Police v Christian Petrella

In this matter, Greg Walsh acted for Christian Petrella.

On 10 March 2020, Christian Petrella was acquitted of each of the charges:

  • Intention to Choke Person with Recklessness on 21 April 2019
  • Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm on 2 June 2019
  • Destroy or Damage Property in April 2019.

The conclusion of the Hearing Application was made by Greg Walsh, on behalf of Mr Petrella for costs.

The Application was made under Section 214(l)(a) — (d), which requires that a party showed that their case falls within exceptions to the General Rule in Section 214(1) that “professional costs are not to be awarded in favour of an accused person in summary proceedings”

Magistrate Baptie had the benefit of Written Submissions. The Prosecutor contended that Constable Swain, in interviewing repeatedly the Complainant in the DEVEC interview, was seeking to clarify the separate incidents.

Greg Walsh had contended that the Complainant’s history was utterly unreliable and inconsistent and that the Police were readily on notice of such features in the Complainant’s case.

The Learned Magistrate noted the Complainant’s medical history, including Cluster B behavioural traits, which involved acts of self-strangulation. Her Honour referred to Kanan v Australian Postal and Telecommunications Union [1992/ FCA 539, in which His Honour Justice Wilcox said: “but where it appears that, on the Applicant’s own version of the facts, it ‘s clear the proceedings must fail, it may probably be said that proceedings makes a reasonable cause”.

Her Honour noted that the medical issues were not the only feature relied upon by Mr Walsh, but also the obvious concerns of the Police, in respect of the Complainant’s credit and reliability. In addition to that feature, the very significant injuries that the Complainant had inflicted upon the Accused.

Her Honour also made reference to J v The DPP [2000/ NSW SC 1092, in which Justice Hidden said: “An investigation which fails to meet optimum standards is not necessarily unreasonable. Equally, it might fairly be classed as unreasonable, even though it does not fall grossly below those standards … to find that the conduct of the investigation in this particular case was unreasonable, does not necessarily impugn the general competence, far less the integrity, of those responsible for it”.

Her Honour was satisfied t at the Defence had established the exceptions, pursuant to Section 214(1)(a) – (c). An order or costs was made in favour of the Accused.

The Australian – Magistrate throws out domestic violence charges after self-harming ‘Cluster B’ evidence. Read more

Regina v Tyson Will – Hunt DCJ (Unreported) 3 February 2020

In this matter Greg Walsh represented Tyson Will in the most tragic of circumstances.

On Tuesday 24 July 2018, Tyson Will drove a motor bike on a farm situated at Delungra, approximately 90 km south of Moree.

Tyson, who was 32 years of age at the time, had been brought up in the farming life, from a very young age. He had been riding motor bikes on his parents’ farm since he was 6 years of age.

Tyson was happily married with three (3) beautiful children, namely Harper, Hunter and Montana.

The farm, which was owned by Tyson’s father, consisted of 3,000 acres and operated as a cattle and cropping farm. Tyson’s father, Ivan, had noticed that some cattle had got out of a paddock, no doubt due to the chronic drought conditions. At about 9.00 am Tyson decided to take Harper and Montana over to see “Pop”. Harper and Montana were placed in front of’ Tyson, on a Honda motorbike. Neither child was wearing a helmet or protected clothing.

The motorbike had been in use for about thirteen (13) years and was not registered, as is the case with such motorbikes, as used on rural properties.

Tyson drove the motorbike over to see Pop and Harper decided to go with Pop on his four-wheeler, but Montana wanted 10 stay with her father. Montana was the “apple of her father’s eye”. They were inseparable.

Tyson’s father suffers from osteoarthritis and the cattle that had got out needed to be directed through a gate. Tyson’s father, Ivan, couldn’t operate the gate because of his medical condition and so Tyson rode the motorbike back with Montana in front of him, at a speed of approximately 15 — 20 km/hour. As he rode the motorbike, its front wheel came in contact with a rock, which was behind a tuft of grass, causing Tyson and Montana to be dislodged from the motorbike. Tyson instinctively cradled Montana to protect her from the fall and he landed on his shoulder. Tragically, Montana’s head hit the ground and she suffered a fractured skull and died instantly. Tyson immediately applied CPR, which was ongoing for nearly 50 minutes. The ambulance officers arrived, but there was nothing that could be done to save Montana, who was 2.5 years of age.

Tyson and his devoted wife, Courtney, together with Ivan, did everything possible to resuscitate Montana. Tyson co-operated with the Police and participated in an electronically recorded interview and he was charged with ‘manslaughter’ and ‘driving a motorbike in a dangerous manner, contrary to Section 52A(1)(c) of the Crimes Act’.

The devastation to Courtney, Tyson and Montana’s brother and sister, was truly devastating. Montana was deeply loved and her death occurred in the circumstances of a tragic accident.

Tyson Will instructed Greg Walsh to act on his behalf, in these tragic circumstances. Greg attended upon Tyson at the farm and took a view of the area where the subject accident occurred, Contrary to the Police facts, it was a relatively level paddock and there were only small amounts of underlying granite in the paddock.

The Prosecution’s case was based upon the condition of the motorbike, which to say the least, was not in a good condition. It was typical of farm equipment utilised in the very circumstances that had occurred in this case.

Tyson had informed the Police, in his recorded interview, that there had been a previous occasion when he had come in contact, whilst riding on the motorbike, with a rock and had suffered injuries. He told the Police that he did not wear a helmet, nor did the children wear one, because of the fact that it was often over 100 degrees and if the children were with him on the motorbike, he would always only ride at a very moderate speed.

Greg Walsh qualified Dr McDonald, a well-known expert, who provided a comprehensive report. His expert opinion was that the effect of the condition of the motorbike did not, in any way, contribute to the subject accident. He was of the opinion that the speed at which Tyson was travelling was moderate, and that the rock was partly embedded in the hardened soil of the paddock and covered by a tuft of grass.

Greg Walsh was successful in having the charge of ‘manslaughter’, which was laid against Tyson Will, dismissed and he ultimately pleaded ‘guilty’ to the charge contrary to Section 52A(l)(c) of the Crimes Act of ‘driving in a dangerous manner occasioning the death of Montana’.

Tyson was sentenced by His Honour, Judge Hunt of the District Court at Armidale, on 3 February 2020. His Honour, in a very comprehensive judgement, reviewed the authorities in respect of the offence to which Tyson pleaded ‘guilty’. There was a large number of witnesses who spoke of the tremendous good works of Tyson within the Delungra community and in particular as President of the Delungra Cricket Club and his willingness to assist other members of the rural community in the tragic circumstances of the terrible drought that had affected so many Australians in rural areas. It was clear that Tyson Will was a very good man, who was absolutely devoted to his wife and children and whose heart and spirit had been broken by the tragic circumstances of this accident.

His Honour, Judge Hunt, imposed an intensive Correctional Order, conditional upon Tyson Will’s good behaviour for a period of two (2) years.

Tyson is now, in these tragic circumstances, doing his very best to support Courtney and his children and there’s not a moment that goes by that he doesn’t think of his beloved daughter, Montana.

Police v Christian Petrella

In this matter Greg Walsh acted for Christian Petrella at the Downing Centre Local Court.

Christian Petrella was charged with:

  • Intention to choke person with recklessness on 21 April 2019.
  • Assault occasioning actual bodily harm on 12 June 2019.
  • Destroy or damage property in April 2019.

Magistrate Baptie heard the matter over four (4) days.

