Court of Appeal urges judges give harsher incest sentences

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The highest court in Victoria has urged judges to impose harsher punishment for incest cases but also did not overturn a debated incest sentence for a man proven guilty of incest against his two step-daughters.

The Court of Appeal wrote in a judgment that judges were doling out “disproportionately low” sentences for incest, according to The Age.

In the controversial case brought to the appellate, the man was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison, even though he impregnated the 13-year-old step-daughter he abused. Incest has a maximum penalty of 25 years.

The young teen was later forced to terminate the pregnancy, saying instead that she was having sex with a boy from her school because she feared the consequences of telling the truth. She then had to endure continuous abuse by the man.

Pleading guilty to incest and indecent assault, the man was given three-and-a-half years in prison for committing incest against his 13-year-old step-daughter.

Her sister, according to The Age, had a mild mental disability and was 15 or 16 when she was abused. The man got two years in prison for his crimes against the older teen.

The court said that if the sentence weren’t consistent with current practice, “we would have had no hesitation in concluding that the sentence imposed...was manifestly inadequate.”

This is why the court believes it falls on judges to collectively be handing out harsher sentences to those convicted of incest.

“Sentencing for incest must reflect society's denunciation of the sexual abuse of children and the profound harm which it causes,” the court wrote. "The very high maximum penalty underlines the seriousness with which the offence is regarded."
  • Nikita Robertson on 8/08/2016 9:18:03 AM

    I don't understand; isn't this child abuse not incest? I thought incest was sex between consenting adults within the same family?

  • Jonathan on 27/07/2016 4:15:50 PM

    The Court of Appeal appears to be saying that the only reason the sentence is not manifestly inadequate is because the sentence is consistent with current [sentencing] practice. Further, judges of the appellate court appear to intone judges to hand down "harsher" sentences for the same offence.

    Yet the Court of Appeal itself appears to be unwilling to impose a harsher sentence because the appealed sentence was "consistent with current practice". Given those same circumstances will now prevail when primary judges are handing down sentences for the same offence, how can the CoA expect judges to depart from "current practice" when it has been unwilling to do so?

  • Nikita Robertson on 25/07/2016 1:41:09 PM

    I agree Keith; not sure why this article is headed the way it is when it's about child abuse and not incest, which is consensual sex between adult members of the same family?

  • William on 14/07/2016 9:52:25 AM

    This kind of sentencing reflects the kinds of of persons appointed as judges.

    When it suits them they will hand out manifestly harsh sentences such as in the case of Magistrate Pat O'Shane's nephew being burnt. Where the perpetrator received a sentence many times more than a murderer. (I don't disagree with the sentence handed down but as a matter of parity its absurd)

    There was a time when incest would have been a capital punishment offence and in the more civilized countries it still remains the case.

  • Karl Adra on 13/07/2016 12:47:24 PM

    Sentencing for sexual abuse of children has been too soft for too long. The Courts should hand down harsher sentences.

  • Keith Pullman on 5/07/2016 10:22:13 PM

    A clear distinction needs to be made between consensual sex between adults, which should not be a criminal matter, and assault/child molestation.

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