Characteristics: Robberies – To avoid arrest
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: April 1995 / June 17, 1997 / August 16, 1998
Date of arrest: September 24, 2001
Date of birth: July 18, 1953
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Victoria, Australia
Status: Sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment with no minimum term in February 2003. Sentenced to a third consecutive term of life imprisonment in May 2007. Sentenced to a fourth consecutive term of life imprisonment in December 2011
Bandali Michael Debs (born 18 July 1953) is an Australian murderer, currently serving three consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the murder of two Victoria Police officers in August, 1998, and also the 1997 murder of teenager Kristy Harty. He was also found guilty with the shooting murder of New South Wales prostitute Donna Ann Hicks and was Sentenced to a fourth consecutive term of life imprisonment on Feb 24 2012.
Debs is currently detained at HM Prison Barwon.
Debs, from Narre Warren, a south eastern suburb of Melbourne was employed as a tiler. He had fathered five children. The youngest son of Debs, Joseph, was found dead due to a suspected drug overdose at a house in Greensborough in December, 2003.
Silk-Miller police murders
In February, 2003, Debs was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment with no minimum term for the murders of two Victoria Police officers, Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller at Moorabbin, Victoria on 16 August 1998.
Accomplice, Jason Joseph Roberts, who was 22 at the time of sentencing, was also convicted of the police murders and sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 35 years.
Murder of Kristy Harty
On 20 June 2005, police charged Debs with the murder of troubled teenager Kristy Mary Harty, who was murdered at Upper Beaconsfield on 17 June 1997.
Harty was soliciting for sex along the Princes Highway when she met with Debs. The pair drove to a secluded bush track in Upper Beaconsfield where the pair had unprotected sex. Harty was later murdered. Her semi-naked body was later found lying face down by bushwalkers. A single gunshot wound was discovered at the rear of her head.
DNA tests revealed semen located on the body of Harty was linked to Debs.
In May, 2007, Debs was convicted of the murder of Harty and sentenced to a third consecutive term of life imprisonment.
In sentencing Debs, Justice Kaye remarked:
Your murder of Ms Harty was entirely senseless, needless and wanton. The evidence discloses beyond any doubt that this was not a case of a sexual encounter in which, in the heat of the moment, feelings or passions may have led to a spontaneous and irrational act of violence. Rather, and quite to the contrary, this was, most clearly, a callous, craven and senseless murder in cold blood of an entirely innocent, defenceless and vulnerable young woman. The evidence leads to the inevitable conclusion that you murdered Kristy Harty for no other reason than for the sheer sake of it.
Murder of Donna Anne Hicks
Donna Anne Hicks was shot dead in April 1995 in western Sydney.
Debs was subsequently linked to the case through DNA analysis. Debs had been entered into a DNA database of criminals. On 30 September 2008, Melbourne detectives interviewed Debs and raided his previous address in Sydney. On 12 December 2011 he was found guilty of Hicks’ murder in the New South Wales Supreme Court
Whilst imprisoned, Debs has undertaken psychology, life skills and computer training and is employed as a prison carpet cleaner.
On 30 September 2008, Melbourne detectives interviewed Debs and raided his previous address as part of a murder investigation into the killing of 34-year-old Sydney mother Donna Anne Hicks. Hicks was shot dead in April 1995 in an unsolved murder. Debs has been linked to the case through DNA analysis.
The Silk-Miller murders (also known as the Moorabbin Police murders) was the name given to the murders of Victoria Police Officers Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller in Cochranes Road, Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia on 16 August 1998.
On the night of the murders, the Police Officers were staking out the Silky Emperor Restaurant near the corner of Cochranes and Warrigal Roads, Moorabbin at approximately midnight when they were gunned down at close range.
Police investigations into the murders were named Operation Lorimer. Victorian Police Minister Andre Haermeyer announced an A$500,000 reward for information on the murders, and later said he would consider increasing the reward.
Evidence left at the scene of the crime included pieces of glass, suspected to be from the getaway car used by the killers. Police tested this glass and discovered it came from a late model Hyundai hatchback. After extensive investigations, which took the team to the Hyundai factory in South Korea to obtain vital prosecution evidence, Police narrowed down the exact make and model of the vehicle involved in the shootings from the glass samples. The vehicle was registered to the daughter of known criminal, Bandali Debs.
On 24 September 2001, Bandali Debs, a father of five from Narre Warren, Victoria and Jason Roberts, an apprentice builder, of Cranbourne, Victoria faced charges relating to the murders of Silk and Miller as well as 13 other charges of armed robbery relating to offences alleged to have occurred between March and July 1998.
Debs and Roberts were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to life imprisonment. Both are currently serving their sentence with time spent at maximum security Victorian prisons HM Prison Barwon and Port Phillip Prison.
Former Police Officer Joe D’Alo was a member of the task force investigating the shootings. He left the Force and authored a controversial book titled One Down, One Missing (ISBN 1-74066-141-9) about the crime. Assistant Commissioner of Crime, Simon Overland said of the book,
“Victoria Police does not endorse or support this book. We were only told of the book after it had been written and the deal finalised with the publisher. We’re extremely disappointed that a serving Police Officer would be involved in this publication without the knowledge or support of many of his task force colleagues.”
In May 2007, Debs was convicted of a third murder of an intellectually handicapped teenager named Kristy Mary Harty in Upper Beaconsfield around June 1997. This led to his term in prison being without the possibility of parole.
Australian Rules Football clubs Hawthorn and St Kilda have played off for the Blue Ribbon Cup since 1999. The cup is dedicated to those who have lost their lives while on duty. The best player from the match receives the Silk-Miller Medal. Both men were passionate supporters of the sport. This annual game ensures that the legacy of the two men continues to live on in the lives of Victorians.
Debs’ fourth life term
February 25, 2012
A Victorian man has been given his fourth life sentence. Bandali Michael Debs was sentenced in Sydney yesterday for the murder of a prostitute whom he shot in the face.
Debs is also serving life terms for the murders of two police officers, one of whom was wounded before being executed as he lay on the ground.
The 58-year-old was sentenced yesterday in the NSW Supreme Court for the murder of Donna Anne Hicks in western Sydney in April 1995.
DNA was matched to Debs from swabs taken from Ms Hicks, who was last seen getting into a vehicle that matched Debs’ utility.
Police killer gets life sentence again
June 22, 2007
Double police killer Bandali Debs is an evil and violent man who is beyond redemption, a Melbourne judge said when sentencing him to a third life sentence for the murder of an intellectually handicapped teenager.
