This article sets out some of the matters we discussed in our Libertas Lecture on Thursday 28 October 2021 and develops them in the light of a recent decision in Australia.
On 10 November 2021 the Supreme Court in Victoria, Australia sentenced a woman to a non-conviction outcome for endangering the life of her 2-year-old child by placing his face in the bathwater for approximately 5 seconds. She was originally charged with attempted murder, a plea to a lesser offence was accepted and a community corrections order was imposed, albeit after she had served many months in custody. The court accepted that the conduct was in the context of a mental health crisis where the mother had self-reported and sought help. This was held to reduce her culpability, and the sentencing judge exercised her discretionary power not to record a criminal conviction.