Christian Petrella, who was aged 22 years was arrested by the Police on 13 June 2019. He had been involved in a relationship with a woman aged 21 years. He’d never previously been the subject of any criminal charges and was a person of good character.

Magistrate Baptie set out in her reasoning’s that the circumstances whereby a complaint was made by Christian’s girlfriend on 12 June 2019. She participated in a DVAC recording. Christian, who had been living with the Complainant for about six (6) months, was not aware of her previous psychiatric history.

She alleged to the Police that on 12 June 2019, she had an argument and referred to having depression, and this was triggered. She had unexpectedly come home to their residence at Pyrmont. Christian was in the bathroom having a shower, when she unexpectedly entered and wanted a kiss from him. He indicated that he could not, at that stage, as he was brushing his teeth in the shower, She left the bathroom and went upstairs and locked the bedroom door. Christian had all his clothes, mobile phone, wallet and key card in the bedroom. He knocked on the door but there was no answer and he went down to the kitchen and got a spoon and was able to open the door in that way.

He entered the bedroom and observed that the Complainant was facing against the wall and was sobbing and crying. He had already made arrangements with the Complainant earlier in the day, to attend a movie at George Street and had purchased the tickets to do so. The arrangement was that he would meet her in the City at about 5.30 pm. She had unexpectedly come home and he saw her upset, sat on the bed and sought to dab her eyes with some tissues to help her. He spoke compassionately to her.

She suddenly sat up and attacked Christian, scratching his arms, chest and back. He did not react in any violent way but was shocked by the behaviour of the Complainant. The attack, by the Complainant upon Christian, was a very violent one, with him suffering quite significant and deep scratches, in particular to his back.

The Complainant gave a variety of versions to the Police in the DVAC interview, including that the incident occurred upstairs and then downstairs and then upstairs again. These versions were set out, at length, in Magistrate Baptie’s Judgment.

Christian decided to leave the residence and packed his belongings into cardboard boxes and called an Uber. He wanted to go to the toilet, which was situated in the bathroom downstairs and after locking the bathroom door, he was confronted by the Complainant, who had a knife in her hand and who had opened the door with that He pleaded with her to leave him alone, as he wanted to use the toilet, and eventually was able to leave the bathroom, as did the Complainant, and then he returned to the bathroom so he could go to the toilet.

The Complainant then sought to force her way into the bathroom, as he attempted to shut the bathroom door and her leg was caught between the door and the door frame. Immediately he realised this and he allowed the door to be released. He then shut the door and went to the toilet. Thereafter, he got his belongings, got in the Uber which arrived. and went to his mother’s home.

Christian’s mother observed that her son was very upset and had suffered significant injuries and she took photographs of those injuries.

The Complainant made allegations of an earlier incident on 21 April 2019, in which the Complainant alleged that Christian had tried to strangle her with a phone cord. He denied doing this and, in fact, the Complainant had placed the blue phone cord around her neck, after there was an argument involving the Complainant bringing the vacuum cleaner from downstairs to the bedroom upstairs, at about 11.00 pm. She was concerned that Christian was not pulling his weight, so far as domestic duties were concerned.

His case was that she had emptied the contents of the vacuum cleaner onto the bedroom floor and got his laptop and placed it in the material on the floor from the vacuum cleaner and then threw his mobile phone down the stairs. He made a critical comment of her, to the effect that what she was doing was “dumb”. After he recovered his phone and returned to the bedroom, he observed that she had placed the iPhone cord around her neck and she was red in the face. He immediately approached her and got his finger to release the pressure around the cord and her neck.

She called out to the flatmate in the house and he, Christian, wanted to just leave the flat, to get some “fresh air”. He was shocked about her conduct. According to the Complainant, the flatmate had witnessed the assault and injury to her neck. This was not supported by the flatmate.

At the time of instructing Greg Walsh, Christian indicated that the Complainant’s behaviour was somewhat strange and in particular that he had done nothing to offend her or cause her to behave the way she did. Greg Walsh sought instructions as to whether the Complainant had any psychiatric history and though Christian was not specifically aware of this, he had become aware that the Complainant had sought treatment at a well-known psychiatric hospital in Sydney.

Greg Walsh took steps to issue a Subpoena, to obtain the psychiatric records of the Complainant.

In due course, those records were produced and quite sadly, the Complainant had a lengthy history of a psychotic-type illness that was diagnosed as Cluster B Personality Disorder. She was diagnosed as suffering from a Borderline Personality Disorder: Narcissistic Disorder and Comorbid Depression.

In particular, the Complainant had a history of self-harm, in circumstances where she experienced any perceived rejection. This is a classic history of Cluster B Personality Disorder.

Greg Walsh qualified Dr Olav Nielssen, who provided a report which was served upon the Prosecution, at an early time. According to Dr Nielssen, the symptoms of a person suffering from such a disorder, are such that they are hyposensitive to any suggested rejection and, in particular, have poor distress tolerance, emotional dysregulation, poor coping strategies and a dysfunctional family system.

In cross-examination of the Complainant, she denied on occasions, her history as recorded in the extensive psychiatric records. She had a history, including self-strangulation and suffocation, in circumstances of perceived rejection. Thus, her behaviour was consistent with her psychiatric illness. She had also denied her dosage of Seroquel} suggesting it was 5 mg, when in fact on one occasion, she attempted, sadly, to take her own life and took 30 tablets of Seroquel, which were 25 mg.

The Defendant gave evidence as to Dr Nielssen and the Defendant’s mother.

Her Honour, Magistrate Baptie, dismissed each of the charges against the Defendant and an Application has been made for Christian’s costs.

R v Crawford (Unreported) Flannery DCJ 1 November 2018

R v Crawford (unrep) Flannery DCJ 1 November 2018 – permanent stay of indictment In R v Hakim [1981] 41 A Crim R 372 Lee J said “it would be out of accord with common humanity” to allow the trial to proceed.

In this case, Greg Walsh appeared for Vincent Crawford, who is 86 years of age. He had severe dementia and was in a “vegetative state, barley rousable, he has no capacity to communicate or alternatively, if he does, to communicate in a rational sense.”

He was completely dependent on nursing care for mobility and is verbally and physically disruptive, aggressive and prone to violent outbursts.

The Prosecution proposed that notwithstanding Mr Crawford’s condition as expressed by Dr Roberts, Forensic Psychiatrist, that he could be brought to Court and the special trial could proceed. This was not withstanding the evidence of the Director of the Nursing Home that he would require a fully body lifting machine and three staff and he would be very confused in the Court environment and prone to aggressive and disruptive outbursts.

The alleged offences were committed between 30-35 years ago. The Complainant first complained to Police on 29 December 2014 and though a statement was taken from him, no further active investigation was undertaken until Detective Tyrell spoke to him on 6 October 2015.

The Accused was arrested and charged on 22 April 2016 despite the fact he had severe dementia and could not answer any charges or defend himself in any way.

If the Accused had been spoken to shortly after 29 December 2014, he would have some capacity to answer the charges and defend himself. However, on 18 September 2015, he suffered a major stroke which led him to develop severe dementia. A critical witness was not interviewed.

Detective Tyrell was cross-examined by Greg Walsh and in cross-examination, agreed that though an important witness, Sister Elizabeth was alive, she was not spoken to. The reason for this was that the Complainant had indicated to the Detective that he didn’t want any statement taken from her. The Detective made no enquiries as to the whereabouts of Sister Elizabeth either via the RTA System or a search of the Police System.

