Former corporate titan Ron Brierley has had his jail sentence for possessing child abuse material slashed after the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal heard he is in “seriously declining health” and there have been difficulties treating his ailments in custody.
In a decision on Tuesday afternoon, Justices Robert Beech-Jones, Ian Harrison and Des Fagan quashed a prison sentence imposed on Brierley in October last year and resentenced him to a maximum of 10 months behind bars with a non-parole period of four months.
The judges had been told about the 84-year-old’s declining health in custody, including the inability of prison health services to change dressings on a large wound after Brierley had a skin cancer cut out of his leg.
Although medical advice was for Brierley to spend three weeks in hospital after the surgery, which required a skin graft, he was instead sent back to his cell and had to rely on another prisoner for assistance. This resulted in the stitches breaking, the court heard.
During submissions on Tuesday, Justice Fagan said the resources of Justice Health were “obviously desperately stretched” and it was “a very concerning situation that has developed”.
“The difference between being hospitalised for three weeks … and on the other hand being returned to one’s cell to be intermittently attended to by one’s cellmate is very, very significant in an elderly man,” Justice Fagan said.
“The resources of Justice Health to deal with a geriatric prisoner are stretched beyond capability, at least with respect to this man.”
Brierley was jailed in October last year for 14 months, with a non-parole period of seven months, after he pleaded guilty to three charges of possessing child abuse material, including images of young girls in sexualised poses.
He against the sentence on several grounds, including that the sentencing judge incorrectly took into account that Brierley had possessed the images “for a appealing period of time”, which did not form part of the charges against him.