Minister calls for judge’s resignation

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Local member for Bega Andrew Constance has called for the resignation of a district court judge after his lax sentencing of a child rapist.

Judge Clive Jeffreys sentenced former Bega Cheese CEO Maurice van Ryn to just 13 years in prison with a non-parole period of 7 year for molesting nine children between 2003 and 2014.

According to The Daily Examiner, the non-parole sentence was almost doubled to 13 years and six months on appeal, with an aggregate sentence of 18 years.

Several judges called the original sentence ‘an affront to the administration of justice’ in the appeal.

“Whilst I'm not going to canvass the exact nature of the crimes in my address to parliament today, I do rise on behalf of my community to convey the outrage at the inappropriate handling of this matter by the District Court,” Constance said in parliament, suggesting Jeffreys should consider if he’s fit to keep his job.

“This sentence was a mere slap on the wrist and can only suggest the judge made a significant error of judgment.

“In my humble opinion and that of my community, van Ryn should never be released to re-offend again.

“I'd suggest very clearly that Judge Jeffreys look within himself at what has occurred here as a result of his decision.

“He must surely consider his position as a result of this ruling, as I'm sure most people would reflect.”

Constance said he would seek a judicial commission review of the decision.

Channel 7 reported that five sentences that Jeffreys has imposed have now been increased by the Court of Appeal.
  • Ian Weldon on 29/02/2016 1:58:58 PM

    I have no detailed comment on the sentencing save to say that a study of the appellate judgment shows that all of the judicial officers in this case, including the primary judge, gave a great deal of time to this case and acted conscientiously and carefully in trying to reach a decision in this difficult area of law.

    I do have an observation on the language which often appears in reports of this sort.

    Because sentencing is a discretionary decision, a successful appeal relies upon showing that the discretion has miscarried. In sentencing appeals where there is no express error, error is said to be shown - or 'manifested' - in the result. The requirement to show that a sentence was 'manifestly inadequate' (or, in the case of a defence appeal, 'manifestly excessive') allows commentators to report an appeal against sentence as though these phrases in some way reflect an undue criticism of the primary judge.

    More recently, the High Court has reminded us that a that a residual restraint applies to prosecution appeals (which this case was). This attitude of restraint means that an appeal may not be allowed, even if the primary decision is considered to be wrong, unless to allow the decision to remain undisturbed would be 'an affront to the administration of justice'.

    It is all too easy to take these expressions out of context to reflect pejoratively upon the primary court. In my view, a fair reading of the judgment shows that this sort of criticism was not intended.

  • Bachaven on 26/02/2016 12:15:03 PM

    Judge Jeffreys prior to his appointment as a District Court Judge had a distinguished career as a Solicitor advocate in which he specialised in criminal law. His Honour has a sharp mind for detail, respect for the law and unlike others tries to find the best in people irrespective of what they have been accused. If Governments legislate confusing laws it can hardly hold Judicial Officers responsible for the outcome.

  • LD on 24/02/2016 12:30:47 PM

    Judges administer the law as set down by parliament. Perhaps a transport Minister should to his attorney-general for advice since it is not his field of expertise. Additionally, the long held practice on both sides of politics of trying to be 'tough' on crime, yet legislating confusing and inadequate sentencing guidelines is finally coming to a head.

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