The Applicant for a Permanent Stay of the hearing was heard by Her Honour Judge Flannery of the District Court. Greg Walsh did not simply rely upon the 30-35 years delay, but a number of overlapping features including the prejudice which also occurred in the context of the Accused’s medical condition. See McDonald v R [2016] VSCA 304.

Flannery DCJ referred to the decisions of Jago v District Court [1989] 87 ALR 577, Subramaniam v R [2004] 211 ALR 1, R v Zvonaric [2001] NSWCCA 505.

Greg Walsh argued that Zvonaric required an accused to be present for his arraignment and that it was not adequate that this could be done by the Evidence (Audio and Audio Visual Links) Act as contended by the Crown.

In Zvonaric, Justice Adams, with whom Spigelman CJ and Sully J agreed, emphasised that a special hearing required strict compliance with procedure, including that the Accused be present for his arraignment.

Flannery DCJ referred to s.21 of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act which provides “except as provided by this Act, a special hearing is to be conducted as nearly as possible as if it were a trial of criminal proceedings.”  Her Honour held that she was satisfied that the Accused should be present, not just for the arraignment, but the whole of the special hearing unless he has waived his right to be present.

A feature that Her Honour also considered was that of prejudice being one of much significance because of the major stroke suffered by the Accused in combination with the failure of investigating Police to properly investigate the allegations against the Accused. The outcome of the special hearing was also a matter to be considered. Her Honour also referred to the observations of Adams J in Littler [2001] NSWCCA 173.

The special hearing was permanently stayed.

Regina v XY

XY is a married woman who tragically had been diagnosed and treated for schizophrenia for many years. She is married to a loving and caring husband. The have one child who is an adult and a successful professional person. XY was originally diagnosed with schizophrenia in the early 1990’s. She was admitted to a hospital for a lengthy period of time and treated after her discharge with anti-psychotic medication. She continued taking medication from the early 1990’s until about 2015.

As she had been complying with her medication for so many years she decided most regrettably to cease taking her medication. She thought that she could function well without her medication. In the latter part of 2016 and in 2017 her condition commenced to deteriorate. She became disorientated and had irrational beliefs that people were trying to hurt her. She became obsessed with paranoid beliefs of being poisoned. Whatever she viewed on television to her was reality.

XY’s Husband and their Daughter were concerned about her behaviour and encouraged her to go and see her General Practitioner. Her local Doctor had been treating her for many years and recently retired and the Husband and Daughter thought that XY had returned to see her General Practitioner to be prescribed appropriate medication.

On the day of the incident XY had a delusional belief that her husband had been in some way sexually abusing their daughter. This was a delusional belief as no such history had occurred. XY in a psychotic episode accused her Husband of sexually abusing their Daughter and attacked him with a knife attempting to sever his penis. As a result he was seriously injured.

Neighbours intervened and Police were called and XY was arrested and taken to a psychiatric hospital where she remained for some months.

Greg Walsh was asked to help XY and he did so. She apart from her psychiatric illness had been an extremely devoted Wife and Mother and had worked very hard over many years to help her Husband but over recent times was suffering from a serious illness. She otherwise had a very loving and caring relationship with her Husband. There were concerns about bail and in particular Police insisted that XY had no contact with her Husband. This was problematic because they had otherwise, such a close and loving relationship. However, the incident concerned was an extremely serious one and she had been charged with very serious offences, including wounding with intent.

The psychiatric hospital concerned provided wonderful treatment and support to XY and there was established a community treatment program. Appropriate accommodation was organised for XY and a community nurse initially saw her on a frequent basis and she attended also readily upon her treating psychiatrist and a psychologist and general practitioner. She maintained strict compliance with her medication and accepted that she should never have stopped taking her medication and that this was the triggering problem for her predicament.

An application to vary her bail was heard at the Downing Centre Local Court before Magistrate Atkinson. Police opposed any contact between XY and her Husband. The Husband had attended Court and whilst in Court they instinctively embraced and could not be separated. The bail conditions were varied so as to permit XY to have supervised contact with her Husband and the supervisor was her Daughter.

The Defence of mental illness was raised and the matter went to Trial. Greg Walsh appeared for XY at Trial and she was examined by a Forensic Psychiatrist on behalf of the Prosecution and also Dr Olav Nielssen, who gave evidence for her. The diagnosis of schizophrenia was agreed upon and that the schizophrenia was the cause of her conduct in attacking her Husband. XY was found not guilty on the grounds of mental illness by Acting Judge Graham of the District Court and a number of orders were made requiring her to accept appropriate treatment and to comply with supervision in the community.

XY has continued to strictly adhere to her treatment regime and is now living back with her Husband whom she is providing support to.

R v SDD [2018] OCA 280

In this matter Greg Walsh appeared as Counsel for SDD (Appellant) in the Supreme Court at Queensland, Court of Appeal.

The Court was constituted by Sofronoff P and Gotterson JA and Boddice J.

The Appellant’s appeal arose from his conviction by a jury on counts 5 and 6 relating to viewing the Complainant naked in the shower. He had been acquitted of 11 other counts upon his trial at the District Court at Maryborough, such verdict being determined on 9 February 2018.

Greg Walsh represented the Appellant at trial and also in the appeal to the Supreme Court at Queensland, Court of Appeal. The basis of the appeal against conviction on these counts was that the verdicts were, in all the circumstances, unreasonable and or inconsistent.

Greg Walsh submitted that the verdicts to the jury on counts 5 and 6 are unreasonable on the ground that the Complainant obtain treatment from a psychologist for a significant period of time in respect of sensitive issues but raised no complaint with the psychologist at that time. It was in the context of the end of the marital relationship between the Appellant and the Complainant’s mother which also involved an incident of physical violence involving the Complainant’s brother. It was argued that steps taken by the Appellant and his wife to limit access to the Complainant’s iPhone and internet did not amount to a sexual interest by the Appellant and the Complainant. The Appellant was genuinely concerned for the Complainant’s welfare and he otherwise had a good relationship with her. Further, that in the context of the household, there were practical jokes played on each other by members of the family.

An important issue was that there was an internal lock on the bathroom door and such evidence was given by the Appellant and two other witnesses, as well as the photographs.

It was argued on behalf of the Appellant that the verdicts of not guilty in respect of all the other counts involved a rejection of the Complainant’s credit. As such, the verdicts on counts 5 and 6 were inconsistent with the verdicts of not guilty on the remaining counts.

Boddice J with whom Sofronoff P and Gotterson JA agreed, rejected the contention on behalf of the Appellant that there was an unreasonable verdict of an inconsistent verdict. The Complainant’s account as to the two bathroom incidents, the subject of verdicts of guilty, were supported by the mother’s evidence. His Honour placed particular evidence on there being no context as to counts 5 and 6 as to the playing of a joke by the Appellant on the Complainant.

In respect of inconsistent verdicts, his Honour referred to Holmes J (as the Chief Justice then was ) in R v Smillie [2002] QCA 341 at [28]; (2002) 134 A Crim R 100.

The Court granted leave to adduce the further evidence and the appeal to be dismissed.

R v SDD — District Court Maryborough

Greg Walsh represented SDD in respect of 13 counts of indecent dealing and 5 counts of observations of recordings in breach of privacy. The trial commenced at the District Court at Maryborough on Monday 5 February 2018 and concluded Friday 9 February 2018.

The Accused had pleaded not guilty to counts 1 to 13.

