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Case study: Wildlife trafficker has sentence increased on appeal

The CDPP successfully appealed the sentence handed down to former Rugby League football player Martin Kennedy for wildlife smuggling, arguing that it was manifestly inadequate.

Mr Kennedy was initially sentenced in June 2019 to three years’ imprisonment, to be served by way of an intensive correction order, requiring him to perform 700 hours of community service. At the time of the appeal, Mr Kennedy had already performed approximately 500 hours of this total.

Martin Kennedy pleaded guilty to six offences in total:

  • Two related to his attempts to export 33 live shingleback lizards and 10 live native turtles to Sweden.
  • Two related to his import and attempts to import from Thailand 23 Chinese softshell turtles, 15 live alligator snapping turtles, 11 neo‑tropical stingrays, 10 live snakehead fish and 58 dead ones, two live sugar gliders and 18 dead ones, as well as 15 dead veiled chameleons.
  • One related to his illegal possession of two pythons at his Sydney home.
  • One related to his dealing with the proceeds of crime, being $43,550 in cash, which was located hidden in his freezer in his Bondi home in March 2017.

On appeal, the CDPP argued that general deterrence, denunciation, and the protection of the community are critical principles of sentencing when prosecuting cases under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act). The CDPP submitted that offending that threatens native species and Australia’s biodiversity warrants strong punishment.

On 18 October 2019 the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal increased Mr Kennedy’s sentence to four years’ imprisonment with a non‑ parole period of two years and six months.

The court said: “The speed with which this appeal was brought, the seriousness of the criminal conduct represented not only by the individual breaches of the EPBC Act, but by the range of regulated native specimens the respondent attempted to export and the range and type of regulated live specimens he imported or attempted to import, and the guidance the sentence provides as a principled approach to sentencing for offending of that kind, strongly suggests that the sentence in this case would have significant utility in providing guidance to sentencing courts in the future.”