Sentencing Trends for Sexual Penetration of a Child Aged under 12 in the Higher Courts of Victoria 2007-08 to 2011-12

Sentencing Snapshot 149
Date of Publication: 
27 June 2013

Sentencing Snapshot no. 149 describes sentencing outcomes for the offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 in the County Court of Victoria between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

The most recent Sentencing Snapshot for this offence is Snapshot no. 235.

You can also find statistics for this offence on SACStat.

Authored and published by the Sentencing Advisory Council
© Copyright State of Victoria, Sentencing Advisory Council, 2013

Introduction

This Sentencing Snapshot describes sentencing outcomes[1] for the offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 and details the age and gender[2] of people sentenced for this offence in the County Court of Victoria between 2007–08 and 2011–12.[3] Except where otherwise noted, the data represent sentences imposed at first instance.

A person who takes part in an act of sexual penetration[4] with a child under the age of 12 is guilty of an offence.[5] Sexual penetration of a child under 12 is an indictable offence that carries a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment[6] and/or a fine of 3,000 penalty units.[7] Indictable offences are more serious offences triable before a judge and jury in the County or Supreme Court.

Sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 was the principal offence[8] in 0.7% of cases sentenced in the higher courts between 2007–08 and 2011–12.

People sentenced

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, 71 people were sentenced in the higher courts for a principal offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12.[9]

Figure 1 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by their gender. Over the five years depicted, all of those sentenced were men.

Figure 1: The number of people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by gender, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Financial year Gender    
  Male Female Total
2007–08 19 0 19
2008–09 19 0 19
2009–10 9 0 9
2010–11 13 0 13
2011–12 11 0 11
Total 71 0 71

Sentence types and trends

Figure 2 shows the total number of people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 and the number who received an immediate custodial sentence. An immediate custodial sentence is one that involves at least some element of immediate (as opposed to wholly suspended) imprisonment or detention.[10] Over the five-year period, 82% of people were given an immediate custodial sentence. This peaked at 92% (12 of 13 people) in 2010–11 from a low of 68% (13 of 19 people) in 2008–09. In 2011–12, 91% of people sentenced (10 of 11 people) were given an immediate custodial sentence.

Figure 2: The number of people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 and the number who received an immediate custodial sentence, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Financial year Sentence type    
  Custodial Non-custodial Total
2007–08 16 3 19
2008–09 13 6 19
2009–10 7 2 9
2010–11 12 1 13
2011–12 10 1 11
Total 58 13 71

Table 1 shows the number of people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 from 2007–08 to 2011–12 by the types of sentences imposed.

Over the five-year period, the majority of the people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 received a period of imprisonment (76% or 54 of 71 people), while 13% received a wholly suspended[11] sentence of imprisonment.

The number of people receiving a sentence of imprisonment was lowest during 2009–10 (6 people) and highest during 2007–08 (16 people). The percentage of people receiving imprisonment was lowest during 2008–09 (63% or 12 of 19 people) and highest during 2011–12 (91% or 10 of 11 people).

The number and percentage of people receiving a wholly suspended sentence were lowest during 2009–10 (0 people) and highest during 2008–09 (26% or 5 of 19 people).

Table 1: The number and percentage of people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by sentence type, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Sentence type 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 Total
Imprisonment 16 (84%) 12 (63%) 6 (67%) 10 (77%) 10 (91%) 54 (76%)
Wholly suspended sentence 2 (11%) 5 (26%) 0 (–) 1 (8%) 1 (9%) 9 (13%)
Community-based order 0 (–) 1 (5%) 2 (22%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 3 (4%)
Residential treatment order 0 (–) 1 (5%) 1 (11%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (3%)
Partially suspended sentence 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (8%) 0 (–) 1 (1%)
Mix (imprisonment and community-based order) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (8%) 0 (–) 1 (1%)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 1 (5%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (1%)
People sentenced 19 19 9 13 11 71

Age and gender of people sentenced

Figure 3 shows the gender of people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 grouped by their age[12] between 2007–08 and 2011–12. The average age of people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 was 44 years and 6 months. There were no juveniles sentenced over this period.[13]

Figure 3: The number of people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by gender and age, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Age group (years) Gender  
  Male Female
20 to 24 6 0
25 to 29 7 0
30 to 34 4 0
35 to 39 11 0
40 to 44 8 0
45 to 49 9 0
50 to 54 8 0
55 to 59 10 0
60 to 64 2 0
65 to 69 4 0
70 or older 2 0

Sentence types by gender

Only males were sentenced for the offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

Sentence types by age

As shown in Table 1, the most common sentence type was imprisonment. The following analysis examines this sentence by the offender’s age group.

