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R v Mackenzie-Hunter [2021] NSWDC 740

The offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of using a carriage service to transmit communication to someone believed to be under 16 years of age with the intention of making it easier to procure the recipient to engage in sexual activity contrary to s 474.27(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Nature and Circumstances: Offending took place over an extended period of about 6 weeks although relevant communications occurred on only 4 days. Offending took place against a background in which the offender sought out contact with a younger person by means of an advertisement placed on a classified website. There was a significant age difference of about 30 years between the offender and purported 14 year old. Offender’s communications had a level of persistence although considerably less than in some cases. Offending did not involve any inducements or threats. Offending was unsophisticated, although there was some albeit limited level of planning by reason of frequent encouragement to the 14 year old to keep things secret. Objective seriousness fell below the midrange but above the lower range.

Mental Health Condition: Offender experienced serious mental illness in their late teens and was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 20, experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations and paranoid thoughts. Offender has had numerous psychiatric admissions over the last 26 years totalling 20 and has required constant treatment with various antipsychotic medications. While the offender’s condition has stabilised, their serious and longstanding psychotic condition nonetheless remained with them and continues to interfere with their day to day activities, behaviour and decision making. Offender’s chronic mental illness does not have any direct causal link to their offending but contributed significantly to their increased drug use prior and during the offending. Offender’s drug abuse, combined with their use of internet based pornography and social isolation, were major factors behind the offending. Offender’s chronic mental illness will make custody more difficult for them and continue to leave them isolated, ameliorating their sentence.

Rehabilitation: Offender’s prospects of rehabilitation are reasonable but to be regarded with caution given the chronic nature of the offender’s mental illness and their longstanding tendency to abuse drugs. Prospects will depend heavily on whether the offender can maintain their medications, seek help when they relapse and avoid illicit drugs. It is positive the offender has avoided drugs in custody and expressed a wish to receive treatment on their release.

Offender sentenced to 2 years and 9 months imprisonment, dating from 28 January 2021 when the offender was taken into custody, to be released after 18 months on recognisance without sureties but with conditions. 25% discount allowed for the utilitarian value of offender’s plea of guilty.
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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