Soft cell: Magistrate’s angry outburst over 'pathetic' sentencing laws

A MAGISTRATE has labelled sentencing limits “pathetic”, arguing they restrict the court from handing down an adequate punishment in the case of a violent assault in Gunnedah.

Magistrate Roger Prowse said the court was hamstrung by a two-year maximum jurisdictional limit for offences, telling a prisoner he deserved more for violently lashing out at two men on Anzac Day last year.

“The most you can get is two years. That’s pathetic,” he told Tamworth Local Court last week.

“You should be getting four years.”

Magistrate Prowse labelled Geoffrey James Creighton a “vicious, violent, cowardly thug”, in sentencing him for assault causing actual bodily harm to two men; Creighton also stole from the men as they lay injured on the ground.

Magistrate Prowse said the offences were “serious acts of violence in serious ways” but that the courts were hamstrung by lawmakers.

“There are now increasingly ridiculous restraints on this court by the Parliament,” he said, adding that Creighton could only be sentenced to two years in prison for one offence.

The court heard Creighton violently kicked two victims after he had punched them to the ground.

Creighton had “obliterated himself” on alcohol on Anzac Day, 2013, before he went to the local noodle bar about 10.30pm.

Heavily intoxicated, he confronted the victim, who was wearing service medals before he punched him to the ground “where he lay unmoving”.

He then kicked a second man five times after he punched him before a witness tried to intervene.

Creighton then kicked the victim again before stealing their wallets and a mobile phone before he ran away.

The victims sustained bruising, lacerations and swelling and called police before Creighton was identified as the perpetrator.

However, he wasn’t charged until December 22, when he was tracked down by police.

Solicitor Matt Kwan told the court his client had limited recollection of the incidents and had been binge-drinking at the time, often to the point he blacked out.

“He has no idea why he did any of those offences,” he said.

“But he has realised the error of his ways ... he is extremely regretful.”

Mr Kwan argued Creighton was a perfect candidate for rehabilitation, given his new mindset, but crown prosecutor Mark Ferguson was at odds, telling the court the offences were serious.

“He is a threat to the community,” Mr Ferguson said.

“He has been given opportunities in the past ... he doesn’t seem to have taken or seized that.”

Magistrate Prowse told Creighton he needed to stop abusing alcohol, sentencing him to 12 months for one assault, and then a further two years on top of that for the second assault.

Creighton’s prison sentence will expire in 2018.

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