A killer is likely to be re-sentenced after his barrister and the Director of Public Prosecutions both told the ACT Court of Appeal that the sentencing judge appeared to have made errors.
Justice Michael Elkaim last year jailed Peter Forster-Jones for more than 40 years, after Forster-Jones pleaded guilty to eight charges including murder. The offences were committed in two separate incidents in Canberra's north in 2016.
In the first incident, Forster-Jones was part of a group that broke into the Watson home of drug dealer Eden Waugh. Armed with a gun, a machete and a metal pole, the group assaulted and threatened the people inside, including Waugh, while demanding drugs. One of the unit's occupants was so terrified that he jumped from a window to escape and fractured his spine.
Six weeks later, the offenders returned to Waugh's home. On this occasion, Forster-Jones shot and killed Waugh through the front door. He then forced his way inside and stepped over Waugh's body on his way to ransack the unit.
Forster-Jones' total effective sentence was comprised of nearly 10-and-a-half years in jail for six crimes committed in the first incident, and 30 years for murder and aggravated robbery in the second incident.
Forster-Jones' barrister, Ken Archer, told the ACT Court of Appeal on Tuesday that the overall sentence of more than 40 years in jail was not justified.
"The sentence, taken as a whole, was unreasonably long," he said.
Mr Archer argued that some of the eight individual sentences that formed the total were excessive.
He said there should also have been a greater degree of concurrency between some of the individual sentences.
ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC told the court Justice Elkaim appeared to have erred in sentencing Forster-Jones for the aggravated robbery committed during the second incident.
Mr Drumgold said there was an "absence of reasoning" in Justice Elkaim's sentencing remarks, meaning it was not clear how the judge had determined the time Forster-Jones should serve behind bars for that particular offence.
The territory's top prosecutor said a precedent showed that where there was an error in a component of a total sentence, the Court of Appeal should re-sentence the defendant on all charges.
With each of the parties alleging errors in Forster-Jones' case, it appears likely that a re-sentencing will eventuate.
The appeal court panel of Chief Justice Helen Murrell, Acting Justice Peter Berman and Acting Justice Robert Crowe reserved its decision following a hearing on Tuesday.