Sadist sex fiends appeal for cut to their jail sentences

A BELLTHORPE couple has argued that life imprisonment for a sadistic attack on a 13-year-old girl was too harsh in light of early guilty pleas.

The man also argued for a lesser sentence because he stopped his wife from murdering the girl with a rope after they had finished raping, torturing and degrading her.

The man and woman, aged 42 and 33 respectively when they were sentenced in Brisbane Supreme Court last December, lured the girl to their home by sending a text message purportedly from the woman's daughter, inviting her for a sleepover.

They spent a "nightmare" 14 to 15 hours attacking the crying and terrified girl while photographing and filming their actions.

Justice John Muir, speaking from the Court of Appeal bench where he sat with two other justices yesterday, said it seemed the man stepping in to keep the girl alive was "quite an important consideration".

"If it becomes apparent in the community that the courts don't take into account such conduct as this man's, you might (develop an) attitude that an offender has nothing to lose by getting rid of the victim in order, for example, to provide some chance of escaping entirely," he said.

At sentence, the Crown submitted the woman should be jailed for life but the man should get 17 to 20 years in jail because he stopped the attempted murder.

But Justice Martin Daubney, who shed tears while delivering the sentence, said the community would be outraged if he imposed anything less than life for both of them.

Justice Daubney said their "evil" actions outweighed any benefit they should get for pleading guilty.

Lawyers for the couple argued in the Court of Appeal that the justice should have given more weight to the guilty pleas, which had saved the girl and her mother further trauma from testifying in court.

Barrister Soraya Ryan, acting for the woman, submitted the sentencing judge had erred in giving too much weight to the strength of the Crown case and in not giving sufficient weight to the early guilty plea.

Barrister Rob East also said he knew the usual practice of reducing a sentence after a guilty plea was "making a pact with the devil" but his client's sentence should be discounted for that and for the "good deed" in protecting the girl's life.

"This life sentence, in my submission, was all about denunciation and retribution - nothing less and nothing more," Mr East said.

"These courts deal with very bad offending. This was undoubtedly 15 hours of terror to the complainant ... but there is no authority that supports life imprisonment for this type of offending."

Crown prosecutor Tony Moynihan argued the sentence "was proportionate to the gravity and criminality".

Mr Moynihan said the couple was an ongoing danger to the community.

He said the pair had asked the girl to name the woman's daughter's friends in photo albums so they could select new victims. The Court of Appeal reserved judgment.

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