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UNPROVOKED ATTACKS ON INNOCENT VICTIMS

Victorian justice, part one:

A driver who rammed a speed camera car when he realised he had been snapped speeding was today given a one-year jail term ... “Your offending behaviour in this case was outrageous. It involved you using the vehicle as a weapon for an unprovoked attack on an innocent victim,” Judge Lawson said.

Victorian justice, part two:

A teenage girl who admitted punching her newborn son to death was sentenced today to a three-year good behaviour bond ... Justice Bernard Bongiorno told her: “I am not going to send you to jail”.

(By contributor Alan R.M. Jones)

Posted by Tim B. on 04/28/2005 at 12:19 PM
  1. A man never stands so tall as when he stoops to help a speed camera.

    Posted by rhhardin on 2005 04 28 at 01:35 PM • permalink

  2. The maximum prison term for infanticide is five years’.

    The minimum penalty should be death; what a fucked up world.

    Posted by DrZin on 2005 04 28 at 02:15 PM • permalink

  3. What’s the bet that if a man had murdered his newborn daughter, he would get off with a non-custodial sentence?

    Posted by Evil Pundit on 2005 04 28 at 02:19 PM • permalink

  4. New plan, put me in charge of all courts in Australia. Granted everyone will end up executed, but it’ll be a hell of a lot better then this.

    Man I hate Victoria.

    Posted by Aging Gamer on 2005 04 28 at 02:31 PM • permalink

  5. Part one was a challenge to the authority of the state.  If that is automatically considered more serioues than a crime against an innocent person, then it proves the state is more concerned with protecting its own power than with protecting the rights of its citizens.

    Should anyone be surprised?

    Posted by TimShell on 2005 04 28 at 03:20 PM • permalink

  6. Maybe the judge was the father?  :)

    In any case, she was 17 at the time and therefore a child. However, while she should not go to jail, she should be locked up in some kind of institution.

    Posted by jorgen on 2005 04 28 at 03:56 PM • permalink

  7. In any case, she was 17 at the time and therefore a child. However, while she should not go to jail, she should be locked up in some kind of institution.

    When I was 17 I knew punching a baby to death was wrong why couldn’t she?

    Posted by Billster on 2005 04 28 at 04:28 PM • permalink

  8. Not Victoria, but in the same vein. Those speed cameras sure are important citizens.

    Cyclist Killed
    Lawyer fined for fatal hit-run
    28apr05
    A PROMINENT Adelaide lawyer who killed a cyclist in a hit and run and
    failed to stop has been fined $3100 and disqualified from driving for
    12 months.

    Posted by duncanm on 2005 04 28 at 06:45 PM • permalink

  9. A speed camera become elevated to the status of an in dividual with rights?

    This attitude is precisely what Theodore Dalrymple described in the UK, and its principal cause for its descent into social disruption - the ascendency of the political left with its abnegation of all personal responsibility.

    Posted by Louis on 2005 04 28 at 06:47 PM • permalink

  10. Louis, I don’t think it was just the camera that was hit—he rammed the camera CAR, which also, apparently, had the camera operator in it.

    Is it just me or is that report a totally crappy piece of writing?

    Posted by BIWOZ on 2005 04 28 at 08:10 PM • permalink

  11. Try punching a police officer in the face, I suspect you’ll get a bigger sentence than if you punched a similar person who was not a police officer.

    The police are put at the pointy end and are expected to put themselves in harms way. In return we consider assaulting/killing/whatever them more serious than doing so to an every day citizen.

