The sentencing of Joel Brooks must be reviewed

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On the 6th April 2015 Joel Brooks went out to a music festival carrying a knife and stabbed a total stranger, Adam Swindell.

On the same night Adams best mate Greg "Gibbo" Gibbins was stabbed and killed by Bradley Brooks, a relative of Joel Brooks. This person has already been sentenced to a lengthy custodial sentence.

The matters were dealt with separately and on the 7th of February 2019 Joel Brooks was convicted of the reckless wounding of Adam Swindell nearly 4 years after the crime took place. He received an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO) with NO term of imprisonment.

The community demands a review of this decision.

The facts of this matter are as follows:

1.    The offender was initially charged with a more serious offence but waited until the very last opportunity to plead guilty to a lesser offence AFTER sentencing laws were amended. His sentence WAS reduced as a result.

2.    The offender has been on bail walking the streets since being charged in early 2015 until recently.

3.    In January 2019 the offender was arrested on a domestic violence charge and is STILL in custody until March 22 when the matter returns to Court – a clear breach of his bail. This was not his first appearance at Court since 2015.

4.    The maximum sentencing option on the lesser charge of reckless wounding is 7 years. The offender received 2 years.

5.    The higher possible charges carried a maximum sentencing option of 14 years.

6.    Whilst being sentenced to 2 years, the offender was NOT given a term of imprisonment. He was given a 2 year ICO. A sentence of more than 2 years removes the option of an ICO.

7.    The ICO includes community service. The maximum option was 750 hours. The offender received 200 hours (average 8 hours per month). Prior to the reforms he would have had to undertake a minimum of 32 hours of community service work per month.

8.   An ICO can include more than one condition including home detention, electronic monitoring, a curfew, community service work requiring the performance of community service work for a specified number of hours, a rehabilitation or treatment condition requiring the offender to participate in a rehabilitation program or to receive treatment, abstention from alcohol or drugs or both, a non-association condition prohibiting association with particular persons, a place restriction condition prohibiting the frequenting of or visits to a particular place or area. Why were more conditions not imposed on this offender?

Under the previous ICO scheme, the courts recognised that while an ICO has the capacity to operate as substantial punishment, it also could reflect a significant degree of leniency because it did not involve immediate incarceration. The reforms were meant to address this by making the leniency (or severity) of an ICO dependant on the strength of particular conditions imposed on the order. We hardly call 200 hours a particularly strong condition.

Under the reforms the court must decide whether an ICO or serving the sentence by way of full-time detention is more likely to address the offender’s risk of re-offending. It must also:

·         hold offenders accountable – Joel Brooks did not even receive the maximum penalty options for pleading guilty to a lesser charge

·         result in more offenders at risk of returning to crime – Joel Brooks is already in custody charged with another crime

·         improve community safety by reducing reoffending  - if a family member is “allegedly” not safe how is the community

In NSW the prison population has risen by an incredible 40 per cent in the last six years and is expected to reach 14,200 by the middle of 2019. Rather than stopping putting people in prison perhaps we need to make sentencing strong to send a clear message of intolerance. This includes bail and parole laws.

Keeping someone in custody, costs $292.51 a day, as against $28.75 per day for someone on a community-based order. Community safety can not be measured in dollars.

Any sentencing should be aimed at rehabilitation. It must also reflect a punishment and deterrent and send a message to the community that they matter.

For too long we have watched our Courts play Russian roulette with our lives. This MUST stop.

We do not accept a non custodial sentence is appropriate. We do not accept the ICO conditions are appropriate. 

This decision must be reviewed.