Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Community Safety Walking Parole Lack of action no justice for Jill Meagher David Penberthy Sunday Herald Sun June 23 & 30th 2013 Pedestrian Safety Public Lighting

Lack of action no justice for Jill Meagher

The Meaghers
Jill Meagher's parents, George and Edith McKeon, and her brother Michael McKeon and husband, Tom, far right, at court. Picture: Jon Hargest Source: Herald Sun
I WOULD not normally revisit the same subject in consecutive columns but after watching the harrowing interview with Tom Meagher this week, and being struck by the near-total lack of action from any Australian government on the questions of sentencing, evidence admissibility and parole, I strongly believe that it is worth doing so.
The third reason is the response from readers to last week's piece about the utter failure of the criminal justice system in protecting Jill Meagher from a man who had attacked and/or raped at least eight other women prior to assaulting and killing her last year.
Not one reader can believe the facts in this case. It absolutely sickens people that there is no redress against a judiciary which will give a bloke only eight years in jail for raping five women despite having a much harsher sentence at its disposal.
There is no redress against a negligent parole board which lets this same bloke remain on parole even though he breached his conditions by king-hitting a man and breaking his jaw.
No redress for the fact that he killed Jill Meagher while he was on parole and could not have done so had they been doing their jobs competently.
No redress either for the fact that in sentencing this week, a judge had the chance to give Meagher's killer a maximum of 25 years for her rape, but opted to reduce it to 15, as if this scumbag performed some kind of favour by pleading guilty to a crime for which he had no defence anyway.
After the sentence was handed down I saw references in some headlines to "justice" for Jill Meagher. Justice? Final insult would be more apt. What an absolute disgrace.
I do not know if you saw the interview with Jill Meagher's shattered husband on the ABC's 7.30. It was almost unwatchable. I have never seen a more devastated bloke, a more angry bloke. And the saddest thing about it is that Tom Meagher and the woman he so lovingly described were not angry people. They were trusting people, fun-loving people, happy people.
I do not know how Tom Meagher will find happiness again. But the job should not fall to him to remain angry. It should fall to the rest of us to ensure that our elected leaders, the people who have the power to do something, put their minds to ensuring that cases such as this are never handled this way again.
The default position of legal types is to dismiss such discussions as populist nonsense and to rationalise the comments from victims such as Tom Meagher as understandable but irrational overstatement from the emotionally scarred.
The defining feature of Tom Meagher's interview is how utterly rational it was.
This is not a man who is baying for blood. This is not a discussion about bringing back the death penalty. It is actually a level-headed discussion which goes to the fact that people in the criminal justice system are either incompetent, as in the case of the parole board, or utterly ignorant of the familial and community expectation that maximum sentences can and should be applied in circumstances as horrendous as these.
What does it take to force governments to act on this? This is the question dozens and dozens of readers put to me since last week's column.
Again this week, we saw politics at its most self-indulgent, its most inane, and journalism at its most irrelevant, with continuing coverage of the key question of what tie colour MPs were wearing in that lunatic asylum in Canberra and the endless debate about the so-called gender wars.
There is a real gender war of a different kind being fought in Australia. It involves sexual violence and it is being fought by men and lost by women.
THE Prime Minister or the federal Attorney-General could use the authority of their office to convene every state attorney-general to work through the issues raised by the Jill Meagher case. Every state government could also do so off its own bat. Not a peep.
With the exception of Victoria, where Premier Denis Napthine has shown commendable emotion in responding to some of the issues raised by this case, not one government in Australia has said or done anything about it as far as I can see. It is an abrogation of duty, as there is nothing stopping this from happening again.
The key things the public want discussed are as follows. Whether parole boards can be prevented by law from letting violent offenders remain on parole if they have breached their conditions by committing another crime of violence. Whether past crimes of a serious and violent nature should always be hidden from juries, or whether in some cases they should be factored into their reasoning as a pointer to the likelihood of a person's guilt, in conjunction with the facts in the new case to hand.
And finally, whether judges should continue to have the discretion in cases as horrific as Jill Meagher's to avoid handing down the maximum sentence, as the victim's family and the broader community would demand.
If this is judicial interference, bring it on. The judiciary has only got itself to blame. If they cannot do their job - defined so accurately by Tom Meagher as the protection of the innocent - somebody else should step in and give them a hand.



Adult Parole Board 
Secret Internal Review of the Adrian Bayley Release

JILL: The Report they don't want you to see

Sunday Herald Sun June 30th 2013

Parole Board must make Report public

Editorial Sunday Herald Sun 
June 30th 2013

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