Baby murderer Harley Hicks seeks to appeal sentence

BACKGROUND: The Harley Hicks trial - the case day by day

Today's developments outside the Bendigo Law Courts after baby killer Harley Hicks had his application to appeal sentence refused by the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal. Casey Veal speaks of her relief at the decision.

UPDATE 11.40am: The mother of baby Zayden Veal-Whitting says the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal made the right decision in refusing an application by her son's killer to appeal his sentence, but no amount of time behind bars will bring closure for her family.

The court was unable to see any flaw in the life sentence with a 32 year non-parole period set for Hicks, who bludgeoned 10-month-old Zayden to death whilst committing a series of burglaries overnight on June 14/15, 2012.

Casey Veal says while she is relieved at today's decision, nothing will ever bring her baby boy back.

"It helps us to know .... that it is done, now ... but it doesn't really help us very much, no length of time will.''

Ms Veal says she is relieved the age of the killer at the time of the murder was not taken into account by the court.

"We were a little bit worried that maybe his age would come into consideration," she said.

"Zayden was an infant, (who) never learnt to walk, let alone have a first birthday ... he (Hicks) is crying about never being accepted into society as an adult, but my son never got to be an adult.

"His older brother is going to grow up to be an adult and he will have his own problems adjusting because of his own issues missing his little brother.

"We think this decision is right and we hope our family will become normal again and try and focus on Xavier, and his schooling.

"Hopefully this can be behind us and we can focus on the positives of Zayden.''

HICKS SENTENCE WILL NEVER END FAMILY'S PAIN: A look back on the trial.

Casey Veal speaks to media outside the Bendigo Law Courts following today's Supreme Court of Victoria, Court of Appeal decision to refuse an application by her son's killer to appeal sentence.

Casey Veal speaks to media outside the Bendigo Law Courts following today's Supreme Court of Victoria, Court of Appeal decision to refuse an application by her son's killer to appeal sentence.

UPDATE 10.41am: Harley Hicks' application to appeal his sentence has been refused.

The Supreme Court, Court of Appeal says there are no flaws in the sentence set for Hicks. Read more about the sentencing here.

UPDATE 10.40am: Justice Ashley says there's no doubt the judge found this case to be very difficult in terms of sentencing.

UPDATE 10.38am: Justice Ashley is now addressing whether 32 years non-parole was manifestly excessive.

UPDATE 10.37am: Justice Ashley says his honour was not obliged to treat this particular murder as being less heinous than the killing by a parent.

UPDATE 10.35am: The Court does not accept a planned killing of a child is more grave than the killing of a child by an unknown adult.

Justice Ashley says there is an absence of explanation in this case and protection of community was a consideration.

UPDATE 10.30am: Justice Ashley is now addressing ground one.

He says Hicks had a non-violent option of leaving through the front door.

Here is ground one: The applicant's age; the risks to the applicant while in custody in the light of the nature of the offence; the applicant’s likely permanent status as a protection prisoner; the chaotic, abusive and traumatic background against which the applicant’s personality was wrought; the fact that that those chaotic and abusive forces that shaped the applicant’s character were entirely visited upon him by the adult world and not of his making; 

Hicks is also arguing the fact that the killing took place without planning but was instead spontaneous and impulsive; the absence of features of vengeance and premeditation that attend the comparable of cases where children are victims of murder. 

UPDATE 10.26am: Ground two was 'not reasonably argued'.

Here was ground two of Hicks' application: The learned sentencing Judge erred by aggravating the sentence upon a finding of the absence of remorse. 

UPDATE 10.24am: Justice Ashley is now reading a summary of the grounds on which Hicks is seeking appeal.

You can read the grounds for which he is seeking appeal here.  

UPDATE 10.15am: Justice Ashley is reading a summary of matters Justice Kaye considered in sentencing Hicks.

Read more about the plea hearing of May 2014 here.

UPDATE 10.11am: He said the sentencing judge, Justice Stephen Kaye, said the crime was among the worst cases of offences of murder which come before the courts.

UPDATE 10.10am: Justice Ashley is reading a summary of the trial and the horrific events of the night of June 14/15, 2012.

UPDATE 10.03am: Justice David Ashley has started delivering the judgement.

He says Hicks has exercised his statutory right to seek appeal.

UPDATE 10am: And court has begun.

UPDATE 9.50am: Zayden's family has arrived at court, with his mother Casey Veal and extended family wearing Zayden's army T-shirts.

Zayden's family has arrived at court, with mother Casey Veal and extended family wearing Zayden's army T-shirts.

Zayden's family has arrived at court, with mother Casey Veal and extended family wearing Zayden's army T-shirts.

EARLIER: Today we will be bringing you live updates again, as Supreme Court justices Simon Whelan, David Ashley and David Beach announce whether Harley Hicks can appeal his sentence.

