I lived in Brisbane at the time when the Bikeway rapist, Luke James Colless, was attacking women while they were exercising along bikeways and in parks. This happened between 2006 and 2008 to eleven women, five of whom were digitally penetrated.
I remember how Colless terrorised women, many of whom would not jog on their own while he was on the loose. The police had a hard time catching him and in fact he was caught by an alert citizen who saw his car speed away in a suspicious manner. We all breathed a sigh of relief when he was caught and sentenced to 25 years jail for his attacks. So what has the Court of Appeal done just now?
It has reduced the convicted rapist’s sentence by nine years. Why? Well, because the sentence was “manifestly excessive” according to his legal reps, even though he would be eligible for parole after 15 years. And why was the sentence excessive? Because it was only digital rape and not penile rape.
I will never come to terms with the way the law works in favour of criminals. Preying on women was apparently okay. Attacking women by grabbing them and assaulting them by digital penetration was okay too for the Court of Appeal judges because there were “mitigating features.”
Here is the list of mitigating features given by the Court of Appeal:-
Colless’ co-operation with authorities after his arrest;
– his plea of guilty and in doing so, saving the resources of the State and removing the prospect of victims having to give evidence at trial;
– his genuine remorse;
– without his confessions, convictions may not have been obtained for some of the charges;
– absence of any prior criminal history;
– his “promising prospects of rehabilitation”.
The man must be an angel. Why not make him Australia’s second saint? I’m sure we can dig up a couple of miracles in his past. Colless had genuine remorse. Now that makes all those eleven women feel heaps better, I’m sure.
Which brings me to an important point that I want to make. And it’s the overuse of the word “sorry” as if throwing that word around changes anything. Let’s face it, Colless’s defence team would have advised him to put on the mea culpa act.
Nowadays, a drunk driver can commit a hit and run, leave the victim for dead and turn up at a police station the next day with his lawyer and as long as there are masses of Kleenex tissues being bandied about, the driver will get a slap on the wrist. After all, he said he was sorry. Oh, isn’t that nice of him.
What does it take for a conviction to stick? Why do criminals get off with reduced sentences? Why does saying oops, I am sorry, have any place in the legal system at all? We should look at the impact of Colless’s crime and judge how it affected our society for three years and we should convict accordingly.
Eleven women were attacked brutally. Thousands of women in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast lived in fear because of this monster and now he will be let out early so that he can keep on attacking. And believe me, he will. And then when he’s caught again he’ll remember to cry crocodile tears. That should make it all better.
For those of you who are interested in the Court of Appeal’s full decision I am including the URL for it.
I have not changed my mind about the leniency of the sentence and do not agree with Justice Paul de Jersey’s defence of it.