A properly prepared sentence should always include thorough research of comparative cases. This is important for two reasons:
1. It is the duty of a legal representative to assist the court in its determination of an appropriate penalty.
2. The best outcome is likely to be achieved by highlighting to the court previous sentences which support the outcome trying to be achieved. Consistency in sentencing is very important both for an offender and the community at large.
The High Court in a recent case of The Queen v Munda re-affirmed the principle that in sentencing, “like cases should be treated in a like manner”.
The majority of the High Court endorsed Chief Justice Gleeson’s discussion in Wong v The Queen where His Honour said: “The administration of criminal justice works as a system; not merely as a multiplicity of unconnected single instances. It should be systematically fair, and that involves, amongst other things, reasonable consistency.”
The court in Munda went on to note that day by day, sentencing judges and appellate courts are referred to sentences imposed in what are said to be comparable cases. The court acknowledged that there will often be room for argument about comparability and the conclusions to be drawn from comparisons . Nonetheless, as his Honour the Chief Justice observed, “inadequacy or excessiveness is often demonstrated by a process of comparison”.