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In sentencing the court was careful to note that retribution is not an appropriate goal of sentencing

While the case involved multiple sexual assaults of children, the offender’s likely rehabilitation warranted an extended period of parole

As the result of guilty pleas in R v Wood [2011] NSWDC 244, Wood was sentenced on four counts involving three victims. Two counts of aggravated sexual assault, in violation of section 61(J)(1) of the Crimes Act, involved the same victim. The other two convictions, involving two separate victims, were for aggravated sexual indecency in violation of section 61(M)(2) of the Crimes Act.

In sentencing Wood, the court was careful to note that retribution is not an appropriate goal of sentencing. The court identified the purposes of sentencing as punishing the offender, deterring the offender from future misconduct, deterring others from committing similar misconduct, protection of the community, and promoting the rehabilitation of the offender.

While it is important to recognize the harm that a crime causes to an individual victim and to denounce criminal conduct, punishment is imposed on behalf of the community, not on behalf of the victim. The court must therefore balance the factors described above to achieve a sentence that benefits the community, not a sentence that satisfies a victim’s potential desire for retribution.

Aggravated Indecent Assault

The first incident of aggravated indecent assault occurred in 2001. The victim was a 12-year-old boy. Wood was 27. Wood was sleeping overnight at the victim’s home. Wood touched the victim’s penis without the victim’s consent. When the victim told Wood to stop, the incident ended. At the time, the maximum sentence for an indecent assault was 7 years’ imprisonment.

The second incident took place in 2010. The maximum sentence by that point had increased to 10 years’ imprisonment. While a family friend was staying in Wood’s caravan, Wood fondled the penis of the friend’s minor son.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

Wood was the godfather of the sexual assault victim, who was age 12 in 2011. The two sexual assaults occurred while Wood was sleeping over in the victim’s home. While they were in bed together watching a movie, Wood performed oral sex on the victim and caused the victim to perform oral sex on him. The maximum term of imprisonment for each offence was 20 years with a standard non-parole period of 10 years.

Other Offences

Uncharged crimes, similar to those described above and involving the same victims, were listed on Form 1. Under the law of NSW, a judge is entitled to take account of Form 1 offences at the defendant’s request so that the overall sentence will be informed by an entire course of conduct.

Offender’s Circumstances

Wood was raised in a close family. He has a good employment history, a good education, and no prior convictions.

After the sexual assault victim’s parents learned of the crime but before his arrest, Wood obtained counseling from a psychologist. Wood describes himself as bisexual but has repressed his same-sex desires because he fears social rejection. According to the psychologist, Wood’s experimentation with children was driven by his belief that children would not reject his advances. His loneliness and the absence of socially approved outlets for his sexual feelings contributed to the offences. The psychologist expressed the opinion that, with treatment, Wood’s likelihood of reoffending was minimal.

Sentencing

Wood entered guilty pleas at the earliest opportunity and was therefore entitled to a discount in his sentence. The court gave Wood credit for recognizing and addressing his behaviour before his arrest. The court accepted that Wood is unlikely to repeat these offences, provided he participates in treatment. The court also accepted that Wood has taken responsibility for his crimes and that he is sincerely remorseful.

On the other hand, the court recognized that the crimes are serious and that they were aggravated not only by the victims’ ages, but by the fact that Wood abused the trust that the victims placed in him. The court determined that a sentence of custody was therefore appropriate.

The court recognized that special circumstances justified a departure from the standard non-parole period. The most important special circumstances were

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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