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Man's sentence reduced because of 'aboriginality'

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 17 June 2004


South Australia's Court of Criminal Appeal has reduced a jail sentence given to a man who broke into an elderly couple's house because he is Aboriginal.

The Appeal Court ruled that Aborigines are at greater disadvantage in society that whites.

Darren Clarke, 29, broke into the Port Pirie house of a couple in their 70s in November 2002 by smashing the back door.

He ransacked two rooms and stole alcohol and money.

The couple was terrified and traumatised.

Clark was sentenced to three years with a non-parole period of 23 months.

He appealed against that sentence and one of his grounds was that he was Aboriginal.

The Court of Criminal Appeal agreed saying an offender's aboriginality could be relevant.

It said many Aboriginal people were marginalised and lacked opportunities.

The judges acknowledged Clark's appalling criminal record and the seriousness of the offence.

But they reduced his sentence to two years and three months with a non-parole period of 17 months.

A spokesman for the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement says there have been previous cases where a person's aboriginality has been a factor in sentencing.

But he says that aboriginality cannot be regarded as the sole reason for reducing a sentence.


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