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DPP (Cth) v Kannan & Anor [2021] VSC 439

The offenders were sentenced following trial of 1 count of intentionally possessing a slave contrary to s 270.3(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 1 count of intentionally exercising over a slave any of the powers attaching to the right of ownership, namely use, contrary to s 270.3(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.  

Nature and Circumstances: Offenders developed almost absolute control over all aspects of Natarajan’s day-to-day life. Offenders paid her minimal sums of money, controlled how and when she worked, controlled her communications, and controlled how and when she received health care. Actions were such to subjugate Natarajan over an extended period of years, far beyond examples reflected in other Australian slavery cases. Kumuthini’s actions were of a more aggravated nature. Kumuthini had the say in running the household and controlled Natarajan’s recourse to health care and communications between her and her family. Kandasamy was more at arm’s length. This does not excuse their action, but perhaps puts such actions, as well as failure to take action in somewhat of a different light. The number and brazen quantity of lies has been nothing short of astonishing.  

Victim of Offence: It matters little that Natarajan may have been happy for some or even a significant part of that period defined by the condition of slavery. Whatever happiness to her may have meant, such a state if it existed must be evaluated in the context of her overall life experience. What matters is the fact of the powers being exercised over her. Natarajan declined to provide a victim impact statement. A vulnerable person was exploited by well-educated and intelligent people in order to bring advantage to the offenders.  

Extra-Curial Punishment: Offenders have suffered, and will continue to suffer, a degree of extra-curial punishment as a result of the circumstances relating to their children.  Psychologist observes that it has been exceedingly difficult to encourage offenders to make necessary and appropriate plans for how their children will be accommodated and looked after should they both be incarcerated and that this is reflective of the offender’s prevailing mental health issues. Offender’s children with special needs will be severely adversely affected should they both be sentenced to imprisonment. Failure to make arrangements did offender no credit whatsoever and reinforces the opinion that offenders have persistently failed to come to grips with the realities and practicalities of their situation.  

Mercy: Exceptional circumstances have been made out, and children will suffer particular hardship should they both be imprisoned. In each of offender’s circumstances, they would find imprisonment more burdensome as a result of anxiety and emotional hardship associated to hardship of children.  

Kumuthini Kannan sentenced to 8 years imprisonment with a 4 year non-parole period. Kandasamy Kannan sentenced to 6 years imprisonment with a 3 year 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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