Illness leading to injury. No winners here.
Between September 2016 and March 2017 a disabled 37 year old man in Melbourne, Australia, made a number of phone calls to mothers. He posed as an emergency responder. He told each one that her daughter had been killed in a road accident. Each one was deeply shocked by the phone call. One was later diagnosed with depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Another was left with sleep problems. The offender was charged with three instances of stalking and of recklessly causing injury, and also two instances of using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence.
The Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) §21A relevantly provides that –
(1) A person must not stalk another person. Penalty: Level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).
(2) A person (the offender) stalks another person (the victim) if the offender engages in a course of conduct which includes … contacting the victim or any other person by post, telephone, fax, text message, e-mail or other electronic communication or by any other means whatsoever; … with the intention of … arousing apprehension or fear in the victim for his or her own safety or that of any other person.
(3) For the purposes of this section an offender also has the intention to … arouse apprehension or fear in the victim for his or her own safety or that of any other person if … the offender knows that engaging in a course of conduct of that kind would be likely to cause such harm or arouse such apprehension or fear …
The matter was dealt with before Judge McInerney in the Melbourne County Court. It was put on his behalf that he had significant mental problems including autism, a socialization disorder and Tourette’s syndrome. The Court said that the offences were bizarre, heinous and grievous, but that the offender’s illness required his punishment to be moderated.
The offender was sentenced to serve three months imprisonment in addition to the roughly 15 months he had spent on remand. He was ordered to complete a community corrections order including mental treatment on release.
Director of Public Prosecutions v Zillner (2018) The Age, 7 June 2018, p.11