Justice Stephen Kaye jailed Debs for the rest of his natural life without the opportunity for release on parole for the murder of 18-year-old prostitute Kristy Mary Harty.
Last month a Victorian Supreme Court jury found the 53-year-old guilty of the shooting death at Upper Beaconsfield, east of Melbourne, in June 1997.
It occurred about 13 months before the murders of Senior Constable Rodney James Miller and Sergeant Gary Michael Silk, on August 16, 1998.
Debs and his co-offender Jason Joseph Roberts gunned down the two officers while they were on an undercover operation to track down two armed robbers.
Debs, already serving two life sentences over those murders, had unprotected sex with Ms Harty, shot her at close range in the back of the head and then hid her semi-naked body in undergrowth, the court was told.
Justice Kaye said while the latest sentence would have no practical effect on Debs’ position, as he was already serving a life sentence, it would vindicate the victim’s rights and serve as denunciation of his conduct.
He said the murder of the two police officers reinforced the conclusion Debs was an “evil, violent and dangerous man, who places no value on the life of another.”
“By your murder of the two police officers you have shown that you did not have any insight into the enormity of your murder of Kristy Harty, let alone feel the faintest twinge of regret for the dreadful deed which you had done,” he said.
Justice Kaye said Ms Harty was a deeply troubled young woman, vulnerable and defenceless on the night she met Debs as she was prostituting herself on the Princes Highway.
He said her vulnerability made her easy prey for Debs and that he had murdered her for no other reason than “for the sheer sake of it”.
He described the killing as an utterly cowardly, callous, senseless murder in cold blood.
Debs, who pleaded not guilty to the murder, appeared to be listening to the judge’s comments, but showed no emotion during the sentence.
Justice Kaye said he was satisfied Debs had no prospect of rehabilitation, “was beyond redemption” and had forfeited his right to ever be at large in the community.
Outside court family members of Ms Harty welcomed the judge’s sentence.
Ms Harty’s uncle, Peter Harty said the sentence finally gave them closure.
“It’s good to see the outcome, hopefully he will never see the light of day again,” Mr Harty said.
Ms Harty’s cousin Mary Hamilton echoed his sentiments.
“It’s the best thing that could happen for all of us, that our children are going to be safe from him anyway,” she said.
Pair found guilty of police murders
By Peter Gregory, John Silvester and Ian Munro – Theage.com.au
January 1, 2003
One of the two men found guilty of murdering two police officers four-and-a-half years ago is under investigation for the murder of a young woman.
Bandali Michael Debs, 49, and Jason Joseph Roberts, 22, yesterday were found guilty of murdering Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller on August 16, 1998.
Family members and friends of the two officers wept and applauded as the jurors delivered their verdicts.
Debs is also the main suspect for the murder of Kristy Harty, whose body was found near the Beaconsfield-Emerald Road in 1997, soon after her 18th birthday. Police delayed preparing a final brief of evidence against Debs pending the end of the Silk-Miller trial.
As the verdicts were announced, Senior Constable Miller’s widow, Carmel, sobbed loudly and Sergeant Silk’s mother, Val, cried out once and then silently wiped her face.
Outside court, Mrs Miller expressed her relief. “What we were delivered today was the only possible outcome we could live with,” she said.
The jury did not learn of the Harty investigation because it was considered potentially prejudicial, nor were they told that police had recorded Debs discussing killing Mrs Miller and her son to distract investigators.
Yesterday, Mrs Miller said she had no feelings about the two.
Sergeant Silk’s brother, Ian, said he felt relief and a great sense of pride in the police investigators and prosecutors.
“Something like this doesn’t bring closure,” he said. “Any dramatic or tragic death never finally leaves you, but it’s certainly the ending of a chapter of a book and a good platform for all of us to move on.”
As the jurors entered court about 10.40am, Debs frowned, but otherwise stood impassively in the Supreme Court dock with his hands behind his back. He wore a navy sports jacket, blue shirt, patterned tie and navy trousers.
A security officer stood between Debs and Roberts, who had his hands crossed in front of him. Roberts was dressed in a light grey suit, maroon shirt and a maroon tie.
Debs and Roberts stared straight ahead as they were found guilty. Neither showed emotion. Roberts scratched his nose and mouth at his second guilty verdict. Debs bowed slightly as he left the dock.
Cheers and loud claps were heard from the first floor public gallery as the associate to Justice Philip Cummins read back the verdicts to the jury.
Asked if the verdicts were unanimous, the jurors answered as one: “Yes.”
The jury delivered its verdicts at the beginning of its seventh day of deliberations and on the 113th day of the trial. The prosecution called 157 witnesses, the defence four.
Detective Superintendent Paul Sheridan, head of the Lorimer taskforce that probed the double murders, said it had been “a particularly long road”. He praised the investigators and acknowledged the sacrifices of their families.
Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said the verdict was a step in the healing process.
Commissioner Nixon said the murders were “a despicable act of violence” on the fabric of society.
Neil Comrie, chief commissioner at the time of the murders, said Debs and Roberts should be sentenced to life in prison. “It is up to the courts to send a strong message,” he said.
Justice Cummins remanded the two men in custody for pre-sentence submissions on February 17.
Roberts’ solicitor, Marita Altman, said her client would appeal. Debs’ counsel, Chris Dane, QC, asked if his client would appeal, said: “Time will tell.”
Last month, during his closing address to the jury, prosecutor Jeremy Rapke, QC, said no one who heard all the evidence could have the slightest doubt who murdered the two officers. He said it was time for Debs and Roberts to pay for their crimes.
Debs and Roberts denied being at the shooting scene. They also denied being part of a series of armed robberies police were investigating at the time.
In his opening address in August, Mr Rapke said scientific evidence and secretly taped conversations would be important parts of the prosecution case. He said glass fragments from the murder scene, at Cochranes Road, Moorabbin, came from the Hyundai car used by the killers and owned by Bandali Debs’ daughter, Nicole.
The jury heard that a scientist who examined the glass, Edward Kennedy-Ripon, mistakenly excluded the Debs vehicle from suspicion. . But another scientist, Peter Ross, said he conducted an examination after more extensive testing by Mr Kennedy-Ripon indicated that glass from Cochranes Road and the Hyundai were from the same source.
Mr Ross said he could not differentiate between test results for glass from the road, the Hyundai and glass recovered from clothing of Senior Constable Miller.
In closing the case, Mr Rapke said that transcripts of secretly recorded conversations showed Debs and Roberts were scheming and remorseless killers.
“The words and the tones are malevolent and absolutely devoid of the slightest suggestion or hint of contrition or regret,” he said.
