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Australia Surge in guilty pleas ahead of reduced sentencing discounts in South Australian courts

06:50  30 october  2020
06:50  30 october  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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A special South Australian court has been set up to only accept guilty pleas from offenders including accused paedophiles and drug traffickers, on the More than 20 cases of guilty pleas were due to be heard today. Ten matters were listed in the Adelaide Magistrates Court committal list — where pleas

After an early guilty plea , he received a 40 per cent discount and was sentenced to four years and nine months in South Australian Attorney-General Vickie Chapman says the new laws strike a balance between community expectations and Sentencing discounts in SA see fewer lengthy trials.

a man wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Jadd William Brooker pleaded guilty to seven of the charges against him. (Facebook) © Provided by ABC NEWS Jadd William Brooker pleaded guilty to seven of the charges against him. (Facebook)

A special South Australian court has been set up to only accept guilty pleas from offenders including accused paedophiles and drug traffickers, on the last day a 40 per cent sentencing discount is available before laws change on Monday.

Ten matters were listed in the Adelaide Magistrates Court committal list — where pleas are entered for the state's more serious alleged crimes — but it is understood a further 12 cases were added early this morning.

From Monday, an alleged offender will no longer be able to secure a sentencing discount of up to 40 per cent if a plea is entered within four weeks of being charged.

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Legal Help for all South Australians . About Us. The defendant entering a guilty plea in relation to the offence is a factor to be taken into consideration at sentencing . Under these provisions, the court is able to reduce the sentence it would have otherwise imposed by such a percentage as the

Laws have been changed to reduce that potential discount from 40 to 25 per cent.

Magistrate Brett Dixon this morning confirmed that a special court was set up to just accept guilty pleas.

"This has been contravened as a plea court for the purposes of the discount legislation," he told the court while accepting pleas for an accused paedophile.

Jadd William Brooker, 38, today pleaded guilty to seven of the 44 charges against him, which will secure him a sentencing discount of up to 30 per cent for those charges.

If he had entered a plea from next Monday, he would have only been entitled to a discount of up to 15 per cent under the new laws.

The pleas were entered through Brooker's lawyer.

During an earlier bail application, the Supreme Court was told that Brooker's alleged offending was "extremely serious", with one investigating officer describing it as the "worst and most degrading witnessed in 14 years of investigation".

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Offering discounts on jail sentences for South Australian offenders who plead guilty early see fewer cases going to potentially lengthy trials. A statutory review of the Guilty Pleas Act conducted by former Supreme Court chief justice Brian Martin has shown there has been a rise in major indictable

Legal Help for all South Australians . Refine results. Search by. Sentencing related definitions. Pleading guilty and the finding of guilt . The sentencing court should sentence the defendant based upon the facts put forward by the defendant which are most favourable, so long as those facts

It heard Brooker allegedly offended against children in Adelaide, New South Wales and Italy with three child victims being identified and up to a further nine victims yet to be identified.

"Those discoveries of those three known children have been made whilst there has been, what I'll call, a cursory search of two of the accused's messaging apps, which is Skype and Telegram," prosecutor Lucy Boord said in September.

She told the court that police still had to analyse 50,000 messages across nine messaging apps, including iMessage, Kik, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Today, Matthew John Freeborn pleaded guilty to maintaining an unlawful relationship with a child between May and December in 2016.

Another paedophile, Paul Christian Crossie, admitted to a charge of producing child exploitation material.

Pekka Kemppanein pleaded guilty to attempted murder but prosecutors said that plea was yet to be accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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Reducing a custodial sentence to reflect a guilty plea may enable a magistrates’ court to retain jurisdiction of an either way offence rather than committing the case for sentence to the Crown Court . In such cases a magistrates’ court should apply the appropriate reduction to the sentence for the

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Discount 'not in line with community expectation'

A spokesperson for Chief Magistrate Mary-Louise Hribal said "about 23 matters for guilty pleas to be entered" were listed for hearing as a result of the legislative change that comes into effect November 2.

"We regularly list matters in court for the purpose of entering a guilty plea," the spokesperson said.

"Our other courts were fully listed and so we arranged for a court to be opened for that purpose."

Shadow Attorney-General Kyam Maher said it was "quite frankly appalling" that offenders were rushing to get discounted sentences.

"This Liberal Government, Vickie Chapman and Steven Marshall, have had opportunity after opportunity to slash these generous sentencing discounts and have failed to do so," he said.

"Finally when legislation passes, they wait some three weeks before it's actually enacted.

"What that did is put up in neon lights to all people who have committed very serious crimes — sex offenders, attempted murderers — to enter an early guilty plea today to get out of jail early."

But Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the Government has taken an advantage away from serious criminals.

"The Marshall Liberal Government has moved to address serious concerns about the sentencing discount regime for early guilty pleas introduced by the former Labor Government, which shifted the balance in favour of serious criminals," she said.

"We firmly believe that a discount of up to 40 per cent is not in line with community expectations.

"Defendants who force victims through the trauma of giving evidence in court should not be rewarded with a discount in their sentence.

"The new laws coming into effect Monday will address this — significantly reducing the size of any discount on offer while ensuring that community protection is at the heart of sentencing decisions."

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