Imprisonment

As shown in Figure 4, sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 50–54 years (100% or all of the 8 people in this age group).

Conversely, sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged younger than 40 (54% or 15 of the 28 people in this age group).

Figure 4: The percentage of people who received a period of imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by age group, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Age group (years) Percentage
younger than 40 53.6
40 to 44 75.0
45 to 49 88.9
50 to 54 100.0
55 or older 94.4

Principal and total effective sentences

Two methods for describing sentence types and lengths are examined in this section. One relates to the principal sentence and examines sentences for the offence at a charge level. The other relates to the total effective sentence and examines sentences for the offence at a case level.

The principal sentence is the individual sentence imposed for the charge that is the principal offence.[14]

The total effective sentence in a case with a single charge is the principal sentence. The total effective sentence in a case with multiple charges is the sentence that results from the court ordering the individual sentences for each charge to be served concurrently (at the same time) or wholly or partially cumulatively (one after the other).

In many cases, the total effective sentence imposed on a person will be longer than the principal sentence. Principal sentences for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 must be considered in this broader context. The following sections analyse the use of imprisonment for the offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

Principal sentence of imprisonment

A total of 55 people received a principal sentence of imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 between 2007–08 and 2011–12.

Figure 5 shows these people by the length of their imprisonment term. Imprisonment terms ranged from 3 months to 7 years and 6 months, while the median length of imprisonment was 4 years (meaning that half of the imprisonment terms were shorter than 4 years and half were longer).

The most common length of imprisonment imposed was 4 to less than 5 years (17 people).

Figure 5: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by length of imprisonment term, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Imprisonment length Number
Less than 1 year 2
1 to less than 2 years 4
2 to less than 3 years 6
3 to less than 4 years 14
4 to less than 5 years 17
5 to less than 6 years 7
6 to less than 7 years 4
7 to less than 8 years 1

Due to data quality issues, imprisonment lengths for charges of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 that were not the principal offence are not presented.[15]

As shown in Figure 6, the average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 ranged from 3 years and 3 months in 2007–08 to 4 years in 2008–09.

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, all of the people who received a term of imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 were men (55 people or 100.0%).

Figure 6: The average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Financial year Average length of imprisonment
2007–08 3 years, 3 months
2008–09 4 years
2009–10 3 years, 9 months
2010–11 3 years, 9 months
2011–12 3 years, 8 months

Other offences finalised at the same hearing

Often people prosecuted for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 face multiple charges, which are finalised at the same hearing. This section looks at the range of offences for which offenders have been sentenced at the same time as being sentenced for the principal offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12.

Figure 7 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by the total number of offences for which sentences were set. The number of sentenced offences per person ranged from 1 to 39, while the median was 4 offences. There were 6 people (8.5%) sentenced for the single offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12. The average number of offences per person sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 was 6.90.

Figure 7: The number of people sentenced for the principal offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by the number of sentenced offences per person, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Number of offences Number of people
1 6
2 12
3 7
4 11
5 to 9 20
10 to 19 11
20 or more 4

While Figure 7 presents the number of sentenced offences for those sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12, Table 2 shows what the accompanying offences were. It shows the number and percentage of people sentenced for the 10 most common offences. The last column sets out the average number of offences sentenced per person. For example, 44 of the total 71 people (62.0%) also received sentences for indecent act with a child under 16. On average, they were sentenced for 3.91 counts of indecent act with a child under 16.

