Kieran Loveridge punched and killed Thomas Kelly in an unprovoked attack on 7 July 2012, and was sentenced to five years and two months prison. The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal found that decision to be “manifestly inadequate” and increased his minimum sentence to ten years. Thomas was walking with his girlfriend while on his phone when he was struck.
Shaun Stuart McNeil punched and killed Daniel Christie on New Years Eve 2013. Shaun was in the process of assaulting a group of youths for insulting his partner’s appearance, when Daniel asked him, “Why are you hitting kids”. Shaun then advanced on Daniel and struck him. Shaun was sentenced to ten years jail with a non-parole period of seven and a half years.
Jesse James Patrick punched and killed Bruce “Wolf” Steensen on 22 February 2014. Bruce had seen Patrick yelling abuse at a passing car and told him to “pull his head in”. According to the Sunshine Coast Daily, “The two got into a brief scuffle before being pulled away from each other. Mr Steensen walked away but Patrick run [sic] up behind him and punched him in the head.” Jesse was 23 and Bruce was 53 on the night of the attack. Jesse was sentenced to eight years, and will not be eligible for parole until four years of the sentence have been served. Jesse was also on parole at the time for a similar offence according, to the Brisbane Times.
The above three stories are only a few of the truly evil acts that have been perpetrated in this country. Sadly, there is one more story we can add to this list. Lindsay Ede, a grandfather in his fifties, was struck and killed by Ariik Mayot, 19 while walking to his brother’s house in Goodna, Ipswich on 22 June 2015. Ariik was sentenced to four years in prison in addition to the two years he has served thus far. He will be eligible for parole in just over three years.
The fresh horror of this latest sentence is that Ariik was sentenced under Queensland’s new “one punch” laws. Which means that despite all the public outcry and criticism of an out-of-touch judiciary in recent years, this is the outcome the judiciary have returned.
The court heard that Ariik was heading to the police station to turn himself in for breach of bail when the attack occurred. It seems implausible to me that one as civic-minded and possessed of enough level-headed sanity to turn themselves in for a breach of bail was then also compelled by “flight or fight” to strike a man from behind. In what can probably be called the greatest understatement of all time, Justice Holmes noted, “It makes you a dangerous person unless you learn to control that impulse”.
The court also heard how Ariik (who is Sudanese) had experienced racism and bullying when he was younger. Ariik also asserted that Lindsay called him a “black bastard”. This also seems implausible to me; are we meant to accept that Lindsay, whom the Courier Mail described as “frail,” called a man over thirty years his junior a racial slur and then faced away from him?
“Justice Holmes said while Mayot acted in ‘fight or flight’ manner, the fact remained Mr Ede never said or did anything that justified him as being a threat.”
Sadly, these travesties of justice seem to be occurring routinely. If we the people are meant to have confidence in the government and the justice system to keep our streets safe, how many of these betrayals does it take before the people lose faith in their rulers and judges?
A high-trust society requires a few things. The first is the assurance that people who cannot or will not comply with society’s rules are quarantined; longer sentences that reflect community expectation will achieve this. Secondly, law-abiding citizens must be confident that the law represents a principled consensus; if not, then it is hard to combat the notion that we are ruled by a group of judicial elites who don’t experience the consequences of their decisions. Finally, I would remind legal ivory tower dwellers and politicians alike that the justice system exists primarily to protect society and law-abiding citizens; the notion that there exists an equal or even greater duty to the perpetrator’s rehabilitation is a corrupting and decadent falsehood.
Armstrong Renata, who killed Cole Miller in an unprovoked attack last year, will be sentenced this year. I hope for the sake of Cole, his family and our society that the judiciary will remember, “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done”.
Photo by PsJeremy