Adrian Bayley's legal aid questioned
Whether or not convicted rapist Adrian Bayley should have received funding from Legal Aid to appeal his sentence has been questioned by the executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre.PT1M35S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2uiqs 620 349 September 27, 2013
The husband of slain Melbourne woman Jill Meagher has slammed cash-strapped Victoria Legal Aid for funding the appeals of murderers and violent rapists on the same day his wife's killer failed in a bid to have his 35 year minimum sentence reduced.
Tom Meagher's comments came as the Attorney-General Robert Clark issued Legal Aid executives a "please explain" to justify the decision to sponsor Adrian Ernest Bayley's appeal, which was thrown out of the Court of Appeal by Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and Justices Marcia Neave and Paul Coghlan after less than 10 minutes of consideration.
Mr Meagher posted on Facebook on Thursday night that Legal Aid's financial backing of Bayley was a “waste of public money".
Jill Meagher's husband Tom. Photo: Jason South
“There is no deterrent for these lifers not to appeal, and no punishment for further stretching the tight budgets of the system,” he said.
"Perhaps if they added years on to his sentence, these scumbags would think twice."
Legal Aid has publicly called for a greater slice of the government's coffers, claiming it is cash strapped and unable to meet the demand on its services.
Mr Clark said he would talk to Legal Aid executives to ensure decisions were being made in the public's best interests.
"Although a large part of VLA's role involves providing legal representation for accused persons, VLA needs to be able to justify its decisions in any particular case," he said.
"I intend to raise this issue with the VLA Board to ensure that VLA's approach to funding appeal cases is clear, fair and in the public interest".
Adrian Bayley. Photo: Supplied
Bayley's Legal Aid lawyers argued the 35-year non-parole period was too long and required scrutiny because he had not taken "perverted pleasure" in killing her.
Victoria Legal Aid managing director Bevan Warner defended the Bayley appeal, saying the law required there to be ‘‘reasonable grounds for an appeal to be funded by legal aid’’.
‘‘Although difficult to comprehend in cases involving very serious crimes, there is value in obtaining judgment from the Court of Appeal about appropriate sentencing,’’ he said.
‘‘Victorians should not be surprised that Legal Aid funds some criminal appeals – as that is how our justice system works.
‘‘It is not unusual for the Crown to appeal a sentence and sometimes these are upheld and sometimes they are dismissed. The same goes for defence appeals.
‘‘What is important is the guidance that will be obtained from the Court of Appeal’s judgment about what constitutes appropriate sentencing.’’
Mr Warner said the fact that an appeal was dismissed did not mean that mounting the appeal was inappropriate or improper.
Defence barrister Saul Holt, SC, submitted that Bayley would be 77 by the time he was entitled to parole and he was seeking leave to appeal the 35 year minimum term on the grounds it was excessive.
Mr Holt said Bayley accepted he should be jailed for life, but not for 35 years. He said Bayley should been jailed for a minimum of between 28 to 32 years.
But Chief Crown prosecutor Gavin Silbert, SC, said the sentence was "absolutely unimpeachable" and the defence was just "splitting hairs".
"The Crown's response really is, 'So what?'," Mr Silbert said.
Mr Holt said the sentencing judge erred when he described the rape and murder as ranking "among the worst kinds conceivable" and that Bayley had derived some "perverted pleasure" from killing Ms Meagher.
Mr Holt said he did not want to downplay the seriousness of Bayley's offending, but said the suggestion that his client had derived pleasure from murdering Ms Meagher had not been led by the Crown in evidence.
Bayley had shown some remorse over what he had done and this was inconsistent with the proposition that Bayley had taken pleasure from the killing, Mr Holt said.
With Mark Russell