An Australian Institute of Criminology report has found that stab wounds were the most commonly recorded cause of death in Australia. Photo: Paul Harris Photo: Paul Harris
ONE of the most frequent times to commit a homicide in Australia is on a Sunday night between midnight and 6am.
The most common place to be killed is in the home and it is more likely than not that the killer is either a mate or a lover.
Their weapon of choice is increasingly going to be a knife instead of a gun and there is almost a 50 per cent chance the killer or victim has been drinking.
Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
The Australian Institute of Criminology has released a report examining the 510 homicides across the country over 24 months between July 2008 and June 2010.
It found that the rate of homicide in Australia remains at a historic low of 1.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
The NSW rate was just below that at 1.1 per cent per 100,000, Victoria recorded the lowest while the Northern Territory rate was more than four times the national average.
Indigenous Australians were over-represented as victims of homicide, with the homicide rate four times higher than the equivalent rate for non-indigenous Australians.
Gun-related homicide dropped to a historic low of 13 per cent but the frequency of people dying from stab wounds jumped from 30 per cent to 41 per cent over the previous decade.
In the 510 deaths examined, males accounted for 68 per cent of victims and 88 per cent of offenders.
The average age of all victims was 38.6 and the oldest victim was 98. The average age of an offender was 33.2.
The greatest proportion of homicides occurred on Sundays, slightly ahead of Saturday. Tuesday had the lowest number.
''Homicides were more likely to occur between 6pm and midnight on Saturdays and midnight and 6am on Sunday than at any other time during the week,'' the study found.
''This finding suggests that homicides may be associated with participation in the night-time economy over the weekend or other situations involving social congregations, such as family gatherings.''
Three in five homicides over the two-year period occurred in a home, usually belonging to the victim as opposed to the offender.
The next most prominent location was on a street, road or highway. Eight people nationwide were killed in a car park or public garage, five on a sporting oval and three people on public transport.
Stab wounds were the most commonly recorded cause of death at 38 per cent, followed by beatings at 25 per cent with gunshot wounds accounting for 13 per cent.
Double or single barrelled shotguns were the most commonly used firearm.
''Since the [study] began in 1989-90, homicides resulting from the use of a firearm have decreased,'' the study found. ''Conversely the proportion of homicides involving knives has increased.''
The study also examined motives behind killings with drugs, alcohol, money and revenge the most recorded reasons for homicides involving friends and acquaintances.
Three homicides were known to have occurred because of racial vilification and in all three situations the victim and offenders did not know each other.
Of the 510 homicides, 46 remain unsolved.
More than 40 per cent of offenders had a criminal history before they committed the homicide.
- There were 253 homicide incidents in 2008-09 and 257 in 2009-10, involving 541 victims and 611 offenders. Some incidents involved multiple victims or offenders.
- Of the victims, 366 were males (68 per cent) and 175 were females (32 per cent).
- 60 indigenous people were murdered, a rate four times the rest of the community.
- 49 children aged under 18 were murdered.
- Alcohol featured in 47 per cent of homicides and drugs in 20 per cent.
- Only 13 per cent of murders involved firearms, down from 25 per cent in 1989-90.
- Use of knives has increased from 30 per cent to 41 per cent in a decade.
- A quarter of victims died by beating.
- 13 per cent of murders were committed in the course of another crime, including drug offences.