Young men get 15 years for gang rapes of European tourists

UPDATED 5.22PM: See below for what the court heard about the convicted men.

 

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Eighteen year olds Norman Kernan and Ginger Green were this afternoon each sentenced to 15 years in prison for the armed robbery and multiple rapes of two European tourists who were sleeping in their car in a suburban street in Alice Springs in May last year. The offenders’ non-parole periods were set at nine years.

 

Left: Alice Springs Courthouse.

 

The head sentences of 15 years reflect a 25% discount on the 20 years Justice Dean Mildren would have given had it not been for their early guilty pleas.

 

Justice Mildren described their crimes as “not in the worst category” of offending but “at the high end”. Their acts were “outrageous” and had had “devastating consequences” for their victims.

 

He acknowledged that there had been no “gratuitous violence” such as strangling, punching, kicking etc; that the rifle was not fired; that while the attacks were prolonged, other attacks have been much more so.

 

He accepted that both were remorseful and that their pleas had saved their victims the ordeal of having to give evidence in court. He also acknowledged that both offenders had spent a long time on remand, in G Block, where circumstances are more onerous than in the rest of the prison.

 

He recognised the potential for the offenders’ rehabilitation: there is no evidence that they are likely to re-offend in the same way, he said, and while in prison they will mature.

 

Although he gave priority to the principles of general and specific deterrence, retribution and denunciation in his sentencing, he did deal with the offenders under the Youth Justice Act. If they had been dealt with under the Sentencing Act he would have had to impose a non-parole period worth 70% of the head sentence. As it is, their non-parole period represents 60%.

 

Green and Kernan’s ‘personal circumstances’

 

There were many more people present in court to listen to the sentencing than were there on Wednesday for the guilty pleas. Kernan and Green both scanned the public gallery when they entered the courtroom. Family members of one of them may have been present, sitting in the back row.

 

Otherwise those attending appeared to be court staff, members of the legal profession and police officers who had been involved with the case. Prosecutor Stephen Robson and the female detectives in charge of the investigation appeared to be satisfied with the sentences handed down. Kernan and Green showed no obvious reaction.

 

They are both of no more than average height. Green has a slight frame while Kernan is quite chubby. They look a little older now than when they were first arrested but they are not yet grown men, physically. Green was dressed in a blue singlet and Kernan in a dark green polo shirt, buttoned to the neck for the occasion.

 

In presenting his reasons for sentencing, Justice Mildren commented that Kernan and Green had been adolescents at the time of the offences; that it is recognised “in the literature” that the transition to adulthood is taking longer today than in past times; that the environment in which young people grow up plays a significant role in that transition.

 

If they are poorly supervised and live in a poor environment they are more likely to offend, to be involved in excessive violence and alcohol abuse. It is not hard to see, he said, how that would be even more likely if they were left to their own devices at the age of fourteen.

 

This was a reference to what is known of Ginger Green’s personal circumstances. He never really knew his father, and his mother was a heavy drinker. She partnered with a man of Greek descent at Ali Curung and from there the family, which included a number of siblings and step-siblings, moved to Alice Springs and later to Adelaide.

 

Green went to secondary school at Christie’s Beach High but experienced bullying and racism while he was there and was at times suspended. At age fourteen he returned to Tennant Creek  for the funeral of his paternal grandmother. His father did not allow him to go back to Adelaide, but that’s not to say that he now took his son under his wing.

 

Green was allowed to drift around in remote communities and Alice Springs – Justice Mildren used the term “couch surfing” – drinking, smoking cannabis, sniffing paint and petrol, scavenging from bins for food. He has never had a job, although he can speak, read and write English quite well.

 

He met a young woman, lived with her for some time at Amata in SA, and had been back in Alice Springs on his own for about a week when he committed his crimes.

 

A psychiatric report noted no overt cognitive impairment or personality disorder. It did diagnose a severe substance abuse disorder, now in remission in “a supervised environment”.

