The DV offence that’s clogging our courts
ALMOST 500 strangulation charges have been through Queensland courts in the first two years of the new offence - with 98 per cent of offenders men and the majority of those aged in their 20s.
An analysis conducted by the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council found almost half of the 287 people sentenced for the new charge were breaching a domestic violence order when they choked their partner.
The average penalty was two years in prison.
QSAC chair and former judge John Robertson said he was shocked by the number of people charged with the offence, and there was "some argument" the maximum penalty of seven years should be raised.
"I was really quite taken aback by the number of offenders that have been dealt with in a short period of time," he said. "I think it's a reflection of changing attitudes in society. Rosie Batty was a catalyst. Women have been powerless, assaulted in private."
Mr Robertson said police who would once charge offenders with breaching a domestic violence order following a violent incident were now charging them with assault occasioning bodily harm, or the new strangulation offence.
The offence was introduced on May 5, 2016, after a recommendation by the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland. Mr Robertson said the taskforce found strangulation was a "key predictor" of domestic homicide. "This is a particularly abhorrent crime. When a person can look into their partner's eyes and hurt them in this way, all the evidence shows a line has been crossed," he said.
"Violence of this kind is a known predictor of escalating violence and increased risk to the offender's domestic partner and clearly police and prosecutors are taking this very seriously, pursuing this new offence through the courts."
The QSAC report developed a profile of a strangulation offender - almost always male, most likely to be caucasian and aged in their 20s.
In the two-year period from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2018, 404 cases were sentenced involving 482 strangulation charges. Of those, 287 involved incidents where strangulation was the most serious charge.
The oldest offender was 60 and the youngest was 15.
The majority of the offences - 92 - occurred in the metropolitan Brisbane area. The far north Queensland region recorded the lowest number, with 21 cases.
"The sentences for this type of offending are there to be significant," Mr Robertson said.
"Hopefully the message will get out as a result of this spotlight on this offence and in some small way stop men behaving like this towards their partners.