Supreme Court of Victoria
R v Debs  VSC 220 (22 June 2007)
June 22, 2007
1 Bandali Michael Debs, you have been found guilty by the jury empanelled upon your trial in this Court of the murder of Kristy Mary Harty on 17 June 1997 at Upper Beaconsfield.
2 You are already serving two terms of life imprisonment, without a non-parole period, imposed on you by order of this Court on 24 February 2003. Although any sentence which I now impose on you will not have any practical effect on your disposition, nevertheless the process of sentencing you for the murder of Kristy Mary Harty is an important one.
3 The purposes of sentencing are not confined to questions of punishment and deterrence of you as the offender. They also serve other important purposes. They include the denunciation by this Court of your conduct, and in particular the public condemnation of the intentional taking by you of the life of Kristy Harty. In addition, the process of sentencing involves this Court imposing a just sentence for what is a very serious offence, and the vindication of the rights of the victim, and of those who are left behind to grapple with the grief and trauma which have resulted from her violent murder. Furthermore, in a case such as this the principle of general deterrence is of particular relevance.
4 The case against you was circumstantial. Accordingly, the precise circumstances in which you murdered Kristy Harty will never be known. However, the evidence which was presented at your trial, and which was obviously accepted by the jury, painted a sufficiently clear picture to enable me to make appropriate findings of fact for the purpose of sentencing you.
5 At the time of the offence you were 44 years of age. You were living in Narre Warren with your wife and your family. You were then a self employed tiler.
6 Before the day of her murder, Kristy Harty was unknown to you. She had just turned 18 years of age. When she was a young girl, her father had died in an accident. His death had a traumatic effect on her family and herself. As a result, she became a very troubled and confused young woman who, from an early age, had been significantly afflicted with psychological and emotional problems. In the days preceding her death, she told a number of people that she was in urgent need of the sum of $90 to pay off a debt. On the day of her death, she resorted to attempting to solicit sex for money from motorists on the Princes Highway, Dandenong, and on surrounding roadways, in order to be able to repay that debt. She was last seen on the Princes Highway a short distance east of Dandenong at about 4.30 pm. A short time later she attended a take away food shop in Dandenong. That was probably the last sighting of her. Another witness did give evidence that he had seen a girl answering Ms Harty’s description in Belgrave at 6.30 pm. However, I doubt that that sighting occurred on the day on which Ms Harty died; rather, I consider that it must have occurred on a previous day.
7 On the next day, 18 June 1997, the body of Kristy Harty was found in bush a short distance from a track, some 180 metres west of the Upper Beaconsfield Road. She had been shot at very close range in the back of her head. Her underpants were around her ankles. Pathology tests and DNA analysis proved that she had had unprotected sexual intercourse with you in the period leading to her death. The forensic evidence showed that she had been shot with a .357 Magnum calibre revolver. Such a weapon, and ammunition similar to that with which she was killed, was subsequently connected to you.
8 It is clear that you had met Kristy Harty on the day of her death while she was soliciting sex for money on the Princes Highway. You both then travelled together to the bush track in order to have sexual intercourse, for which you were to pay Ms Harty. At that stage you were armed with a loaded .357 Magnum calibre revolver. When you had both walked to the point at which Ms Harty was killed, she produced a safe sex pack and unwrapped a condom for you to use. That condom was not used. Instead, you had unprotected sexual intercourse with her, and shot her in the back of the head at very close range while she was lying face down on the ground. You then dragged her dead body into the bushes and dumped her there.
9 You have not been charged with any offence relating to the act of sexual intercourse which you had with your victim. Therefore your sentence will not be affected by anything relating to that act. However, there are a number of particularly aggravating features concerning the circumstances in which you murdered Ms Harty. Your victim was of tender years. The age difference between you and her was exacerbated by the fact that Ms Harty was a deeply troubled young woman, a fact which would have been obvious to anyone who had even the most fleeting contact with her on that day. Many of the witnesses at your trial gave evidence as to the erratic and bizarre nature of her conduct. Anyone who had met her that day would have readily realised she was a person of low intelligence, who was acting in an unstable way, with no instinct for her own safety. Thus, I am satisfied that you well knew that your victim was particularly vulnerable and defenceless. That made her an even more easy prey for you.
10 At the point at which she was murdered, Kristy Harty was totally defenceless. She was alone and isolated on a bush track. The killing took place either at dusk or in the dark. She could not have been more vulnerable and helpless. You shot her from behind immediately after having sexual intercourse with her. Your killing of her was utterly cowardly.
11 There was no sign of any struggle or disagreement between Ms Harty and yourself before you shot her. There was no evidence at all of anything which could have given you even the slightest reason to contemplate doing her any harm, let alone brutally murdering her as you did. Your murder of Ms Harty was entirely senseless, needless and wanton. The evidence discloses beyond any doubt that this was not a case of a sexual encounter in which, in the heat of the moment, feelings or passions may have led to a spontaneous and irrational act of violence. Rather, and quite to the contrary, this was, most clearly, a callous, craven and senseless murder in cold blood of an entirely innocent, defenceless and vulnerable young woman. The evidence leads to the inevitable conclusion that you murdered Kristy Harty for no other reason than for the sheer sake of it. That factor, and the other factors to which I have already referred, make this a most serious instance of the crime of murder. Indeed, your counsel, on your plea, correctly recognised and accepted that the circumstances of the offence for which you have been convicted are extremely grave.
12 On their own, and without anything else, I would consider that the circumstances of this case make it appropriate, and indeed necessary, that I impose a sentence of life imprisonment on you for your murder of Kristy Harty. However, in addition, there are further circumstances which are relevant both to your head sentence, and also to the question whether I should fix a minimum non-parole period.
13 In December 2002, a Supreme Court jury convicted you and Jason Roberts of the murder of two police officers, Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller. Those murders took place on 16 August 1998, just thirteen months after you had murdered Kristy Harty. On 24 February 2003, the trial judge, Cummins J, sentenced you to two terms of life imprisonment. He declined to set a non-parole period in respect of either of those terms of imprisonment. I have had the opportunity of reading his Honour’s reasons for sentence. His Honour’s description of the murder by you and Roberts of the two police officers is chilling. You used a .357 Magnum calibre revolver, which is the same type of weapon you used to murder Kristy Harty. You shot both police officers at close range. At the time you shot Sergeant Silk, he had already been shot by Roberts, and was lying on the ground severely incapacitated. You then shot him twice at close range. The murder by you of those two police officers displayed the same callousness, and the same total disregard for the life of another, which characterised your murder of Kristy Harty in this case.