 

Kernan’s parents separated when he was twelve due to his father’s heavy drinking, although we heard from his lawyer on Wednesday that there had not been any domestic violence in the home.

 

He had been to school in Santa Teresa and at Yirara College in Alice Springs but left when he was fourteen, without any clear idea of what grade he had completed. His literacy skills are “limited”, according to his lawyer.

 

He began drinking at age sixteen. In the month before the crimes, his mother, with whom he had been living at Amoonguna, was away doing some training interstate. He was living alone and spending his time drinking in “bad company” in Alice Springs. Like Green, he had never had a job.

 

Neither young man had prior convictions for violence or sexual offences. Green had no priors at all, while Kernan had to his name a large number of traffic offences committed in 2011 and had again committed property and traffic offences in the weeks leading up to the rapes. These were dealt with after his arrest; he was given prison sentences, which expired at the end of January this year. The sentence he received today is backdated to then, while Green’s is backdated to the date of his arrest on May 4, 2012.

 

Both men had been drinking when they attacked the women although neither sought to rely on this as any sort of excuse for their crimes.

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

22 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Posted September 30, 2014 at 5:42 am

    Great article.

    View Comment
  2. Kieran Finnane
    Posted October 3, 2013 at 8:28 am

    John, I agree that the degree of the offenders’ remorse appears quite limited while they fail to give up the third offender. We don’t have any information about why they refuse to do so. Nothing was said about this in open court.
    What was said about their remorse came from their lawyers. This is not unusual as you know, given that you have spent time sitting through trials.
    In relation to Kernan, his lawyer argued that his plea “at the earliest opportunity” (ie, once the brief of the Crown case had been received) was evidence that he accepted his wrong-doing and was remorseful.
    In relation to Green, whose plea was “early” though not as early, his lawyer said that when he listened to the “horrible ramifications” of what he had done as expressed in the victim impact statements, he had commented that, “I would feel the same way if I was treated the same way.”
    His lawyer said this indicated some empathy. He also said that Green feels “extremely ashamed” and has indicated his willingness to undertake a sexual offenders course while in prison.
    The prosecutor, while arguing that it was “very, very clear” that the crimes were in the high range of seriousness and that the offenders should be dealt with as adults, conceded that the judge could “discern remorse” in their pleas.

    View Comment
  3. John
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    It is interesting to read comments regarding the supposed remorse shown by the offenders. In another article on this site, it is stated that neither offender said anything regarding the rapes in any police interviews, and I have read nothing to suggest that they gave evidence in any Court proceedings, so when exactly did they express remorse?
    I am sure that Kieran will correct me, but this just seems to be something that was said by the rapists’ legal team, and not backed up with any real evidence.
    And yet the judge considered their (supposed ) remorse when considering penalty. Perhaps the non-parole term should be withheld until the offenders are willing to name the third person involved, as Ian Rennie suggested.

    View Comment
  4. Interested
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Mx anonymous you have to be off your rocker. I don’t care if they are friends family of yours, they don’t deserve rehabilitation. The important people who need caring for are the two women.
    Those guys are scum not because they are black, white, pink whatever – they deserve a larger punishment for what they have put these women through.
    You say this is racist? Well, if you look back in the Aboriginal culture, these boys would be speared and left to die. These guys should never have a normal life again.

    View Comment
  5. Frank
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    No Mz Anonymouz. It was them that did it, not their school teacher, cousin, friend. They have only themselves to blame you racist.

    View Comment
  6. John
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Mz Anonymouz, I think that you will find that we are fully entitled to have an opinion, just as you are. I also think that you will find that very few offenders charged with violent rape would be granted bail, regardless of their skin colour or where they live . You have also spent most of your message telling us about the effects of the sentence on the offenders, and have not once mentioned the victims.

