Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Offenders to challenge life sentence once

Seventeen of the state's worst criminals will be given one more chance to challenge their life sentences, under new laws to go before the NSW parliament.

State Attorney-General John Hatzistergos says the change, which affects people jailed for life before truth in sentencing legislation in 1989, will save their victims' families the anguish of dealing with repeated court processes.

"These important new laws will protect victims and their families from being re-traumatised as they are repeatedly dragged through the courts," Mr Hatzistergos told reporters.

"Offenders will now be allowed just one re-determination application. If they are unsuccessful, they'll stay in prison and will not able to re-apply."

The 17 inmates include John Cribb, who was jailed for three life terms in 1978 for killing a Sydney mother and two of her young children.

Mr Hatzistergos said it would stop these inmates from making repeated applications for sentence determinations when, in some cases, the applications were dropped before they went ahead or even during court proceedings.

"It meant that victims and their families have had to go through the trauma of reliving these terrible crimes again and again every time the offender made another re-determination application," he said.

Once a prisoner has initiated their sentence re-determination they will have to apply to the court if they want to drop it.

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