Young mum's 'distressing case' to bring a law change

MOVES are afoot to overturn punitive drug law changes that resulted in "unintended consequences" for a young Central Queensland mum jailed for dealing ice.

Jail time for Aimee Eileen Clark more than doubled because of Newman Government amendments to drug offending laws in 2013.

Three of Queensland's most experienced judicial officers suggested legislative change after realising tough drug laws hamstrung them into upholding sentences that "cannot be in the community's best interests".

Clark, aged 26 at her sentence in Rockhampton, was selling ice in the Gladstone and Bundaberg regions for 21/2 months, both for commercial gain and to feed her own $300 a day habit.

Her criminal history began after police investigated the death of her first-born child who was later found to have died from sudden infant death syndrome.

Queensland Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo, through a judgment the court published, said the court could not alter a Rockhampton judge's order that Clark serve 80% of her three-year jail term in what was described as a "distressing case".

She said the trafficking was too serious and the woman's downward spiral meant she was not a suitable candidate for a suspended sentence, which would not have given her suitable support anyway.

"Given her drug history and her vulnerability, it is in the community interest that, when she is released on parole, she be subject to extended supervision and support, combined with the tight controls of a parole order, as she struggles to reunite her young family and to reintegrate into the community," she said.

"She will be subject to parole, however, not for two years as previously, but for a mere seven months.

"This result does not seem to be in the community interest."

The justices also feared poorer offenders would be sentenced more harshly because they could not raise the funds to gather material showing they had a rehabilitation regime in place.

The Attorney-General has since committed to alter the law through the Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Bill before parliament now.

The plan is to remove the minimum 80% non-parole period for trafficking dangerous drugs and restore the offence to the serious violent offences regime.

This would mean the 80% rule would only be applied if a serious violent offence declaration was made.

The Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee is reviewing the legislation and must report back to parliament by November 1.

It is expected the law changes will be debated and passed in the November sittings.

ARM NEWSDESK



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