    View Comment
  7. Mz Anonymouz
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I DO NOT CONDONE THAT SORT OF BEHAVIOR, NOR DO I CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT. BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, THESE 2 YOUNG MEN WILL SPEND 8/9 YEARS RESPECTIVELY IN PRISON. THE SAD PART OF THIS STORY WHICH I BELIEVE IS THE MOST CONCERNING FACT IS ‘IF THESE 2 YOUNG MEN WOULD’VE COMMITTED THIS CRIME IN ANY OTHER PLACE OTHER THAN ALICE SPRINGS, IF THEY HAD BEEN ANY OTHER COLOR OTHER THAN ‘BLACK THEY WOULD BE LEFT OUTSIDE HERE IN THE REAL WORLD TO COMMITT FURTHER CRIMES.. I AM IN NO WAY TRYNA PULL THE “RACIST CARD” EITHER IT IS JUST SIMPLE FACTS. SO ALL YOU PEOPLE NEED TO SHUT THE HELL UP AND STOP BEING SO JUDGMENTAL, THESE BOYS HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO REHABILITATION. AND WHO ARE YOU TO SAY THEY ARE NOT REMORSEFUL, YOU DONT UNDERSTAND OR KNOW THE REASONS BEHIND WHY THESE 2 MEN CONTINUE HIDING THE 3RD PERSON, AND UNTIL YOU DO YOU SHOULD JUST BE GREATFUL THESE 2 MEN ARE IN JAIL AND DOING THE TIME FOR THIER CRIMES. ENOUGH SAID

    View Comment
  8. Daniel Davis
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Seriously, they get a discount for an early guilty plea? These two boys have not shown true remorse, if they did they would have assisted police to identify the third offender. No ‘gratuitous violence’? So what’s holding a gun to someone’s head while you rape them? This sentence is a complete joke, as ‘dd’ said, the justice system should be there to protect society. 25 years is the only appropriate sentence for this type of crime.

    View Comment
  9. John
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Thanks for the comments Kieran, but as a former Police Officer, and having spent a lot of time in courts and sitting through trials, I can assure you that I know what I am talking about.
    What happens in Court is quite often the public viewing at the end of long discussions between the judiciary, the defence and the prosecution, about how things will be dealt with.
    If you think that I am incorrect, feel free to have a chat to a solicitor or barrister. I did however make an error in my previous message, a judge should be addressed as Your Honour, not Your Worship.

    View Comment
  10. Peter
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I wonder what type of men these two boys would turn out to be if we imposed the punishments people are advocating? Would they be better people? Would they rehabilitate? Is this the type of society we want to live in? No matter what the crime, rehabilitation must be the first goal. The punishment of losing one’s liberty and all the suffering that goes with it will not be lost on these two young men. We have a choice…lock offenders up in the severest conditions without any hope of rehabilitation or positive contribution to the world. For this privilege we as a community get to fund their incarceration with no possible positive return. Or we can use the time people spend in prison to do our best to deliver a positive to the offender and to society. They will feel the magnitude of their sentence and their actions. Prison is not purely a mechanism to remove people from society who are unfit to be within it at the time. It is or aims to be also a vehicle to reintroduce people to society who hopefully are ready to rejoin it.

    View Comment
  11. Ian Rennie
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I think that a much stiffer penalty – 25 years – should have been given and they may get a remission by giving the identity of the other offender. Yes I recon they would soon give him up especially with the thought that if they were not the one to give him up they would be doing the whole time whilst the mate walks out many years sooner … come on, Elferink, think about it.

    View Comment
  12. Interested
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Your comments Peter on trying to educate these young men is ridiculous. These men should not get this opportunity. We should educate people who do less damaging crimes, such as stealing but when it comes to murder, rape etc these people should not get one chance.
    The education should start before, when they are young, not after the offence. I don’t like capital punishment, it’s a way out. These men should sit in a cell with blank walls for their whole life. They should be let out for half an hour a day to see the sunlight and see what they are missing out on.

