• The High Court of Canberra ((stock))Source: (stock)
The High Court today ruled that the experiences of Aboriginal people must be considered when handing down sentences.
By
Brooke Boney

Source:
NITV News
2 Oct 2013 - 4:58 PM  UPDATED 2 Oct 2013 - 8:42 PM

The High Court today ruled that the experiences of Aboriginal people must be considered when handing down sentences.

The decision was in relation to an assault case involving an Aboriginal man from Wilcannia in Western New South Wales.

The High Court ruled that in the case of Mr William Bugmy, history of incarceration and exposure to violence must be considered.

Mr Bugmy was convicted of assaulting three corrections officers in 2011. He was originally sentenced to six years in jail but that sentence was appealed and increased to seven years and nine months.

Today's announcement means that Mr Bugmy's Aboriginality and past experiences must be taken in to account when handing down the sentence.

More than 25 per cent of adults in jail are Indigenous, despite the fact that Indigenous people only make up four per cent of the Australian population.

Mr Bugmy has been in institutions since he was 12 years old.  His lawyer's argue his experiences shouldn't be diminished with time or repeat offending and that the full effects of these deprivations are ongoing.

In another case involving an Indigenous man from Western Australia who killed his partner, the appeal was denied.
 
The High Court ruled that his sentence was adequate and there was no need to take into account his background more so than in any other case.
 
Even though Mr Bugmy's case was based in New South Wales, today's ruling could be applied in other state jurisdictions.