Court/Judicial body: Supreme Court of Queensland (QCA)
Citation:  QCA 310
Date: 28 September 2007
Instrument(s) cited: Corrective Services Act 2006 (Qld.) Criminal Code 1899 (Qld.) Juvenile Justice Act 1992 (Qld.)
Background: After pleading guilty to two charges of murder, one charge of manslaughter and four charges of rape, Maygar was sentenced to life in prison with the requirement that he serve a minimum of 20 years before being eligible for parole, which is the minimum non-parole period allowed by statute for a murder conviction. A participant in the crimes, WT, was sentenced to 10 years’ detention with an order for release after five years, for murder, plus one year of detention for interfering with a corpse. The mitigating factors resulting in WT’s shorter sentence included, among other things, his youth, a limited mental capacity, and the fact that he felt coerced into participating in the crimes out of fear of being killed by Maygar and a third participant in the crimes – Woodman – who was 16 at the time of the offence and was sentenced to life in prison in connection with the crimes, but he was not subject to the appeal before the Court. Maygar was 18 years old and WT was 16 at the time the crimes were committed. The Attorney-General of Queensland appealed the sentencing decisions of Maygar and WT to the Court, seeking an extension of Maygar’s non-parole term to thirty years, an extension of WT’s sentence to twelve years, with an order of release after serving half of that sentence. With respect to Maygar, the Attorney-General argued that the trial court had committed an error in sentencing him by taking into account the sentence imposed on Woodman under the Juvenile Justice Act 1992. With respect to WT, the Attorney-General argued that the crimes committed by WT were “particularly heinous” within the meaning of Section 176(3) of the Juvenile Justice Act 1992, warranting an increased sentence and the public identification of WT.
Issue and resolution: Sentencing of juvenile offenders. The Court reviewed whether circumstances warranted increasing the sentences of Maygar and WT. The Court found Maygar’s sentence to be manifestly inadequate and increased the non-parole term of Maygar’s sentence to 30 years. The Court found that WT’s actions were not “particularly heinous” within the meaning of the statute and dismissed the appeal with respect to WT.
Court reasoning: With respect to Maygar, the Court noted that the only mitigating factors in favor of Maygar were his youth and his pleading guilty to the crimes with which he was charged. The Court found that the number and violent nature of the crimes committed by Maygar outweighed these mitigating factors. The Court rejected the Attorney-General’s argument that the trial court erred in taking into account the disparity in the length of sentences to be imposed on the appellant and the other accused person. The Court explained that the different sentences are a consequence of two different sentencing regimes – one for adult offenders and one for children. As a result, the Court ruled that the sentence imposed by the trial court was manifestly inadequate and made an order to increase Maygar’s non-parole term to 30 years. With respect to WT, the Court noted that WT’s involvement in the crimes was significantly different from that of Maygar, with a greater number of mitigating factors. Taking all facts and circumstances into account with respect to WT, the Court determined that the acts by WT were not “particularly heinous.”
Dissenting opinion: Justice Mullins dissented in part to the majority opinion. While agreeing with the Court’s reasoning with respect to increasing Maygar’s sentence, Justice Mullins would have imposed a twenty-five year non-parole period after taking Maygar’s youth and mental illness (which Maygar did not use as a defense at trial) into account.
Link to full judgement: http://archive.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2007/QCA07-310.pdf