attack because he started a relationship with a woman Newby once knew, blaming her behaviour for provoking him.
When his mother told him about the murder after hearing a report on the radio, he laughed, saying, “It’s hilarious”.
Sending someone to jail is no laughing matter, especially for lengthy terms that, in effect, take away someone’s life.
But when a life is taken so deliberately and viciously, the community expects that a sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime and that it be protected from an individual who has proved himself a danger to society.
Chief Justice Helen Murrell jailed Newby, who has been in custody since January 2020, for 20 years with a 10-year non-parole period, meaning he could be released in January 2030.
She acknowledged he had had a hard upbringing, including being raised around controlling and violent men and was socially isolated as a child. But she found no remorse for what he had done and said Newby’s claim that he had been provoked into committing the murder was “outrageous”.
For Prineas’s shocked parents, the hell they are going through is not something they would want other parents to experience.
“It boils down to in nine years he’ll be out; in nine years he’ll be back into our community, and hopefully, with a bit of luck, he won’t do the same thing he did to my son,” said Frankie’s father, Victor Prineas, outside the court.
“He’s lost 10 years of his life. My son has lost 60 years of his life. I can’t understand it. I can’t work it out. We’re all in total dismay, total shock.”
If Newby walks in nine years, he will still be a young man at 36. Will he undergo an epiphany inside or simply become even more hardened and pose a threat to whomever he forms a relationship with?
The evidence suggests that he became the man he is today as a child, lacking empathy and having a problem with women.
It’s a wonder the woman involved in this case did not suffer a similar fate to Frankie.
To expect redemption from such a man in only nine years would be highly optimistic.
The sentence is a roll of the dice that gambles with the safety of the ACT community and is disproportionate to the crime.
For many, it reinforces the impression that criminals in this jurisdiction have a greater chance of receiving more lenient sentences than elsewhere.
I suppose we should be grateful for the conviction. For a time, it seemed impossible to make a murder charge stick in the ACT.
The Director of Public Prosecutions should appeal the sentence.