    View Comment
  13. Interested
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 9:47 am

    I don’t care about the justice system in these cases. The excuse of their childhood again I could not care less if every murderer or rapist used that excuse our jails would be empty. These young adults should be in prison for life.
    These women have to live this for the rest of their lives. Dreams, holidays, other relationships, dates, times even the brand of the 4WD. That is only some of what they deal with.
    No excuses and accepting the charges will change this situation. I hope these blokes will be punished a lot longer than their 9 to 15 years in whatever way. Shame on our system.

    View Comment
  14. Peter
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 9:26 am

    This is a very emotive issue. It is true that those two women may suffer for some time if not indefinitely as a result of the actions of those men. It is also true the offenses are terrible and every effort should be made to eliminate this form of behavior.
    Imposing capital punishment upon perpetrators is to do to them what they have done to others. To inflict violence upon those who have transgressed is to send a message to all that violence is sanctioned by society. It is to say “this type of violence is OK but that type of violence is abhorrent”. To do as John wishes can only be counter productive and a indictment on society.
    If we wish to stop violence then we must remove it altogether from society. An eye for an eye etc does nothing more than perpetuate violence. Is it not better to do our very best to rehabilitate these two young men? Is it not better to try to turn their lives around in the hope they can add something positive to their lives and the lives of others.
    We should all do everything we can to rid society of violence. Education and opportunity is the foundation of such strategies. The issue here is not so much the two offenders. They are a product of their environment (previous issues raised in court). An environment that has developed by the failings of many. Empirical evidence shows prison is not a wonderful place to learn good behavior however, it does provide some hope for these two men. We as a society need to provide some hope to similar disadvantaged youth.
    We also as a nation need to provide support for the two women. The offenders are a product of our failings as a nation and we as a nation should take responsibility for the support of the victims.

    View Comment
  15. Kieran Finnane
    Posted September 29, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    @ John. That the non-parole period has been set at nine years is clearly stated in the first paragraph of this report.
    You appear to not be familiar with the processes of the court. A guilty plea is accompanied by a statement of Crown facts that are then admitted by the defendants (at times aspects may be contested). In this case the Crown facts in all their horrendous detail were read out twice in open court. I gave a sparing account in my second report on this case and even it is bad enough. The Crown facts were based largely on the victims’ accounts of what happened to them but the court heard that the plea offers from the defendants were close in content to what was finally admitted.
    Furthermore, in the hearing of the guilty plea in this case substantial extracts from the victim impact statements, written by the women themselves, were also read out, with Justice Mildren commenting explicitly that this was one of “the rare occasions” when it was right to do so. Justice Mildren also gave a summary of key points from the victim impact statements, particularly their recent addenda, when he made his sentencing remarks on Friday.
    You refer to a “sweetheart deal” being done to ensure the offenders were dealt with under the Youth Justice Act. Had you been in court you would know that this was the subject of detailed argument and counter-argument between the offenders’ lawyers, the prosecutor and the judge, and then of lengthy explanation as to his reasoning by Justice Mildren during his sentencing remarks.

    View Comment
  16. John
    Posted September 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I could not agree with you more Frank.
    The Courts seem to be looking for excuses to hand down weak sentences, rather than considering the long term, and in most cases, life long devastating effects of the offence.
    What has not been mentioned, is that apparently the non-parole period is only nine years.
    That is absolutely pathetic and inadequate for any rape, let alone one where the attack was on complete strangers, and where a firearm was produced, and threats made to the victims.
    Anyone who thinks that reduced sentences for pleading guilty are to save the victims from giving evidence, is living in a fantasy land.
    It is mainly to save Court time and money, and I would presume that a sweetheart deal was done to ensure that the offenders were dealt with under the Youth Justice Act.
    A guilty plea also ensures that the full details of the attack are not produced, and therefore the effect of the rapes on the two women is not taken into account with regard to sentencing.
    It is the same with someone being killed in a car crash, the offender pleads guilty to [driving without] due care, and the fact that someone died, cannot be taken into account. The thing that really concerns me, is that the judge commented that the attack did not have ‘gratuitous violence ‘. Well, Your Worship, i think that it is about time that you stepped outside your little legal bubble, and took a long hard look at the yourself, because if you truely believe that rape is not gratuitous violence, perhaps you should spend a while with people like myself, who believe that violent rape should attract a mimimum of 25 years. Personally I support the return of whipping for this type of offence. An offender can have a reasonable time with his mates in prison, and forget about the women whose lives have been ruined, but they would never forget being tied down and flogged.

