QLD_CM_INSIGHT_MCMURDO_20DEC13(2)
QLD_CM_INSIGHT_MCMURDO_20DEC13(2)

‘Get out of jail card’ for worst offenders

MORE than 1200 criminals found guilty of some of the state's worst crimes - or 30 per cent of offenders - have walked free from court without serving a single day in jail.

New figures released by the Attorney-General show just two people in the past three years received the maximum penalty for their crime - two rapists who are serving life in prison.

And 1250 got no jail time at all, including 73 rapists, 441 armed robbers and 156 violent offenders guilty of serious assault.

It means more than one in 10 of people guilty of rape, a third of people guilty of armed robbery, two in five guilty of unarmed robbery, one in four guilty of serious assault and more than one third of those who breach a domestic violence order did not see the inside of a jail cell.

Just over 150 were given a wholly suspended sentence, including Ashleigh Watterson who smothered her four-month-old baby, which survived, and Erick Oseguedo who digitally raped a schoolgirl on a bus.

Ashleigh Watterson was given a two-year wholly-suspended sentence for assaulting her baby daughter Sarah in 2017. Picture: Darren Engalnd/AAP
Ashleigh Watterson was given a two-year wholly-suspended sentence for assaulting her baby daughter Sarah in 2017. Picture: Darren Engalnd/AAP

The figures come in the wake of criticism of sentences handed down in high-profile cases as manifestly inadequate and anger around sentences doled out to Extinction Rebellion offenders repeatedly clogging Brisbane's roads.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said sentences were "a matter for the courts, and the sentence imposed depends on the facts of each case".

But advocates say courts are too often focused on softening sentences, rather than focusing on the victim impact.

Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence director Di Macleod, who supports rape victims through the court process, said they were rarely happy with sentences.

"For most people it's the worst thing that's happened in their life and to see it minimalised and trivialised … it just doest match the trauma they have to carry for the rest of their life."

Ms Macleod said she wasn't a proponent of incarcerating everyone that broke the law but some people forfeited their rights through their violent actions and the community wanted sentencing to reflect punishment, deterrence and justice.

"Someone who has been found guilty of a sex crime should not be able to have a character reference before the court to consider what a great person they are when they've been found guilty of a sex crime," she said.

Oseguedo Siguenza pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court to digitally raping a schoolgirl on a bus and was given a 12-month wholly-suspended sentence in 2016.
Oseguedo Siguenza pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court to digitally raping a schoolgirl on a bus and was given a 12-month wholly-suspended sentence in 2016.

"It is abhorrent to a victim to have to listen to the character reference of a rapist.

"He might be a great bloke down at the sporting club, but a good bloke doesn't rape someone."

Anti-violence campaigner Paul Stanley began the Matthew Stanley Foundation after his son Paul was killed in a one-punch attack in 2006.

He said his son's killer served just two-and-a-half years.

"There doesn't seem to be enough consistency, people are given a slap with a wet lettuce and told to go home and not do it again," he said.

"I don't think there's any justice in the entire world."

He said the system treated the perpetrators as the victims.

"It's patently insufficient time that these people are kept off the streets," he said.

"What I want to see is the scum off the street so that I don't need to be worried going to the pub on a Friday, Saturday night with all the drunks."

Paul Stanley from the Matthew Stanley Foundation
Paul Stanley from the Matthew Stanley Foundation

Queensland Sentencing Council Chair John Robertson said their research showed imprisonment rates in both the magistrates courts and higher courts had risen significantly in the past five years.

He said courts were bound to sentence in accordance with legal principles and must consider those on a case-by-case basis.

"Again the evidence is that, apart from the very serious offenders - who presently get substantial jail time and, in the case of murder, the maximum life imprisonment - where the primary purpose is protection of the community, imprisonment does not work well to deter reoffending or to rehabilitate the offender," he said.

Mr Robertson said evidence showed sentences served in the community under supervision had a better outcome for the community and offender.