Spotlight on magistrate

THE perceived heavy-handed sentencing under magistrate Darryl Pearce in the Coffs Harbour Local Court has created widespread debate in legal circles and front page exposure in the national press.

Labelled “Fierce Pearce” in one Sydney newspaper, the visiting magistrate’s sentences came under scrutiny after one of the people he sent to prison, Woolgoolga man Ian Klum, was fatally bashed in Grafton Jail.

As The Advocate reported last week, Mr Klum was due to appeal his six-month sentence for disqualified driving in the district court prior to his death in custody.

The Sydney Morning Herald referred to a psychiatric report, which recommended Mr Klum should not be jailed.

Over the past two weeks, the District Court sitting in Coffs Harbour has heard 13 appeals and downgraded the majority of sentences.

Those matters contributed to an extraordinary backlog of cases, leading to 10-hour daily court sittings.

When the District Court returns to Coffs Harbour on July 26, it’s expected another 16 of Magistrate Pearce’s sentences will be appealed.

Labelled an habitual traffic offender by the court, Mr Klum was ordered off the roads until 2030.



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