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Black v The Queen [2022] VSCA 125

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 1 count of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception from a Commonwealth entity contrary to s 134.2(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 1 count of dishonestly causing a loss to a Commonwealth entity contrary to s 135.1(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Original sentence imposed 27 months imprisonment to be released after 9 months upon entering recognizance in the amount of $1,000. The offender appealed on the ground that the original sentence  was manifestly excessive.

Antecedents: Offender’s childhood and adolescence were blighted by neglect and sexual abuse. Offender was subjected to very regular sexual abuse by their mother’s partner for about a year. By the age of 13, offender went to live with a friend’s family and was again sexually abused persistently over a 4-year period to the age of 17. Offender’s mental health suffered, and they used drugs, mostly cannabis and amphetamines, during this period. Offender self-harmed regularly and attempted suicide on several occasions. Although sentencing judge fully summarised these circumstances and stated that, in addition to offender’s mental health issues, they ‘must also take into account the other factors personal to [the offender] and to which [they have] already referred … [which] should operate to mitigate the sentence’ imposed, it is unclear the sentencing judge’s assessment of offender’s moral culpability was moderated on account of their deprived childhood experiences. Offender’s childhood and adolescent experiences amply justify a reduction in the evaluation of their moral culpability. Original sentence was manifestly excessive.

Leave to appeal granted. Appeal allowed. Offender resentenced to 12 months imprisonment to be released after 130 days after entering recognizance in the sum of $100 to be of good behaviour for 3 years.
The CSD acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. We acknowledge that we are on the land of the traditional owners and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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