The Court of Appeal (COA) has rejected an appeal against a 16-year jail sentence handed to a man for a series of “wicked and brutal” domestic and family violence offences that included torching his former partner’s house while she was inside.
The COA dismissed the appeal by a man (identified as BDS) against the “manifestly excessive” prison term he received after pleading guilty to a myriad of crimes, including numerous counts of aggravated domestic violence, such as trying to suffocate his former partner with a pillow, and one of arson.
The decision published on Friday, said that BDS, 31, pleaded guilty to “disgraceful offending” in the District Court on 10 September 2021 and was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment, with no recommendation for early parole.
The court was told that, on three separate occasions between 18 March and 4 July 2020, BDS committed a total of 11 criminal charges, including assault, aggravated break and enter, suffocation associated with domestic violence and arson – with eight of the offences constituting acts of domestic violence.
The presiding judges imposed a number of cumulative sentences of seven years, five years and four years’ imprisonment.
COA Justice David Boddice, in his written decision, said: “The consequence of the sentence was that (BDS) was sentenced to a total of 16 years’ imprisonment.
“(BDS) sought leave to appeal the sentences … (and) relied on two grounds of appeal.
“First, that the sentence imposed was manifestly excessive. Second, that the sentencing judge erred in failing to reduce (BDS’s) sentences having regard to his pleas of guilty.”
The offences were committed against BDS’s former partner, then a 31-year-old mother of eight, whom he had met through Facebook in 2014.
“Their relationship commenced shortly thereafter … (and) within approximately six months (BDS) became verbally and physically abusive,” Justice Boddice said.
“(BDS) was the father of three (of the victim’s children) … (and) the relationship ….ceased on 27 July 2018. On 14 August 2019, a (DFV) protection order was made in the Magistrates Court Townsville … and served on (BDS) on 2 October 2019.”
The COA goes on to speak about the graphic nature of BDS’s offending, details of which QLS Proctor has opted not to publish, which escalated to him using a jerry can of petrol to set fire to the victim’s home while she and at least one of her children were still inside. No one was injured as a result of the fire, which destroyed the house and all of the woman’s property.
Justice Boddice, in describing the nature of the offending, said: “(BDS) pleaded guilty to disgraceful offending committed on three separate occasions in what is properly to be described as an escalating disregard for the female complainant’s dignity and possessions.
“The initial offending involved breaches of court orders.
“Thereafter, it progressed to violating the sanctity of the complainant’s residence and assaulting her.
“Ultimately, it ended in wicked offending undertaken with premeditation, again committed in the sanctity of the complainant’s own home.”
Lawyers for BDS argued that while the sentence of 16 years’ jail was “open in the circumstances”, no benefit was given by the judge for BDS pleading guilty to all of the charges.
“(BDS) submits that the sentences imposed failed to reflect his pleas of guilty … in facilitating the administration of justice,” Justice Boddice said.
The prosecution – which described BDS’s offending as “wicked and brutal” – argued that the judge made no error in sentencing.
The COA, comprising Justices Boddice, Debra Mullins and Philip Morrison, unanimously dismissed BDS’s appeal – saying: “[T]here was no error in the exercise of the sentencing discretion in the sentencing judge’s failure to fix an earlier parole eligibility date.”
Justice Boddice said: “Whilst the sentencing judge, at one point, considered reflecting (BDS’s) pleas of guilty by way of an earlier consideration of parole, the … judge found it was ultimately for (BDS) to satisfy the authorities that he was worthy of parole.”
Read the decision.