Table 2: The number and percentage of people sentenced for the principal offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by the most common offences that were sentenced and the average number of those offences that were sentenced, 2007–08 to 2011–12

  Offence No. % Avg.
1 Sexual penetration of a child under 12 71 100.0 1.99
2 Indecent act with a child under 16 44 62.0 3.91
3 Indecent assault 21 29.6 2.76
4 Sexual penetration of a child under 16 9 12.7 3.44
5 Gross indecency with a child under 16 7 9.9 4.86
6 Possess child pornography 4 5.6 1.25
7 Make/produce child pornography 3 4.2 1.00
8 Incest 2 2.8 6.00
9 Sexual penetration of a child under 16 – care, supervision or authority 2 2.8 4.00
10 Sexual penetration of a child under 16* 2 2.8 1.50
  People sentenced 71 100.0 6.90

*The offence of sexual penetration of a child under 16 was charged under the previous version of the offence that was located in section 46 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). All current versions of sexual penetration offences are located within section 45 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

Total effective sentence of imprisonment

There were 55 people given a total effective sentence of imprisonment.[16] Figure 8 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 between 2007–08 and 2011–12 by length of total effective sentence. The length of total effective sentences ranged from 3 months to 18 years,[17] while the median total effective length of imprisonment was 5 years and 6 months (meaning that half of the total effective sentence lengths were below 5 years and 6 months and half were above).

The most common total effective imprisonment length was 7 to less than 8 years (9 people).

Figure 8: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by length of total effective imprisonment term, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Total effective imprisonment length Number of people
Less than 1 year 1
1 to less than 2 years 1
2 to less than 3 years 5
3 to less than 4 years 8
4 to less than 5 years 6
5 to less than 6 years 7
6 to less than 7 years 8
7 to less than 8 years 9
8 to less than 9 years 4
9 to less than 10 years 1
10 to less than 11 years 2
11 to less than 12 years 0
12 to less than 13 years 1
13 to less than 14 years 0
14 to less than 15 years 0
15 to less than 16 years 0
16 to less than 17 years 1
17 to less than 18 years 0
18 to less than 19 years 1

Non-parole period

When a person is sentenced to a term of immediate imprisonment of one year or more, the court has the discretion to fix a non-parole period. Where a non-parole period is fixed, the person must serve that period before becoming eligible for parole. Where no non-parole period is set by the court, the person must serve the entirety of the imprisonment term.

Under section 11(4) of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic), if a court sentences an offender to imprisonment in respect of more than one offence, the non-parole period set by the court must be in respect of the total effective sentence of imprisonment that the offender is liable to serve under all the sentences imposed. In many cases, the non-parole period will be longer than the individual principal sentence for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12. Sentences and non-parole periods must be considered in this broader context.

Of the 55 people who were sentenced to imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12, 54 were eligible to have a non-parole period fixed.[18] Of these people, 53 were given a non-parole period (98%).[19] Figure 9 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 between 2007–08 and 2011–12 by length of non-parole period. Non-parole periods ranged from 6 months to 14 years,[20] while the median length of the non-parole period was 3 years and 6 months (meaning that half of the non-parole periods were below 3 years and 6 months and half were above). Once appeals are considered, the longest non-parole period is reduced to 12 years.

The most common non-parole periods imposed were 3 to less than 4 years and 4 to less than 5 years (12 people each).

Figure 9: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by length of non-parole period, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Non-parole period Number of people
Less than 1 year 2
1 to less than 2 years 9
2 to less than 3 years 5
3 to less than 4 years 12
4 to less than 5 years 12
5 to less than 6 years 3
6 to less than 7 years 6
7 to less than 8 years 1
8 to less than 9 years 0
9 to less than 10 years 1
10 to less than 11 years 0
11 to less than 12 years 0
12 to less than 13 years 1
13 to less than 14 years 0
14 to less than 15 years 1
No non-parole period 1

Total effective sentences of imprisonment and non-parole periods

Figure 10 presents the average length of total effective sentences of imprisonment compared with the average length of non-parole periods for all people from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, the average length of total effective sentences for all people ranged from 4 years in 2009–10 to 6 years and 7 months in 2008–09 and 2010–11. Over the same period, the average length of non-parole periods ranged from 2 years and 3 months in 2009–10 to 5 years and 2 months in 2010–11.