The Complainant had given a statement to Police on 12 March 2016 and was admitted into evidence under section 93A of the Evidence Act. The Complainant gave further evidence and was cross-examined in a pre-recorded hearing in June 2017. It was admitted under section 21 AK of the Evidence Act.

The Complainant was 14 years of age at the time of the alleged offending. The Accused was her step-father. The Accused and the Complainant and her mother and other children resided at Archer Drive, Hervey Bay. There were a number of counts in which the Accused walked into the bathroom, whilst the Complainant was having a shower and threw a cup of cold water over the top of the shower cubicle. The Accused laughed and walked out and the Complainant’s mother yelled out “she is a teenager you shouldn’t be doing that.” There was evidence that the Complainant performed practical jokes upon the Accused in the family home. Another incident involved the Accused throwing a jug of water over the Complainant while she was having a shower. The Complainant also had thrown water over the Accused when he was having a shower.

A number of the counts were alleged to have occurred when the Complainant requested that the Accused give her a massage. There was evidence that she had suffered from physical injuries and had for instance, a problem with her lower back. A number of massages were carried out in the presence of the Complainant’s mother. It was the Accused’s case that these massages were simply that and did not involve any inappropriate touching constituting indecent assaults. The Complainant gave evidence in respect of some of the incidents which were consistent with the Accused having given her a massage.

An important issue in the trial was that the Accused and the Complainant’s mother separated in difficult circumstances. Post separation, the Accused still communicated with the Complainant and she was quite positive in her contact communications with him.

The Complainant had over a number of years, attended upon a psychologist but there had been no complaint to that psychologist until after the Complainant’s parent’s marriage had broken down. The Complainant gave evidence that she did ask for massages as she regarded them as being harmless. It was only after a trip in a truck, driven by the Accused in January 2016, the Complainant first made a complaint to the psychologist.

There was evidence in the trial that the Complainant had been involved in a sexual relationship with a boy who lived nearby when the family was at Aldershot. The sexual relationship between the Complainant and this boy had come to the notice of the Accused and his then wife. This had been the subject of referral to the psychologist and discussions had taken place between the respective families of the boy, the Accused and his wife, to provide support to the Complainant and to convey to her inappropriate aspects of her relationship with the boy because of her age and other subjective difficulties. The Accused actually attended upon the psychologist and actively sought to identify relevant issues and to assist the Complainant and her mother in dealing with these. It was in this context that the Accused admitted that he had a number of conversations with the Complainant which were no more than he being genuinely concerned about her welfare. This was especially so in the context of the conversation in the truck when the Accused was giving a lift to the Complainant to a party which she wanted to attend.

The Accused denied ever going into the bathroom at Aldershot to look at the Complainant when she was in the shower. In mid-2009, a lock was put on the inside of the bathroom by the builders when the house was built by the Accused and his wife.

On 9 February 2018, the Jury acquitted the Accused on counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13 and convicted him on counts 5 and 6 relating to viewing the Complainant naked in the shower at Aldershot.

Regina v PB

In May 2017, Greg Walsh represented PB (The Accused), in respect of 16 counts of sexual offences contrary to section 61M(1), 66F(6)(b), 61J(l) Crimes Act 1900.

The Complainant was cognitively impaired.

The Complainant lived at an address in very close proximity to the Accused. The families of the Complainant and the Accused were well known to each other and had socialised at their respective homes over many years. He allegations commenced at a time just prior to the Complainant’s birthday and involved alleged sexual assaults being carried out by the Accused in his home in close proximity to his wife. There were further allegations on the occasions of a birthday at a restaurant in Sydney. There were a number of counts alleged to have occurred at the Complainant’s home.

The Complainant suffered from a number of conditions including cognitive impairment, deficits in mental functioning and an intellectual disability.

There were a number of experts who gave evidence in the trial for both the Crown and the Defence such in respect of the intellectual functioning of the Complainant.

There were a number of pre-trial applications made by Greg Walsh to the Trial Judge, McLennan DCJ, including that relating to Tendency Evidence. His Honour ruled that only one incident, which was constituted by a count, could give rise to Tendency Evidence. There were other arguments as to Sexual Assault Communications Privilege in which certain records were contended to have substantial probative value upon the trial of the Accused. The trial took three (3) weeks and the Accused was called to give evidence together with a number of other Defence witnesses. Alibi evidence was relied upon in respect of some counts.

The Accused was acquitted in respect of each count.

R v Chute (No 4) [2018] ACTSC 259

On 11 September 2018, Mossop J delivered judgement as to the application for a permanent stay of the special hearing by John Chute. Greg Walsh appeared on behalf of the Accused. The history of the matter is set out in a number of judgments of the Supreme Court; R v Chute [2017] ACTSC 246; R v Chute (No 2) [2017] ACTSC 347; R v Chute (No 3) [2017] ACTSC 409.

On 19 June 2018, the ACAT appointed William Tarrant, a member of the Marist Brothers religious order, as guardian for the accused with power to make an election for the proceedings to be by judge alone. On 26 July 2018, Mr Tarrant made an election for the special hearing to be a trial by a single judge without a jury. On 9 and 20 August 2018, the parties indicated that they did not wish to be further heard in relation to the application for a stay.

The basis of the application for a stay was previously set out in the judgement of Mossop J at [2] in R v Chute (No 2) [2017] ACTSC 347.

The history of the Accused was set out in Mr Walsh’s Affidavit of 10 October 2017.3

Mossop J at [22] set out the medical conditions suffered by the Accused. A further Affidavit of 7 November 2017 of Greg Walsh was referred to at length, including the opinion of a forensic psychiatrist, Dr John Roberts [27] – [32].

His Honour also referred to further Affidavits of Greg Walsh of 10 November 2017, 20 November 2017 and 1 December 2017.

His Honour referred to the High Court decision in Subramaniam v The Queen [2004] HCA 51; 79 ALJR 116 AT [52] – [53]. In Subramaniam v The Queen, the Applicant had relied upon her mental health preventing her from being able to give reliable testimony and that further prosecution of the proceedings could have resulted in a serious worsening of her mental health.

Greg Walsh also relied upon the decision of McDonald v The Queen [2016] VSCA 304; 263

A Crim R 356 at [57]. The factor that gave rise to error as found by the Victorian Court of Appeal in that case, was the trial judge had erred in putting aside consideration the likely outcome of the proceedings if the Applicant was found to have committed the offences [58].

Mossop J at [63] referred to the factor of unfairness and oppression requiring consideration of the community’s interest in bringing matters to trial. His Honour observed that it would only be in extreme circumstances where an abuse of process is established, to determine whether it is appropriate that any particular charge against any particular defendant proceeds: R v Smith [1995] VicRp 2; [1995] 1 VR 10 at [25].

His Honour placed particular emphasis on the descending judgment of Ferguson JA and the feature that the legislature had seen fit to establish process by which persons who were unfit to stand trial were the subject of a special hearing. His Honour ultimately made a finding that “to assess the question of whether unfairness is such as to amount to an abuse of process without recognition of the inherent features of that process would involve the subversion of the legislative scheme.”

Mossop J was also referred by Mr Walsh to the decision of TS v R [2014] NSWCCA 174 at [65]. In that case, Bellew J (with whom Leeming JA and Adams J agreed) found that the primary judge had erred because the appropriate question was whether or not a remedy was warranted in the particular circumstances of the applicant. At [56]-[57], Bellew J observed:

“The issue was not whether the operation of the Act was unfair. The issue was whether, because of the evidence to which counsel for the applicant had pointed, a stay was warranted. If the test for a stay was met, the fact that there may have been some inherent unfairness in the operation of the Act was irrelevant. In my view, in approaching the matter in this way, her Honour erred.”

In addition, the overall effect of her Honour’s reasoning at AB 9-10 was that because the Act may operate in a manner which could be regarded as unfair in any event, some different (and seemingly less stringent) test was to be applied in determining whether a stay should be granted. That was not correct. The same test stood to be applied notwithstanding that the proceedings which were sought to be stayed were a special hearing rather than a trial.”

A further fact in that case, was the fundamental unreliability of the Complainant’s evidence.  

Greg Walsh also relied upon the judgment of Arrivoli v R [2017] NSWDC 112.

That was a case in which Buscombe DCJ granted permanent stay in the context of historical sexual abuse by a member of the Catholic clergy who was 94 years of age at the time of the hearing of the application for a stay.

Another important issue that Mossop J addressed, was the requirement of the Accused to attend a special hearing. Greg Walsh submitted that having regard to the physical and psychological condition of the Accused, it was not probable that he had the capacity to attend, which was in accordance with the expert evidence of Dr Roberts and also the other medical evidence relied upon as referred to in the Walsh Affidavit. Section 316(1), provides that the Supreme Court shall conduct a special hearing as nearly as possible as if it were an ordinary criminal proceeding. Section 316(6) provides that “unless the Supreme Court otherwise orders, ” the accused shall have legal representation at a special hearing.

Mossop J referred to Lipohar v The Queen [1999] HCA 65; 200 CLR 485 at [69], in which the Court found there is “no trial in absentia at common law in the ordinary course ” His Honour referred to various specific statutory provisions, which authorise trials to proceed in the absence of the Accused. His Honour referred to Jenkins v Whittington [2017] NTSC 65 at [89]- [92] as to the circumstances in which a trial can be conducted in the absence of an Accused.

At [87], his Honour compared the Accused’s position to:

“how would the fairness of a trial be advanced by compelling someone who was delusional and uncomprehending of the process to be present during the trial? In this case, the situation is that the accused is unfit because he is unable to follow or adequately process the proceedings. In circumstances where no relevant forensic interest of the accused would be advanced by his presence at the hearing, the presence of a person who was unfit to plead does not appear to me to be an essential requirement of the special hearing process, notwithstanding the general principle in s 316(1 ) of the Crimes Act.”

His Honour ultimately found that there was no suggested reason as to the Accused being present including for an arraignment at the special hearing. His Honour dismissed the application for a permanent stay.

R v Chute (No 3) [2017] ACTSC

On 17 November 2017, Mossop J gave reasons for his conclusion that the fact that the procedure in s.316(2) of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) had been overlooked, did not avoid the obligation to determine whether or not the accused was capable of making an election to have a special hearing conducted as a trial by judge alone: see R v Chute (No 2) [2017] ACTSC 347. Greg Walsh appeared as Counsel for John Chute. An Affidavit of Mr Walsh dated 20 November 2017 was relied upon in the further hearing of the matter.

A forensic psychiatrist, Dr John Albert Roberts, gave evidence and his Honour had set out the psychiatrist’s findings in respect of an examination of the Accused at the age care facility where he resided.

Dr Roberts was of the opinion that the Accused was not capable, by virtue of his mental state, of appreciating matters that he would need to consider in coming to a decision in relation to the need for him to elect a judge alone trial or a trial by judge and jury.

Mossop J at [10], concluded that the evidence of Dr Roberts was consistent with the evidence of Mr Walsh, arising with his dealings with the Accused shortly before he was seen by Dr Roberts. His Honour was satisfied that the Accused is incapable of making an election to have his special hearing conducted by judge alone. His Honour then made a direction to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal requiring the appointment of a guardian to consider whether to make an election.

R v Chute (No 2) [2017] ACTSC 347

In this matter Greg Walsh acted for Chute.

On 24 July 2017, Murrell CJ found that John Chute was unfit to plead to an indictment containing 16 counts; R v Chute [2017] ACTSC 246.

On 12 October 2017, the Accused sought an order that there be a permanent stay of the special hearing. Mossop J in R v Chute (No 2) [2017] ACTSC 347 at [2] set out the grounds of the application on behalf of the Accused. Greg Walsh appeared as Counsel for the Accused in respect of the hearing of the application.

On 15 and 16 November 2017, argument took place in relation to the application for a stay. In the course of the argument, it became apparent that following this decision of Murrell CJ, neither of the parties nor the Court had given consideration to the operation of s.316(2) Crimes Act. That permits a person who has been found unfit to plead to elect, either directly or via a guardian to have a special hearing conducted as a trial by judge alone as opposed to a trial by jury.

Mossop J considered the interrelationship between s.316(1)(2) Crimes Act and section 68A & B of the Supreme Court Act 1933 (ACT).

His Honour concluded that there were three reasons why s.68B does not qualify s.316 so as to preclude the making of election by or on behalf of a person who has been found unfit to plead in relation to “excluded offences “ within the meaning of s.68B.

In these circumstances, Mossop J did not determine the application for a stay and heard further submissions as to how to proceed in relation to the operation of s.316(2).

The Canbera Times – Ex-Marist brother John ‘Kostka’ Chute found unfit to plead to child sex abuse charges

Joanne Young v Josephine Smith – Contempt [2017] NSWSC 1443

In this matter Greg Walsh acted for Joanne Young (Plantiff)


1 On 2 August 2016, the Contemnor, Ms Josephine Aapa Smith was found guilty of contempt of Court. The Court, as presently constituted, held that on 2 February 2015 the Contemnor dealt with property located at Wharf B, Level 5, Apartment 14, 56-56A Pirrama Road, Pyrmont (‘the Property”), by encumbering it by means of a mortgage in favour of Westpac Banking Corporation (“Westpac”) in circumstances where the Court had, to the knowledge of the Contemnor, restrained such conduct in relation to that property.

2 Having heard the parties on what, if any, sentence to impose, it falls on the Court to sentence the Contemnor.

3 The orders breached were orders of the Court, as earlier stated, restraining any dealing in the Property. The conduct giving rise to the contempt is described in the Reasons for Judgment, published by the Court and giving rise to the finding of guilt: Young v Smith (No 3) [2016] NSWSC 1051 (“the Judgment on Guilt’).

4 It is unnecessary to recite, in full, the somewhat complicated issues associated with the finding of guilt. It is sufficient, for present purposes, to reiterate that proceedings were commenced by the plaintiff, Mrs Joanne Elizabeth Young, initially against her former husband, Mr Leslie James Young, and, as a consequence of the initial proceedings, freezing orders issued against the husband and his subsequent partner, the Contemnor in these proceedings.

5 In the Judgment on Guilt, the Court set out a history of the proceedings (see [17] of that judgment and following). That history is relevant in understanding the objective seriousness of the matter with which the Court is now concerned and is in the following terms:

[17] The applicant, Ms Young, married Mr Young in 1992 and they separated in 1999. She was Mr Young’s second wife. The Contemnor, Ms Smith, is (or was at all relevant times) Mr Young’s de facto partner. She has been in that position since about 1999.
[18] At the time that Mr Young and Ms Smith commenced their de facto relationship, Mr Young’s assets consisted of 50% shareholding in a number of companies (the identities of which, presently, are irrelevant).
[19] In or about 2001 an agreement was executed which recited the contemplation of Mr Young and the Contemnor as to the purchase of residential property for the purpose of it being their residence, that the residential property purchased by them for their joint use, shall be the property of the Contemnor, regardless of the identity of the persons on the registered title.
[20] The applicant, Mr Young’s second wife, was the manager of a hotel owned by one of the companies of which she and Mr Young were each half owners. In July 2006, Mr Young removed the applicant from the hotel premises and made allegations that she had misappropriated monies belonging to the hotel. Those charges were all dismissed.
[21] The applicant brought proceedings against Mr Young for malicious prosecution and/or damages for related or similar causes of action. There were also proceedings relating to a property settlement claim that had been cross-vested from the Family Court of Australia to this Court.
[22] In May 2007, Mr Young and the Contemnor purported to enter into a contract for the purchase of a property at Pirrama Road in Pyrmont (“the Property”). They purported to be joint tenants. The purchase price was something over $4.5 million. The transaction was completed In or about July 2008 and funded through a loan extended to the company that owned the hotel, with Mr Young and the Contemnor each granting the lender a mortgage and guarantee.
[23] The proceedings for the property settlement and for malicious prosecution were heard by the Court and orders made on liability, with separate questions being referred to an Associate Justice. As a consequence of that referral, Harrison AsJ determined, on the basis of proceedings before her, that Mr Young’s assets were valued at or above $9 million.
[24] On 11 April 2013, the Court ordered that Mr Young pay the applicant $2,663,000 and weekly maintenance. Further, the Court found that Mr Young had deliberately deceived police in relation to the charges based upon allegations made by him and awarded damages for malicious prosecution of $165,000.
[25] On 23 September 2013, the residential premises said to be registered in the name of Mr Young and the Contemnor, and described above, were transferred to the Contemnor. Further, the hotel from which the applicant was excluded was sold in May 2014 and the company that owned it put into liquidation. The Liquidator realised its assets which included a car park adjacent to the hotel.
[26] On 5 June 2014 Bankruptcy Notice 172322 was issued at the instigation of the applicant in relation to the judgment debt. The Bankruptcy Notice could not be served.
[27] On 7 August 2014, the Contemnor, acting under a Power of Attorney on behalf of Mr Young, executed a Memorandum of Transfer between Mr Young and herself in relation to Mr Young’s interest in the Property. The purported consideration for the transfer was $1.8 million, which was never paid.
[28] On 29 August 2014, the applicant made an ex parte application to this Court for freezing orders. The Court made orders restraining Mr Young and the Contemnor from dealing with any of their assets, including the Property. until further order of the Court. That order issued on 29 August 2014. The judge who issued the orders was Bellew J. The terms of that order will be recited later in these reasons.
[29] On 1 September 2014, Mr Young initiated an application under s 55(2) of the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) in which he stated that his interest in the property was worth 50 per cent of $5.5 million and was sold for $1.8 million. The document, in the relevant column, or entry, indicated that Mr Young had received no money for that share or that transfer. Mr Young also identified the Contemnor as a secured creditor in or to the sum of approximately $4 million. Mr Young was declared bankrupt on 2 September 2014, on his own application. [Footnotes omitted.]

6 On 4 September 2014, the Court issued orders, the effect of which was to continue the orders issued by the Court on 29 August 2014 against both Mr Young and the Contemnor in these proceedings. On 2 February 2015, the Contemnor, in contravention of the said orders, entered into a mortgage over the Property and was advanced $5.8 million by Westpac.

7 The Contemnor breached the orders, issued by the Court on 29 August 2014 and continued by the Court on 4 September 2014, and that breach gives rise to the sentence to be imposed for contempt of Court.

8 On 15 April 2015, the Court (constituted by Sackar J) finalised the substantive proceedings, dealing with the ownership of property, and on 5 May 2015 issued orders giving effect to those reasons. The orders were altered on 6 June 2015 and the ultimate effect of the orders was that, subject to a registered mortgage, the Contemnor held the contentious property subject to a one half share on trust for Mr Young but not so as to interfere with any interest of the plaintiff in these proceedings.

Punishment for contempt

9 The power of the Supreme Court of New South Wales to punish for contempt arises from its status as a superior court of record. Contempt is a common law offence, punishment for which is an inherent power of a superior court of record. It is unnecessary here to deal with punishment in the face of Court to which the foregoing statements do not relate.

10 Pursuant to the powers described in the Supreme Court Rules 1970 (“SCR”), and in particular Pt 55 r 13, the Court may impose a penalty for contempt on an individual, being committal to a correctional centre or fine or both. Further, the Court may issue orders for punishment on terms, including suspension or part suspension and impose conditions for good behaviour and the like.

11 There are two types of contempt: civil and criminal. Criminal contempt is conduct that obstructs the administration of justice. Civil contempt is, essentially, the breach of an order or undertaking. However, where that breach is deliberate, being a deliberate defiance or a contumacious breach, contempt that is otherwise civil is considered to be criminal in nature: Witham v Holloway (1995) 183 CLR 525 at 530; [1995] HCA 3.

12 Further, the Court of Appeal has determined that contumacious, wilful and deliberate disobedience of a Court order may be characterised as both civil and criminal conduct: see Pang v Bydand Holdings Pty Ltd [2011] NSWCA 69, per Beazley JA; and Australian Consolidated Press Ltd v Morgan (1965) 112 CLR 483; [1965] HCA 21; and Witham v Holloway, supra.

13 Even “mere” civil contempt affects the administration of justice. The purpose of imposing punishment for wilful disobedience of a court order is to discipline the offender and to vindicate the authority of the court: Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union v Mudginberri Station Pty Ltd (1986) 161 CLR 98; [1986] HCA 46 at [112].

14 The process of sentencing involves a sentencing judge arriving at and imposing a sentence appropriate to the gravity of the offence that was committed (objective seriousness) and to the circumstances of the offender who committed it (subjective circumstances), taking into account the purposes of sentencing. Those purposes include punishment; protection of society; personal and public deterrence; retribution; and reform: see s 3A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (“the Act”) and Veen v The Queen (No 2) (1988) 164 CLR 465 at 476; [1988] HCA 14:
“The purposes overlap and none of them can be considered in Isolation from the others when determining what is an appropriate sentence in a particular case. They are guideposts to the appropriate sentence but sometimes they point in different directions.”

15 The process, often referred to as intuitive synthesis, is one jn which the Court considers each of the factors as part of the objective or subjective circumstances (and in some situations both) to arrive at a result which seeks to achieve each of the purposes best.

16 In dealing with the objective and subjective circumstances of the offence and offender, the Court may have regard to the provisions of s 21A of the Act, although most of those criteria are factors to which a sentencing Court would, even in the absence of s 21A of the Act, have regard. Ultimately, the Court has a wide range of sentences that it may impose for contempt of Court: NCR Australia v Credit Connection [2005] NSWSC 1118.

17 The range of sentences includes imprisonment, periodic detention, home detention, community service orders, good behaviour bonds, dismissal of the charge accompanied by either a good behaviour bond or a condition that the offender participate in an intervention program, deferral of sentence, a suspended sentence, a fine, and the making of a non-association or a place-restriction order. Each of those is a potential punishment on Contemnors. The legislature has conferred on the Court the power to impose such punishment: In some instances, there are restrictions on the imposition of any such sentence.

18 In determining the sentence to be imposed, the Court is to consider the nature of the contempt committed: Commissioner for Fair Trading v Rixon (No 3)
[2014] NSWSC 1279, per Garling J. Those circumstances include: the nature and circumstances of the contempt; the impact or likely impact of the contempt on the administration of justice; the extent of the offender’s culpability for the conduct; the need to deter the offender and others from engaging in contempt; whether a finding of contempt has been previously made; whether contrition or remorse is displayed and an apology proffered; and the financial and personal circumstances of the offender when a fine is being sought: see also Paccar Financial Pty Ltd v Ian Menzies & Colleen Menzies (No 2) [2015] NSWSC 1622.

The nature and circumstances of the contempt

19 The circumstances immediately surrounding the contempt have been described above. So too has the background arising from the relationship between Ms Young, on the one hand, and Mr Young and the Contemnor, Ms Smith, on the other hand.

20 As at the time of the sentencing proceedings Ms Smith and Mr Young lived in the Property, a lavish apartment in Pyrmont, which, subject to the orders of the Court (Sackar J) is presently owned by Ms Smith as joint tenant with the trustee in bankruptcy of Mr Young. It is those premises that is the subject of a mortgage to Westpac, granted by Ms Smith, as a result of which Westpac provided a $5.8 million loan.

21 The monies that constituted the loan were provided to a corporate entity of which Ms Smith is the sole director and shareholder.

22 On the material before the Court the calculated estimate of the market value of the Property is between $4.6 million and $6.9 million (Affidavit Angela Skocic, 19 October 2016). I consider that calculation more reliable than the “as is” value of $4 million (Affidavit Krista Emma MacPherson at [4] and KEM-I thereto).

23 The plaintiff is owed approximately $3 million, pursuant to orders of this Court of 23 April 2013, by Mr Young. The orders followed the malicious prosecution proceedings reference to which is provided above: Young v State of New South Wales & Ors; Young v Young (No 2) [2013] NSWSC 330. Those monies have not been paid. Mr Young transferred 50%, being his share in the Pyrmont premises to Ms Smith and, as earlier stated, rendered himself bankrupt.

24 The money received as a result of the mortgage of the relevant premises was utilised for a business venture by the Contemnor through her company, Smith & Smith Investments Pty Ltd. Westpac appointed receivers and sold the hotel purchase with those funds. Apparently, the sale returned an insufficient amount to satisfy the mortgage and Westpac had not released Ms Smith in respect of the mortgage on the Pyrmont premises.

25 The hotel was sold in November 2015 for approximately $6 million, which while in excess of the original maximum facility with Westpac of $5.8 million, represented a shortfall of approximately $800,000, presumably as a result of the cost of sale and enforcement and interest (Affidavit Krista Emma MacPherson at [11]-[12]).

26 As was made clear in the Judgment on Guilt, the Contemnor was well aware that the Court had restrained her from dealing with the property in question.

27 Ms Smith’s awareness of the conditions imposed upon her by the Court is evidenced by the application made by Ms Smith that the orders of the Court be replaced by an undertaking on her part not to deal with the Property. Notwithstanding that knowledge, and in spite of it, Ms Smith obtained a financial advantage by deliberately dealing with the Property in contravention of the orders of the Court. She did so, at (east in part, for the purpose of obtaining a financial advantage. It seems, although it is unnecessary to determine this question, that part of the rationale for Ms Smith’s conduct also related to malice against Ms Young, either on her own part or reflecting the malice and state of mind of Mr Young.

28 The contempt is a very serious one. It is a deliberate and contumacious breach of orders issued for the protection of a party and, in the process, dealing with property that belonged to the plaintiff in these proceedings.

29 Further, the overwhelming inference is that the entire scheme was designed to thwart the plaintiffs attempts to obtain from Mr Young the damages that the Court had awarded. It involved the circumvention of a number of orders of the Court. It involved the transfer of the Property so as to ensure that Mr Young had no assets in his name to which the Judgment debt could attach and it involved a deliberate breach of orders of the Court for the purpose of obtaining a business or commercial advantage.

30 I consider the contempt a serious one and to be categorised as both civil and criminal contempt. The conduct is well above the mid-range in objective seriousness for a contempt. Further, the semi-public disregard and disobedience of orders of the Court is a significant undermining of the authority of the Court and affects the administration of justice.

Subjective circumstances

31 The Contemnor has relied upon a number of exhibits, some of which have been referred to above. Ms MacPherson exhibited to her Affidavit the valuation on an “as is” value basis of the Property and media coverage relating to Ms Smith’s conduct and/or the Judgment on Guilt, together with other Judgments in the wider justiciable controversy. Part of the material upon which the Contemnor relies is an issue or issues relating to her health.

32 Ms Smith’s health issues are, on the evidence adduced in the proceedings, considerable. I have been provided a report by clinical psychotherapist, Ms Odelia Carmon and a report by Professor Frederick Ehrlich OAM. There are also reports from Dr Jerry Greenfield, endocrinologist, Dr Michael Talbot, Dr Nesran Varol, Dr Julie Epstein, consultant physician, reports on imaging to various doctors and reports from her general practitioner, Dr Dror Schmuelly.

33 The Contemnor refers to the fact that she has no criminal history. Nor has she previously been charged with any criminal offence. The contempt proceedings are the first ever contact with a penalty or punishment proceedings before a court.

34 It is necessary to deal with the medical issues, although, in so doing, the Court will seek not to disclose unnecessarily matters that are and ought to remain confidential. Some disclosure is necessary. In or about May 2010, Ms Smith was diagnosed with a 1.5 cm meningioma which encased the carotid artery causing some deformity and elongation. There was some inferior extension, but otherwise the cerebral MRI showed no abnormalities. The meningioma was removed and by May 2015 there was no evidence of any recurrence and her brain had stable appearance and no recurrence.

35 In 2009 Ms Smith suffered from a neurological disorder and seizures seemingly related to a multisystem failure after a mosquito bite in South Africa in December 2005. A number of treatments were attempted, which were unsuccessful but, ultimately, she was treated with Nutropin which resulted in her being able, once more, to walk and to give up reliance on a wheelchair, as was previously the situation. She will continue to have balance problems and to use a walking stick.

36 A summary of the conditions suffered by Ms Smith is contained in the report of Dr Schmuelly of 6 February 2015, which forms part of Ex 2 in the proceedings.

37 Professor Ehrlich’s report of 28 September 2016 also forms part of Ex 2. He refers to the multisystem breakdown relating to a virus from the mosquito bite and also to the history given to him of three heart attacks, a kidney failure, lung failure and major neurological problems as a consequence of which she spent three years in a wheelchair.

38 Professor Ehrlich referred to the effect of these illnesses on her business ventures which she was required, during that period, to “sell … at a loss” and “her feelings when having to deal with distress sales”. He also referred to a series of family tragedies, with numerous deaths, having to attend funerals and cope with relationship problems.

39 At the time, according to the history given to Professor Ehrlich, she was consuming approximately 2 bottles of wine each day and a half a bottle of single malt whiskey.

40 The family tragedies seem to have affected Ms Smith more as a consequence of her place in the Samoan community and the fact that members of her family of origin were the founding fathers of the Samoan Congregational Church. She also fulfils major familial and cultural duties assigned to her by her family (Ex 3).

41 Professor Ehrlich suggests that Ms Smith was “unaware of the Court order which was issued whilst she was overseas” and that “she was not made aware of it on her return”. With respect to Professor Ehrlich, he may have been given that history but the history is inconsistent with the events in Court and in the precincts of the Court, including applications made by her through counsel which disclose a clear understanding of the nature of the restrictions imposed upon her.

