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R. v. Haigh

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Court/Judicial body: Criminal Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria

Citation: R v Haigh, VSA 185 [2009]
Date: 12 May 2009
Instrument(s) cited: Penalties and Sentences Act 1985, Section 18A Sentencing Act 1991, Section 13

Case summary

Background:  Paul Steven Haigh petitioned the Supreme Court of Victoria, asking that the Court establish a fixed non-parole period for his life term prison sentence, after which he would potentially be eligible for parole, pursuant to the Sentencing Act of 1991, Section 13. At the time of his application, Haigh was serving six life sentences for six murders committed when he was aged 21.

Issue and resolution:  Life imprisonment and establishing a non-parole period for a life prison term. The Court declined to fix a non-parole period for Haigh, keeping his sentence at an unrestricted term for Haigh’s natural life.

Court reasoning:  The Court stated in its opinion that when determining whether fixing the non-parole period of a convicted individual’s sentence was appropriate, it should consider the nature of the offence committed by such applicant or the past history of the applicant. The Court also stated that it would be an “exceptional course” for the Court not to fix a minimum, defined non-parole term when requested by an applicant serving a life sentence. In providing a basis for when the Court might consider rejecting a request to set a non-parole period, it cited several precedent opinions, indicating that the Court might decline to set a non-parole period for an applicant who had committed multiple murders. With respect to Haigh, the Court reasoned that the number and brutality of the murders committed by Haigh, and Haigh’s failure to truly demonstrate that he was a person who had changed and was ready to understand and accept the values and morals of society, did not warrant setting a fixed non-parole period for Haigh.

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