STATE OF TASMANIA v WAYNE ALLAN HALL-RILEY 12 MAY 2023
COMMENTS ON PASSING SENTENCE PEARCE J
Wayne Hall-Riley, you plead guilty to assault. In the early hours of the morning on 27 February 2022 you went to the home in Waverley in which Damon Betts lived with his mother. You wrongly thought that he had become involved in a fight with your sister at a party at the home earlier that night. You went to the home with others, looking for retribution. You became involved in a verbal exchange with Mr Betts. He was not someone you knew. However you then pushed your way into the kitchen and punched him hard to the face with your left fist. As he went to the floor you dropped onto his body with your knee.
The punch to Mr Betts’s face was struck with such force that it caused a depressed fractured of his right cheekbone and extensive bruising. He required reconstructive surgery. The surgery involved further trauma. After more than a year his jaw is still painful. Not surprisingly, there have been some psychological consequences as well. It exacerbated his anxiety and depression and left him and members of his family feeling frightened and unsafe.
At the time you committed this crime you were 18, almost 19. Your counsel explained your personal circumstances and I have a pre-sentence report prepared by on officer of Community Corrections. You are a young aboriginal man. Very unfortunately your background and upbringing is one of exceptional hardship and deprivation. As a child you were subjected to gross neglect and family violence. You fell between the cracks of the various social services and support systems. You did not spend much time at school and by age 12 you were living on the street. Even from that age you abused drugs including methylamphetamine. You have experienced very serious occasions of poor mental health, including acute psychotic episodes, and have spent time in hospital as a result.
Your criminal record starts when you were a very young man. At first it is mostly for dishonesty but includes some violence all of which was dealt with by orders that you be supervised in the community. You did not comply. You have spent time in and out of detention. In February 2020 you were put on probation again for a common assault after you punched a man in September 2019. Since then you have continued to commit offences which seem to be becoming progressively more serious. You have served terms of imprisonment and spent time in custody on remand. It is agreed that, taking into account the time you have spent on remand, the sentence I impose will commence on 15 February 2023.
The sentencing principles which apply to young offenders with such a difficult background apply to you but the mitigation which arises from your youth and hardship carries less weight because of the seriousness of your crime and your record of past offending. You forced your way into the home of another person to inflict considerable violence resulting in serious injury. Because you are charged with assault and not a more serious crime, you are not to be sentenced on the basis that you intended to, or realised you might, inflict such serious injury. However the possibility that such injury would be caused would be obvious to most people. You were highly intoxicated but that does not lessen your responsibility to any extent. You have limited insight into the seriousness of what you did and little understanding that resolution of conflict may be dealt with in ways other than by violence. Young men in particular must realise that drunken violence will result in punishment.
On the material before me the chances of your rehabilitation, even though you are still young, appear bleak. It is possible you’re your ability to understand your situation and do something about it is affected by damage you have already suffered or have always suffered from, but you have not so far co-operated in further assessments. I am in little doubt that prison will do nothing to help your rehabilitation and will expose you even further to corrupting influences. But it is necessary to punish you and to make clear to you and others what the consequences of serious violence are. Hopefully that will make you think twice before acting in this way again. Everyone will benefit if you achieve what you say you want to achieve, to stop committing offences, and for that reason I will suspend part of the term I am about to impose. I will order that you be supervised by a probation officer for an extended period with the intention of helping you to live a law abiding life. However it will ultimately be up to you to take responsibility for your own behaviour and to demonstrate that you can comply. Unless you take the chance now, it will be more and more difficult as time goes by. If, when you are released, you continue to commit offences, you will almost certainly have to serve the suspended part of the sentence as well as any other sentence which might be imposed.
Wayne Hall-Riley, you are convicted. You are sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months from 15 February 2023. I order that you are not eligible for parole in respect of that sentence but suspend six months of the term for 18 months from your release. It is a condition of that order that while it is in force you do not commit any offence punishable by imprisonment. If you breach that condition then a court must order that you serve that term unless it is unjust. I impose a further condition that, during the period the order is in force, you are to be subject to the supervision of a probation officer. The conditions which the law imposes on that order include that you must report to a probation officer at 111-113 Cameron Street, Launceston within three clear days of your release, you must, during the operational period of the order, report to a probation officer as required by the probation officer and comply with the reasonable and lawful directions of a probation officer or a supervisor. There are other conditions as well which will be explained to you. I impose special conditions that you must, during the time the order in in force, submit to the supervision of a probation officer as required by the probation officer, attend educational and other programs, undergo assessment and treatment for alcohol or drug dependency, submit to testing for alcohol or drug use and submit to medical, psychological or psychiatric assessment or treatment as directed by a probation officer. If you breach any of those conditions you may be brought back to court and re-sentenced.