The law is both effective and ineffective throughout the entire criminal process in achieving justice in the murder case involving Sef Gonzales. The case “Regina vs Gonzales (2004) NSW SC 822” involved the triple murders of Gonzales’s mother, father and only sister The meaning of justice is that everyone is treated equally and fairly under the law. The law was effective in this case because justice was achieved, for the accused, for the victims and for society.
Former Sydney student Sef Gonzales has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the triple murder of his parents, solicitor Ted Gonzales, Mary Loiva Gonzales and then 18-year old sister Clodine in their North Ryde home in Sydney’s north-west on July 10, 2001. Clodine Gonzales was the prisoner’s sister and his only sibling. She had had her eighteenth birthday on 9 July 2001, the day before the murders. Mary Loiva Josephine Gonzales was the prisoner’s mother and Teddy Gonzales was the prisoner’s father.
In order for a crime to occur, both elements of the crime, Actus Reus and mens rea must be present. Actus Reus and mens rea are legal terms used to define a crime. Both elements must be present for an accused to be found guilty of a crime (except for strict liability). Mens rea means that the person must have had a guilty mind at the time of committing the crime- that is they must have intended to commit the crime. According to this case, both elements were present.
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Mens rea occurred when Gonzales had planned the killing for a long time and also had the intention to kill each of the victims and had actually administered poison to his mother Actus reus was the actions of the accused which occurred in this case when Gonzales did the physical act of murdering his mother, sister and father. He killed the victims by stabbing them with a knife or, in the case of Clodine, striking her with a bat and strangling her, as well as stabbing her with a knife. There was a high degree of violence in all of the murders.
The law was effective in this case because these two elements were proven in the trial. Sef Gonzales decided to kill his parents for many reasons. There are four different factors that might lead to a criminal behaviour. These factors are social, economic, self-interest or genetic. In this cases, the factors are economic and self-interest. I find that the motives for the prisoner committing the murders were that he was fearful that, because of his poor performance in his university studies, his parents might take his car away from him and might withdraw other privileges which had been granted to him nd that he wished to succeed, without delay and as sole heir, to his parents’ property. He had also argued with his mother over a girlfriend of whom she disapproved, and his family had threatened to disinherit him. Sef wasn’t really happy with his parents decisions. The law was effective in this case by the prosecution proving beyond reasonable doubt these factors motivated the awful crimes. In this case the DDP was represented by Mark Tedeschi QC who alleged that Gonzales murdered his Mother, father and sister at the family home on 10th of July 2001.
They said that the murders were within the worst class of cases of murder and that they were planned. Gonzales was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt by the jury of all three charges. The DPP was successful in arguing their case so justice was effectively achieved however it was ineffective because it took three years for the case to come to trial. In serious criminal matters such as murder, the accused will attend the Local Court for a committal hearing where the magistrate will determine whether a case, at first sight (prima-facie), exists.
It was found in the Local Court that there was enough prima facie evidence to bring a case against Gonzales. The trial against Gonzales began in the Supreme Court on 27th of August 2004 in front of Justice Bruce James, Gonzales pleaded not guilty to the three charges of murder and one charge of threatening product contamination. The judgement was handed down on 17th September 2004 with a guilty verdict, Gonzales received three life imprisonment sentences to be served concurrently.
The law was effective in achieving justice in this case but was ineffective because it took over 3 years to get a judgement. Gonzales pleaded not guilty to the offences of three counts of murder and one threatening product contamination even though he was told that the sentence would be lesser if he pleaded guilty. There are two factors which affect the sentencing decision. They are called migitating and aggravating factors.
In this case, there are no facts migitating the objective seriousness of the murders. The aggravating factors in Gonzales’s case submitted by the crown were that Sef committed multiple murders who were his own family members. The murders were planned and premeditated. The prisoner has had it in mind to kill his parents from the time he began researching poisons on the internet some months before 10 July 2001. They were brutal and violent. Sef had also attempted to poison his mother.
Gonzales showed no remorse. He gave the police false alibis and tried to frame others for the murders. Other false trails were the fabrication of an e-mail that implicated a business rival of Teddy in the murders, the fabrication of threatening e-mails, and the staging of an attempted burglary and an abduction. Sef also put a deposit on a $173,000 Lexus, telling the dealership he would be using his inheritance to pay for the vehicle, traded in his parent's car and pawned his mother's jewellery.