    Now killing a newborn is more serious than at worst attempted murder… You’d have to be one screwed up person to kill your own child. If you are that screwed up then a mental institution seems the place to be sent, and if you aren’t that crazy then jail seems like the place to be. A good behaviour bond is madness (unless there was some amazing circumstances that the judge heard in the trial that the article doesn’t bother mentioning - which is common enough…)

    Posted by sam on 2005 04 28 at 08:25 PM • permalink

  12. Justice Bongiorno should be before the bench, not behind it.

    Posted by Arty on 2005 04 28 at 08:45 PM • permalink

  13. Maybe it was self-defence. When Newborns Attack!

    Posted by Evil Pundit on 2005 04 28 at 09:11 PM • permalink

  14. What’s sad is not that she will not go to jail, it’s that she will probably get pregnant again and have more children. You can take away someones license to drive if he attacks a police officer, but you can’t take away a woman’s (girl’s?) right to have kids after she murders her baby.

    Posted by Naomi on 2005 04 28 at 09:12 PM • permalink

  15. A few years back in Britain there was a similar incident where, on the same day a beak at Bow Magistrates Court sent somebody to jail for running over a parking officer’s foot, with no evidence other than the statement of the parking officer.  Later in the day, the same magistrate fined a defendant 500 quid and suspended his license for 2 years for DUI causing death.

    Posted by murph on 2005 04 28 at 09:18 PM • permalink

  16. The important thing in this unprovoked attack was that the drinking all day, and driving 101 in a 60 km zone.

    Posted by Louis on 2005 04 28 at 09:46 PM • permalink

  17. Hmmm. The person in the car manning the speed camera obviously got hurt pretty badly - he needed a shoulder reconstruction and had knee injuries as a result of the drunken driver who rammed him. Not his fault, it’s assholes like Bracks who are to blame.

    So, fair enough that he got a year behind bars.

    What is not fair is that someone can beat a child to death and somehow receive a less severe punishment.

    Posted by taspundit on 2005 04 28 at 10:47 PM • permalink

  18. I’m not sure what “the left” has to do with any of this. Infanticide has always carried little or no penalty, unless you’re a Seventh Day Adventist like Lindy Chamberlain was.

    Or rather, infanticide by women has always carried little or no penalty. But they same applies for all crimes; women receive lighter sentences for equivalent crimes. Fellow Victorians may remember the case last year of the young woman who ran over a cyclist because she was busy buggerising around with her mobile, sending an SMS. 12 months’ loss of licence, and one year suspended sentence, if I recall correctly. But she was young and pretty and cried at the trial.

    Next week, a truck driver was done for driving under the influence of speed. Six months’ imprisonment.

    It’s long been said, if you want to kill someone, use a car. You’re more likely to get away with it than if you use a gun. That’s not “leftist”, that’s just us worshipping cars.

    And yes, a speed camera is not a person. That’s just stupid. Maybe if it’d been a pretty young woman doing it…

    Posted by Kyle Schuant on 2005 04 28 at 10:52 PM • permalink

  19. It’s long been said, if you want to kill someone, use a car. You’re more likely to get away with it than if you use a gun. That’s not “leftist?, that’s just us worshipping cars.

    And your point is?

    How are the two stories related by Tim in anyway a reflection of your statement that society worships cars?  In fact, for people who can generally read and understand English, the point of the juxtaposition of the two stories was the exact opposite.

    Posted by murph on 2005 04 28 at 11:14 PM • permalink

  20. Yes, if you juxtapose just those two stories, you do get that point. But if you consider that the justice system consists of more than two isolated cases[i/], you get a different picture.

    Posted by Kyle Schuant on 2005 04 28 at 11:27 PM • permalink

  21. I think the sentence in case one was reasonable. There was an officer in the car and it seems he was seriously injured. He had to have his shoulder reconstructed. There is also the risk the officer could of been killed.

    Case two is a bit silly though. Especially compared with case one.

    Posted by drscroogemcduck on 2005 04 29 at 12:04 AM • permalink

  22. As much as I am sickened by the child’s death and hate the Bracks speed camera revenue frenzy, this thread is absolute bullshit.

    The guy rammed his car into an occupied speed camera car while drunk! The girl was obviously mentally tramatised from the pregnancy and who knows what else and needs treatment not prison. The judgements were both entirely correct. If you had raised the issue of the rash of suspended sentences for drug trafficing, that’s another matter.