Hicks was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 32 years for the brutal murder of 10-month-old Zayden Veal-Whitting, whom he bludgeoned to death with a homemade baton whilst committing a number of burglaries overnight on June 14/15, 2012.

He is appealing the 32-year non-parole period set down by sentencing justice, Stephen Kaye.

Hicks is arguing his non-parole period is manifestly excessive because of his age, the risks to him in custody, his abusive upbringing, the killing was spontaneous and that the sentencing judge "erred by aggravating the sentence upon a finding of the absence of remorse''.  You can read the grounds for which he is seeking appeal here.  

Yesterday, Hicks' lawyers argued the 32-year non-parole period was manifestly excessive and would lead to "utter helplessness" for the killer.

On behalf of the Crown, barrister Susan Borg argued justice required a substantial non-parole jail period for the brutal murder of a defenceless baby.

You can read more about what happened on Tuesday below...

Hicks lawyers argue for appeal

Zayden's family has faith in justice system

Live from the courtroom...

UPDATE 11.40am: The court will give judgement tomorrow morning as to whether Harley Hicks can appeal his sentence.

UPDATE 11.25am: She said when comparing this killing to other child murders, this case was different as "what we have here ... Leaves you cold, there is no explanation".

Ms Borg said cases such as Robert Farquharson were fuelled by anger, betrayal and feelings of entitlement.

Ms Borg said Hicks sought to blame innocent people, including his twin brother, for the crime.

Harley Hicks' twin brother, Ashley, arrives at court.

Harley Hicks' twin brother, Ashley, arrives at court.

UPDATE 11.22am: Ms Borg said Hicks was young at the time of the offence, but his youth had to give way to the other sentencing considerations, including his prior criminal history, poor prospects for rehabilitation and that he was a danger to the community.

UPDATE 11.17am: Ms Borg said when confronted by a child that was no threat to him at all, he used the baton but chose not to use it on an adult.

UPDATE 11.13am: Ms Borg said Hicks already had $2000 cash before going into the baby's room and unplugging a baby monitor.

She said it was "unnecessary to hit him and to hit him 32 times" particularly given he had earlier fled when confronted by an adult at another property.

UPDATE 11.10am: The Crown is now addressing the court.

Representing the Crown, Sue Borg said justice required a non parole period of 32 years.

UPDATE 11.02am: Mr Hallowes said “We concede it's not one blow ... But what we say is it's still in a different category” to a killing that is planned for weeks before.  

Defence lawyer David Hallowes arrives at court.

Defence lawyer David Hallowes arrives at court.

UPDATE 10.56am: Mr Hallowes said Hicks did not set out that night intending to commit a heinous crime, not "to commit a killing of this nature".

He said the crime itself was spontaneous.

Hicks is arguing his non-parole period is manifestly excessive because of his age, the risks to him in custody, his abusive upbringing, the killing was spontaneous and that the sentencing judge "erred by aggravating the sentence upon a finding of the absence of remorse''. Read more on the grounds for which he is seeking appeal here.

UPDATE 10.50am: Mr Hallowes said Hicks was a young man at the time of the offences.

He said he would be a young man who would spend at least 32 years and 9 months in custody and spend practically no time as an adult as a free man.

He said Hicks would always have a life sentence hanging over him.  

Mr Hallowes said for a person that age to spend 32 years non parole was excessive.

UPDATE 10.43am: Mr Hallowes says there are a number of cases where a life sentence has been imposed that have a much lower non parole period set than the one imposed on the applicant.

UPDATE 10.41am: In court are Zayden's mother, Casey Veal, stepmother, Michelle Kneebone, and Zayden's extended family.

Zayden's mother, Casey Veal, arrives at court with Zayden's extended family.

Zayden's mother, Casey Veal, arrives at court with Zayden's extended family.

UPDATE 10.36am: Defence lawyer David Hallowes has started putting the case for appeal on behalf of baby murderer Harley Hicks to the Supreme Court.

Hicks was last year sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 32 years for the brutal murder of 10-month-old baby, Zayden Veal-Whitting. 

EARLIER: Lawyers for baby killer Harley Hicks will today put his case for appeal to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court of Victoria, Court of Appeal justices Simon Whelan, David Ashley and David Beach will hear three matters whilst in Bendigo, including Hicks' application seeking leave to appeal sentence. 

ON CIRCUIT: Supreme Court of Victoria, Court of Appeal justices Simon Whelan, David Ashley and David Beach.

ON CIRCUIT: Supreme Court of Victoria, Court of Appeal justices Simon Whelan, David Ashley and David Beach.

Hicks was last year sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 32 years for the brutal murder of 10-month-old baby, Zayden Veal-Whitting. 

We'll have live updates from the court room from 10.30am today.

Click here for all our coverage of the Harley Hicks trial.

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