’Mandatory jail for people who choke partners’
THE State Opposition wants mandatory minimum sentences for people who strangle their partners.
It comes after a Gold Coast man faced court yesterday for choking his partner until she could not breathe on April 7 last year.
The terrifying attack continued until his nine-year-old daughter tried to intervene and he pinned her to the wall. The girl wet her pants in fear.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a two-and-a-half-year sentence, but walked from Southport District Court yesterday after only 10 months in custody.
The sentence follows a Bulletin investigation into how courts have handled similar cases in the past six months.
The investigation found six men walked after serving no more than eight months.
The maximum penalty is seven years jail for non-fatal sentencing, but those sentenced in the Southport District Court are facing on average two years behind bars.Some are released after serving just a few months.
LNP shadow minister for women Ros Bates said no one deserved to live in fear of strangulation and the court needed to reflect that.
"There are no mandatory minimum sentencing for crimes other than one-punch," she said. "That is something that needs to be considered (for choking)."
New strangulation laws were introduced in April 2016 and many of the cases are only now making their way through the court system to the sentencing stage.
When the offence was introduced, police were charging about three Queenslanders a day with strangulation.
Ms Bates said someone who had been choked by a partner was eight times more likely to be a victim of domestic homicide.
"We have some of the toughest domestic violence laws and sentences are still not meeting community expectations," she said.
"A young child should not have to endure something like that and know what it feels like to be thrown against the wall like a rag doll.
"I know what that feels like because I have been there."
Gold Coast Centre Against Domestic Violence director Di Macleod said recent sentencing was not cutting it.
"I don't know that they are holding offenders accountable," she said. "We do need to take it seriously. I just think we need to get real about sentencing overall. It's clearly not sending a strong message to perpetrators."
Next week experts from around the world will meet in Brisbane for a training course about dealing with strangulation in a domestic setting.
Since August last year the Gold Coast Bulletin has reported seven cases which reached the Southport District Court, including:
- On August 28, last year, a teenager received 18 months jail for a prolonged attack on his girlfriend which culminated in him pulling her from a car and strangling her;
- On November 3, a man strangled his ex-partner until she lost control of her bladder was sentenced to two years and three months jail to be released after eight months;
- On December 7, a man who held a plastic bag over his partner's head and then grabbed her by the neck so hard she thought she was going to die was sentenced to three years jail with immediate release after serving eight months jail;
- On December 12, a 25-year-old man who choked his former partner so hard she couldn't breathe for up to 30 seconds was jailed for 18 months, was to be released on February 20;
- On January 20, a man who smashed his partner's head against the tray of a ute and then choked her in their front yard on Christmas Day was sentenced to two years jail with parole eligibility next month;
- On February 4, a Burleigh Heads man who choked his former partner three times in a prolonged attack was jailed for two years and three months with immediate parole release after having served seven months; and
- On February 24, a chef who choked his former fiancee after she stopped him taking his motorbike out was sentenced to 18 months jail, suspended immediately after he served 231 days.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National DV Hotline on 1800 737 732. If you are in immediate danger called 000.