    I’m conservative and a fan of this blog, but Tim, your premise here is way off the mark.

    Posted by Adam on 2005 04 29 at 12:11 AM • permalink

  23. Yeah, being upset at the speed camera issue is bogus - there was an operator injured.  The correct thing to do would have been to wait for the operator to get out for a leak. The Judge might have given him a medal then. 

    As for the girl who killed the baby, she is obviously missing a few roos in the top paddock.  She was not aware she was pregnant, and thought she was ill.  I am not sure what the right thing would be to do with her. Quite incomprehensible that someone could do what she did though.

    BTW Kyle (#18) I thought everyone had pretty well conceded that Lindy Chamberlain didn’t kill her kid, and are ashamed at the witch hunt that went on at the time.  That was real religous vilification, unlike the crap going on in Victoria these days.

    Posted by entropy on 2005 04 29 at 12:25 AM • permalink

  24. Yes, entropy, that’s what I meant; my apologies for being unclear. I meant that, in general, infanticide by women carries little or no penalty. Chamberlain’s case, whether she was guilty or not, was that she got a heavy sentence because of her religion. That’s pretty plain looking back on the case.

    And I only now just checked the full article. Yes, the guy deserved a sentence for ramming a speed camera with a person in it. That’s assault, at the very least, if not attempted murder.

    As to the girl, I honestly don’t know the story, nor do I know what, in general, we do about these kids who have kids, then kill them or leave them in rubbish bins… That’s messed up.

    Posted by Kyle Schuant on 2005 04 29 at 12:51 AM • permalink

  25. No the girl shouldn’t go to prison, she should be in a hospital however.

    Posted by Aging Gamer on 2005 04 29 at 12:53 AM • permalink

  26. Sorry Kyle, my wording was obtuse, I understood what you were trying to say….I was just adding to your comment.

    Posted by entropy on 2005 04 29 at 01:30 AM • permalink

  27. Do Victorian courts post judges’ sentencing remarks on the Net? The best idea is to read the full text of what the judge said and then draw your conclusions.

    SA courts publish sentencing remarks at http://www.courts.sa.gov.au/sent_remarks/index.html and the Eugene McGee case (the lawyer who ran down and killed a cyclist) was posted yesterday afternoon.

    Posted by Good Face on 2005 04 29 at 01:54 AM • permalink

  28. If you want a serious case of a poor judicial decision, this is it.

    Posted by Adam on 2005 04 29 at 03:14 AM • permalink

  29. Lindy Chamberlain was convicted of murder - not infanticide. Life imprisonment was (and still is) mandatory for murder in the Northern Territory.

    Good Face

    You should be able to find the sentencing remarks here. But it looks like this case hasn’t been added to the Austlii database yet - it can take a couple of days.

    Posted by Adam B on 2005 04 29 at 03:18 AM • permalink

  30. Although I should add that I agree with Kyle’s main point - the religious vilification surrounding the Chamberlain case was shameful and for the most part, media driven.

    Posted by Adam B on 2005 04 29 at 03:25 AM • permalink

  31. Bongiorno’s a disgrace. He’s always been soft on criminals, and this is just the latest in a long line of disgraceful cases coming out of his court.

    Posted by steve68 on 2005 04 29 at 04:03 AM • permalink

  32. But they same applies for all crimes; women receive lighter sentences for equivalent crimes.

    I don’t think so.  See this article where it says that “self-defence is biased in favour of men. Heather and David were both charged with murder for the killing of Frank Osland who physically, sexually and psychologically abused them for 13 years. David who struck the fatal blow was acquitted on the basis of self-defence while Heather was convicted for murder and sentenced to 14 and a half years in prison.”

    Before the ‘battered-wife syndrome’ came along any woman who killed her husband was pretty much certain to be convicted whereas men who killed their wives, as they too often do, often got off on a provocation defence.  At least that’s how it seems to non-lawyer me.

