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    Troy Buswell, the former West Australian Treasurer, has narrowly avoided jail for domestic violence charges.

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      Former Treasurer Troy Buswell Avoids Jail for Domestic Violence Charges

      Troy Buswell, the former West Australian Treasurer, has narrowly avoided jail for domestic violence charges.

      The 56-year-old was sentenced to a suspended term of imprisonment after pleading guilty partway through a trial after negotiations. He was also fined.

      The complainant was police officer Melissa Hankinson, who had been dating the former treasurer since November 2014 and married Mr Buswell in March 2016. 

      Ongoing Domestic Violence

      Troy Buswell pleaded guilty to three domestic violence offences against Melissa Hankinson.

      The first common assault was in March 2016, after their attendance at a football match.

      When Mr Buswell caught Ms Hankinson smoking, he pushed her down a flight of steps and prodded her with a broom.

      The second assault was on Valentine’s Day 2016 when he used a slotted spoon to hit her arm.

      The most serious assault occurred later that month, about four weeks before their wedding.

      Mr Buswell kicked her in the legs in a taxi, and then, at his mother’s home, pushed her in the face and repeatedly kicked her in the ribs, legs and buttocks.

      No Jail

      While the assaults were described as “cowardly” and “brazen”, he was only sentenced to a suspended sentence of eight and a half months’ imprisonment. He was also fined $2,500.

      The prosecutor described the assaults as, “cowardly, disgraceful and deserving of considerable punishment.”

      The assaults had an emotional impact on Ms Hankinson. Due to her role as a police officer, she was ashamed of what was happening.

      “She was dealing with victims of crime…yet it was going on in her home and she did nothing about it…What does it say when a police officer gets assaulted by their partner and is too concerned to report it?”

      Ms Hankinson’s victim impact statement explained that she blamed herself for the domestic violence offences and thought she deserved it. She still had nightmares about the assaults and relived them in her mind.

      At the trial, she was cross-examined over a number of days. This was described as “traumatising”.

      However, Buswell’s criminal defence lawyer said the assaults occurred in the context of a strained and difficult relationship. It was argued that there was “some degree of physicality by both parties.”

      The marriage was described as, “a mistake from start to finish between two parties who never really got on”.

      It was claimed that both parties drank alcohol excessively at the time. Since then, Mr Buswell had stopped consuming alcohol.

      The court also heard that the 56-year-old suffered from bipolar disorder, which “may have been related to the commission of the offences.”

      Buswell was remorseful and there was no indication he was predisposed to violence. The court received a reference from his first wife which stated he “rarely if ever got angry” during their relationship.

      Magistrate’s Decision

      Magistrate Evan Shackleton found that it was an aggravating factor that the assaults occurred in a domestic setting.

      However, Troy Buswell was a person of prior good character and had no relevant criminal record.

      Further, His Honour found that the guilty pleas avoided the need for the trial to continue. It also saved witnesses, including Ms Hankinson’s child, from having to give evidence.

      At the time of the offences, Buswell was not compliant with his medication. This was further exacerbated by drinking alcohol.

      That had now changed and reports assessed the risk of Buswell committing any further offences of a similar nature to be extremely low.

      Magistrate Shackleton said while the first two assaults were at the low end of the scale, the third assault was so serious it could only be dealt with by way of a term of imprisonment.

      Domestic Violence Offences

      Domestic violence lawyers in Sydney explain that a first offence will generally be dealt with more leniently by the Court. A list of 10,728 first offence common assault dv sentencing cases in the Local Court suggests that you will be far more likely to receive a Section 10 dismissal if you have no prior record.

      However, there are still a large amount of individuals who are convicted despite it being their first offence. That is why it is important that you contact experienced Sydney common assault lawyers so that they can prepare your case in such a way that you will be in the best position possible to receive a Section 10. Call Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823 or email us at

      While it is ultimately up to the Magistrate or Judge as to what domestic violence sentence you will receive, there are sentencing statistics that can be helpful in providing some guidance. We have obtained a list of 27,618 cases in the Local Court which provide a range:

      • Section 10 dismissal: 27%
      • Fine: 15%
      • Section 9 good behaviour bond: 41%
      • Community Service Order: 3%
      • Section 12 suspended sentence (no longer used for NSW offences): 5%
      • Intensive Corrections Order: 1%
      • Home Detention: 0%
      • Full Time Imprisonment: 6%

      While jail is a possibility, only 6% of offenders are sentenced to full-time imprisonment. More significantly, the overwhelming majority of offenders received convictions for this offence. The rate of convictions increases for common assault domestic violence charges. Contact us now so that we can help you avoid a criminal conviction.

      Section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) sets out that common assault is an act whereby a person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence.

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