Figure 10: The average total effective sentence and the average non-parole period imposed on people sentenced to imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Financial year Total effective sentence length Non-parole period
2007–08 6 years 3 years, 9 months
2008–09 6 years, 7 months 4 years, 3 months
2009–10 4 years 2 years, 3 months
2010–11 6 years, 7 months 5 years, 2 months
2011–12 5 years, 6 months 3 years, 6 months

Total effective sentence of imprisonment by non-parole period

While Figures 8 and 9 present the lengths of the total effective sentences and non-parole periods separately, Figure 11 combines the two methods of describing sentence lengths in the one diagram. It shows the total effective sentence and non-parole period for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 for each individual person.

The centre of each ‘bubble’ on the chart represents a combination of imprisonment length and non-parole period, while the size of the bubble reflects the number of people who received that particular combination. Sentence lengths and non-parole periods that are longer than one year are rounded down to the nearest year of imprisonment, while sentence lengths and non-parole periods of less than one year are grouped into the ‘<1 year’ category. For example, a sentence length of 2 years and 6 months would be included as a sentence length of 2 years for the purposes of Figure 11.

As shown, the most common combination of imprisonment length and non-parole period imposed was 7 years with a non-parole period of 4 years (7 people – as represented by the largest bubble on the chart). The length of imprisonment ranged from 3 months with no non-parole period to 18 years with a non-parole period of 12 years.[21]

Figure 11: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by the total effective sentence and the non-parole period imposed, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Total effective sentence category Non-parole period category Total
Less than 1 year No non-parole period 1
1 to less than 2 years Less than 1 year 1
2 to less than 3 years 1 to less than 2 years 5
3 to less than 4 years Less than 1 year 1
3 to less than 4 years 1 to less than 2 years 4
3 to less than 4 years 2 to less than 3 years 2
4 to less than 5 years 2 to less than 3 years 2
4 to less than 5 years 3 to less than 4 years 4
5 to less than 6 years 2 to less than 3 years 1
5 to less than 6 years 3 to less than 4 years 6
6 to less than 7 years 3 to less than 4 years 2
6 to less than 7 years 4 to less than 5 years 5
6 to less than 7 years 6 to less than 7 years 1
7 to less than 8 years 4 to less than 5 years 7
7 to less than 8 years 5 to less than 6 years 2
8 to less than 9 years 5 to less than 6 years 1
8 to less than 9 years 6 to less than 7 years 3
9 to less than 10 years 6 to less than 7 years 1
10 to less than 11 years 6 to less than 7 years 1
10 to less than 11 years 7 to less than 8 years 1
12 to less than 13 years 9 to less than 10 years 1
16 to less than 17 years 14 to less than 15 years 1
18 to less than 19 years 12 to less than 13 years 1
Total number of people 54

Suspended sentences of imprisonment

There were 11 people given a suspended sentence of imprisonment as their total effective sentence. Of these, 10 people had their prison sentence wholly suspended and 1 received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment. Figure 12 shows the number of people with a suspended sentence of imprisonment as their total effective sentence by the suspended sentence type and length of sentence. The green ‘bubbles’ to the left of the vertical axis show the lengths of the wholly suspended sentences, while the grey bubbles to the right of the vertical axis show the combination of total imprisonment length and the suspended period for those sentenced to a partially suspended sentence. The size of the bubble reflects the number of people who received either the wholly or the partially suspended prison term. Imprisonment lengths and suspended periods that end part way through a month are rounded down to the nearest complete month. For example, a wholly suspended sentence of 6 months and 12 days would be included as a sentence length of 6 months for the purposes of Figure 12.

Wholly suspended sentence lengths ranged from 1 year and 2 months to 3 years. The most common wholly suspended sentence length was 2 years (3 people – as represented by the largest green bubble on the chart).

The only person to receive a partially suspended sentenced received 2 years with 1 year suspended.

Figure 12: The number of people given a wholly or partially suspended sentence of imprisonment for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 by sentence type and length, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Wholly suspended sentence
Wholly suspended sentence length (months) No. of people
14 1
16 2
21 1
24 3
25 1
33 1
36 1
Partially suspended sentences    
Imprisonment sentence length (months) Suspended period (months) No. of people
24 12 1

Appeals

A sentence imposed on a person may be appealed[22] by that person or by the Crown. A person sentenced may also appeal against their conviction. All appeals made in relation to people sentenced in the higher courts are determined by the Court of Appeal.

