Bill Potts urges those outraged by Andrew O’Sullivan’s sentence to read the judgment.Queensland legal experts have urged the public to make their views known about the sentence handed to a man who killed toddler Mason Jet Lee.
William Andrew O’Sullivan has been given a nine-year sentence for the death of 22-month-old Mason and will be eligible for parole in less than four years.
O’Sullivan beat Mason so severely he caused internal injuries including a ruptured intestine.
Child protection advocates as well as the state opposition have called the sentence deeply inadequate and are calling for the sentencing system to be overhauled.
The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council is conducting a review of sentencing in child death cases, due to report back to the state government in October.
The council has already found as part of its review that Queensland child killers are more likely to be convicted of manslaughter than murder, and spend less time behind bars than people who kill adults.
Council chairman John Robertson said despite the official deadline for public submissions closing, he would welcome people making relevant submissions about the Mason case.
“The work that we have already done is all on our website and I would encourage anyone interested in the complexity of sentencing and how difficult it is from case to case to read that,” Mr Robertson told ABC radio.
He said judges already took community expectations into account when sentencing, but reviews like the one the council was doing could give a clearer picture about those expectations.
Meanwhile, Bill Potts from the Queensland Law Society has urged those outraged by the sentence to read the judgment from Chief Justice Catherine Holmes.
Mr Potts said in general child death cases were very hard to prosecute because there was often a lack of hard evidence.
He said the chief justice took into account several factors, including that O’Sullivan had no previous violent convictions and his early guilty plea, balanced against the cruelty involved and O’Sullivan’s lack of remorse.
“In these types of matters it’s obviously outrageous and challenging, it’s a failure of humanity, so in those cases we shouldn’t react just emotionally, we should actually react with evidence based views about what community standards are and what penalties should apply,” Mr Potts told ABC Radio.
Mr Potts encouraged people to contact the QSAC or their local MP if they were unhappy about the sentence.
“People are not powerless, people have a voice and that voice should be heard.”