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Judge re-sentences prisoner when shown proof of parole board delays

A Sunshine Coast judge has re-sentenced and fixed an actual parole release date for a prisoner rather than refer the matter to Parole Board Queensland (PBQ) for consideration after being supplied proof of application assessment delays of up to seven months.

Maroochydore District Court Judge Glen Cash on Tuesday 10 August reduced the sentence of a man convicted of causing grievous bodily harm from four to three years and substituted an order regarding the fixing of a parole date, as opposed to an eligibility date for assessment by PBQ.

Judge Cash initially sentenced Jwuan David Arama Eru-Guthrie to four years’ jail in April 2021 and recommended he be considered eligible for parole from 1 October 2021.

In May, Eru-Guthrie applied to the court for his sentence to be re-opened on the basis that delays by PBQ in deciding inmate parole applications were so extensive that at the time of sentence there was no real prospect of his application being decided by the recommended eligibility date.

Evidence submitted to the court included correspondence from PBQ revealing application delays were so backed-up that Eru-Guthrie’s matter was unlikely to be decided before February next year.

“An email from the Director of Legal Services of the Parole Board told (Eru-Guthries’) lawyers that: ‘A prisoner lodging a parole board application (on 20 April 2021) is likely to have it decided in December 21,” Judge Cash said in the 12-page decision.

“(Another) piece of correspondence from the Parole Board stated that at the end of May 2021 there were 4399 ‘outstanding files’, which included 2084 applications for parole … (and) said that a prisoner who made an application on 21 June 2021 would not be likely to have it decided before February 2022.”

The court had been told Eru-Guthrie spent 254 days in pre-sentence custody for inflicting serious wounds to a young man during a violent fight in which he used a knife to stab him.

“In the circumstances I was of the clear view that (Eru-Guthrie’s) sentence should be reopened and a different sentence – one that better reflected the facts as they existed – should be imposed,” he said.

“The sentence that best reflected these facts was the one proposed by (Eru-Guthrie’s lawyers). That is, to take into account but not declare the time in pre-sentence custody, sentence the applicant to imprisonment for three years and fix a parole release date of 1 October 2021.

“The effect of this sentence is that the applicant faces a ‘head’ sentence of a little more than three years and eight months but will be released to parole after he has been in custody for 14 months.

“This is a somewhat more lenient sentence than that originally imposed. But it is one that is justified in the unusual circumstances of this case.”

In May, QLS Proctor reported the case in which a Brisbane judge granted a woman’s appeal and immediate release from jail after being presented with evidence confirming current prisoner parole assessment delays of up to six months.

Read the decision.

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