INDEPENDENT NEWS

Labour?s Sentencing Act Strikes Again

Published: Wed 27 Nov 2002 05:56 PM
Labour?s Sentencing Act Strikes Again
Yesterday's paltry sentence for a schoolteacher who preyed upon his pupils highlights the dramatic failures in the Government's sentencing laws, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.
"East Coast teacher Euan Hovell preyed upon his pupils for 23 years and pleaded guilty to 77 charges - many representing multiple offences conducted behind his desk while students were in session. His offending means he is one of the country's worst convicted paedophiles - yet he may be free to walk the streets within two years.
"When asked by the crown prosecutors to lift the penalty, Justice Priestly made it clear that the Government's new sentencing laws prevented him giving Hovell a minimum jail term. He said that, because Hovell's `serious' offences did not include serious violence, he would be eligible for parole after two years. The judge declined to comment further on sentencing provisions.
"These crimes blight entire communities. Had the Government accepted ACT's amendments to the sentencing legislation, the judge could have set a minimum non-parole period that would have expressed the community's denunciation. Instead, he can't fit a sentence to the crime.
"The Government has failed in its fundamental duty to protect its citizens. Nevertheless, it may work out in its favour - paedophiles with sentences less than three years can still vote Labour - even from prison," said Mr Franks.

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