Crime in Alice decreasing? Not at the serious end of the spectrum it would seem. Chief Justice Trevor Riley said today that criminal lodgements (formal accusations) in the Alice Springs registry of the Supreme Court are expected to be up by 40% in 2013/2014 compared to the previous reporting year.
Cycle of revenge not 'traditional' and cannot be tolerated, says Chief Justice
Two men were sentenced yesterday for their part in the violence at Little Sisters town camp on March 7 last year. Their names are familiar now to anyone who attended the trial of Liam Jurrah, cleared by a jury last week of having caused serious harm to Basil Jurrah, his cousin. Christopher Walker pleaded guilty to causing that harm, and by way of "common intention", the assault on two residents of Little Sisters, carried out by Josiah Fry. An unidentified co-offender also took part in the assault on Basil Jurrah, according to the sentencing remarks of Chief Justice Trevor Riley. The Chief Justice also took the opportunity to repeat his call for "worthwhile efforts to curb the flow of alcohol" and to refute the notion that the ongoing cycle of violence between Warlpiri families is "in any way a traditional response". KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Police moving in to calm an angry crowd outside the Alice Springs courthouse during the committal hearing of Jurrah, Walker and Fry last year. The cause of a seemingly similar eruption during Liam Jurrah's recent trial was more complicated, at least in part involving another case.
The Northern Territory Chief Justice Trevor Riley appeared to be expressing his support for a Banned Drinkers Register or something similar when yesterday in Alice Springs he sentenced a man to four years and nine months for a cruel, drunken assault on his wife.
An obvious step to address the "terrible problems" of alcohol in Central Australia would be "to limit the flow of alcohol to people such as" the offender, he said. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: A drunken fight brewing in the Alice Springs CBD. Photo from our archive.
A man sentenced today in the Supreme Court in Alice Springs to six months imprisonment had already been in custody for 12. While in custody he suffered a serious assault at the hands of another prisoner (since sentenced for the offence) and spent the rest of his time in gaol in "protection", which in fact means lockdown for 22 hours a day. "The system has failed," said Chief Justice Trevor Riley (pictured).
KIERAN FINNANE reports from the Supreme Court where the jury in the Liam Jurrah trial is still out.
The Supreme Court in Alice Springs sees a 'seemingly never-ending stream of violence'
Chief Justice of the Northern Territory Trevor Riley (pictured) today added his voice to the recent calls for more to be done to "restrict the flow of alcohol to those who abuse it". He made his comments when sentencing 41 year old Errol Nelson for a violent assault on his wife in March this year. The couple had been together for about a year, were living at Areyonga but had come in to Alice Springs. Both had been drinking. Ever harsher sentences would do nothing to stem the "seemingly never-ending stream of violence" coming before the Supreme Court in Alice Springs, said the Chief Justice – "other measures must be taken". KIERAN FINNANE reports.
It's about heavier not fairer punishments and it does not deter offenders, they say.
Mandatory sentencing is strongly associated with the dying phase of the last Country Liberal Government. In many ways Terry Mills leads a different CLP into this election campaign, but it seems the leopard can't lose this particular spot – a 'lock 'em up reflex.
Earlier this month, responding to concern over attacks on taxi drivers Mr Mills announced what looks to be a one strike mandatory sentencing policy for assaults on anyone serving the public, not only taxi drivers but including "bus drivers, public servants, bank tellers, retail and hospitality workers".
An assault on this broad category of victim – including, for example, bouncers at night clubs – will be defined as "aggravated" and attract a minimum sentence of three months. This beefs up the party's existing two strike policy statement (see their website) for assault: as a second offence, any assault will attract a minimum of one month; an aggravated assault, a minimum of three months; and causing serious harm, a minimum of one year.
The core problem with this approach – whether to property crime as in the old CLP regime or violent offending – lies with its failure to take account of an almost infinite variety of circumstances and human responses to them.
KIERAN FINNANE discusses the issues with Russell Goldflam, President of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the NT .