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Baird must revisit mandatory sentencing laws

This article was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 21 April 2014.

Following last week’s resignation of Barry O’Farrell and the appointment of Mike Baird as premier, it is now time to get back to the key criminal justice issue in NSW: the prevention of alcohol-fuelled violence. 

Justice prevails in lethal violence reforms

This article was first published on The Age website on 27 June 2014.

Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark has called time of death for the offence of defensive homicide. The government's bill, which was introduced in Parliament on Wednesday, represents a significant step forward in ensuring just responses to lethal violence in the Victorian criminal justice system.

Victorian homicide law reforms ensure just responses to violence

This article was first published on The Conversation on 26 June 2014.

Victorian attorney-general Robert Clark today introduced a bill into parliament that repeals the offence of defensive homicide. The bill signifies a significant step forward in ensuring just responses to lethal violence in the state’s criminal court system.

While reforming homicide law has been a long process, the bill introduced today is a significant step forward for Victoria.

The injustice of the provocation defence in NSW continues...

On Friday, Yassir Ibrahim Mohamed Hassan was sentenced in the NSW Supreme Court to a maximum term of 12 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of nine years, for the manslaughter of his wife, Mariam Henery Yousif. Hassan's case is a stark reminder of the injustices caused by the partial defence of provocation, which continues to reduce what would otherwise be murder to manslaughter in New South Wales,

Hassan, aged 56 years old at the time of sentencing, killed his 24-year-old wife in a ‘frenzied’ knife attack that occurred on a background of over two years of disharmony in the marriage. While the specific cause of the marriage deterioration was not clear, on sentence the judge noted multiple contributing factors including their significant age difference, cultural differences and disagreements over parenting discipline style.

Provocation Law Change in NSW could be lethal

This article was first published on The Sydney Morning Herald website on 22 October 2013. 

The O'Farrell government must reconsider their recommendation to retain a restricted version of the controversial partial defence of provocation.

The government has released a draft exposure bill recommending reform of a partial defence that has long attracted criticism and community concern. Under the proposed reform, the defence will be significantly restricted and will be renamed the "partial defence of extreme provocation".

Why England must abolish the mandatory life sentence for murder

An article published this week in the latest issue of Criminology and Criminal Justice reveals judicial and legal practitioner support for the abolition of the mandatory life sentence in the English criminal justice system. This blog post provides an overview of the research findings, access the full article here

Abolishing defensive homicide will benefit female victims and offenders

This article was first published at The Conversation on 4th October 2013

The Victorian Department of Justice has released its long-awaited review into the operation of the controversial offence of defensive homicide. The Consultation Paper proposes the offence's abolition on the basis that it is "inherently complex", "has no clear benefit" for women who kill in the context of family violence and has been "inappropriately" used by men who kill. 

The 'jealous man's' defence lives on in the English criminal courts

This month the Home Secretary Theresa May MP announced a major review in England and Wales of how police respond to domestic violence. The much-needed review comes in the wake of several high profile cases of women killed by former male partners with a recorded history of violence against women. These cases, including the deaths of Clare Wood and Maria Stubbings, have rightly led to community concern as to why victims of domestic violence are not better responded to, and protected, by the police.

Taking a stand against family violence must occur in the courts

Last month the Victorian Premier Denis Napthine, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and AFL chief Andrew Demetriou came together to encourage the Victorian community to ‘take a stand’ against family violence. Part of a family violence campaign, the ‘Take a Stand’ initiative focuses on reducing family violence through increased awareness and by encouraging members of the community to take responsibility for preventing and reporting incidents of family violence.

In urging the community to take a stand against family violence and to end the veil of silence that often surrounds this type of victimisation, it is important that a clear message on the unacceptability of family violence is sent from the highest levels of our criminal justice system. The courts and members of the judiciary can play a key role in denouncing the use of violence within the home and ensuring that a central message is sent to the community that domestic violence will not tolerated and will not be excused by our justice system.

Why South Australia must abolish the partial defence of provocation

Provocation is a partial defence to murder, which has attracted controversy and critique in every Australian criminal justice system except South Australia … until now.

Courtesy of concerns surrounding the ‘gay panic’ defence, South Australia has joined the provocation debate and has already begun to take steps to minimising the application of this controversial law. 

Provocation is a partial defence to murder which where successfully raised reduces what would otherwise be murder to manslaughter. A reduction in culpability that has a significant impact in sentencing. It is based on the premise that a degree understanding should be afforded to those who lose their self-control and perpetrate lethal violence in response to provocative conduct on the part of the victim, or a third party.

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