DPP v Alaguela & Ors [2016] VCC 1926

Sentence summary: Intentionally causing serious injury

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The three offenders had been drinking at a rugby club function. They left the party, discussed being bored and decided to do ‘something stupid’. They parked near a nightclub at around 1:30am and waited in an alleyway. When victim 1 walked down the alleyway alone, offender 3 punched him in the side of the head, knocking him to the ground. Offender 1 then kicked him in the head, knocking him unconscious. The offenders took victim 1’s phone and wallet and drove away. Victim 1’s injuries were not life threatening however they were serious and he required surgery for nose and jaw fractures, including the insertion of a titanium plate and screws in his face.

A short time after the initial incident, the offenders noticed victim 2 and victim 3 walking along the side of the road. They pulled over, asked for a cigarette and then punched victim 2 in the head. When victim 3 came to the aid of his victim 2, his brother, the offenders pulled him to the ground. Offender 3 punched him until he was unconscious while offenders 1 and 2 kept punching and kicking victim 2. They took victim 2’s phone and cigarettes and drove away.

The three offenders each pleaded guilty to six charges: one charge of intentionally causing serious injury, two charges of causing injury intentionally and three charges of robbery.

The judge stressed that acts of wanton, cowardly and unprovoked violence like this are not just traumatic for the victims but also cause fear in the community. He found that community expectations were for clear denunciation and punishment, particularly as these random, severe crimes were perpetrated on vulnerable victims, at night, in a public place and by a group.

The judge took the youth of two of the offenders into account, also noting that the same two offenders had no prior convictions and good work histories. The judge noted that offender 2 had prior convictions for violence, however he accepted he had cognitive impairments and was not fully capable of empathy or moral reasoning.

Nonetheless, the judge found that the violence was planned and that the intoxication of the offenders was an aggravating, not an ameliorating factor. He found all three offenders to be equally culpable.

The three offenders were each sentenced to five years’ imprisonment with non-parole periods of three years.

The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal against sentence by offenders 1 and 3.

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Page last updated: 20 September 2019