Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 20, 2024


Domestic Violence

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (15:11): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Attorney-General a question about domestic violence.

Leave granted.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: For the past year I have been advocating for a brave and determined young mother, and her equally committed family, after she was violently stabbed close to death by her then husband in an horrendous act of domestic violence almost three years ago, and in front of their petrified children.

The gutless thug was initially charged with attempted murder, but later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated recklessly causing harm, and sentenced to a jail term of five years and two months, with a non-parole period of three years. In his sentencing remarks in July 2022, Supreme Court judge Justice Stein said:

Given the seriousness of offending, the need to maintain adequate standards of punishment for serious crimes of domestic violence and the need for general and personal deterrence, I decline to partially suspend your sentence.

He continued:

Given the non-parole I have fixed, you are precluded from serving any sentence on home detention.

The thug was due for release in April this year. To the young mother's horror, and that of her concerned family, she was informed that he was going to be released seven months early in October last year, against those specific orders of Judge Stein.

Within hours of being released, he allegedly breached the condition of his release and an intervention violence order by allegedly posting photos of the children he had with his former wife on social media. The family notified SAPOL and he was charged but, again, to the woman and the family's disgust, he was not returned to prison but given bail to continue his home detention.

It gets worse. On the weekend, this long-suffering woman's and her family's psychological trauma hit rock bottom when she was notified that police had decided to drop those charges because it cannot be proved the thug personally uploaded the photographs. It appears this person may be receiving preferential treatment and you wonder whether this government is serious about domestic violence and its weekly law and order announcements. My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. How can a violent criminal be released from prison prior to his non-parole period expiring, specifically after such strong comments from the sentencing judge?

2. What is the point of a judge making such orders if they are ignored and overridden?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:14): I thank the honourable member for his question. I don't recall the matter the honourable member is talking about but I am happy, if he wants to supply details, to look at the specifics of the individual case further. Of course, we abhor any sort of violence, and the scourge of domestic and family violence that is perpetrated very largely against women by men is something we take very seriously. We have had various pieces of legislation that we have moved, and we will do more over the next couple of years.

In relation to decisions police make about prosecuting authority or, if it finds its way to the DPP, major indictable offences, those are matters for those prosecuting authorities. I think most people would agree that you wouldn't want a government of the day or politicians stepping in to make prosecution decisions about what should or shouldn't be prosecuted.

Similarly, as I have said before in this chamber, I am not going to pass commentary on specific sentencing decisions when the court has had before it all of the information that has been presented in a case and determined the most appropriate sentence. I am happy for, perhaps later on, a member of the honourable member's office to look at the individual case if the honourable member wants to provide some details privately about the matter he is talking about.