14 Your convictions for the murder of the two police officers are of particular significance, notwithstanding that they were subsequent to the murder for which I am to sentence you. Those convictions demonstrate most clearly that your killing of Kristy Harty was not an isolated, one-off event. They reinforce the conclusion that you are an evil, violent and dangerous man, who places no value on the life of another. By your murder of the two police officers, you have shown that you did not have any insight into the enormity of your murder of Kristy Harty, let alone feel the faintest twinge of regret for the dreadful deed which you had done. The two sets of killings, occurring within almost 12 months of each other, make it clear that you would be a grave danger to the community if you were ever let at large. It is quite clear that there are, in my view, no prospects for your successful rehabilitation into society.
15 It was put to me on your plea that before the murder of Kristy Harty, you had not been convicted of any crime which displayed any similar level of violence. That is correct. You did have previous convictions, some for dishonesty, and two which had some elements of violence relating to them. However, those previous convictions are relatively inconsequential when compared to your criminality in this case, and your subsequent criminality. They are, however, relevant to the extent that they show that you were not a man of otherwise good character at the time you murdered Kristy Harty.
16 On your plea, Ms Spowart, who appeared on your behalf, did not make any submissions against the proposition that an appropriate head sentence for you is the imposition of a life sentence of imprisonment. As I have stated, in my view, the facts of this case, standing alone, require that I impose such a sentence. That conclusion is only reinforced by your subsequent offending. However, Ms Spowart did submit that I should fix a minimum non-parole period, which would serve the purpose of giving you the opportunity, ultimately, to rehabilitate yourself into society.
17 The authorities point out that the imposition of a sentence of life imprisonment without a non-parole period is an extreme penalty, which should only be imposed in the most serious of cases. Such cases would, of necessity, only be the exception to the rule. However, in this case I am well satisfied that there is no prospect for your rehabilitation. You are beyond redemption. The enormity of your murderous conduct is such that you have forfeited the right ever to be at large in the community. It has been correctly acknowledged that you should be characterised as a serious violent offender under Part 2A of the Sentencing Act 1991. There is, I consider, a substantial need to protect the community from you, not only in the medium term, but for the rest of your life. Notwithstanding the fact that your family has stood by you, and the fact that you had been engaged in regular employment until your offending, those factors are insufficient to give me any reason to hope or expect that at any time in the future you could be safely rehabilitated into society.
18 It is important that the sentence which I impose on you should be a particularly stern sentence and should reflect the gravity of your crime. As I have already stated, the concepts of general deterrence, and the appropriate condemnation by this Court of your offending, are of significance in a case like this. Your behaviour offends the basic norms of a civilised society. You have no respect for the right to life of others. All of those matters combine to make it inappropriate that I set a non-parole period for the offence for which you have been convicted.
19 Before I pronounce formal sentence on you, it is relevant to note two other matters. Neither of them affects the sentence which I am to pass on you. First, I have read the victim impact statements of Ms Harty’s mother, and her two siblings, which were tendered to me on the plea. Those statements speak of the traumatic and shattering effect which the brutal murder of Kristy Harty has had on her remaining family. Kristy Harty was the primary victim of your evil murderous conduct. However, it must not be forgotten that there are other victims who remain with us, still grieving, and still unable to come to terms with their appalling loss. Their suffering is a direct consequence of the murder by you of their loved one.
20 Secondly, during your trial, through your counsel, you launched an entirely unsubstantiated and groundless attack on the credibility and integrity of the police who were responsible for investigating your crime. I observe that you did not make yourself available for cross-examination by giving evidence at your trial. It is important, in these sentencing remarks, that I record that there was not the slightest basis for that attack upon the integrity and competence of the investigating police. I consider that the investigation of this case was thoroughly professional, competent and proper. It is right that a sentencing judge in the position of myself should make these remarks in order to vindicate the reputation of those who had the task of investigating your criminality, and of bringing you to justice.
21 As I have stated, the matters which I have outlined in these reasons satisfy me that, in view of both of the nature of the offence for which I am to sentence you, and also your background, and particularly your subsequent convictions, it would be inappropriate for me to fix a period during which you are not eligible for parole.
22 Accordingly, the sentence of the Court is that, for the murder of Kristy Mary Harty at Upper Beaconsfield on 17 June 1997, you be imprisoned for the rest of your natural life and without the opportunity for release on parole. In addition, at the request of the Crown, I declare you a serious offender for the purpose of Part 2A of the Sentencing Act 1991. That declaration will be entered in the records of the Court under s 6F of the Act.
Supreme Court of Victoria
DPP v Debs & Roberts  VSC 30 (24 February 2003)
February 25, 2003
- On 11 March 1985, Gary Michael Silk, then aged 21 years, took an oath as a member of the Police Force of Victoria to well and truly serve the community without favour or affection, malice or ill-will, to see and cause the peace to be kept and observed, to prevent to the best of his power all offences against the peace, and to discharge to the best of his skill and knowledge all the duties legally imposed upon him, faithfully and according to law. For thirteen years that he did and did in full measure. On 16 August 1998, on the southern side of Cochranes Road, Moorabbin, while loyally performing the duties he as a young man had sworn to uphold, he was murdered – grievously shot first by you, Mr Roberts, and then executed by you, Mr Debs.
- On 14 August 1991, Rodney James Miller, then aged 28 years, on his graduation day also took the oath as a member of the Police Force of Victoria to serve and protect the people of Victoria. That he did, and did in full measure. Friday 14 August 1998 was the eighth anniversary of his graduation as a member of the Police Force. Two days later, he lay dead at the Monash Medical Centre, murdered by you both – shot by you, Mr Debs, on Cochranes Road, then and there aided by you, Mr Roberts.
- Each of you committed the murders in order to avoid apprehension for serious criminal conduct.
- The proper sentence for the murder of a police officer in the execution of the officer’s duty, in order to escape apprehension for serious criminal conduct, is life imprisonment. Upholding the law requires it. Protection of the police, and protection of the community they serve, require it.
- The first Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Samuel Griffith, perceptively observed in 1906:
“When a man does an extraordinary or wicked thing, there is probably some cause inducing or impelling him to do so, and the more heinous the act, the more important becomes the question of motive.”
In your cases, the motive each of you had on the night you murdered the two officers, was a callous and self-centred one – to escape apprehension at any cost. That motive was not restrained by a moral sense in either of you, but rather was emancipated by a contempt you both held for police and for the law. Your callousness, self-centredness and contempt was not confined to the lawful organs of the State but also afflicted ordinary citizens, whom you had terrorised over the preceding five months in a series of armed robberies. Forty five of those citizens gave evidence before the jury. They were decent, brave citizens. You thought you could plunder them with impunity. You were wrong.
