You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Anger as NSW cop killer's term slashed

AAP logoAAP 11/12/2016 Margaret Scheikowski

The family of a murdered NSW policeman say they have been "kicked in the guts" by a decision to slash the jail term of his young mentally ill killer.

Mitchell Barbieri's non-parole period of 26 years was cut to 15 in a majority decision of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal on Monday.

The move was condemned by the family of Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson and the NSW Police Association, whose president said: "The thin blue line has got a lot thinner."

Meanwhile, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has urged the Director of Public Prosecutions to pursue an appeal in the High Court.

Barbieri, then 19, was sharing mental delusions with his mother when he stabbed Det Insp Anderson twice in the chest with a hunting knife during a siege at the pair's rural Sydney property in December 2012.

Fiona Barbieri was given a non-parole period of six-and-a-half years for manslaughter.

Police seized a large volume of material from their squalid, isolated home, among them letters to leaders around the world, including the Russian president.

They revealed "a complex delusional belief system alleging corruption, persecution and perceived grievances of a wide-ranging nature", according to a psychiatrist.

Speaking outside court, the victim's brother Warwick Anderson said the family wasn't satisfied, but had understood the original sentence for the "spineless and cowardly act".

"We came here today and were - to use my father's words - kicked in the guts by the decision that came down today," he said.

"How any informed member of the community could possibly think a sentence of 15 years for someone who stabs to death a policeman who turns up to help other people is what the community expects is absolutely beyond belief."

Justices Carolyn Simpson and Lucy McCallum said the sentencing judge erred when considering the severe mental illness of Barbieri, who pleaded guilty to murder.

They said it made no difference that his illness was secondary to that of his mother's or that he recovered after being separated from her.

"His mental illness diminished his moral culpability to a very significant degree," said Justice Simpson.

"The evidence persuades me that the applicant is genuinely remorseful, that he has accepted responsibility for his conduct, and that this indicates that he is unlikely to reoffend."

The court also found Barbieri's sentence was disproportionate to that imposed on his mother.

"The circumstances of his life were such that he had not had the opportunity to develop even the maturity that might be expected of an average 19-year-old," Justice Simpson said.

"He lived alone on a rural property with a mentally ill mother whose delusions he came to share."

Outside court, Scott Weber, president of the NSW Police Association, described the court's decision as "disgusting" and called for an appeal.

The court reduced Barbieri's overall term from 35 years to 21 years three months.

The dissenting judge, Justice Derek Price, agreed the sentencing judge made errors but found the mental illness did not substantially reduce Barbieri's moral culpablity.

He proposed reducing the sentence to 32 years with a non-parole period of 24.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon