- Apr 12, 2007
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QUOTE said:Originally Posted by news.com.au
NINE men who pleaded guilty last month to gang-raping a 10-year-old girl at the Aurukun Aboriginal community on Cape York have escaped a prison term, with the sentencing judge saying the child victim "probably agreed" to have sex with them.
Cairns-based District Court judge Sarah Bradley ordered that the six teenage juveniles not even have a conviction recorded for the 2005 offence, and that they be placed on a 12-month probation order, The Australian newspaper reported this morning.
Queensland's attorney-general is meeting with the state's prosecutions boss to consider the possibility of lodging an appeal against the sentence. The appeal period has lapsed, however it has been reported that the state could apply for an extension.
Judge Bradley sentenced three men over the age of consent of 16 - aged 17, 18 and 26 - to six months' imprisonment, with the sentence suspended for 12 months.
Judge Bradley said from her Cairns home yesterday that she considered the sentences "appropriate" in the case because they were the penalties asked for by the Crown prosecutor.
"I am not in a position to comment and I refer you to my sentencing remarks," Judge Bradley told The Australian.
Family supporters of the child victim warned that violence and murders could follow the judge's decision not to jail any of the offenders, and they questioned what message the ruling sent to the community.
When sentencing seven co-accused on October 24 at Aurukun, Judge Bradley noted: "The girl involved was not forced and she probably agreed to have sex with all of you."
The four juveniles are aged 14 to 16 years. They and the adults come from some of the most prominent and powerful Aboriginal families on Cape York.
Two more juveniles pleaded guilty on November 6 to raping the child, and were also given probation with no convictions recorded.
The child victim, now aged 12, does not enjoy the elevated family status of her attackers, and has had to be removed from Aurukun and put with foster parents.
News of the non-custodial sentences has added to the violent hatreds that exist in Aurukun between families and tribes and which have played a part in recent brawls involving dozens of assailants, many armed with sticks and spears.
Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine said last night he had called for an urgent meeting this morning with state Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare, who, it is understood, was not told of the submissions made by her prosecutor for non-custodial sentences for the rapists.
Mr Shine said he needed to receive a clear picture of the circumstances surrounding the sentencing, including the prosecutor's submissions.
"I have been made aware of this tragic event this afternoon and have had an opportunity to read the sentencing remarks," Mr Shine said.
"I'm truly horrified by the circumstances of these offences. The circumstances of this case have not previously been brought to my attention, and nor has there been any communication with my office with regard to an appeal.
"Rape, particularly of a 10-year-old girl, by numerous offenders, is to my mind horrific in the extreme.
"It therefore appears to me that what I consider to be a particularly lenient sentence needs explanation."
One of the adult rapists is on the Australian National Child Offence Register following a conviction on March 29 last year for unlawful carnal knowledge of a female child - an offence committed after he was charged with the rape of the 10-year-old girl.
Judge Bradley said the man was the oldest and should have known a lot better.
"You cannot have sex with anyone under 16," she said.
"However, as I said before, I am not treating anyone any differently in terms of being a ringleader, and in your case, again, I will impose a sentence of imprisonment but it will be wholly suspended so you do not go to jail today.
"But if you get into more trouble in the next year, you could end up in jail." The man had been arrested on August 7, 2006, and the judge said the 14 days he spent in custody awaiting his sentence was to count as "imprisonment already served".
When sentencing the juveniles, Justice Bradley said: "All of you have pleaded guilty to having sex with a 10-year-old girl and (one of the juveniles) has pleaded guilty to having sex with another young girl as well.
"All of you have to understand that you cannot have sex with a girl under 16.
"If you do, you are breaking the law, and if you are found out, then you will be brought to court and could end up in jail.
"I accept that the girl involved, with respect to all of these matters, was not forced, and that she probably agreed to have sex with all of you.
"But you were taking advantage of a 10-year-old girl and she needs to be protected, and the girls generally in this community need to be protected.
"This is a very serious matter. It is a very shameful matter and I hope that all of you realise that you must not have sex with young girls.
"Anyone under 16 is too young. Some of you are still children yourselves. Others of you are adults but I am treating you all equally in terms of the behaviour.
"I am not treating any of you as the ringleader or anything like that."
She asked each prisoner to stand up and said she hoped they would realise it was wrong to have sex with young girls.
Justice Bradley then offered them probation and when each agreed to accept that, she said she would not record a conviction.
To one of the juveniles, she said: "You are still a child. You have pleaded guilty to one offence of rape.
"You have been in a lot of trouble in the past, though, and you still have some community service to do.
"You have not been doing that well. I am prepared to offer you probation but you have got to stick with the rules of probation."
The juvenile agreed and was then placed on 12 months' probation, with no conviction recorded.
Last thread I asked what is happening to the world. I'd like to take that back. WTF is happening to Australia
Just trying to inform people of the screwed up stuff happening. I don't get off on this kind of thing or anything...
Does anyone think this is fair? The only reason they seemed to get off was because they were Aboriginal. The judge needs to be gang raped.