Convicted killers whose callous disregard for their victims led to their death will be jailed for life under legislation passed by Queensland Parliament today.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the Criminal Code and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 expanded the definition of murder to include reckless indifference to human life and increased penalties for certain child-harm related offences.
“Stronger sentences will now be handed down when people take the lives of Queensland’s most vulnerable - our children, the elderly and the disabled,” she said.
“This legislation seeks to capture those child manslaughter cases at the ‘higher end’, those involving violence or significant neglect but where intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The legislation comes off the back of the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council (QSAC) inquiry into child homicide sentences, commissioned by the Palaszczuk Government.
“The findings of the independent body, comprised of legal representatives and community advocates, reflected community concerns that the system was not working when it came to child manslaughter sentences,” Mrs D’Ath.
“When a child’s life is cut short, particularly under violent circumstances, the person found guilty should suffer the consequences.
“The Palaszczuk Government has listened to the community and stakeholders and we have acted.
“This legislation implements QSAC’s recommendation to add an aggravating factor to manslaughter of a child under 12, which will increase the lengths of sentences.
“This reform will ensure the community can have confidence that courts are focusing on the defencelessness and vulnerability of the child victim when sentencing an offender for child manslaughter.”
The bill also increases the maximum penalty for the offence of failure to supply necessaries from three years imprisonment to seven years imprisonment.
“Every child has the right to safety and a home free from violence. And every adult needs to remember that being a parent and carer is not a right, it’s a responsibility,” Mrs D’Ath said.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath