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Magistrate’s tough stance

Wednesday, 14th May, 2014

The courts would be reduced to “toothless tigers” if they allowed offenders to defy their orders, a Local Court magistrate said in jailing a man for six months yesterday.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy made his comments in rejecting a plea for leniency for a man charged with repeatedly breaching apprehended violence orders (AVOs) taken out against him by his ex-wife.

Jason Michael Powell (36) pleaded guilty to contravening four AVOs and failing to appear in court.

He had been punished with suspended jail sentences but had continued to breach the AVOs, sometimes violently, said Mr Dunlevy who dismissed an appeal from Mr Powell’s lawyer to spare him jail.

“If you breach them you attract a penalty and if you continue to breach them, you go to jail,” Mr Dunlevy said.

“He has been given opportunities with a bond and two suspended sentences but continued to reoffend.”

His “open defiance” of binding orders from the court was a challenge to the integrity of the suspended sentence system, the magistrate said.

Allowing this to go unpunished would “send a message that we will not protect (the victims)” and turn the suspended sentence penalty into a “toothless tiger”.

However, Mr Dunlevy found that there were mitigating circumstances.

“He has not adjusted well to the separation and to not being able to fulfill the role of father.

“It has meant considerable stress for him.”

But Mr Powell had good prospects of rehabilitation, given that he had been in regular employment and that most of his problems had been caused by drugs and alcohol which could be fixed if he set his mind to it, Mr Dunlevy said.

Mr Powell is due to be released from jail in November, after which he will serve three months on parole.

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