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The court balanced an extensive criminal history against the defendant’s limited role in the assault

Trevor Murray entered a plea of guilty to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in violation of section 59(2) of the Crimes Act 1900. That offence carries a maximum sentence of 7 years imprisonment. The judge who sentenced him explained his decision in R v Murray [2014] NSWDC 200.

Discount for guilty plea

Murray was originally charged with a more serious offence which the judge identified as aggravated breaking and entering to commit a serious indictable offence in violation of section 112(2) of the Crimes Act. That offence carries a 20 year maximum term of imprisonment. Murray was committed for trial on that charge after offering to plead guilty to an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Murray’s attorney argued that Murray should receive a full 25% discount in the sentence to reflect the utilitarian value of his guilty plea, despite the fact that he did not enter the plea until shortly before trial, given the fact that he offered to enter the plea at a much earlier date. The court did not believe that Murray should receive the full 25%, but gave Murray a 20% sentencing discount in light of his guilty plea.

Resolution of disputed facts

Some facts surrounding the crime were in dispute. The court held a disputed fact hearing and made the following conclusions.

Murray committed the assault together with a person named McGrath. McGrath believed that the victim had injured McGrath’s daughter the night before by kicking McGrath’s daughter in the head.

McGrath confronted the victim. Murray was with McGrath at that time. The victim retreated into his house. McGrath and Murray followed him. The court concluded that there was no evidence of a forced entry into the home.

McGrath punched and choked the victim. The victim suffered minor injuries. The court was satisfied that Murray’s role consisted largely of holding onto the victim while McGrath punched him. The court did not accept the victim’s testimony that McGrath stomped on his head.

Sentencing considerations

While Murray’s role in the offence was minimal, he did participate in a joint criminal enterprise. Why he chose to do so was not clear to the court. He was apparently “along for the ride” but had no animosity toward the victim.

While awaiting trial, Murray became involved in another criminal offence for which he was sentenced. He served a short amount of time before he was paroled, then entered a drug rehabilitation program. He walked away from that program. His parole was revoked and he served the balance of his sentence.

Murray had a difficult upbringing. His father abandoned him and he recently experienced the death of his mother. He is dependent on drugs and may have been using drugs the night before the assault, but the court found no clear evidence of a relationship between the crime and Murray’s drug use. The court did accept that drug use played a role in his history of domestic violence.

The court noted that aboriginal people have a disadvantaged history that was relevant to Murray’s sentence. The court noted that Murray was likely socialized in a way that instilled violent reactions to certain situations. While the court noted that the time may come when Murray will not be entitled to a release on parole, it decided to give Murray another chance with a period of intense supervision.

Sentence imposed

The court determined that a 20 month sentence would be appropriate. Applying the 20% discount for pleading guilty shortened that sentence to 16 months. The court set a non-parole period of 9 months.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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