- In fulfilment of their oath to serve and protect the public, police command set up a special operation, codenamed Hamada, to apprehend you. The targets of your criminality were evident – premises with minimal security, ready cash, and ordinary citizens. The area of your criminal operations was the eastern and south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The pattern of your criminality soon revealed itself – robberies with violence, committed by two armed and disguised men, one older and authoritative, one younger, compliant and willing, and in which the victims were left bound hand and foot with tape. The first robbery was at Bevic’s Auto Parts, Carrum Downs, on 9 March 1998. The final, tenth, robbery was at the Green Papaya Restaurant, Surrey Hills, on 18 July 1998. The eleventh was going to be the Silky Emperor Restaurant, Moorabbin, late on Saturday night, 15 August 1998. Just after midnight, at the stroke of closing time as was your pattern, you together drove into the carpark at the rear of the Silky Emperor Restaurant. You did not leave your car and enter the premises as you had planned, because you spied the deceased officers’ unmarked police car parked in the shadows in the carpark. You had driven into a police stakeout. You, Mr Debs, the driver, quietly drove your car out of the carpark and slowly drove north in Warrigal Road and west into Cochranes Road, hoping not to attract attention. But Sergeant Silk and Senior Constable Miller, in their police vehicle, followed you. In Cochranes Road, Senior Constable Miller operated the portable blue flashing light and your vehicle pulled over. The two officers alighted and approached your vehicle. You, Mr Debs, alighted from your vehicle and stood at the driver’s door. You hoped by coolness and cunning to bluff the police. You, Mr Roberts, remained low in the front passenger seat. Another unmarked police vehicle, driven by Senior Constable Bendeich and in which Senior Constable Sherren was observer and which was part of the stakeout, drove past and its occupants observed that things were quiet. In order not to reveal their identity in the ongoing operation, those officers proceeded and parked off the scene but kept it under observation. Sergeant Silk commenced to speak with you, Mr Debs. At that moment, and for the first time, you, Mr Roberts, were observed in the passenger seat. Thus, for the first time, it revealed itself that the Hamada pattern might be fulfilled, because there were two men, not one as the officers had first observed. Sergeant Silk moved to the passenger side of your vehicle and called you Mr Roberts out of the vehicle. Senior Constable Miller commenced to move back to the police vehicle to radio in particulars. Sergeant Silk had out his notebook and pen. He called you, Mr Roberts, onto the grassy verge on the south side of Cochranes Road, following good police procedure, so that your answers could not be heard by the driver, Mr Debs. And thus it was that you both had reached a crossroads. You knew that the time for stealth and cunning and bluff was over. You knew that imminently the two officers would search you and your vehicle, and would find the apparatus of the Hamada robbers: handguns, masks or means of disguise, and tape for binding your victims. You had a choice: apprehension or murder. You chose murder.
- First you, Mr Roberts, without any warning, with your .38 calibre handgun grievously shot Sergeant Silk at close range in the chest. You intended to kill him. As the prosecutor has said, Sergeant Silk had nothing more lethal in his hands than a pen. His police revolver was in its holster and the covering flap of the holster was buttoned down. He fell to the ground where you shot him. Senior Constable Miller, who was then between the two vehicles, drew his police revolver and shot at you, Mr Roberts, in defence of Sergeant Silk. You, Mr Debs, immediately fired at Senior Constable Miller through the hatch window of your vehicle which you had re-entered to obtain your .357 magnum handgun. Your fired repeatedly at Senior Constable Miller, one shot mortally wounding him. In great pain, Senior Constable Miller managed to struggle away from the scene to seek help and for your apprehension. In order to avoid the risk of being shot or identified, you did not pursue him. Instead, you, Mr Debs, went up to the helpless and immobile Sergeant Silk who was lying on the grassy verge, shot him in the pelvis and then shot him in the head, the last shot killing him instantly. You executed him – to ensure he could not identify either of you. Then you both returned to your car and drove away. But not in panic. With deliberation. Slowly, so as not to attract attention.
- Sergeant Silk was dead. Senior Constable Miller, dying, bravely gave a vital description of the killers and their vehicle to police who urgently attended him. He was taken by ambulance to the Monash Medical Centre, where he died at 3.35 am. The two officers who had parked off the scene, Senior Constables Sherren and Bendeich, gave a description of you Mr Debs and of your vehicle. But there was a silent witness you left behind, a witness which was to bring both of you undone. That silent witness was the glass from the hatch window of your car, blown out by your .357 magnum, Mr Debs. By a long process of applied intelligence, hard work and integrity, the police, led by Detective Superintendent Sheridan, ultimately traced the shattered glass on Cochranes Road right to your door.
- For the pattern of the Hamada robberies was not only of two violent men, disguised and armed, who terrorised their victims and robbed them, but it was one of the two men being able to decamp. This was achieved by two means. One was taping the victims so that the robbers could not immediately be pursued and identified. The other was a getaway car. But not a stolen car, because you were bent on continuing your path of violence into the future. You needed a vehicle which you could repeatedly use for repeated robberies. And so you used a car from the family – a Hyundai Excel 3 door hatch, reg no. OJI 862, owned by Nicole Debs, who was your daughter, Mr Debs, and who was your partner, Mr Roberts. That was the vehicle you again were using that fateful night. It was that rear window you shot out with your .357 magnum, Mr Debs. And that was the silent witness you left behind which ultimately unmasked you both.
- There were two further witnesses who led to your unravelling. They were from the first two Hamada robberies; significantly the first two, because your masking technique developed over the five months of the robberies. In the first robbery, at Bevic’s Auto Parts on 9 March 1998, a victim, Ms T. Chadwick, observed you, Mr Debs, and thirty months later, on 21 September 2000, she identified you on a video. In the second robbery, at Sports Mart in Noble Park on 29 March 1998, a victim, Ms O. Coffman, observed you, Mr Roberts, and nineteen months later, on 27 October 1999, she identified you on a photoboard. Both women gave evidence at the trial. You had the misfortune, but the administration of justice had the good fortune, that both women were highly impressive witnesses and people. Indeed, Ms Coffman was the best identification witness I have seen.
- The prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that you both committed the Hamada robberies. You are not to be sentenced for those robberies and you are not. I have outlined them only to trace the pathway which led you to Cochranes Road and to reveal why there on that fateful night you had reached the crossroads.
