Queensland’s sentencing laws must be rewritten to ensure criminals like the man who killed toddler Mason Jet Lee get what they deserve, a child protection advocate says.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston is appalled by the nine-year sentence handed to Mason’s stepfather, who beat the 22-month-old so severely his organs ruptured.
The Caboolture toddler was left in agony for days as he slowly died, with William Andrew O’Sullivan doing nothing to help the boy.
The manslaughter sentence handed down by Chief Justice Catherine Holmes on August 30, which could not be reported until Thursday due to suppression orders, could see O’Sullivan walk free in four years with time already served.
“I think the justice system is not really the justice system – it’s the legal system and what we want is some justice for these kids,” Ms Johnston told reporters on Friday.
She said there was little point in the government appealing O’Sullivan’s sentence because judges’ hands were tied.
“I say throw (the system) out and start again. Otherwise, we’re just tinkering at the edges,” Ms Johnston said.
She said the community should not blame the courts and it was the framework judges must work within that was broken.
“What (the attorney-general) needs to do is rewrite the legislation, put some standard minimum sentences in place,” she said.
The state opposition’s deputy leader, Tim Mander, agrees.
“To think that this man could be out in the streets in four years time is unbelievable,” he said.
“We are calling on the attorney-general to make an immediate appeal so that a sentence can be given that will meet community expectations.”
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath has three weeks to appeal the sentence.
“As with all cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions are looking at the judgment and will advise the attorney-general whether there are any prospects for appeal,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
O’Sullivan, 37, was also convicted of child cruelty after failing to seek medical care when the boy suffered a broken leg and severe anal injuries about six months before he was killed in June 2016.
Mason’s final hours were spent wrapped in a towel, lips blue, making grunting noises. After he died traces of methamphetamine were found in his blood.
O’Sullivan, who had long battled an addiction to drugs, particularly ice, tried to cover up his involvement in Mason’s death by blaming paramedics for responding slowly when they had taken only six minutes to arrive after being called by a friend.
He also lied to police by saying he found Mason with his lips blue and mouth clamped on a bottle before calling an ambulance and later claimed his 12-year-old “serial killer” daughter may have beaten him.
Since being in custody, O’Sullivan has been bashed unconscious by another inmate.