Sunday, November 19, 2006

A "Civil liberties" activist turned judge loves criminals, spurns victims

Two reports below about the verdicts of a judge who was formerly President of the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties. Strange that to bleeding-heart types it is the criminals who have that sacred "victim" status instead of the real victims.

District Court judge Ian Dearden's decision not to jail a teacher who filmed himself fondling a 14-year-old former pupil has been criticised by two of Queensland's most senior judges. The judges have intervened in the case and ordered the man go straight to prison.

Steven Peter Quick, 29, received a wholly suspended 18-month jail term and a 12-month intensive correction order when he pleaded guilty before Judge Dearden in August. But the Quick case was considered by the Court of Appeal following an appeal by the Attorney-General on the grounds Judge Dearden's sentence was "manifestly inadequate".

Quick was the girl's former maths and science teacher in central Queensland in 2004 and he subsequently became friends with her. During the September school holidays he drove the girl to an isolated location near Bundaberg where he filmed himself caressing her breasts. He later rang the girl and told her to lie for him or he would harm her when he discovered the Crime and Misconduct Commission were investigating the incident.

Judge Dearden imposed the non-custodial sentence after accepting a defence submission of exceptional circumstances in the case. But in a 2-1 majority decision yesterday, the Court of Appeal set aside Judge Dearden's sentence and imposed two concurrent 18-month jail terms. It ordered Quick must serve three months in actual custody.

In his published reasons, Chief Justice Paul de Jersey said the primary consideration in a case such as Quick's was general deterrence and "community denunciation". He said the gross breach of trust, large age gap between the pair and Quick's deliberate conduct "strongly supported" a jail sentence while the circumstances relied on by Judge Dearden to suspend the sentence were "not sufficiently unusual" to justify Quick avoiding jail. Among Justice de Jersey's criticisms of Judge Dearden were that he'd given too much weight to the effect of the events on Quick and not enough to the impact on the victim; had wrongly regarded as relevant a claim that the victim had shown some consent to the crime, and had not given enough weight to Quick's threat to harm the victim.

Justice Richard Chesterman also ruled the circumstances relied on by Judge Dearden to wholly suspend the jail term were not exceptional and said general deterrence in the case was important. "The sentencing judge here may well have had regard to the need for deterrence but the sentence imposed reveals that His Honour cannot have given it sufficient weight," Justice Chesterman said.


An arsonist who watched as a fire he lit destroyed a building containing seven Gold Coast businesses has been declared eligible for parole despite serving only 10 months of a four-year sentence, after a judge accepted he was disadvantaged. A woman who fled the burning building with her husband has slammed the parole recommendation as "a disgrace". "He cost an awful lot of people an awful lot of money and he nearly cost us our lives," said Yvonne Atkins, who was inside the Currumbin Boat Shed complex with husband Allan when Mark Brendan Roderick set it ablaze.

Roderick, 29, pleaded guilty in Southport District Court to one count of arson and eight counts of wilful damage. The boat shed was razed on September 22 last year, destroying a popular restaurant and businesses including the Atkins' kiosk. Judge Ian Dearden said Roderick had crushed "people's dreams, their hopes and their ability to earn a living". But he said Roderick had started life with a "terrible disadvantage" after being born to a drug-addicted mother. He imposed a four-year jail sentence but ordered Roderick be eligible for parole after serving 317 days in pre-sentence custody.


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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