- A specialist task force, codenamed Lorimer, was immediately established to investigate the killings. It was commanded by Detective Superintendent Sheridan, with Detective Inspector Graeme Collins second in command. Detective Superintendent Sheridan from the outset determined that the Task Force would operate upon proper organisational criteria and independently of all other police squads and officers. Seven detective sergeants were selected for discrete areas of investigation, each with a defined team of officers. Descriptions of the killers and their vehicle had been made by the dying Senior Constable Miller and by Senior Constables Bendeich and Sherren. Those descriptions, combined with preliminary scientific examination of the shattered glass on Cochranes Road, established that the killers’ vehicle was a dark coloured Hyundai Excel hatch, 3 or 5 door, and that the shattered glass was from its rear window. Substantial investigation followed. Ballistics and firearm examination was undertaken (you, Mr Debs, revealing in later electronic surveillance material that you had disposed of the guns used in the killings: recording B14, p.32 on 11 February 2000). A mass of information was analysed. Numerous persons were investigated. A rigorous analysis of the identity of the killers’ vehicle was undertaken. Hyundai Australia and Hyundai Korea were most cooperative throughout the enquiry. The vehicle trail commenced with a review of Hyundai and motor registration records. That narrowed the field to 25,755 vehicles. By progressive analysis based upon the shattered glass on Cochranes Road, that number was reduced to approximately 19,000 (by elimination of vehicles manufactured after April 1997 by screen date colour), then to 9000 (by factoring in a manufacturing change in the master silk screen), and then to 2,808 (by factoring in changes in the H terminal symbol). The final stage was the physical checking in Victoria, interstate and in the United Kingdom of those remaining vehicles (that stage codenamed Operation High) by VIN number, build plate and the other criteria I have stated. In the end only one vehicle could not be eliminated as the killers’ vehicle – yours. Your vehicle had come off the production line at the Hyundai Motor Company manufacturing plant at Ulsan, South Korea at 9.25 am on 13 March 1997, fitted with a rear window manufactured by the Keumkang Chemical Company at Yeoju, South Korea, in February 1997.
- At the outset of the investigation, Hyundai suppliers and all glass outlets were contacted by police and asked to contact the Task Force if a replacement Hyundai Excel tailgate window was sought by any person. Numerous reports of replacement windows were received. On 26 August 1998 you, Mr Roberts with Ms Nicole Debs, went to Grant Walker Motors of Bayswater and purchased a Hyundai replacement rear window. That was advised to the Task Force. Later you both were questioned by police about how the rear window had been broken and you lied to the police, you Mr Debs giving a detailed and false story about breaking it at work, and you Mr Roberts feigning ignorance, which became your characteristic mode of address to investigating police. Along with many other vehicles, your Hyundai was, on 21 December 1998, examined at the Victorian Forensic Science Centre laboratories at Macleod. Some fragments of glass (forensic item 171) were extracted and examined. Unfortunately the sample range examined was too small and the vehicle was cleared and returned to you. Investigations over a broad area continued. Then in August 1999 examination of telephone records of yours Mr Debs indicated a criminal link which was promptly pursued. Accordingly, all the fragments extracted from your vehicle in December 1998 (forensic item 171) were, at the Victorian Forensic Science Centre at Macleod, subjected to examination by refractive index analysis and microscopic examination of the H terminal symbol. A match was discovered with the glass from Cochranes Road. As a consequence, in September 1999 a specific operation was established further to investigate your activities on the fateful night, Mr Debs. In October, Ms Coffman identified you, Mr Roberts, as a Hamada robber. In November, lawful electronic surveillance, by means of listening device and telephone intercept, commenced of you both.
- The electronic surveillance further revealed your guilt. In your conversations you each exhibited a constant and obsessive interest in the police investigation of the killings and opportunistic responses to any setback to or diversion of that investigation. On 15 February 2000, in listening device recording B24 (pp.86-90) you, Mr Debs, gave a chilling account of the killings of the two deceased officers. On 7 July 2000, in listening device recording B126 (p.211) in which you both participated, you, Mr Roberts, paralleled your shooting of Sergeant Silk with extraordinary callousness. First on 11 February 2000, in recording B14 you, Mr Debs, contemplated killing further police officers to divert and confuse the investigation – in your words, “to make the investigation to spread stupidly” (p.30). You returned to this theme many times. Your tone was of dark malevolence. There is one thing wholly absent from the utterances of you both, in those numerous recordings. The thing that is utterly absent is remorse.
- Forensic and scientific provision to the investigation was made independently by the Victorian Forensic and Scientific Centre, situated at Forensic Drive, Macleod. The VFSC investigation was headed by the scientist, Mr Peter Ross. A lengthy and painstaking analytical programme was followed. Two critical advances occurred. As I have said, in August 1999 by refractive index analysis and by microscopic examination of the H terminal symbol, the glass at Cochranes Road was matched with the glass from your Hyundai Excel, OJI 862. And following the arrests of you both on 25 July 2000 when the vehicle was impounded, under minute examination, Mr Ross discovered bullet damage, although disguised, to the C pillar of the frame of the hatch of that vehicle, and embedded in it, the presence of lead, antimony and barium – the telltale fingerprint of a fired bullet.
- At trial, an attempt was made by you, Mr Debs, to escape the inevitable consequence of this scientific analysis, by alleging a criminal conspiracy between the scientist, Mr Ross and Detective Inspector Collins, a senior police officer and second in charge of the Lorimer Task Force, to plant or falsify the evidence. This was a wholly fictitious allegation. You are not to be punished for making it and you are not. However it demonstrated three things: that you had no defence to these charges, that you would do anything to escape your responsibility, and that you have no remorse. There was not a shred of truth in the allegation. Mr Ross, Detective Inspector Collins, and Detective Senior Constable Tyler – whom you sought to suck into this allegation by a side wind – acted properly throughout. Your false allegation reflects not on them but on you. Detective Senior Constable Tyler labelled the allegation “completely false”. Detective Inspector Collins labelled the allegation “an absurdity”. It was. Perhaps the last word should be that of Mr Peter Ross, an independent and honourable scientist. When without any notice your allegation, Mr Debs, was put to him by your counsel, Mr Ross replied:
“I have been working as a forensic officer for 25 years. I am known amongst the courts as a highly moral and ethical worker… Everything that I have found was found was there, in fact, is there. Everything can be tested. You can find the gunshot residue, the lead on that piece of tape. You can see. It will still be there. It is embedded in there. You will find the gunshot residue that I got from the glass on the stub I took from the glass. Anyone who repeats the work on the symbol will find exactly the same result. It was there. Live with it.”