42 Professor Ehrlich suggests that “her capacity for processing information and applying effective judgement must be considered to have been significantly impaired”. The report was not the subject of cross-examination and I accept that opinion.

43 Nevertheless, the opinion is based upon some assumptions of fact, which are not borne out. The Court has already referred to the awareness by Ms Smith of the orders issued and her understanding of the orders that Issued. Further, the breakdown in her relationship with Mr Young, to which Ms Smith referred Professor Ehrlich, either did not occur at the time or was not at all acrimonious. In evidence as Annexure A to the Affidavit of Angela Skocic of 20 October 2016 are photographs of Ms Smith with Mr Young taken and posted on Facebook at a time during which it was said their relationship had “broken down”.

44 The other issue to which reference needs to be made is the report of clinical psychotherapist, Ms Odelia Carmon. I will not detail the history recited by Ms Carmon. Ms Smith did not give evidence. Some of that history would require direct evidence for it to be taken into account as part of the early childhood of Ms Smith, particularly the allegations of abuse from the age of nine until the age of 22 years.

45 I accept that Ms Smith’s actions may result, at least in part, from a life filled with responsibilities to others and unfulfilled personal expectations and her need to become secure, independent and self-sufficient. do so without necessarily accepting the history that may have led to that.

46 I also accept a degree of cultural tension that defines Ms Smith’s self-image and causes problems with self-management. The report from Ms Carmon expresses the view that Ms Smith genuinely regrets her action in breaching her obligations to the Court. Unfortunately, that was not the subject of any evidence from Ms Smith and J have significant doubts as to the degree of Ms Smith’s remorse.


47 The Court accepts that there are a number of subjective mitigating factors in determining an appropriate sentence. I accept that the Contemnor has had a significant medical and psycho-social history, involving a brain tumour and a number of other illnesses, some of which were caused by an unfortunate viral infection from and/or in reaction to a mosquito bite in Africa.

48 Ms Smith was 46 years of age at the time of the contempt, namely February 2015. As has been made clear earlier in these reasons, the Contemnor has not before been before a court and is entitled to the leniency of a first offender. accept, also, that there was some impairment to Ms Smith’s capacity for executive decision making on a rational basis around the time of the contempt.

49 I do not accept that the Contemnor and Mr Les Young had severed their relationship at the time of the contempt or very soon thereafter. I do accept that the Contemnor deliberately and contumaciously contravened the order of the Court prohibiting her from dealing with the Property, which she mortgaged in order to obtain a benefit of $5.8 million (or the use of the funds for business purposes). I also accept that the breach of the order was part of a wider plan the effect of which was intended to deprive Ms Young of enforcing other Court orders, cocooning the assets into the name of the Contemnor and away from Mr Young, and thereby seeking to prevent Ms Young from enforcing her judgments.

50 Further, the conduct of transferring the property from Mr Young to the Contemnor (and, in the case of the Contemnor, accepting that transfer) and mortgaging the property, was done without any notice to any person, in circumstances where Ms Smith was at that time before the Court. The transactions were deliberately concealed from the Court and Ms Smith allowed the proceedings to continue on a false premise, known to her and which she hid from others. Part of that process included misleading Westpac as to the position of the apartment and its history.

51 It is clear that the Contemnor was motivated, in part, by financial gain and probably as a matter of malice towards Ms Young. The former has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The latter is disregarded because it has not been proved to that required standard. The contempt (and the larger financial arrangement of which it formed part) was otherwise performed for the benefit of Mr Young, her then partner.

52 As previously stated, an assessment of the objective seriousness of the offence puts it above the mid-range in seriousness and it is clear that the contempt offence was not, in the least, technical. It was a wilful, deliberate and contumacious contempt being an intentional disobedience involving a conscious defiance of the authority of the Court and a deliberate attempt to subvert the orders imposed upon her.

53 As a consequence Ms Smith’s intentional conduct also involves the knowing defiance of the Court’s order and authority and the sentencing must achieve a purpose that involves both general and specific deterrence.

54 The consequence of the mental and other medical conditions of the Contemnor render the general and specific deterrence less significant than it might otherwise have been and render the Contemnor Jess appropriate as an example in relation to general deterrence. Ms Smith’s behaviour was described as “surreptitious” by the Court (Young v Smith (No 2) [2015] NSWSC 1267 at [36]-[37]. However, some general and specific deterrence is required. The medical conditions of the Contemnor, including her restricted mobility, make prison a more onerous punishment.

55 Further, the fact that the business for which Ms Smith borrowed the money did not succeed is a matter wholly unrelated to the contempt. The money was borrowed for the purpose of making a profit. The mortgage was effected in order to gain security for the borrowed monies.

56 Notwithstanding the comments in the report of Ms Odelia Carmon, there has been no apology or public expression of contrition.

57 Moreover, the publicity occasioned in relation to the conduct of Ms Smith js not an extra curial punishment. It is the natural result of conduct by a person in utter defiance of the orders of a court. In the absence of the rule of law, we would all live in a state of chaos. Courts adjudicate the rights of the members of society as between themselves. It is not for a member of society to snub that adjudication for self-interest.

58 If the published material about the conduct of Ms Smith was defamatory, then Ms Smith would have a cause of action. I do not consider the publicity given to the conduct of Ms Smith or the Judgments of the Court concerning her conduct to be a form of extra curial punishment. Nor, in this case, do consider that it ameliorates the punishment that otherwise ought to be imposed.

59 As a consequence, the Court shall impose a penalty. I reiterate the comments made in relation to financial penalties where the motive is financial gain. Democracy, as we know it, depends upon the rule of law and the obedience of members of the community of the orders of the Court.

60 Moreover, I do not accept the submission, put on behalf of Ms Smith, that no damage or prejudice has been suffered by the plaintiff. The stress associated with litigation of this kind and the years of litigation leading to the orders that ultimately were made by the Court, involve a stress beyond the stress of winning or losing and beyond the stress associated with the requirement to meet legal costs to enforce rights that ought not have needed to be litigated.

61 Notwithstanding the subjective circumstances to which Ms Smith has pleaded in relation to her conduct, I consider, bearing in mind both the objective and subjective circumstances of the offence, that a custodial sentence is warranted. I also consider that the only proper disincentive to other persons seeking to obtain a profit by the deliberate defiance of Court orders is to impose a monetary penalty.

62 The Court makes the following orders:

(1) The Court records a conviction for the offence of contempt committed by Josephine Aapa Smith (“the Contemnor”);
(2) The Court sentences the Contemnor to a term of imprisonment of 6 months, fixed term. The Court suspends execution of the whole of the sentence for a period of 6 months and directs that the Contemnor be released from custody on condition that she enter into a good behaviour bond for the said period of 6 months. The sentence will commence on and from 25 October 2017;
(3) The Court imposes a fine on the Contemnor of $50,000, in addition to the foregoing sentence of imprisonment;
(4) The Contemnor shall pay the plaintiffs costs of and incidental to these proceedings on an indemnity basis;
(5) Any party who seeks a different or special order as to costs may apply within seven (7) days of the date of this Judgment by filing a submission with the Associate to his Honour Justice Rothman. Such submission shall be no more than three (3) pages in length. Any party affected by any such application may reply to said application by a submission of the same length within 7 days of receipt of the application.