DPP v Taha [2016] VCC 2048

Sentence summary: Aggravated burglary

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The victim, a disability pensioner who suffered a neurological disorder, saw a group of men on the street outside his home late at night via surveillance cameras installed on the outside of his house. The victim called out to them through his front door, and he told his friends, who were inside the house with him, not to open the door. Shortly afterwards though, the offender and two co-offenders entered the house, however it was not clear whether or not they used force in order to do so. In the course of a sustained attack on the victim, he was repeatedly hit to the head and body. He was also struck with the butt of a sawn-off shotgun, although by a co-offender, not the offender. During the assault the shotgun discharged, with the shot striking the offender in the arm and causing him a significant injury.

Following a trial the offender was convicted of charges of aggravated burglary and intentionally causing serious injury.

The judge said it was a serious example of an aggravated burglary. He said: ‘This was a confrontational aggravated burglary, involving entry to the home of [the victim], in the company with others, in the early hours of the morning, with the intention to assault. Your co-offender was armed with a shotgun.’

The judge said that while it could not be proven the offender was aware of the shotgun when he and his co-offenders first entered the house, he nevertheless continued the attack after it was produced.

The judge said there had been a sustained and unprovoked attack on a defenceless victim with a significant disability. The victim sustained very serious injuries, including a fractured skull, which was potentially life-threatening. He said the victim had sought a transfer to alternate housing after the attack as he no longer felt safe in his home.

The judge rejected as a mitigating circumstance the offender’s depression and anxiety. She said the offender’s mental health did not reduce his moral culpability in the offending. Nor was it enough to prove imprisonment would have a significant adverse effect on the offender’s mental health, she said.

However, the judge said the significant gunshot injury to the offender’s arm should be given sentencing weight as an added burden of imprisonment. The deformity and on-going pain were a constant reminder of the consequences of the offending and attracted bullying from other inmates.

The offender was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of four years.

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Page last updated: 18 September 2019