- I commend the many police officers, commanded by Detective Superintendent Sheridan, who conducted the investigation into the murders of Sergeant Silk and Senior Constable Miller, entitled the Lorimer Task Force. It was a long and difficult investigation. There are no short cuts; nor should there be. The investigation had its frustrations and setbacks, as many investigations do. But Detective Superintendent Sheridan and those under him held the line. They persevered, and ultimately they were rewarded. The investigation was characterised by applied intelligence, hard work and integrity. It demonstrates yet again the value of those qualities. That is the way to solve crime.
- You were both arrested on 25 July 2000. You both lied to investigating police. You, Mr Debs, were on that day charged with the murders of Sergeant Silk and of Senior Constable Miller. You, Mr Roberts, were released. Despite your mother Mrs Roberts having attended the Homicide Squad office on 25 July 2000 and asking you to tell the police if there was anything to tell, and despite Mr Debs being in custody for three weeks, when you were rearrested on 15 August 2000 you continued to lie. On that day you were charged with the murders of Sergeant Silk and of Senior Constable Miller. After a four and a half month trial, on 31 December 2002 the jury convicted each of you of the murders of the two officers.
- The jury in this case was empanelled on 14 August 2002. The jurors were finally discharged upon delivering their verdicts on 31 December 2002. For 87 days at selfless personal inconvenience they attended, listened, concentrated and considered. Through Melbourne’s winter and spring and into summer the fifteen jurors came, and only two days were lost, through illness. I pay tribute to their responsibility. Time and again juries demonstrate how responsible and selfless citizens are in the administration of justice. Juries in their application to their task demonstrate that the combined understanding and experience of persons is greater, and more democratic, than of one. The jury in this case demonstrated those qualities and values in full. I commend all its fifteen members.
- Behind every murder is personal tragedy. Last Monday in court I stated that the victim impact statements exhibited in this case were moving and impressive documents. So they are. The statements of Mrs Silk, devoted mother of Sergeant Silk, and of Mrs Miller, loving wife of Senior Constable Miller, are deeply touching. Those two fine women and their families have loyally been present in court throughout these long and painful proceedings. They and their families have been deeply afflicted by the loss of these fine men, their loved ones. I commend Mrs Silk, Mrs Miller and their families for their loyalty and their dignity.
- I said earlier that 14 August 1998 was the seventh anniversary of the graduation as a member of the Police Force of Senior Constable Miller. Seven weeks before 14 August 1998, a son had been born to Rodney and Carmel Miller – their first child. On the night of Friday 14 August 1998 together they sat down and wrote to their many friends thanking them for welcoming their son into their lives. When their family and friends received the joint letters on Monday 17 August, Senior Constable Miller was dead.
- Many members of the Victoria Police also have been afflicted by the murders of the two officers – those who attended the scene, those who worked long and painstakingly on the investigation, those who have been in court as witnesses and observers, the many friends of the deceased officers, and members throughout the force. The murders also bring home to them the responsibilities and dangers of being a police officer – of day after day, year after year, of being in the line of fire. To protect and serve the public.
- Finally, I turn to imposing sentence upon each of you.
- No distinction in liability for your murderous conduct at Cochranes Road should be made between you. You acted together.
- You, Mr Debs, are now 49 years of age, having been born on 18 July 1953. You were 45 years of age at the time of the killings, and had just turned 48 when you were arrested on 25 July 2000. You have been in custody since that time, a period of 945 days. You are married and have five adult children. Although your counsel, doubtless on your instructions, did not particularise it, you had an unstable and I am sure a difficult childhood. You are a tiler by lawful occupation. You have some prior convictions, with two groups (8 December 1988 and 12 November 1996) involving limited violence. As I have said, you are not here to be sentenced for the Hamada robberies which you in fact committed, because they are not on the presentment and you have not been convicted of them. Your counsel rightly relied upon the limited number and type of your prior convictions. Your counsel realistically did not submit the converse, namely that you were of positive law abiding character. He rightly relied upon the burden of the nature and length of the proceedings from arrest to sentence, including not knowing your fate until today. He rightly relied upon your good conduct in court and your good and positive conduct in custody awaiting trial, including fulfilling the courses evidenced by the certificates (exhibit 1D) tendered on your behalf on the plea. I take all those matters into account.
- You, Mr Debs, do not suffer any psychiatric illness or psychological disorder. You are of ordinary intelligence at best, but are of highly dangerous predisposition. Your conduct, and the electronic surveillance, conclusively demonstrates your lack of remorse for your murderous actions at Cochranes Road. You are not to be punished for your lack of remorse. Its relevance is that remorse is the harbinger of rehabilitation. There is no real prospect of rehabilitation in you, so far as one can tell in your fiftieth year.
- Of the manifold principles of sentencing, the first, condemnation, applies in full measure to your murderous conduct. The Court, and the community, condemn your conduct. Next, you are to be punished in full measure for your conduct. Next, general deterrence is of especial application to your conduct. Police daily live in the line of fire. Their sworn duty is to protect the public. They need the full protection of the law, so that in turn the public has the full protection of the law. Next, specific deterrence is of especial application to you. You are of highly dangerous predisposition and you have learnt nothing and changed not at all. Unfortunately, reformation – always important to pursue in sentencing – in your case is so remote and marginal that it is of no counterweight to the other principles of sentencing I have stated.
- I said at the outset (paragraph 4) that the proper sentence for the murder of a police officer in the execution of the officer’s duty, in order to escape apprehension for serious criminal conduct, is life imprisonment.
- That is because the crime of murdering a police officer in the lawful execution of the officer’s duty, in order to avoid apprehension for serious criminal conduct, is in the worst category of murder. A safe and functioning society depends upon its police force. An attack upon a serving police officer is an attack upon society itself. The nature and gravity of your offences are in that worst category. Your conduct was deliberate, calculated and unprovoked.
- The question arises as to whether a minimum term should be set. I bear in mind that which was cited with apparent approval by Dawson, Toohey and Gaudron JJ in Bugmy v R from Deakin v R (in turn adopting that which was said in Power v R) as to minimum terms:
“The intention of the legislature in providing for the fixing of a minimum term is to provide for mitigation of the punishment of the prisoner in favour of his rehabilitation through conditional freedom, where appropriate, once a prisoner has served the minimum time that a judge determines justice requires that he must serve having regard to all the circumstances of the offence.”
I bear in mind also what Jenkinson J said in Morgan v Morgan where his Honour said:
“The minimum term is the period before the expiration of which release of that offender would in the estimation of the sentencing Judge be in violation of justice according to law, notwithstanding the mitigation of punishment which mercy to the offender and benefit to the public may justify.”
