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Discounts for early guilty pleas to be reviewed

18 September 2018

Supreme Court Judge the Hon Brian Martin QC AO has been appointed to conduct a review of the sentencing discounts given for early guilty pleas and cooperation with authorities, in light of community concern over the issue.

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said that recent sentencing decisions involving serious matters has highlighted the need to consider whether the current regime is actually fulfilling its goals.

“The intent behind this is laudable – namely to minimise the trauma for victims and their families, who may otherwise have to sit through, and give evidence in, lengthy criminal trials, as well as reducing court backlogs by ensuring matters are dealt with efficiently,” Ms Chapman said.

“However, the response to some recent matters from victims, their families and the broader community would tend to indicate the discounts given on sentences may not be in line with community expectations.

“Sentencing is an integral part of our criminal justice system – it serves as a punishment to the offender, a deterrent to others, and a signal to the broader community that the interests of justice have been met.

“It’s a complex equation, which is why I have asked Mr Martin to look at whether the level of the discount available to offenders gets the balance right in delivering benefits to the community while ensuring the level of punishment is appropriate.”

Ms Chapman said Mr Martin would bring a strong body of experience to this review.

“Brian Martin is a former South Australian Supreme Court Judge and Chief Justice of the Northern Territory, he’s been a crown prosecutor, and conducted a review of South Australia’s sentencing discount scheme in 2015,” Ms Chapman said.

“He understands the important role sentencing plays, as well as the mechanics of South Australia’s sentencing laws.

“I look forward to reviewing any recommendations he may have.”

Mr Martin is due to report back to Government by early 2019.