Parole board delays not sufficient to grant leave to appeal on prison sentence

Queensland’s Court of Appeal has ruled that significant delays in Parole Board Queensland applications were not sufficient grounds to grant a man leave to appeal a jail sentence he contends should have been suspended, rather than being granted an early parole eligibility date.

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane has refused an application by Peter James Jason for leave to appeal a two-year jail term he received after pleading guilty to one count of possessing “thousands of electronic child exploitation images” in from Southport District Court on 2 February this year.

Jason, who has previously been jailed for the same offence, appealed the decision by Judge David Kent to grant him eligibility to apply for parole on 8 August, rather than ordering that the term be suspended at that time.

Court of Appeal President Justice Walter Sofronoff, in a decision published last Friday, said that Jason sought leave to appeal the sentence on the grounds it was “manifestly excessive”.

“(Jason) submitted that there is now a notorious delay of several months before an application for parole will actually be considered by the Parole Board,” Justice Sofronoff said.

“In addition, it was said that it was likely, or perhaps possible, that the Board will respond to (Jason’s) application for parole by requiring him to complete particular courses, yet places on many courses are unavailable due to congestion so that he will have to serve his full term.

“Further, (Jason) says that living conditions in prison are ‘deplorable’ because of overcrowding.”

The court, also comprising Justices Philip Morrison and Peter Flanagan, was told Jason was previously sentenced to 15 months’ jail in December 2014 for the offence of using a carriage service to make available child exploitation material.

On that occasion, the sentencing District Court judge ordered Jason be released on a recognisance after serving three months of the prison term.

In the case considered by Judge Kent, Jason’s counsel had requested any prison term imposed for the latest offence be suspended, rather than a parole eligibility date being nominated.

Justice Sofronoff said: “On this appeal (Jason) does not challenge the propriety of the (two-year) head sentence but submitted that the sentence was too severe because … (it)  should have been suspended after a period of incarceration.

“(Jason) pointed to several matters which, he submitted, would justify the grant of leave to appeal. None of them do.

“An appeal against sentence is not a chance to make a better case; it is a chance to correct legal and factual error.

“None of these matters raise any arguable errors. They were not mentioned at sentence and, in any event, they are aspects of the realities of imprisonment with which judges are very familiar.

“These arguments do not justify the grant of leave to appeal.

“In any case, (Jason) is a mature man who has previously experienced what will happen to him if he accesses or possesses child pornography. He enjoyed the benefit of a suspended sentence on that first occasion.

“He could not reasonably expect a second go at such leniency and, on the contrary, could rightly be regarded as a man who warrants the judgment of the Parole Board whether he ought to be released and as also requiring the supervision afforded by parole if he is released before his term of imprisonment ends.

“In short, the sentence was not wrong.”

Read the decision.

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