Penal provisions

R v Grundy [2021] SASCA 4

This case confirms that, even if the old rule about construing offence provisions in favour of the accused is one of last resort and has lost much of its importance7, it may apply where ambiguity persists8.  The defendant had been found guilty of possessing a gun without a licence, for which the maximum penalty was a $35K fine or imprisonment for 7 years.

The DPP argued that he could not serve his sentence of 9 months as home detention – rejected.  While the court conceded that the construction task was ‘not straightforward’, it found that home detention could be ordered for a ‘serious firearms offence’9.  A hard analysis of the legislation also supported this.

This principle is from Episode 71 of interpretation NOW!


7 Pearce 9th ed (at [9.10-9.13]), cf Episodes 25, 35 & 50.

8 (at [42]), A2 [2019] HCA 35 (at [52]), Somerville [2020] NSWCCA 93.

9 s 70(1)(b)(ii)(D) of the Sentencing Act 2017 (SA), cf Bennett [2021] NTCCA 2.