- As I have said, these two murders are in the worst category of murder. The Court has often said it is profitless to seek to rank individual murders within that worst category; and to do so also would be further distressing to the victims of such murders. In the worst category of murder it is appropriate and necessary to sentence to life imprisonment.
- Section 11(1) Sentencing Act 1991 provides that a minimum term before eligibility for parole must be set unless the Court considers that the nature of the offence or the past history of the offender make the fixing of a minimum term inappropriate. Mr Debs, the nature and gravity of your two offences and your past history make the fixing of a minimum term entirely inappropriate. I refuse to set a minimum term.
- Mr Debs, for the murder of Sergeant Silk I sentence you to life imprisonment. For the murder of Senior Constable Miller I sentence you to life imprisonment. No minimum term of imprisonment before eligibility for parole is set. You are sentenced to be imprisoned for the remainder of your life. Life means life.
- Mr Roberts, you are now 22 years of age, having been born on 23 August 1980. You were one week short of 18 years of age at the time of the killings, and were eight days short of 20 years at the time of your final arrest. You were brought up in a family environment. In 1990 your father died suddenly when you were but a child. You continued to live with your mother and younger brother at Cranbourne until in 2000 you commenced living nearby with Ms Nicole Debs, Mr Debs’ eldest daughter. You were educated to Year 10 level and thereafter worked. You suffer no psychiatric illness or psychological disorder. You are an intelligent person, just above average by psychometric testing (full scale of 105 on WAIS: Mr B. Healey’s psychological report of 15 February 2003) and by my observation well above average.
- Your counsel rightly and strongly relied upon your young age, at the time of the killings and still. Plainly, your young age is a central consideration on sentence. Your counsel rightly relied upon your lack of any convictions. Your counsel rightly relied upon your good conduct in court and your positive conduct in custody awaiting trial, and the length and burden of your incarceration and of not knowing your fate until today. In custody you have been appointed a peer educator, a responsible position and one which shows the custodial authorities have confidence in you. You have completed a number of improvement courses. A youth development worker gave positive evidence on your behalf.
- I take all those matters into account, both generally and also particularly on the question of rehabilitation.
- Although you have no convictions, and are not to be sentenced for the Hamada robberies you in fact committed because they are not on the presentment and you have not been convicted of them, those robberies involve that the absence of convictions, while important as the absence of a negative, does not translate unequivocally into the holistic positive of antecedent good character.
- By your instructions, your counsel did not seek to cast blame or responsibility for your presence and conduct at Cochranes Road upon Mr Debs. However, I must and do consider the question of the influence upon you, in your presence and conduct at Cochranes Road, of the much older and more worldly Mr Debs, to whom you also were attached because of your genuine affection for his daughter Nicole. Probably Mr Debs recruited you at the outset of the Hamada robberies, and clearly in them he was the leader and was more aggressive than you. But you kept coming back for more, knowing Mr Debs’ conduct, and knowing you were an indispensable part of the Hamada operation. So the differential between you both in Hamada is of some but limited utility in your favour. As for your presence and conduct at Cochranes Road, I am affirmatively satisfied that you were there, and acted murderously there, fully by your own free choice and decision. We all know young people who act foolishly through immaturity or through misguided thrall of an older more worldly person or through both. You were not such a youth at Cochranes Road. You were on the threshold of adulthood. You were more mature, worldly and hardened than your years. You were there after ten armed robberies. You were armed, yet again, with a lethal, loaded firearm. You were not caught by surprise. You had time to think. You knew exactly what you were doing. You got out of the car with a loaded gun. You fired the first shot.
- On the electronic surveillance material, you showed no remorse.
- In July 2000, when Mr Debs was in custody and you were not, and after your mother had earnestly asked you to tell the truth if there was anything to tell, you independently continued falsely to deny your involvement in the killings.
- I conclude that you are fully responsible for your presence and murderous actions at Cochranes Road.
- You are not to be punished for the material revealed by the electronic surveillance. Its relevance is that it conclusively demonstrates your lack of remorse for your murderous actions at Cochranes Road. You have no remorse for your actions. None.
- You also are not to be punished for your lack of remorse. Its relevance is that remorse is the harbinger of rehabilitation. The only harbinger of rehabilitation in you is your age, combined with your positive conduct thus far in custody. And, unlike Mr Debs, you were not contemplating over time further killing to divert the police investigation.
- For the reasons I stated in sentencing Mr Debs (and which I shall not here repeat) your offences are in the worst category of murder.
- Counsel have referred to various authorities as to the sentencing of young persons. Some were of persons who had pleaded guilty: R v Denyer and R v Beckett and thus are significantly different from your case and one, R v P.D.J. was of a person significantly younger than you.
- And as the Court stated in DPP v S.J.K. and G.A.S. as to the factors of youth and rehabilitation, “(those) factors constituted only some of a number of matters that must be taken into account and… even in the case of a young offender, there are occasions on which they must give way to the achievement of other objectives of the sentencing law” (at para.65 per curiam).
- Despite your youth, the manifold elements of sentencing apply, Mr Roberts, and apply in full measure, to your murderous conduct. The Court, and the community, condemn your conduct. Next, you are to be punished in full measure for your conduct. You were almost 18 and acted with full knowledge and deliberation. Next, general deterrence is of especial application to your conduct, for the reasons I stated in sentencing Mr Debs. Next, specific deterrence is of real application to you. You must be deterred from further violence. Next, reformation is of significance with you. On the one hand, you have absolutely no remorse; on the other, you are young and have acted positively in custody. Your youth is of central relevance to the proper sentence to be imposed upon you, of itself, because of the matter of the extent your life expectancy at age 22, and because of chronological disparity with Mr Debs. But despite those considerations in your favour, I consider the elements of condemnation, punishment and general and special deterrence are of predominant significance in deriving the proper sentence to be imposed upon you. Conscious of its exceptional application to a young person, I conclude that the proper sentence to impose upon you, Mr Roberts, is life imprisonment.
- For the murder of Sergeant Silk, I sentence you Mr Roberts to life imprisonment. For the murder of Senior Constable Miller, I sentence you to life imprisonment.
- Only because of your youth do I consider that a minimum term of imprisonment should be set. I do consider a minimum term should be set in your case. Such a term should be substantial, given the factors I have stated. However, it also should give you an opportunity upon possible release. You have served 924 days in pre-sentence custody. Pursuant to the provisions of s. 18(4) Sentencing Act 1991 I declare that period of 924 days served under the sentences I impose and I so certify. I direct that you serve, upon the sentences I have imposed upon you, a minimum term of imprisonment of 35 years before eligibility for parole.
- Remove the prisoners.