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Brumby Moves To Jail Kid Killers Longer

Premier John Brumby will create a new law specifically for the crime of killing a child.
The dramatic move follows the horrific death of five-year-old Cody Hutchings and a spate of cases in which dozens of Victorian children have been beaten to death by adults.
Community outrage over sentencing erupted again this week when the man who beat little Cody to death in March last year was handed a 10-year minimum jail term.
He had carried out an eight-week campaign of abuse that left Cody with massive injuries and covered in 160 bruises.
Cody's father, Chris Hutchings, was overcome when the Herald Sun told him last night of the Government's plan.
"It's overwhelming to know that Cody has done more in his five years on this earth than most people will do in their lifetime," he said.
"There will now be parents like me in the future that can have some comfort in their pain, knowing that whoever killed their child is going to be judged for what they are, a child murderer.
"I will always have some sadness when I think of Cody, but now there will be a lot of pride in knowing that he has caused change for the better.
"I reckon that somewhere, he has a big smile, knowing what he has done."
While the exact title of the legislation is yet to be determined, the family will know it as "Cody's Law", in memory of the boy
who died at the hands of his mother's drug-addicted partner, Stuart John McMaster.
Mr Brumby, who took over as Premier 18 days ago, vowed to bring in specific legislation dealing with people who callously beat children to death.
"There is no greater tragedy than the killing of a child and all Victorians are appalled when such a tragedy occurs," Mr Brumby said.
"Recent cases have raised the question of whether the laws that cover the deaths of children adequately reflect the nature of this crime.
"I have asked the Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls to prepare legislation to bring before Parliament by the end of the year."
The DPP is considering appealing against McMaster's jail term.
McMaster pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a plea deal with the DPP after a jury failed to agree on a murder charge.
The State Government has for months been considering a possible law change to better reflect community outrage over such horrific crimes.
"Children are some of the most vulnerable and defenceless members of our community," Mr Brumby said.
"We must ensure appropriate charges are brought against people who perpetrate violence against them."
The Herald Sun understands the laws will:
FIT into the manslaughter-related group of crimes and carry the same 20-year sentence.
BE designed to steer the judiciary towards jailing offenders for much closer to the maximum 20-year term.
IDENTIFY the tender age of the victim as an aggravating circumstance in the crime.
CONFIRM the vulnerability of children and babies, who cannot defend themselves against brutal adults.
The law could potentially free judges from the restrictions created by previous sentences handed to child killers, that critics have claimed are lenient.
The Herald Sun began a campaign nine months ago for tougher sanctions for those who cruelly beat and killed babies and children.
The campaign began after David Scott Arney, 25, received a nine-year jail sentence with a minimum term of just five years for punching his five-month old baby daughter Rachael to death.
The sentence was later increased on appeal to 11 years with a minimum of eight to be served but highlighted the fact violent adults who beat children to death, often over an extended period of time, are rarely if ever handed a jail sentence approaching the maximum penalty.
Mr Hutchings thanked the Government for acting.
"People like Stuart McMaster, who kill children, are stealing our future, and now they will be punished for exactly that. I am overwhelmed," he said.
In developing the legislation for the charge of killing a child, the Government will seek advice on technical issues such as the legal definition and age of a child from the Criminal Law Justice Statement Advisory Group

Herald Sun (17-8-2007)
Ellen Whinnett/ Brendan Roberts

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