News & Insight

Petitioning for Minimum sentencing laws in cases of Manslaughter

Dear Mr O'Farrell,

In the sentencing of Thomas Kelly's case on Friday 08th November 2013, Justice Stephen Campbell in the Supreme Court of NSW, convicted the offender Kieran Loveridge for manslaughter with a sentence of 8 years, discounted by 25% for his guilty plea, making it 6 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 4 years.

In effect, the offender will no doubt receive a total discount of 50 percent by the time he is let out in what could already be considered a lenient sentence for the killing of an innocent young man who was walking down a Sydney street at 10.05pm unaware that he was about to be king hit and lose his life.

The Attorney General, Mr Greg Smith, is well aware that the maximum penalty for the charge of manslaughter (Section 18, 24 of the Crimes Act) is 25 years imprisonment.  Mr Smith is also aware that in NSW the maximum charge has NEVER been given or anything even close to it.  In reality convictions stay in single digits - under 10 years.

Justice Campbell went on to say:

"The crime of manslaughter to which the offender has pleaded guilty is the category known as 'manslaughter by an unlawful and dangerous act'. The elements of this form of manslaughter are as follows:

(1) That the punching of the deceased was an act of the offender which caused the death of the deceased;

(2) That act was deliberate;

(3) That act was both unlawful and dangerous.

Assessing the seriousness of a manslaughter charge is always difficult.  It is often said of manslaughter that it is a most protean offence, because it covers a wide spectrum of offending from a practical joke gone wrong to a crime falling just short of murder.  It is that latter category which is likely to produce the worst case and the present offending, significant as its consequences were, does not fall into that worst case category. However, the elements I have already referred to, which the manslaughter of Thomas Kelly has in common with the lesser offending, puts the case into the category of some seriousness".  

As a community of NSW we have realistic expectations that our government leaders will provide protection to the people of this state.  As part of that we expect that in the event of serious crimes resulting in death offenders will receive a significant sentence.

What Ralph and Kathy would like to see is an offence that deals specifically with the death of a person as a result of a violent / criminal act but does not reach the necessary threshold to establish 'murder'.  At present 'manslaughter' appears to be the catch-all offence for every death that doesn't satisfy the elements of a murder offence.  We believe there has to be an 'in between' area between accidental death that occurs in tragic circumstances and the offence of 'murder', with minimum sentences being applied.

This will then allow our legal system to be in sync with the community's sentiments when serious offences are brought to justice.

When the sentence was handed down for Thomas' killing, Kathy and I looked at each other in court and I said to her:  "I have no idea then how you would ever get close to the high-end of a manslaughter charge if Thomas' case is at the low-end?"

Please support our cause and make a difference to provide justice in our outdated legal system.  Whilst nothing can be done to change our son's case, at least we can all make a difference for other families who will find themselves in our position.  It is not "if" the next person will be killed by a king hit - it is just a matter of "when".

Ralph & Kathy Kelly
(Parents of Thomas Kelly)

About the foundation:

The Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation was established to help to make a difference to the terrible number of deaths and hospitalisations (over 50,000 per year in NSW alone) caused as a result of alcohol-fuelled violence. The cost to our community is not only measured in billions of dollars each and every year but also in human sadness and wasted lives. Please help by supporting us to make Sydney and our cities - safe to be able to enjoy. 

TK - TAKE Kare


Published on by TKYF. Source.