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Chenhall v The Queen [2021] VSCA 175

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 1 count of transmitting indecent communications to a person under 16 years of age contrary to s 474.27A(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, 1 count of using a carriage service to cause child pornography material to be transmitted to themselves contrary to s 474.19(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 1 count of using carriage service to transmit child pornography contrary to s 474.19(1). Offender sentenced for additional State offences. Original sentence imposed 5 years and 6 months imprisonment with a 4 year non-parole period. The offender appealed on the grounds that the sentencing judge erred in finding there was no greater utilitarian value in guilty plea due to COVID-19, and that the sentence was manifestly excessive.  

Guilty Plea: Sentencing judge was specifically asked to attribute greater weight to plea of guilty due to COVID-19 and declined to do so. Judge erred in so declining. Plea, entered during the pandemic, did its bit to ease the trial backlog, and the offender, who was on bail submitted themselves to more onerous conditions than would otherwise have been the case. Had a greater utilitarian benefit been allowed, it would have provided some incentive to others in a similar position to offender to plead guilty with the concomitant benefit to a justice system under great pressure.  

Leave to appeal granted. Appeal allowed. Offender sentenced to 5 years imprisonment with a 3 year and 6 month non-parole period.
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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