Negligently Causing Serious Injury – Plea of Guilty in the County Court

Case

Negligently Causing Serious Injury – Plea of Guilty in the County Court

Quick Facts

Our client was initially charged with Intentionally Causing Serious Injury, contrary to Section 16 of the Crimes Act 1958 which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Our client and the co-accused were alleged to have caused serious injury to a young child in their care.

After intense negotiations, the prosecution ultimately accepted our offer to resolve the matter to the lesser charge of Negligently Causing Serious Injury and the matter proceeded to plea.

Our client was sentenced to a term of 2 years and 9 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 2 years. This was a fantastic result, given the severity of the original charge.

Maximum Sentencing

The charge of Negligently Causing Serious Injury (contrary to Section 24 of the Crimes Act 1958) carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Background

Our client and the co-accused were babysitting the child as part of an ongoing arrangement with the mother, a friend of the accused.

The offending was brought to the attention of the police after our client took the child to the Royal Children’s Hospital later the same day. Hospital staff found that the child had suffered a severe head injury, resulting in bleeding on the brain.

Our client gave a version of events explaining that the injuries were the result of an accidental fall. This was disputed by the prosecution, who alleged that the injuries were malicious in nature.

The prosecution’s main evidence was

  • Witness statements regarding the behaviour of the accused before the incident; and
  • Expert Witness statement concerning the nature and extent of the child’s injuries, alleging they were inconsistent with an accident.

The case turned on whether the injuries sustained by the child were intentionally or negligently caused. Our legal argument was that as the prosecution did not have any evidence as to how the child received the head injuries, it could not be proven that they were malicious in nature.

Due to the fact that our client’s visa was cancelled shortly after they were charged with the offence, a strategic decision was taken to not apply for bail so that the time spent on remand would be taken into account in the final sentence.

Following a Contested Committal at which the defence disputed the prosecution’s version of events, our client was discharged on the charge of Intentionally Causing Serious Injury and was indicted solely on the charge of Negligently Causing Serious Injury.

The prosecution subsequently accepted the defence’s offer to plead to the charge of Negligently Causing Serious Injury after the matter proceeded to Case Management before the County Court.

Plea

The plea in mitigation focused upon the profound impact that the time in custody had on our client, as well as the level of seriousness of the offending.

Sentence

Our client was sentenced to a term of 2 years and 9 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 2 years. This was a fantastic result given that when time spent in custody was taken into account our client was released 3 months after the Sentencing Hearing.

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