18 March 2013


More than a dash of the gothicks in The Queen v Nelson [2013] VSC 72 -
Having so armed yourself with the Luger pistol and ammunition, you attempted to ascertain the whereabouts of Gregory Nelson. You first called one of your sisters, then spoke to one of your brothers-in-law, then searched on-line, then combed the White Pages telephone directory and, ultimately, made a number of telephone calls in an endeavour to find him. But those efforts were to no avail. 
Not to be denied a target, however, you then set out to ascertain the whereabouts of the deceased and, having located his address in the White Pages telephone directory, you drove immediately to his home. Along the way, you stopped and purchased a Melways street directory to guide you to the property. 
You arrived at the deceased’s home at 8.15pm and he answered the front door to you. Although surprised to see you, he bid you inside and introduced you to his wife. You engaged in pleasantries and inconsequential conversation for a while and then made to leave. As you stood up to go, you induced him to step outside with you by asking him to inspect some minor panel damage to your car. Then, as he stood in the road in front of the car with his wife nearby, you reached in through the driver’s door, took out the Luger pistol and emptied three rounds into him at very close range. As you did so, you said: ‘This will teach you, you bastard, for everything you’ve done’. 
The deceased collapsed on the road, as his wife stood by screaming, and you drove off in your car. The deceased’s neighbours came to help and emergency services were called but the deceased could not be revived. Upon later post-mortem examination, it was found that the three bullets which you fired had penetrated his heart, lung, stomach, bowel and kidney, causing acute blood loss and internal organ trauma secondary to multiple gunshot injuries to the chest region from which he had died.
Nettle JA states that
Your murder of the deceased is a grave offence. It was calculated and premeditated and it was committed with a fearsome weapon on an unknowing and unarmed man outside his own home, in a public street in plain sight of his wife. It is an outrage that any man should presume to take it upon himself to act as judge, jury and executioner of another, and still more offensive that such an execution should be carried out in the manner which you effected. It is worse still that a man of your age, experience and maturity, who should know the inestimable value of human life better than most, has offended in that fashion. Whether or not the deceased was a paedophile, and there is no proof that he was, you had absolutely no right or justification for doing what you did. 
The law is jealous to show tolerance to vigilantes and assiduous to deter them. As Winneke P said in Director of Public Prosecutions v Whiteside and Dieber, those who take the law into their own hands and inflict punishment on others whom they suspect of committing offences must expect condign punishment.
The Court concluded
Finally, it is to be noted that, if you had not had a cache firearms in your home, the deceased might still be alive. One may wonder, therefore, why the law allows people like you to keep firearms, especially a semi-automatic pistol, anywhere near at hand. Although you bear ultimate responsibility for the death of Graeme Benney, I regard the present state of firearms control regulation as anything but blameless.