- Unreported Judgment
IN THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL
C.A. Nos. 181 & 182 of 1979
Mr. Justice D.M. Campbell
Mr. Justice Hoare
Mr. Justice Kneipp
BRISBANE, 16 OCTOBER 1979
(Copyright in this transcript is vested in the Crown. Copies thereof must not be made or sold without the written authority of the Chief Court Reporter, Court Reporting Bureau.)
VIRGINIA ROSEMARY LESLIE and RONALD BRUCE SMITH
MR. JUSTICE D. M. CAMPBELL: These are two appeals by the Attorney-General under section 669A of the Criminal Code against the sentences imposed by a Stipendiary Magistrate on 17 July 1979 at Brisbane on the respondents, Virginia Rosemary Leslie and Ronald Bruce Smith. Both appeals have been heard together.
The respondents pleaded guilty to having a prohibited plant in their possession for a purpose specified under section 130(2)(c) of the Health Act, that is, sale. The prohibited plant was Indian Hemp and the total net weight of the plant material was 783 grams. This comprised 52 deals having a market value of approximately $1,300. The Magistrate placed each of them on probation for three years.
Counsel for them informed the Magistrate that the marijuana was grown on a 180-acre property in the Obi Obi Valley. This property had been jointly owned by several couples, including the respondent Leslie and her husband, and an elderly lady and her daughter. The respondent Leslic's marriage broke down and she left the property early in 1978 and took a job at Buderim. She returned to the property in October of that year and found that squatters had moved in. These people were removed from the property but she discovered that they had been growing marijuana in her absence. Counsel said that the plant material, the subject of the charge represented about the whole of this crop. It appears that the respondents had entered into a de facto relationship and that they were both on the property when arrested. At the time of their arrest, so the Magistrate was informed, they were both addicted to heroin and their habit was costing them 5600 to $700 a week.
These facts were apparently accepted by the Magistrate: They were not disputed by the prosecuting sergeant. It was pressed before the Magistrate that the sale of the marijuana was to support an addiction and not for profit per se. In each instance the Magistrate had reports from Doctor Bolton of the Drug dependence Unit to the effect that the optimal means of helping them to achieve a stable, drug-free lifestyle was to ensure their attendance at the clinic for treatment, counselling and tests.
The maximum sentence for this offence when dealt with summarily is two years' imprisonment and/or a fine of $2,000. The Magistrate made it a condition of the probation order that the respondents attend as may be directed at the Drug Dependence Unit for such tests and treatment as may be deemed necessary by the Director, It is not a rule that persons convicted of this particular offence should be sent to gaol, as was pointed out in the Queen against Snell and McGregor, 1979 Queensland Reports, 47. The Magistrate, in making the probation order, obviously had rehabilitation rather than retribution in mind. He had before him the reports from Dr. Bolton that I have referred to, and we have had placed before us a subsequent report by Dr. Bolton to the effect that the compliance of both respondents with the programme instituted, as a result of the probation has been very good. We have also had the advantage of hearing evidence from their probation officers to the effect that they have both been co-operative on probation. Mr. Alexander, who is the respondent Smith's probation officer stated that Smith does not fall into the usual pattern of drug offenders.
Both the respondents are young people. Smith is 22 years of age and a single man, and is a plumber by trade. He has had three previous convictions for being in possession of small quantities of marijuana and being in possession of a pipe. Since being before the Magistrate he has secured perment employment in his trade.
The respondent Leslie, on the other hand, is 28 years of age. She is, as I have mentioned, a married woman, but she has had some university training and is possessed of some skills. She has been employed looking after children since the probation order was made but is out of work at the present time. This respondent has no previous convictions.
I think a probation order was within the discretionary limits of the sentencing power of the Magistrate and I do not think that we would be justified in imposing a different sentence in all the circumstances of these cases.
MR. JUSTICE HOARE: I agree with the reasons and conclusions of my brother, the presiding judge. The problem of sentencing for drug offences is more difficult than for most other criminal offences. In some cases substantial prison sentences are appropriate. In other cases a properly supervised pronation order, with reasonable prospects for the rehabilitation of the offender, is likely to be in the best interests of the community.
MR. JUSTICE KNEIPP: I also agree.
MR. JUSTICE D. M. CAMPBELL: The order is that both appeals will be dismissed.
- Published Case Name:
The Queen v Virginia Rosemary Leslie and Ronald Bruce Smith
- Shortened Case Name:
R v Leslie and Smith
 CCA 86
D M Campbell, Hoare J, Kneipp J
16 Oct 1979
No Litigation History