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Dickinson v The Queen [2021] VSCA 50

The offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception from a Commonwealth entity contrary to s 13.42(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Original sentence imposed 2 years and 6 months imprisonment with a 12 month non-parole period. The offender appealed on two grounds: that the sentencing judge only gave a modest sentencing benefit as consequence of adverse media publicity and the sentence imposed was manifestly excessive.   

Extra-Curial Punishment: A complaint about the weight attributed to a particular factor in the sentencing discretion is not a round of specific error, but may only be considered in the context of a ground which alleges manifest excess. It is not apparent why it was not open to the judge to attribute modest rather than more substantial weight to the media publicity. The offender had, over a period of 4 years, engaged in conduct which if discovered could properly be expected to be the subject of widespread public criticism and condemnation. The question of the relevance of media coverage as a mitigating factor, and the weight to be attached to it must necessarily depend on the facts of each case.  

Totality: Sentencing judge noted she was unable to backdate the sentence that she was to impose, and stated that the sentence would run concurrently with the current sentence. Sentencing judge made allowance for totality by providing for some 7 weeks of concurrency between sentence imposed and sentence offender was then undergoing. Offending for which offender was previously sentenced was not closely related to offending in present case. Offending in each instance was separate, involving different victims, and different conduct by the offender. It is not reasonably arguable that sentencing judge failed to take into account and give sufficient weight to the principle of totality.  

Leave to appeal against sentence refused.
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