Tougher sentences for child killers
LAWS carrying a life sentence for parents and carers who cause fatal injuries to their children as a result of continuous abuse are set to be introduced to Queensland.
Plans to bring the state into line with other jurisdictions by expanding the definition of murder were announced in November.
The proposed legislation to be introduced today would also add an aggravating factor to the manslaughter of a child under 12, increasing the lengths of sentences, Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said yesterday.
If passed, the laws will apply to child and adult homicides resulting from long term physical and sexual abuse, particularly where victims are young, disabled or elderly.
It would mean judges can still pass down a sentence that considers individual circumstances while acknowledging community expectations that killers should spend more time behind bars.
The move follows a review of child homicide rulings in Queensland courts by the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council.
The council found the prison sentences being handed to child killers are too low.
The state government's first priority, when parliament resumes today, will be to expand the definition.
The government will redefine the offence to include the unlawful killing of another if the death is caused by an act or omission with reckless indifference to human life.
"It's about giving justice to the families of these victims," Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said.
"But it's also about making sure that those most serious crimes are not treated as manslaughter and receiving a lesser sentence, but are treated as murder as the public would expect."
In September, Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath confirmed she will appeal the sentence given to William O'Sullivan for brutally bashing his stepson to death.
Mason Lee's stepfather was handed a nine-year sentence last week for beating the 22-month-old so severely his organs ruptured.
Mason was left in agony for days as he slowly died, with O'Sullivan doing nothing to help the boy.
O'Sullivan admitted to the crime and was found guilty of manslaughter, a charge that could see him walk free in four years with time already served.
The proposal was previously slammed by the Liberal National Party as being too weak.
The opposition says child manslaughter should instead carry a mandatory 15-year sentence.
Politicians will also debate proposed laws to criminalise revenge porn.
The laws would apply to both sending and threatening to send intimate material without consent, and carry a maximum sentence of three years behind bars.