The difficulty of ensuring that the law is enforced and that at the same time justice is done in each individual case makes sentencing one of the most difficult tasks of any judicial officer. Except in the very few cases where the legislature has seen fit to lay down a mandatory sentence the court is left with a tremendously wide discretion which leads to apparent wide disparity of sentences by different courts for what appear to be very similar offences. That disparity is not always as real as it appears since in the ultimate, taking into account all of the matters that the court may properly consider in passing sentence, there can rarely be two really identical situations.
However, in our multiplicity of courts, there is no doubt that courts are often badly in need of guidelines and particularly of information as to sentences passed by other courts in similar cases.
For the first time, so far as I know, a comprehensive study has been made of the sentencing process and of the principles of punishment as seen by the Queensland Court of Criminal Appeal and this work should prove of great value both to the bench and to the profession generally.
John Newton has undertaken quite a formidable task, as a large number of the cases to which he refers are unreported. A considerable amount of his material must have been unearthed by him only after most diligent and conscientious inquiry. He is to be commended on the work he has done and the Australian Institute of Criminology merits the appreciation of the legal profession for undertaking this project.
THOMAS PARSLOW, E.D.. Q.C.. LL.B.
Solicitor-General for Queensland