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Key decisions

  • R v Boyd [2022] NSWCCA 120
  • Young (a pseudonym) v R [2022] NSWCA 111

R v Boyd [2022] NSWCCA 120

Sentencing – self-induced intoxication

Sentencing courts are normally not allowed to take into account self-induced intoxication in mitigation of a sentence as the sentencing legislation prohibits it. But in this decision, the Court of Criminal Appeal (‘CCA’) has identified that there may be circumstances – most notably, where there is drug or alcohol abuse as a result of childhood trauma, and where the offender is now at the ‘crossroads’ – in which the drug or alcohol use might not properly be described as ‘voluntary’, such that it might be possible to take it into account in mitigation on sentence after all.

The respondent (this is a Crown appeal against inadequacy) pleaded guilty and was sentenced for a range of significant drug matters (four counts involving a large commercial quantity, one of a commercial quantity), a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (‘AOABH’) in company, and a proceeds of crime charge on a Form 1. He repeatedly sold drugs to an undercover officer, was eventually arrested, and more drugs and cash were found during a search warrant. The AOABH in company offence happened while he was in custody on remand for the drug offences. For the totality of his offending, the respondent was sentenced to 9 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 5 years and 9 months. The Crown appealed, asserting that the sentence was unreasonable or plainly unjust, principally on the basis that it did not reflect the respondent’s objective criminality.

This summary deals only with a small part of the appeal, relating to self-induced intoxication. The Crown argued the respondent’s own drug use should not have been found to be causally related to his offending.

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