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New Law Will Lead To Longer Sentences – Judge

22 July 2002

New Law Will Lead To Longer Sentences – Judge

A High Court Judge has reaffirmed the new Sentencing Act will lead to longer sentences for the worst offenders, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today.

“Justice John Priestley in a decision delivered on Friday, said the application of sections in the Sentencing Act which prescribe the maximum penalties for the worst offences ‘must inevitably pull sentencing levels up’.

“The Judge also noted if the offender he was sentencing had committed the offence of sexual violation AFTER the new laws had come into force he would have considered imposing a sentence 40 percent tougher.

“The offence occurred before the new Sentencing and Parole Acts came into law and a sentence of 10 years was handed down. The judge noted had the offence occurred AFTER the law change, he would have looked at imposing a sentence of 14 years.

“The judge also noted ‘The Sentencing Act 2002 is in most areas a huge improvement on the mishmash of law which applied to sentencing prior to 1 July.’

Mr Goff said the Sentencing and Parole Acts are a major reform of the criminal justice system. It is inevitable that there will be a ‘settling down’ period.

“I am confident the Court of Appeal will uphold the intent of the law which is to respond to the 1999 referendum on law and order.

“However, if the Courts fail to do this or there is any confusion about the guidelines that the worst offences should get the maximum or near the maximum penalty, I will not hesitate to make any necessary changes to the legislation,” Mr Goff said.


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