    Posted by Janice on 2005 04 29 at 07:06 AM • permalink

  33. You must never challenge the system.
    It will get you

    Posted by Pedro the Ignorant on 2005 04 29 at 08:19 AM • permalink

  34. Janice,

    I think the point related specifically to infanticide rather than adult homicide.

    Traditionally, the problem with self-defence & provocation in “battered wives? cases was the gap between the initial attack and the response. Wives would frequently kill their abusive husbands while the latter was asleep or otherwise unaware of the impending attack. While there may have been obvious reasons for this, the law required a near instantaneous reaction in provocation and an “imminent? threat in self-defence. Husbands would kill their wives in the heat of the moment but wives would kill their husbands after going away and thinking about it. The law has changed and Osland’s case was one of the main catalysts.

    As a postscript – Heather Osland had her conviction for murder overturned on appeal. At her retrial, the crown accepted a plea to manslaughter and she received a very light sentence (amounting to time served I think). Had she taken the risk to fight the case, she may have been acquitted outright.

    Posted by Adam B on 2005 04 29 at 08:34 AM • permalink

  35. Janice, you are quite correct about the gender differences between sentences for murder of a spouse. However, I should note that in my own state at least, that’s changing. We have “battered wife syndrome” as a defence for women who are abused and then kill their husbands, but are removing “provocation” as a defence in the law. Or rather, it will remain, but it’ll remain as a factor in sentencing, rather than as a factor in conviction.

    For those who don’t know, previously in Victoria a person, in murdering someone, could claim a defence of “provocation.” The jury could then decide whether to convict them of murder, or manslaughter. Recently this defence allowed a man who’d killed his wife to be convicted only of manslaughter; he was the only witness to her having “provoked” him.

    The law used to apply quite generally. It was originally intended to get lesser sentences for guys who’d engaged in duels. “He besmirched my honour, Your Honour! I was provoked!” However, in recent years, it’s rarely been used, and then only when some guy’s knocked off his wife.

    The public outcry about the recent case is causing a change in the law. Which will bring murder of spouses in line with other crimes: women will receive lesser sentences than men.

    Posted by Kyle Schuant on 2005 04 29 at 08:06 PM • permalink

  36. I’ll be in Melbourne next week.  You have an opportunityto rise up and demand that I be yourleader.

    I’ll be ruthless but benign

    Posted by jlc on 2005 04 30 at 12:16 AM • permalink

  37. A driver made an unprovoked attack on an ‘innocent victim’ - a speed camera car.

    A teenage girl who admitted punching her newborn son to death was told “I am not going to send you to jail?.

    So who’s the innocent victim? Huh? Do you really get it, commenters?

    The post is about the wild disparity in the Victorian justice ‘system’ when it comes to crime’s real victims and consequences.

    Any justice ‘system’ that can justify a 17 year old punching a baby’s head until it is dead as deserving a bond while describing a camera car as a victim is deserving of far more scrutiny than some of the dozy comments posted here.

    Posted by ilibcc on 2005 04 30 at 08:31 AM • permalink

  38. There is ususally a marked difference between sentences handed out to men and women for the same offence.  Put bluntly the courts are reluctant to send women to gaol.  A good example is fraud. In my state a fraud/stealing as a servant, in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 will get you sent inside if you are a man but you have pretty good prospects of a wholly suspended sentence if you are a woman.

    That being said, I think there are some studies which show that in cases where women act in a manner at odds with society’s expectations then the punishment tends to be as harsh or slightly heavier than for men.

    Posted by Just Another Bloody Lawyer on 2005 04 30 at 07:59 PM • permalink

  39. Look, they both should get 15-20. The first was attempted murder and the second second-degree murder. One year and zero years? We’re not in Texas anymore.

    Posted by Tommy Shanks on 2005 04 30 at 09:18 PM • permalink

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