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Akoum v The King [2023] WASCA 102

See full judgment: Austlii.

The offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of dealing with money or other property worth $100,000, it being reasonable to suspect that such money or other property was proceeds of crime contrary to s 400.9(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Original sentence imposed 12 months of imprisonment to be released after 6 months on recognizance of $5,000. Offender appealed on the grounds that the sentencing judge erred in holding that the parity principle required a sentence of immediate imprisonment to be imposed in order to avoid a justifiable sense of grievance on the part of the co‑offender who had already been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, and that the sentencing judge imposed a sentence that gave rise to a justifiable sense of grievance on the part of the offender.

Parity: The parity principle cannot be invoked for the purpose of increasing what would otherwise be an appropriate sentence so as to avoid a previously sentenced offender feeling a justified sense of grievance. The parity principle is only relevant where a sentence might be such as to engender a justifiable sense of grievance in the offender being sentenced. Any view that a related offender may have of the sentence to be imposed is an irrelevant consideration. When all of the sentencing remarks are considered, it is clear that the sentencing judge did not take this irrelevant consideration into account in concluding that an immediate sentence of imprisonment was necessary. The first ground is not made out. The co-offender, Mr Dandachi, had a more senior role than offender in the hierarchy of the criminal enterprise. Mr Dandachi, in effect, recruited the appellant. Both offender and Mr Dandachi were first offenders and had very favourable prospects of rehabilitation. Offender derived some mitigation from the fact that they would serve a term of imprisonment away from their family. A number of mitigating factors favourable to Mr Dandachi did not apply to offender. Notwithstanding these factors favourable to Mr Dandachi, the eight‑month difference between the sentences imposed upon offender and Mr Dandachi, given Mr Dandachi’s much greater level of criminal culpability, was insufficient and gives rise to an objectively legitimate or justifiable sense of grievance on the part of offender. The second ground is made out.

Leave to appeal granted. Appeal allowed. Offender resentenced to 8 months of imprisonment to be released after 4 months on recognizance of $5,000 to be of good behaviour for 4 months.

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