Search by

Latest News

The Director of Public Prosecutions (Cth) Raelene Sharp KC confirmed that on 1 June 2024, Warren Day will join the CDPP on secondment for 6 months, as the Director’s Executive Officer. 

On 5 March 2024, CDPP staff acknowledged the 40 year anniversary of the Office being established.

The CDPP’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2024-26 is now available.

The CDPP has launched a range of branded cultural elements which were designed by

Federal Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, today announced the appointment of Ms Raelene Sharp KC as the next Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
The CDPP 2022-23 Annual Report was tabled in Parliament on 18 October 2023.

The CDPP’s Corporate Plan 2023–27 is now available.

The 2021-22 CDPP Annual Report was tabled in Parliament on Friday 28 October 20

The CDPP recently received an overall satisfaction score of 86 per cent from its biennial 2022 Partner Agency Survey.

The CDPP's 2022-26 Corporate Plan is now available.

The Attorney-General of New South Wales today announced the appointment of Ms Sarah McNaughton SC as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW. 

The CDPP’s Library and Research Services team has won the 2022 Legal Information Service of the Year award announced at the Australian Law Librarians’ Association (ALLA) conference in Hobart on Thursday 26 August.

On 7 July 2022 the Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Honourable Mark Dreyfus QC MP, announced he had declined to proceed further in the prosecution of Mr Bernard Collaery for five offences relating to the alleged unlawful communication of ASIS information contrary to the Intelligence Services

High Court hands down decision on mandatory minimum sentencing provisions for Commonwealth child sexual abuse offences

Year
2024
Location
Australia

Partner Agency: Australian Federal Police

On 13 March 2024, the High Court handed down judgment in the matters of Hurt v R; Delzotto v R [2024] HCA 8. In doing so, the Court unanimously dismissed both Mr Hurt’s and Mr Delzotto’s appeals and confirmed the CDPP’s approach to the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions in ss 16AAA, 16AAB and 16AAC of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

Significantly, the Court confirmed that the minimum sentences specified in ss 16AAA and 16AAB(2) of the Act operate as yardsticks “for the appropriate term of imprisonment for the offence in the least serious circumstances”. 

The sentences

Delzotto 

On 25 June 2021, Mr Delzotto was sentenced by the NSW District Court in relation to: 

  • One charge of possessing child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to s 474.22A(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth); and 
  • One charge of using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to s 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

Mr Delzotto had previous convictions for the indecent treatment of children under 16 contrary to s2010 of the Criminal Code 1899 (QLD) As a result, both offences attracted the operation of the minimum sentencing provisions in s16AAB of the Crimes Act

In sentencing Mr Delzotto, the Court followed the approach taken to mandatory minimum sentences in R v Pot (Unreported, Northern Territory Supreme Court 18 January 2011) rather than the approach taken in Bahar v The Queen (2011) 45 WAR 100 (Bahar), which was advocated for by the CDPP. The approach taken by the Court meant that the minimum sentences specified in s16AAB(2) were not treated as yardsticks appropriate in the least serious circumstances. 

On this basis, Mr Delzotto was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of 3 years and 3 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of 2 years and 2 months. 

Hurt 

On 16 September 2021, Mr Hurt was sentenced by the ACT Supreme Court in relation to: 

  • One charge of using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material, contrary to s 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth); 
  • One charge of using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to s 474.22(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth); and 
  • One charge of possessing child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to s 474.22A(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth). 

Mr Hurt had previous convictions for possessing child exploitation material contrary to s65 of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) and for using a carriage service to distribute child pornography material contrary to s474.19 of the Criminal Code (Cth). As a result, there were similar questions to those in Delzotto about the application of s16AAB(2) of the Crimes Act

In contrast to the earlier decision of Delzotto, the ACT Supreme Court adopted the CDPP’s preferred approach to mandatory minimum sentences, being that put forward in Bahar. However, the Court also decided that there was a threshold issue, which meant that s16AAB(2) did not apply when sentencing Mr Hurt for the offence against s474.22A(1), because the conduct element in s474.22A(1)(c) took place prior to the commencement of the mandatory minimum provisions. 

The Court accordingly sentenced Mr Hurt to a sentence of 3 days less than 4 years and 10 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 2 years and one month. 

The appeals to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal and the ACT Court of Appeal 

Each of the first instance sentencing decisions was appealed and cross-appealed. 

In each of the appeals, the CDPP’s position was that the correct approach to mandatory minimum sentences was that taken in Bahar, with minimum sentences to be treated as a yardstick for the least serious case. The CDPP also submitted that the ACT Supreme Court was wrong on the threshold issue in Hurt

The CDPP was successful on all points in the appeals in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal and the ACT Court of Appeal and the Courts accordingly varied each of the sentences as follows: 

  • The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal increased Mr Delzotto’s sentence from 3 years and 3 months imprisonment to 4 years and 6 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 3 years. 
  • The ACT Court of Appeal increased Mr Hurt’s sentence from 3 days less than 4 years and 10 months imprisonment to 4 years and 10 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 2 years and 2 months. 

The appeals to the High Court 

Mr Delzotto and Mr Hurt each appealed the above decisions to the High Court, and the High Court granted them special leave to appeal on 21 April 2023. 

The hearing took place on 9 November 2023. On 13 March 2024, the High Court unanimously dismissed each appeal. In doing so, the High Court confirmed the CDPP’s approach to the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions in ss 16AAA, 16AAB and 16AAC of the Crimes Act, and confirmed that the minimum sentences operate as yardsticks “for the appropriate term of imprisonment for the offence in the least serious circumstances”. 

Related links