Case Study: Make Threat to Kill, Arson, and other offences
Updated: Sep 15
(1) Criminal damage by fire (arson); (2) Criminal damage (intentionally damage/destroy property) x3; (3) Assault emergency worker x2; (4) Make a threat to kill; (5) Use carriage service to menace; (6) Use carriage service to harass; and (7) Fail to answer bail.
Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court – August 2023.
Summary of facts
Our client was released from custody earlier this year after serving a term of imprisonment of just over 8 months. After he served his period of incarceration he returned home to live with his family.
Three (3) days following his release from custody, and in the context of ongoing conflict with his father, and having consumed illicit drugs he caused damage to the family home. He was subsequently charged with Arson and Criminal damage. Fortunately, the fire damage to the home was relatively contained and was not as extensive as it might have otherwise been.
In addition to this matter, our client also faced additional charges from two separate police briefs. These charges included Make threat to kill, Assault emergency worker, and further offences of Criminal damage (belonging to Ambulance Victoria).
What happened at Court?
Having received detailed advice in regard to the strength of the prosecution case, our client instructed our office to consolidate all charges by way of a consolidated plea of guilty. Summary case conference negotiations resulted in relevant alternative offences being withdrawn.
Several years before the offending our client had been diagnosed with having an Acquired Brain Injury. Such was the extent and severity of his ABI that he was registered under the NDIS and was being provided with assistance from the State Trustees.
Neuropsychological reports were obtained from his treating health practitioners and the contents of these reports made clear the adverse impacts of his ABI (for example memory impairment, and impulse control).
The Court accepted our submissions that his serious underlying mental health was a causative factor underlying his offending, and further that the Court moderate any term of imprisonment to be served on account that his ABI rendered his incarceration more burdensome than a prisoner who did not suffer from an ABI (R v Verdins (2007) 16 VR 295).
Our submissions to the Court identified that although the offending was very serious, any sentence needed to feature an aspect of continued treatment and rehabilitation.
Our client was sentenced with conviction to an aggregate term of imprisonment of four (4) months and a 12-month Community Corrections Order (CCO). A deduction for pre-sentence detention was also made.
The presiding Magistrate imposed a CCO with the following conditions:
Be supervised by the Secretary;
Undergo treatment and rehabilitation:
Assessment and treatment (including testing) for drug abuse or dependency as directed; and
Mental health assessment and treatment as directed.
The presiding Magistrate indicated that but for our client’s plea of guilty, the sentence imposed would have otherwise been an 8-month term of imprisonment.