    View Comment
  17. Nimby
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    One rapist walks free today.
    That is a fact.
    And the reality is that two convicted rapists know the identity of the third rapist.
    He is free and only free by their silence.
    I ask those few people that know the other rapist, how can you expect change with silence?
    There is way too much violence in Alice. Women and children suffer too much.

    View Comment
  18. Bob Durnan
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for providing this comprehensive reporting and thoughtful analysis, Kieran.

    View Comment
  19. Kieran Finnane
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    @dd: My report of the sentencing remarks is not comprehensive. I concentrated more on providing context for why the offenders were dealt with under the Youth Justice Act and perhaps paid insufficient attention to Justice Mildren’s denunciation of the crimes.
    For example, he listed the features of the crimes that put them in the high range category, including:
    • multiple serious offences
    • the victims attempted to flee but were prevented from doing so by a number of actions including removing the keys from the ignition and holding a gun to their heads
    • they were repeatedly “gang raped” – Justice Mildren used these words – by three offenders
    • the victims were vulnerable and in fear for their lives
    • the rifle was used to instill fear
    • there were verbal threats
    • the sexual assaults included many especially degrading aspects
    • the victims’ pleas for respite were ignored
    • the assaults were relatively prolonged and repeated and in some instances simultaneous
    • they had very profound consequences for the victims – Justice Mildren gave an account of these based on the victim impact statements by the two women.

    View Comment
  20. dd
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    The entire focus of this sentence appears to be focused on the perpetrators, and not on protecting society.

    And the fact that someone develops into a violent man as a result of a tragic childhood doesn’t in any way lessen the impact of their violence on others, nor does it reduce the likelihood of him committing crimes in the future.

    Our justice system needs to pay more attention to protecting society and less on how much punishment is or is not deserved.

    View Comment
  21. Kieran Finnane
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:29 am

    I appreciate how strongly Frank feels about the terrible impact of these crimes on the women, but it is clear that these women wanted to live. It demeans their hope and resilience to imagine that their murder would have been less of a crime and to not have faith now, with them, that they can recover.

    View Comment
  22. Frank
    Posted September 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Murder is LESS of a crime than rape!
    You see, the victims of this crime will be damaged for life. The lives of the entire families, their futures, no matter what you say now, it’s destroyed. Let’s re-visit these victims in 15 years and see how they “dealt” with it, but then again, if we visit them in 15 years, is that in itself fair on them?
    What is the rate at which rape and abuse victims turn to sex-work and other demeaning or questionable industry?
    These women’s lives are destroyed and so will be the lives of everyone around them. Dealing with it as a family doesn’t help, only the ladies will really know, and the idea that you deal with it is in itself absurd, you will think you have but it will change you forever. Their family and friends will never know what to do or say or even how to be, one day fine, the next, not so fine.
    They may want to one day go where nobody knows what happened and start fresh, but will always worry that someone will find them, or that it will happen again.
    So imagine when they find someone in their new life. After forming a close bond and relationship, they will want to tell their new friend in the interest of being open and again they will have to re-live it, perhaps they come to realise they can never have a relationship, or at least not a normal one! Perhaps they never even got to tell their story to their new friend, or only part.

    View Comment

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*