Up to June 2012, 2 people sentenced for a principal offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 in the period 2007–08 to 2011–12 successfully appealed their convictions. Both of these cases were granted retrials. Thus, the number of people sentenced from 2007–08 to 2011–12 for a principal offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 is reduced to 69 people once appeals are considered.

As a result of successful appeals against sentence, the total effective sentence and/or the non-parole period changed for 3 people. All of these appeals were made by the person sentenced and resulted in a sentence reduction. The longest total effective imprisonment term to be reduced was a sentence of 16 years and 6 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 14 years, which decreased to 11 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 8 years on appeal.

The principal sentence changed for 3 people as a result of a successful appeal. The longest principal sentence of imprisonment reduced was 4 years, which decreased to 3 years on appeal. The only principal sentence to increase was a residential treatment order of 4 years, which increased to 5 years on appeal.

With the original sentencing data revised to incorporate appeal outcomes, the adjusted longest total effective imprisonment term was unchanged at 18 years while the adjusted longest principal sentence of imprisonment was also unchanged at 7 years and 6 months. The adjusted longest non-parole period, however, was reduced from 14 years to 12 years.

Summary

Between 2007–08 and 2011–12, 71 people were sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 in the higher courts. Over this period, all of the people sentenced were men (100%), while 65% were between the ages of 35 and 59.

The majority of the people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 received a period of imprisonment (76%), while 13% received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment.

Imprisonment was most common for people aged between 50 and 54 while wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment was more common for people aged younger than 40.

Each of the 71 people was sentenced for an average of 6.90 offences, including 1.99 offences of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12. The most common offence finalised in conjunction with sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 was indecent act with a child under 16 (62.0% of all cases). The number and range of offences for which people with a principal offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 were sentenced help explain why imprisonment sentence lengths were longer for the total effective sentence than for the principal sentence. The median total effective imprisonment length was 5 years and 6 months, while the median principal imprisonment length was 4 years.

Total effective imprisonment lengths ranged from 3 months with no non-parole period to 18 years with a non-parole period of 12 years. The most common sentence of imprisonment was 7 years with a non-parole period of 4 years.

The most common wholly suspended sentence length was 2 years.

A small number of people were able to successfully appeal against their sentences. When the results of the appeal outcomes are incorporated into the original sentencing data, the range of total effective imprisonment lengths and principal imprisonment sentence lengths remains unchanged; however, the longest non-parole period changed from 14 years to 12 years.

Endnotes

[1] This series of reports includes custodial and non-custodial supervision orders imposed under Part 5 of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic) as sentencing orders and in the count of people sentenced. These orders are not sentencing orders, as they are imposed in cases where the defendant is not guilty because of mental impairment. However, they are included in this report as they are an important form of disposition of criminal charges.

This Sentencing Snapshot is an update of Sentencing Snapshot no. 119, which describes sentencing trends for sexual penetration of a child aged under 10 between 2005–06 and 2009–10. The offence of sexual penetration of a child aged under 10 was amended in the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) on 17 March 2010 and changed to sexual penetration of a child aged under 12. This edition of the Snapshot includes both the offences of sexual penetration of a child under 10 and under 12 that were sentenced in the County Court of Victoria from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

[2] The information source for sentencing outcomes for sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 only contains information on age and gender characteristics. No other demographic analysis is possible using this data source.

[3] The source data for the statistical information presented in this Snapshot were provided by the Business Intelligence area of the Courts and Tribunals unit within the Department of Justice (Vic). The Sentencing Advisory Council regularly undertakes extensive quality control measures for current and historical data. While every effort is made to ensure that the data analysed in this report are accurate, the data are subject to revision.

The sentencing database used for this analysis was compiled using conviction returns. Due to incomplete offence information regarding sexual penetration offences on the conviction returns, a further classification exercise was undertaken to determine the specific offence types. This involved reading the sentencing remarks of the particular cases and determining whether the offence fell under section 45(2)(a), 45(2)(b) or 45(2)(c) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

In total, there were 523 people sentenced for the principal proven offence of sexual penetration of a child over the five-year period from 2007–08 to 2011–12. Sentencing remarks were located for 458 offences. There were 6 cases of the 458 that were excluded from analysis because an examination of the sentencing remarks found that they consisted of offences that were inadequately described or out of scope for these Snapshots. The remaining 65 cases for which remarks could not be located were also excluded because the offence could not be categorised adequately.

