4 October 2012

Two University of Queensland law students have contributed to a successful appeal against the sentence in the case of Leslie Andrews, a 63 year-old Aboriginal man convicted of unlawful wounding in March this year.

Working under the supervision of barrister Dan Rogers and criminal law expert Professor Heather Douglas, students Mai Holdom and Heath Manning helped to prepare an outline for Mr Andrew’s appeal during their placement at the UQ Pro Bono Centre’s Criminal Law Matters Clinic.

Mr Andrews, who has been diagnosed with chronic untreated schizophrenia, was sentenced to 33 months with parole fixed at 15 months following an altercation in June 2008.

The students’ outline appeal submitted that Mr Andrew’s sentence was manifestly excessive in the circumstances and did not properly reflect mitigating factors, particularly the fact that his mental illness rendered him less culpable and made him a poor example for general deterrence.

After considering the arguments put before them, in September the Queensland Court of Appeal reduced Mr Andrew’s non-parole period to nine months meaning that he will be released to celebrate Christmas with his family.

“This is a fabulous outcome for Mr Andrews,” said Monica Taylor, Director of the UQ Pro Bono Centre.

“Our legal clinics give students the opportunity to observe the social context in which the law operates. Mr Andrews’ case is a fine example of how the law can, in context, deliver justice for marginalised people," she said.

“Not only have the students in this clinic improved their practical legal skills, but they have also helped achieve justice for an incarcerated Aboriginal man – it is an impressive result.”

The Criminal Law Matters Clinic, run in partnership with Caxton Legal Centre, provides UQ law students with practical experience in criminal law case-work and is one of a growing number of pro bono legal services delivered through the UQ Pro Bono Centre’s Clinical Legal Education Program.

The Clinic places students under the supervision of experienced legal practitioners to assist unrepresented criminal law appellants to prepare for extension of time applications and appeals against sentence in the Queensland Court of Appeal.

Cases are referred to the program by Legal Aid Queensland and the Registrar of the Queensland Court of Appeal and involve individuals who have not been able to obtain Legal Aid or other professional legal advice.

An initiative of the UQ TC Beirne School of Law, the UQ Pro Bono Centre provides teaching and research programs in the areas of clinical legal education, criminal law and social justice.

Since establishing the Centre in 2009, the School’s clinical legal education program has grown significantly and currently comprises five legal clinics at various outreach locations.

Media: Ms Monica Taylor, Director, UQ Pro Bono Centre, TC Beirne School of Law, 07 3365 6192 or 0431 866 344, m.taylor@law.uq.edu.au, or Melissa Reynolds, TC Beirne School of Law 07 3365 2523, m.reynolds@law.uq.edu.au