Australian Capital Territory

Magistrates' Court

  • Maher v Morrison [2020] ACTMC 26 (17 December 2020) – Australian Capital Territory Magistrates’ Court
    Character evidence’ – ‘Children’ – ‘Choking’ – ‘Coercive control’ – ‘Following, harassing monitoring’ – ‘Image abuse’ – ‘No prior convictions’ – ‘People with mental illness’ – ‘Property damage’ – ‘Protection order’ – ‘Stalking’ – ‘Systems abuse’ – ‘Technology-facilitated abuse’ – ‘Totality’ – ‘Weapon

    Charges: Assault occasioning actual bodily harm x 5; Property damage; Possess offensive weapon with intent; choking (common assault x 2; Non-consensual sharing of explicit images; Trespass x 2; Property damage (Contravention of a Family Violence Order x 7; Aggravated stalking; Attempt to pervert the course of justice x 2; Stalking x 3; Attempt to contravene a Family Violence Order; Use of a carriage service to harass.

    Proceedings: Sentencing.

    Facts: The male offender was 43 years old with no prior criminal history. The offending against his wife spanned nearly 10 years and included multiple offences on numerous occasions. The complaints came to light when the victim separated from the offender and sought a Family Violence Protection Order. The offender subsequently repeatedly breached the Family Violence Order, including whilst in custody.

    The offender had a traumatic childhood and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Attachment Disorder and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He and his former wife married in 2000 and had two children.

    Decision and reasoning: The offender was sentenced to a total period of imprisonment of nine years and eight months, with a non-parole period of five years and eight months.

    Chief Magistrate Walker noted at [87]-[88]:

    “Three work colleagues, each of whom also socialised with the offender outside of work, wrote letters in support which mentioned his compassion and professionalism. These colleagues observed what a loving father and partner the offender was and reported that this conduct was out of character for him.

    These references carry little weight in light of the proven conduct other than to reflect the offender’s positive engagement outside of the domestic sphere. This is a feature not uncommon in perpetrators of intimate partner violence.”

    And at [96]-[97]:

    “The offender has not however demonstrated any genuine acceptance of responsibility or remorse for his conduct. This is evident in the nature of his most recent offending whilst in custody awaiting resolution of the matters.

    On the contrary, his attempts to pervert the course of justice demonstrate a callous disregard for the impact of his conduct on the victim and their children. His lengthy letter to the author of the pre-sentence report on the face of it expresses remorse but in reality takes the opportunity to further embarrass the victim and blame her conduct for his offending. It is at least in part an effort to manipulate both the legal process and the victim.”

  • TS v PU [2019] ACTMC 22 (12 July 2019) – Australian Capital Territory Magistrates’ Court
    Employment’ – ‘Exposing children to domestic and family violence’ – ‘Final protection order application’ – ‘Firearm’ – ‘Hardship’ – ‘History of domestic and family violence’ – ‘Police domestic and family violence’ – ‘Suicide threat’ – ‘Weapon

    Proceedings: Application for final family violence order (FVO).

    Facts: The male respondent and the female applicant both worked for the Australian Federal Police. An interim FVO prevented the respondent from working as an active officer as he was not allowed use of firearms. The circumstances of the offending included exposing the couple’s child to domestic and family violence, and text messages from the respondent threatening suicide including images of the respondent with a firearm in his mouth.

    Decision and reasoning: A 24-month FVO was granted. In particular, the Magistrate considered the hardship to the respondent in making a FVO but noted at [34]-[35]:

    “Those who have the professional privilege of using and carrying firearms in the workplace know full well that this grant of privilege for firearms can be revoked if their behaviour is inconsistent with a continued grant. The consequential effect of any order made in favour of the applicant relating to depriving the respondent’s ability to access firearms has weighed heavily in this decision. Ultimately, the respondent must take responsibility for his conduct in terms of the professional repercussions he has brought upon himself and the personal (and legal) repercussions caused by involving the applicant in his behaviour. Encouragement of him to so do is expressed in s 6 as an object of the FV Act.

    Bearing all of the issues in mind, I find that in the circumstances of this matter, the level of hardship to the respondent caused by granting a final order does not outweigh the need to grant an order. That is, any s 14 hardship upon the respondent has not outweighed the s 6 and other competing s 14 considerations. I have decided to impose a final order and I turn my mind to the conditions of that order.”