[4] Sexual penetration includes oral, anal and vaginal penetration (Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 35).

[5] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 45(1) and 45(2)(a). On 17 March 2010, section 45(2) was amended so that the maximum age of victims of this offence was increased from 10 to 12 years. The new upper age limit applies to offences committed on or after 17 March 2010. The cases discussed in this Snapshot include the version of the offence both before and after 17 March 2010. There was only one case in this Snapshot that was sentenced under the new version of the legislation.

[6] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 45(2)(a). Separate penalties apply if the child is aged between 12 and 16 or if the child is aged between 12 and 16 and is under the care, supervision or authority of the accused (see Sentencing Snapshot nos 150 and 151).

[7] The value of a penalty unit changes each year and can be found in the Victorian Government Gazette and on the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel website (link to external site opens in a new window).

[8] If a person is sentenced for a case with a single charge, the offence for that charge is the principal offence. If a person is sentenced for more than one charge in a single case, the principal offence is the offence for the charge that attracted the most serious sentence according to the sentencing hierarchy.

[9] Sufficient information was not available to determine the number and type of non-principal sexual penetration offences, under sections 45(2)(a), 45(2)(b), and 45(2)(c), that were sentenced from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

[10] Immediate custodial sentence includes imprisonment, residential treatment order, partially suspended sentence and mix (imprisonment and community-based order).

[11] Sexual penetration of a child aged under 12 is considered a ‘serious offence’ for the purposes of section 27(2B) of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic). ‘Serious offences’ committed between 1 November 2006 and 1 May 2011 could be given a wholly suspended sentence only if the court was satisfied that it was appropriate because of the existence of exceptional circumstances and that it was in the interests of justice. Serious offences committed on or after 1 May 2011 cannot be given a wholly suspended sentence under any circumstances. However, some offences of sexual penetration may have been committed prior to 1 November 2006 and may still be eligible to receive a wholly suspended sentence without any exceptional circumstances.

[12] Age is at the time of sentencing.

[13] Some defendants who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the alleged offence and who were not 19 years or older at the time proceedings commenced may have been dealt with in the Children’s Court of Victoria.

[14] Refer to endnote 8.

[15] Refer to endnote 9.

[16] All of the 55 people who were sentenced to imprisonment as the principal sentence were also given imprisonment as the total effective sentence.

[17] Two people in separate cases received longer than usual total effective sentences of imprisonment and non-parole periods. In 2007–08, a 45 year old man was sentenced to a total effective sentence of 18 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 12 years. The judge remarked that the offending had occurred ‘over an 11 year period … in which you perpetuated sexual abuse coupled with violence on each of the complainants’. The judge further remarked that the offender’s ‘moral culpability is at the highest level. Your offending is close to, if not, at the worse case scenario’.

In a separate case in 2008–09, a 38 year old man was given a total effective sentence of 16 years and 6 months with a non-parole period of 14 years. The judge remarked that the offending was ‘amongst the most serious examples of offending of this nature and exhibit some particularly disturbing features’ and that the offender had ‘a disturbing lack of insight into the nature of your offending or the damage which such offending invariably causes to its victims. You also revealed a propensity to place blame upon your victims’. This sentence, however, was successfully appealed and reduced to a total effective sentence of 11 years with a non-parole period of 8 years.

[18] One person was not eligible for parole because the person was given a total effective sentence length of less than 1 year.

[19] One person was not given a non-parole period relating to that case alone, but a non-parole period that also related to other cases. It is not possible to determine the length of the non-parole period that relates to this case. The non-parole period for this person was excluded from the analysis.

[20] Refer to endnote 17.

[21] Refer to endnote 17.

[22] Appeals data were collected by the Sentencing Advisory Council from transcripts of sentencing remarks of criminal appeals on the Australasian Legal Information Institute’s website (link to external site opens in a new window).