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Sentences increased for child rape at Aurukun -

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Sentences increased for child rape at Aurukun

Broadcast: 13/06/2008

Reporter: David Curnow

Queensland's court of appeal has jailed five of the nine males who raped a 10-year-old girl in the
remote Aboriginal community of Aurukun.

Transcript

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Queensland's Court of Appeal has jailed five of the nine males who raped a
10-year-old girl in the remote Aboriginal community of Aurukun. Originally, all nine escaped prison
terms, a decision described by the court today as a miscarriage of justice.

In handing down the decision, the Chief Justice slammed the prosecutors and the District Court
judge who handled the case.

David Curnow reports.

DAVID CURNOW: Queensland's Chief Justice, Paul de Jersey, pulled no punches in handing down the
Court of Appeal's decision.

PAUL DE JERSEY, QUEENSLAND CHIEF JUSTICE: These errors were so serious as to produce a clear
miscarriage of justice.

DAVID CURNOW: The three adults and six juveniles all pleaded guilty to having sex with a
10-year-old girl in Aurukun in far North Queensland in 2006.

At the time, the prosecutor Steve Carter told judge Sarah Bradley the offences were "childish
experimentation" and "naughty". He asked for non-custodial sentences, a submission the judge
accepted.

PAUL DE JERSEY: The prosecution must bear substantial responsibility for what occurred.

DAVID CURNOW: But, it wasn't only the prosecutor's fault.

PAUL DE JERSEY: The imposition of a proper sentence was ultimately the responsibility of the judge.

DAVID CURNOW: Justice De Jersey criticised the District Court judge for being too hasty in coming
to her decision, for not explaining why she gave such light sentences and treating the adult
defendants the same as the children.

Three of the males were adults at the time of the rapes. They've all now been sentenced to six
years prison and will serve at least two. Two of the youngest in the group were 13 and 14 at the
time - they were sentenced to two and three years detention respectively, but will serve half that.
Remaining juveniles were placed on three years probation, the longest period allowed. Convictions
were recorded.

KERRY SHINE, QUEENSLAND ATTORNEY-GENERAL: This has been a tragic case from start to finish and I'm
pleased that our system of justice has delivered the result that it has today.

PAUL LUCAS, ACTING QUEENSLAND PREMIER: Today's decision gives the little girl at the heart of this
case the justice that she deserves.

DAVID CURNOW: And child protection advocates say it's not just a victory for the victim.

HETTY JOHNSTON, BRAVEHEARTS: These kids, these young offenders have now, through this decision, got
access to rehabilitation and it's critically important to give them the opportunity.

DAVID CURNOW: Lawyers for the nine males say they may lodge an appeal in the High Court, a move the
Attorney-General has vowed to fight.

David Curnow, Lateline.