The notorious case of Jessica Stasinowsky and Valerie Parashumti has notched up another milestone. The inevitable appeals alleging harshness of sentence are now appearing in the court lists. The lovely Valerie Parashumti has stuck first with an application for reduction of sentence. Her barrister has argued to the Appeal division of the Supreme Court of Western Australian that the sentences imposed earlier this year were excessive. This is a standard part of the cycle of such cases and usually makes the average person wonder what kind of maggot-nest a criminal defence lawyer must have for a brain. However, although it's a familiar routine and I've become used to it, a note was struck in the report of the plea on Parashumti's behalf that staggered me. The defence advocate has contended that the offence in this matter was not in the worst category.
This genius of the forensic arts proposed that the most serious categories of murder are those involving assassinations of public officials such as judges or police officers. So, a bullet in the back of the head to one of these, is worth a more serious sentence than the deeds of the two offenders in this matter. This really is a provocation.
The problem we have in these islands is that we've seen the removal of the death penalty as a standard penalty for wilful homicide. This was done at the discretion of politicians with no plebiscite and without the matter being contested in the context of an election campaign. It was slipped in under the radar by MP's who believed that they knew better than the bloodthirsty canaille. Now judges are obliged to try to grade murders and reserve the longest sentences for the worst. The trap in this is that there is never going to be a "worst" murder. There's no bottom with these offences; whatever one may imagine, there will always be a worse. Under the old system, a life deliberately taken was worth a life. It still is. The law simply doesn't recognise the fact.
The other significant issue in this case is the familiarity which the gruesome subject matter is acquiring. We had another murder in this State shortly before this one which was of a similar style; two teenage girls murdered another girl in a shared house in the town of Collie. These were the sorts of killings which would have been beyond imagining in WA thirty years ago. Now they're forming a pattern.
Whenever the accused and their friends appear at the courthouse the casual observer could mistake the gathering for a convention of fans of the vampire movie genre. I may be overestimating it, but there seem to be a lot more of these vampire lesbians around these days. The curmudgeons who keep railing against the decadent influence of the entertainment industry used to attract barrages of derision from the "progressives" who kept insisting that fantasy and reality had no causal connection and that someone could immerse themselves in as much horror and violence as they pleased with no ill-effects. The evidence for the righteousness of the curmudgeons appears to be accumulating.