Some clever sentencing from Justice Penfold

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A sentence published last Friday by Justice Penfold has some cunning in it.

The case involves a juvenile, who therefore cannot be named, with a significant history of crime and drug use, in breach of his suspended sentence.

But rather than leaving him in the hole for a few months and seeing him walk free Her Honour has something else in mind.

AK has now spent 79 days in custody since being released in March, and so there will be little more than seven months left on his current sentence. The option of requiring him to serve all that remaining time, and to finalise this matter completely, has its attractions, but it has the disadvantage that it would deprive AK of any further supervision, and the support that should go with supervision, after his release. It also seems to me not to be the best way of taking account of the particular principles relevant in sentencing young offenders, especially the importance of focusing on their rehabilitation.

AK is still only 16. I have addressed his background and circumstances in previous sentencing remarks and do not see any need to go into details again today, but there is no doubt in my mind that he will need support and supervision for a while yet. For that reason I propose to give him one more chance of release on a good behaviour order, in the hope that he has done a bit more growing up and that this time he will manage to continue with his currently expressed determination to abstain from drugs, to seek an apprenticeship, and to get his driver licence. I note that his mother is currently willing to have him back at home yet again; however, I do not propose to provide for an immediate release.

AK, please stand. I note your conviction for aggravated robbery that was recorded on 3 September last year, and the admitted breach of the good behaviour order attached to the suspension of the 18‑month sentence for that offence. I cancel the good behaviour order and re-sentence you to 18 months imprisonment, backdated to 27 September 2013 to take account of time served before your release under the good behaviour order and the time you have spent in custody since that release. That sentence would now expire on 26 March 2015, if you were to serve it all straight through from now.

Instead, the sentence will be suspended with effect from 27 October this year, so in about another two and a half months, leaving five months still outstanding, and I now order you to sign an undertaking to comply with your good behaviour obligations under the Crimes (Sentence) Administration Act 2005 (ACT) for a further eight months after you are released. At that point you will have five months still to serve and an eight‑month good behaviour order, so if you can actually keep out of trouble for eight months you will be home free.

One hopes it works out.

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