Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    State's murder laws to go on trial

    4/05/2005 12:00 AM

    Western Australia’s murder laws will be reviewed in a bid to make trials less traumatic for the victims’ loved ones and ensure the penalty for homicide fits the crime.

    Attorney General Jim McGinty said he had asked the Law Reform Commission to conduct the review of the murder laws, including the penalties and defences for homicide, to make the laws fairer and less complicated.

    The State’s Criminal Code currently makes a distinction between wilful murder - which requires an intention to kill - and murder, which requires an intention to do grievous bodily harm.

    “Wilful murder attracts a minimum term of 15 years, whereas murder attracts only a minimum of seven years,” Mr McGinty said.

    “That means there is a real incentive for killers to avoid harsher punishment by pleading guilty only to murder.

    “This distinction between murder and wilful murder can complicate cases for judges and juries and create unnecessary trauma for witnesses and victims’ families.

    “WA is the only jurisdiction that maintains a distinction between the offences of murder and wilful murder and it is time we considered making our laws more contemporary.”

    The Attorney General said the Law Reform Commission would also examine the defences to homicide including self-defence and provocation.

    “The commission will look at whether provocation and a loss of self-control is an appropriate basis for a partial defence,” Mr McGinty said.

    “The defence of provocation dates back to 16th century England when anger and violence were considered a reasonable response to breaches of honour and pub brawls.

    “In 21st century WA, people should be able to control their impulses, even when angry.”

    Mr McGinty said the Law Reform Commission was due to complete its review by April, 2006.

    Minister's office: 9220 5000