21 January 2019

Child homicide in Queensland: A descriptive analysis of offences finalised by Queensland criminal courts, 2005–06 to 2016–17: Research report

This report provides the findings of research undertaken by the  Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council as part of its review of  sentencing for criminal offences arising from the death of a child (child homicide offences). The majority of child homicides occur in a private location, most often the victim’s home, and particularly for child victims aged under 10 years. Child homicide cases take significantly longer to progress from offence to sentencing than adult homicide cases. Substance misuse and mental health issues are associated with child homicide offenders; however, the contribution of these factors to the homicide event is difficult to determine. Boys and girls are just as likely to have been the victim of child homicide, and a child's greatest risk is in their first year of life, with risk reducing until it again increases during a child’s mid to late teenage years. Patterns in the cause of death are identifiable based on who perpetrated the homicide and the age of the victim. Family members are the most common perpetrators of child homicide, with parents or parent equivalents the most likely offender group; with females representing a higher proportion of perpetrators in the child homicide category than in any other category of homicide. All offenders sentenced by Queensland criminal courts for child homicide over the 12-year period received custodial sentences. Although a majority of sentenced child homicide offenders had previous convictions, most were not for a violent offence. For adult offenders sentenced for homicide, child homicide is more likely than adult homicide to result in a sentence for manslaughter, not murder.