Attorney-General wins appeal against immediate parole handed to one-punch attacker

Queensland’s highest court has overturned a judge’s decision to grant immediate parole to a former junior AFL star who knocked a man unconscious in a North Queensland fast food restaurant.

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane today (19 January) issued a warrant for the arrest of Luke Daniel Chitty, 27, for the grievous bodily assault (GBH) of a 39-year-old man captured by CCTV cameras at a Cairns McDonald’s restaurant shortly after 11pm on 6 August 2019.

Chitty was sentenced to two-an-a-half years’ jail, with immediate parole, when he pleaded guilty to one count of GBH in the Cairns District Court on August 12 last year (2020).

Queensland’s Attorney-General appealed the sentence on the grounds it was “manifestly inadequate.’’

Court of Appeal Justice David Boddice, in a unanimous nine-page written decision, granted the A-G’s appeal by ordering Chitty serve at least eight-months of the sentence in actual custody.

The Court was told Chitty struck his victim, a pilot, on the side of the head and that the attack resulted in the victim being knocked out for two minutes and sustaining multiple jaw fractures that later required surgery.

At his sentencing hearing, Chitty was granted immediate parole after providing a letter of apology and the sentencing judge accepting submissions that accused “had dysfunction in his upbringing and had had a promising sporting career cut short by injury.’’

“The Attorney-General appeals that sentence on the ground it was manifestly inadequate,’’ Justice Boddice said.

“The inadequacy is said to arise as a consequence of the imposition of a sentence which did not require the respondent to immediately serve actual imprisonment.

“At issue, is whether the sentence imposed failed to address the relevant sentencing principles of deterrence, denunciation and the protection of the community and, as a consequence, was manifestly inadequate.’’

The COA, comprising Justices Boddice, Philip Morrison and James Henry, ruled the sentence was inadequate and issued a warrant for Chitty’s arrest.

“As the sentence imposed was manifestly inadequate, it is necessary to re-exercise the sentencing discretion,” Justice Boddice said.

“Although (Chitty’s) offending conduct and the consequences of his actions may have justified a head sentence significantly higher than two and a half years’ imprisonment, it is conceded by the Attorney-General that the head sentence fell within a proper exercise of the sentencing discretion.

“Having regard to (Chitty’s) relative youth and personal circumstances, including his undiagnosed and untreated medical conditions, such a concession is properly made.

“In re-exercising sentencing discretion, I would order that the respondent be imprisoned for two and a half years … (and) order that the respondent be released from custody after serving eight months of that sentence.’’

Justice Boddice has ordered that Chitty’s parole release date be fixed at September 19, 2021.

Read the decision on the Supreme Court website.

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