Mr Ronald Peter Addo breached the conditions of his parole. When the police caught up with him he did not go willingly. He was convicted of assaulting the police officers. For that, a Magistrate ordered that Mr Addo should serve an extra 18 months in prison, although he would be eligible to apply again for parole.
Mr Addo appealed to the District Court. He claimed the Magistrate should have ordered a fixed date for his release on parole. Judge Morzone agreed. Was he correct?
Judge Morzone’s decision turns on the words of rule in s.160B of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) . When that section applies, it is only if the offence occurs during “court ordered parole order” that the court must fix an eligibility date (s.160B(2)). Otherwise, usually for a sentence of less than 3 years, not a sexual offence, it must be a fixed release date (s.160B(3)).
Mr Addo committed his offence while on parole granted by the Parole Board, not court ordered parole. For that reason Judge Morzone held that a release date was required. There is sound logic in that reasoning as far as it applies s.160B. I have doubts it was the correct decision on the facts.
The reason for my doubts is that Judge Morzone’s reasons did not mention the effect of s.160C.
Section 160C requires an eligibility date if the period of imprisonment is more than 3 years. It has to be considered first. Section 160B does not apply if section 160C applies.
Not all the components of Mr Addo’s period of imprisonment are recounted in the decision. What is made clear is that, on 14 August 2013, he was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, cumulative upon an earlier sentence.
On 31 March 2015 he was released on parole.
On 10 December 2015 his parole was suspended, and a warrant issued.
On 10 January 2016 he was arrested and, in the course of his arrest, committed the assault offences the subject of the appeal.
On 5 July 2016 (while still serving the earlier sentence), he was sentenced in the Magistrates Court for the offences of 10 January 2016. He was sentenced to 18 months to be served cumulatively. As at the date of his sentence, he had 4 months and 23 days of the earlier sentence to serve before he would begin serving the cumulative term.
In the Act, “period of imprisonment means the unbroken duration of imprisonment that an offender is to serve for 2 or more terms of imprisonment, whether—
(a)ordered to be served concurrently or cumulatively; or
(b)imposed at the same time or different times;
and includes a term of imprisonment.” (s.4)
For our purposes, the Act also provides:
“period of imprisonment means the period of imprisonment that includes the term of imprisonment mentioned in section 160A.
Note— Period of imprisonment therefore includes the term of imprisonment a court is imposing at the time of sentence.” (Section 160)
The definition refers to the “unbroken duration…. that an offender is to serve”, not that he has in fact served. It is a reference to the obligation. It must follow that an offender can not break the duration of “a period of imprisonment” by absconding.
Mr Addo’s period of imprisonment included at least the 3 years imposed on 14 August 2013, and then the cumulative 18 months imposed on 5 May 2016. That is, it was at least 4 years and 6 months (and probably longer, dating back to 25 May 2011, paragraph ). As the period of imprisonment was longer than 3 years, section 160C applied. In my view, an eligibility date was required.