Being caught with 7 ounces of pot and charged with dealing cannabis should not encompass a prison term. Especially if that person has a clean police record. But, Supreme Court judge Justice Kerry Cullinane has deemed Danielle Sharp to be more dangerous than many violent criminals and sentenced her to 2 years jail (released after 4 months). This was her first offence.
I know the public are screaming out for harsher penalties from our judicial system and politicians are quick to take up the the "Tough on Crime” mantra but this decision by judge Kerry Cullinane is simply ridiculous. What positive outcome can possibly come from jailing Danielle Sharp? She has left the drug scene and worked solidly for two years since her arrest which makes me wonder about the judge’s wisdom. Is ripping her out of the community going to teach her a lesson or help society in general. Of course not. Is it going to deter others from selling drugs? Nuh. Are there any benefits at all? again … no.
Here’s the strange part. Justice Kerry Cullinane has been on an anti-drug mission for a long time now but for all his, "Tough on Drugs" rhetoric, he has dished out plenty of suspended sentences for drug offences. Offences that would normally attract jail terms.
The judge then made it clear that the courts were getting increasingly tougher in drug sentences.
"We are (nowadays) getting away from cases where no conviction is recorded for small amounts of drugs for personal use, and I have to be fair to others who have been sentenced," he said.
But he accepted Mr Griffith's view that `this was an aberration for a young man of great promise, particularly in soccer'.
Justice Cullinane imposed a 12-month sentence, wholly suspended for two years, but warned Gabiola that if he returned to court facing similar charges, he would go to jail.
So why did Justice Cullinane jail first time offender Danielle Sharp after saying, “he had to be consistent in fairness to others he had sentenced on similar charges”? What made Danielle’s drug offence worthy of a prison term when other similar crimes were previously dealt with by a suspended sentence?
But Justice Cullinane said that while he noted the positive changes Sharp had made, he had to be consistent in fairness to others he had sentenced on similar charges. The weeping Sharp was sentenced to two years' jail, to be released after serving four months.
--From the article
Maybe it was the busy morning he had or as the Townsville Bulletin describes, “his concern at what he terms as 'a disturbing pattern' of drug offending that has started to appear in Townsville over the past few years”.
The 70 year old judge, who hails from North Queensland (Deliverance anyone?) is a member of the Order of Australia (AO). He is well known up north and even has a ‘Moot Court’ named after him at the James Cook University Law School. My worry is that the last 40 years, being his prime years in the law business, has firmly imbedded the “War on Drugs” rhetoric in his mind and any evidence suggesting the "Tough on Drugs" approach has failed, has not sunk in.
According to the Townsville Bulletin, he has commented several times that more and more older people are coming before him as first-time drug offenders.
The final cautionary word for those tempted by drug dealing should come from Justice Kerry Cullinane. In a recent case, when a barrister suggested that some misguided older people were seeing drug dealing as a kind of superannuation, Justice Cullinane said if that was the case, many people would be spending their retirement in a place they hadn't planned. And anyone so tempted to the drug trade should know that Justice Cullinane is a man of his word.
OK, I get it, he’s a judge. It’s his job to apply the law. But it’s also our judges who challenge the law and give determinations that affect future decisions. For example, in an attempt by the Canadian government to shut down the safe injection centre, Insite, Justice Ian Pettfield ruled against them and determined that Insite was saving lives and sections of the Canadian Criminal Code contravened the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This set the stage for the supreme court to overrule a government appeal who may have very well got their way if not for the decision of the first judge. The initial ruling by Justice Ian Pettfield, declaring parts of Canada’s drug laws unconstitutional, shows how informed judges can really make a difference to judicial issues especially those built on ignorance.
I’m not holding my breath for Justice Cullinane to change his attitude any time soon. But with the mountains of research clearly showing that punitive penalties for drug offences has not achieved any positive outcomes, it is disappointing the judge continues his drug war babble. Especially when it sounds like an extract from some anti-drug propaganda piece.
And without people like Gabiola(accused drug user), dealers wouldn't have a business
As the old school moves into retirement, I wonder if the drug war rhetoric will continue with the new, up and coming beaks? Will the passing on of wisdom include the 40 years of brainwashing that most of our judiciary suffered? Or will we see a new breed of pragmatic judges who are prepared to look beyond disastrous campaigns like “Just Say No” or "Tough on Drugs”? For the sake of those already affected by the misguided "War on Drugs" and those still in the firing line, we can only hope that the people who have the power of incarceration will be better informed than their predecessors.
Drug Dealers Sent To Jail
Supreme Court judge Justice Kerry Cullinane has expressed his concern at what he terms as 'a disturbing pattern' of drug offending that has started to appear in Townsville over the past few years.
During a busy morning of sentences yesterday Justice Cullinane commented that two of the matters before him involved young people with no criminal record landing in the dock on the most serious of drug charges, that of trafficking.
Justice Cullinane said the pattern had started to appear in only the past few years.
And the judge made it clear that only the most exceptional of circumstances, like extreme youth, would keep traffickers out of jail.
And he was good to his word, when Danielle Renee Sharp pleaded guilty to trafficking in cannabis sativa, and four related charges of possessing money and paraphernalia involved in the peddling.
Crown prosecutor Clare Kelsey said police, acting on a tip-off, had discovered various amounts of cannabis, amounting to 191gms, when they searched Sharp's Kelso home.
Officers also seized $1685 in cash and a mobile phone containing text messages relating to drug deals.
Defence barrister Wayne Pennell said Sharp had fallen in with the Townsville drug culture when she took up with a new boyfriend who was drug dependent.
But Mr Pennell said she had broken off the relationship and had turned her life around since she was charged with the offences in 2008.
He said she had worked her way up to become a manager of store in the western suburbs.
Mr Pennell described the 27-year-old Sharp as a 'naive young girl' and argued that her genuine and successful efforts to rehabilitate her life called for a wholly suspended jail term.
But Justice Cullinane said that while he noted the positive changes Sharp had made, he had to be consistent in fairness to others he had sentenced on similar charges.
The weeping Sharp was sentenced to two years' jail, to be released after serving four months.
And jail was also unavoidable for 23-year-old New Zealander Conan Anton Fenton, who pleaded guilty to trafficking in ecstasy and the relatively rare banned euphoric drug, benzylpiperazine, known on the street as BZP.
Crown prosecutor Kelly Stone said Fenton had been caught in an undercover drug squad sting, and was arrested after he had arranged four deals involving $4000 worth of drugs, including 300 ecstasy tablets.
Felton was sentenced to two years, but he will be released after serving eight months.