The prisoner was not at the time of committing the offences suffering from any mental illness or mental disorder or any mental state which would migitate the criminality of his conduct The court is to impose a sentence of imprisonment for life on a person who is convicted of murder if the court is satisfied that the level of culpability in the commission of the offence is so extreme that the community interest in retribution, punishment, community protection and deterrence can only be met through the imposition of that sentence”.
Sef Gonzales has been sentenced to three concurrent life sentences for the crime, which the judge said fell into the worst category of murder ithout the possibility of parole for the murders of his parents, Teddy and Mary Loiva, and younger sister Clodine However, police investigating the murders began to believe that he was the perpetrator. In December, investigating police were able to disprove Gonzales' first alibi, when they were told of sightings of his car in the driveway at the time of the murders.
Gonzales then constructed a second alibi, claiming he had visited a brothel at the time of the murders, but this was proven to be false by the prostitute who he claimed to be with at the time. On 20 May 2004 at the conclusion of a trial, the jury found the prisoner Sef Gonzales guilty of the three counts of murder with which he had been charged that on 10 July 2001 at North Ryde he had murdered Clodine Gonzales, Mary Loiva Josephine Gonzales and Teddy Gonzales
The Crown submitted, in effect, that the murders committed by the prisoner were objectively heinous, that they fell within the worst class of cases of murder at common law and also fell within s 61(1) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, that there was no circumstance mitigating the objective criminality of the offences and that, with the possible exception of the prisoner’s youth, there was no subjective feature which would mitigate the penalties which should be imposed. Consequently, subject possibly to the prisoner’s youth, maximum sentences of life imprisonment should be imposed.
In support of these submissions the Crown said inter alia that the prisoner had committed three murders; that the victims were the prisoner’s parents and sister; that there had been a high degree of brutality or violence in the commission of the murders; that the murders had been premeditated and planned; that, although the murders had been committed in one criminal episode, there had been distinct intervals of time between the commission of the first and second murders and the commission of the second and third murders; that the prisoner had made searches about poisons and had obtained poisonous seeds with the intention of poisoning his parents and had administered poison to his mother; that he had gone out with Sam Dacillo on the evening of 10 July as part of a plan to create an alibi for himself for at least the time he was with Sam Dacillo and that his going out with Sam Dacillo, so soon after he had committed the murders, demonstrated his callousness;
that he had acted out of the base motives of ridding himself of threats to his way of life and of obtaining an inheritance from his parents; that he had raised false alibis and laid false trails with the intention of misleading police; that he had not pleaded guilty; that he had not shown any contrition; that he had not provided any assistance to law enforcement authorities, indeed, quite the contrary; that he did not have any excuse of having had a deprived background or upbringing; and that he did not suffer from any mental condition which might have mitigated his criminality. The Crown submitted that the only matter which might possibly mitigate the penalties which should be imposed was the prisoner’s young age.
However, the Crown submitted, the present offences were so heinous that the young age of the prisoner should not result in any mitigation of penalty. The court is to impose a sentence of imprisonment for life on a person who is convicted of murder if the court is satisfied that the level of culpability in the commission of the offence is so extreme that the community interest in retribution, punishment, community protection and deterrence can only be met through the imposition of that sentence I do not make any finding that the prisoner has no prospects of rehabilitation. However, I consider that there is a risk of the prisoner re-offending and that there is a risk of future dangerousness.
I base this conclusion on the following matters among others:- The objective facts of the offences; that the prisoner pleaded not guilty; that more than three years after having committed the offences the prisoner continues to maintain his innocence and has not demonstrated any insight into the enormity of the offences he committed or any acceptance of responsibility for the offences; and the high degree of unscrupulousness and duplicity shown by the prisoner in the raising of the false alibis and the laying of the false trails. I take into account the prisoner's young age at the time of committing the offences. He was twenty years old, approaching his twenty-first birthday, and he was in his third year as a university student. ... However, the conclusion I have reached is that the objective facts of the offences and the subjective circumstances of the prisoner are such that I should impose sentences of life imprisonment for the murders. ”.
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