Life Sentence

Prison life

Life Sentence

Nicholas Crilley was arrested after a police chase involving several stolen cars. He was charged with 56 offences including supply of a prohibited drug, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, rape, grievous bodily harm, deprivation of liberty and torture, which involved burning. The 34-year-old man was high on methylamphetamine throughout the course of the ordeal.

The 22-year-old victim suffered burns to 46% of her body along with multiple broken bones, deep lacerations and internal injuries. Her injuries were so severe that ambulance officers found her semi-conscious with parts of her body infested with maggots.

After spending 8 weeks in hospital, the victim is now learning to walk, eat and speak again. The District Court Judge stated as part of the sentence that “for a period of 23 days you engaged in systematic acts of degradation and torture. You took pleasure in the infliction of pain.” The judge sentenced him to life in prison.

HOW LONG IS LIFE IN PRISON?

In New South Wales, Section 431A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) defines the certain offences for which life in prison apply:

(1) This section applies to offences under–

(a) an Act, or

(b) an Imperial Act so far as it applies in New South Wales, or

(c) a rule of law.

(2) A person is not liable to the punishment of imprisonment for life for any offence to which this section applies except for the offence of murder, for an offence under section 61JA, for an offence under section 66A or for an offence carrying that punishment under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 .

(3) Where, but for this subsection, no penalty would be provided for an offence to which this section applies that was formerly punishable by imprisonment for life, that offence is punishable by imprisonment for 25 years.

(4) This section applies to offences committed before or after the commencement of this section. However, this section does not apply where committal proceedings (or proceedings by way of ex officio indictment) for the offence were instituted against the convicted person before the commencement of this section.

(5) Any amendment made by the Crimes (Life Sentences) Amendment Act 1989 altering the penalty for an offence under this Act from imprisonment for life to imprisonment for 25 years applies to an offence committed before or after the commencement of the amendment. However, the amendment does not apply where committal proceedings (or proceedings by way of ex officio indictment) for the offence were instituted against the convicted person before the commencement of the amendment.

For the offences of murder, sexual intercourse with a child under 10, aggravated sexual assault in company and certain drug offences, life in prison means until the end of that person’s natural life. For other offences, life in prison means 25 years. There is no death penalty as per section 431 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

WHAT DEFENCES ARE THERE FOR SUCH OFFENCES?

The story indicates that Nicholas was under the influence of illegal drugs while committing the offences. Would this be considered a defence?

The answer is that it depends. Self-induced intoxication is usually not a defence to the crime. However, if the intoxication was involuntary, that is, someone for example spiked the defendant’s drink or otherwise administered the drugs without the defendant’s knowledge or consent, then it could be a defence under section 428G of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Another defence is duress. Duress is when there is an imminent threat to the accused or the accused’s family and that serious harm or death will result unless the crime is committed. Such a defence is available to all crimes except murder or treason.

Mental illness is also a defence if the accused had a mental illness that rendered them unable to control themselves or understand what they are doing. Read more about defences here.

HOW WE CAN HELP

There are many other defences that arise out of criminal cases. National Criminal Lawyers® have a working knowledge of all defences that are both written down in statute law and arise out of cases. With over 73% of charges withdrawn, 83% of hearings won, and 94% of cases resulting in non-convictions, National Criminal Lawyers® has a strong track record of success. Contact us for a free consultation.

 

 

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