Queensland needs harsher sentences for murderers

LIFE should mean a person's actual life, not just 15 years.

This has been the sentiment of people on social media in the past few days - since Brett Peter Cowan was sentenced for murdering Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe.

The issue has been raised before and it is something that needs to be addressed in this state as other states have made moves in the past to up the ante on punishments for serious crimes.

What do you think of sentences for murderers in Queensland?

This poll ended on 28 March 2014.

Life should mean life, not 15-20 years minimum - 39%

If they've been to jail for a serious offence before, they should not be let out a second time - 18%

If you murder someone, you should be sentenced to death - 36%

Sentences fit the crime in Queensland - 5%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Just look at the sentence given to Jason Alexander Downie for the murder of Andrew, Rose and Chantelle Rowe in South Australia.

Downie was obsessed with Chantelle, 16. He sexually assaulted her and stabbed her 33 times.

He also stabbed Chantelle's parents 79 times, leaving pieces of knife in their bodies.

The 20-year-old was sentenced to a minimum 35 years in jail for his crimes.

Even in this case, 35 years is not enough for this heinous crime.

Alan Temperley, son of murdered 82-year-old Rockhampton woman, Iris Temperley, questioned the sentences for murderers in Queensland after the man responsible for his mother's cruel death on Australia Day 2010 received a life sentence in September 2011.

Justice Duncan McMeekin sentenced David Samuel Aubrey Ray to life in prison for one count of murder and two counts of rape.

Ray was 18 at the time he committed the offences and had been partying the night before.

Drugs and alcohol should be allowed to be considered when deciding a criminal's sentence.

The case of Daniel Morcombe being murdered by someone who had served time for paedophilia before has not just sparked debate about what the term Life Sentence means in Queensland, but also about the court system around paedophiles and rehabilitation.

Many have said Cowan should never have been let out of jail after his first offence.

A former political candidate even suggested Queensland give prisoners a choice to take their own lives.

Others have suggested Queensland needs a death sentence.

I think there are criminals currently serving time who undoubtedly committed the heinous crimes they are in prison for and should be put to death. The argument that an innocent person could be sentenced to death, executed and then years later, found to have been innocent doesn't wash with today's forensic science measures.

This is where one regular APN reader and commentator, EquaRights, and I disagree.

EquaRights wrote in a chat about the death penalty "… you would be happy if someone was sentenced to death only to find out late they are innocent ...

"The old legal saying: It's better to set 10 guilty men free than to have one innocent person found guilty for life, holds very true ... Capital punishment solves nothing.

"Most offences against children come from within the child's own family ...

"No matter what laws or convictions are in place nothing will ever stop this type of crime or any other crime for that matter.

"People like Cowan are mentally disturbed and that in itself creates yet another issue ... should people like him be put in jail or a mental institution for life? I would say a mental institution so medical people can monitor him and learn from him.

"Society and medical people will learn nothing from him while he is in prison. They don't have the facilities or time to spend on this criminal. I don't support Cowan one bit but I do support the right of any individual to fair justice. His appeal is yet to be heard. Then after that one would hope his name disappears from all media outlets."

Topics:  brett peter cowan life sentence murder

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