31 October 2011
R v Betts  QCA 244
In December 2009, the applicant was playing golf with the complainant and others. His form was poor, and he began swearing and banging his club on the ground when he played a bad shot. At the sixth hole tee, the applicant struck his ball, swore and spun 180° around, throwing the golf club. The club struck the complainant in the head, about 6 metres from the applicant. The complainant was left severely and permanently disabled.
The applicant pled guilty to causing grievous bodily harm. The case proceeded on the basis of the applicant’s criminal negligence in handling the club. The sentencing judge found that, while there was no intention to injure, the degree of negligence was high. The judge also considered the parental responsibilities of the applicant, and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment, suspended after six months. The applicant appealed against the sentence as manifestly excessive, on the grounds that the sentencing judge gave too much weight to the injuries sustained, and insufficient weight to the nature of the offence and mitigating factors.
On appeal, the court found that the trial judge had properly considered all of the circumstances in sentencing, including an early plea of guilty, the extent of the injuries, and the degree of culpability. The application for leave to appeal was refused.
The ALA thanks Luke Reeves for this contribution.