‘Pathetic’ fine for abandoning toddler

NZ Herald 4 April 2013
A “pathetic” fine for a man who abandoned a toddler in a pram in the middle of the night has renewed calls for judges to impose minimum sentences. The 22-month-old child was found on a street in central Christchurch about 3am last Thursday by a resident who heard him crying. James Craig Duffy, 43, was fined $300 in Christchurch District Court today after pleading guilty to leaving a child without making reasonable provision for supervision and care. The boy’s 29-year-old father, who was also charged, did not appear in court.

Sensible Sentencing Trust national spokesman Garth McVicar said the public was frustrated with judges handing down “pathetic sentences”. He said it was unbelievable that anyone responsible for a child could behave that way. “The judges have a duty to make it clear that society doesn’t accept that sort of behaviour. “I think the courts and the judges are being negligent. Obviously the parent is the first person to be negligent, but the courts have got a duty to uphold the law and make sure society is as it should be.” Mr McVicar said there was a case for mandatory minimum sentences. “Ultimately judges have only got themselves to blame if they’re not going to use the full force of the law, particularly in cases where children are concerned,” he said. “We’re going to see more of a movement towards mandatory sentencing – minimum sentences, rather than a maximum that’s never being used.”