Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Carne v Wride & Carne v Nicholas Supreme Court of the Northern Territory (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant Barry Carne was formerly in a relationship with L.S., the victim and the mother of his four children.  One day Carne entered L.S.’s home without consent, destroyed property, and confronted L.S..  During the altercation he grabbed and twisted L.S.’s right hand and fingers, causing her to fall in pain.  As a result he was charged with aggravated assault, and a domestic violence order was issued against him.  The domestic violence order restrained him from contacting, approaching, intimidating or harassing the victim and from exposing their children to domestic violence.  While the domestic violence order was in force, Carne again went to L.S.’s house.  After L.S. did not answer, he attempted to hang himself outside the home, only to be saved by his son, who was 14 at the time.  Carne was charged with breaching the domestic violence order, and pleaded guilty.  The sentencing magistrate sentenced him to eight months’ imprisonment for the breach and two months for the aggravated assault, to be served concurrently.  Carne appealed the sentence, claiming that it was manifestly excessive, and argued that the magistrate took into account irrelevant matters, in particular his suicide attempt.  The court of appeal considered the definition of “domestic violence” and whether Carne’s attempted suicide in front of the children was an attempt to cause mental harm to L.S. and/or her children.  The court held that the sentencing magistrate had not received sufficient evidence from the prosecution demonstrating that Carne had attempted the suicide in order to cause mental harm to L.S. and/or her children and, accordingly, it was not open to the magistrate to make such a finding.  The magistrate was required to exclude any other reasonable hypothesis, permitted by the facts, regarding the attempted suicide before concluding that the intent was to cause mental harm.  As such, the sentence was reduced to one month’s imprisonment.