Recent Cases

Xerri v The King [2024] HCA 5 (06 March 2024) (Gageler CJ; Gordon, Steward, Gleeson and Jagot JJ)


Criminal law – Sentence – Calculation – Statutory interpretation – Maximum penalty – Persistent child sexual abuse offence – Where s 66EA of Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) came into effect from 1 December 2018 with maximum penalty of life imprisonment – Where previous s 66EA of Crimes Act provided for maximum penalty of 25 years – Where appellant pleaded guilty to offence of being an adult who had maintained an unlawful sexual relationship with child – Where appellant sentenced under current s 66EA to eight years imprisonment – Where maximum penalty of life imprisonment served as “valuable guidepost” in sentencing – Where appellant’s offending occurred prior to commencement of current s 66EA and appellant pleaded guilty after current s 66EA commenced – Whether replacement of s 66EA of Crimes Act constituted new offence or increase in penalty for “offence” which already existed for purposes of s 19 of Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) (“Procedure Act”) – Meaning of word “offence” in s 19 of Procedure Act – Where retrospective operation of s 66EA offence – Whether maximum penalty for offence committed by appellant remained 25 years imprisonment by operation of s 19 of Procedure Act – Whether significant differences between former and current s 66EA of Crimes Act such that they are not same offence.

Words and phrases – “child sexual abuse”, “differences of substance”, “increased penalty”, “life imprisonment”, “maximum penalty”, “new offence”, “offence”, “persistent sexual abuse of a child”, “retrospective”, “retrospective offence”, “sentence”.