Stalker receives shorter sentence cut after Today Tonight segment

A judge today said she had changed the sentence she planned to give a stalker, whose victim believed he was going to kill her, after the case was featured on Channel Seven's Today Tonight.

County Court judge Felicity Hampel was going to sentence David Smith, 40, from Torquay, last Thursday until she was told he had been threatened by other prisoners in the Melbourne Remand Centre after the program was aired on Monday November 26. His picture was broadcast as part of the segment.

Smith had been moved into protective custody involving 23-hour-a-day lockdown because of the threats. He will now serve any future jail sentence in protection.

Judge Hampel said last week she had to decide if Smith deserved a reduced sentence now that he had been the subject of threats and been placed in protection, which could be viewed as an added punishment.

Smith would be kept away from the mainstream prison population and spend up to 23 hours a day in his cell.

Today, the judge said she had moderated Smith's sentence to take into account the fact he would serve his jail time in protection.

"Prisoners in protection do not have access to the same opportunities, in programs, visits and time out of cells or in contact with other prisoners as do those in mainstream. I accept that makes prison more onerous," Judge Hampel said.

The judge however said she did not believe she should moderate Smith's sentence because he had been identified and "exposed to the condemnation your conduct rightly deserves by larger audience".

She jailed Smith for a total of three years and three months with a non-parole period of two years and one month.

The judge did not say how she had moderated Smith's sentence.

Smith had pleaded guilty to one count each of burglary, criminal damage and stalking.

His victim, known as Kate, was interviewed by Today Tonight for a story questioning whether apprehended violence orders protected women.

Kate had been visiting her dying grandmother in Wodonga when Smith, who had been in a relationship with her mother for 10 years, broke into her apartment on May 25 and lay in wait for her for 14 hours.

She told the program: "There was graffiti on the walls, photos of me had been smashed, and cigarette butts put out on (photos of) my face. There were tarot cards left out - death and justice sitting there for me on my dresser.

"He had urinated inside my wardrobe; he'd pulled all of my clothes out, all of my drawers they were all over the floor - he'd urinated all over those. He'd used my underwear as toilet paper, there was faeces everywhere.

"Inside my lounge room he had had some restraints, a funnel and a soldering iron to torture me."

Judge Hampel said today Smith had contacted Kate on a number of occasions in May after taking exception to the way he perceived she had treated his parents at an earlier family function.

When Kate told him she did not want to see him, Smith went to her Melbourne apartment and destroyed it.

"This was not just an angry act of wanton destruction of property. It was wholesale, deliberate invasion of her home ... and violation of her privacy in every way imaginable," the judge said.

Smith sent Kate an SMS text message the day after the attack which said, "Hey (Kate) You are one really disturbed unit - PULL YOUR F...ING HEAD IN BITCH! Thanks for making me feel such a part of the family. You really should have apologised for bagging my family ... PS I hope you like what I have done with the place. It only took me 14 hours.

"That was going to happen to you too C... - lucky for you I got tired of waiting.

"I guess it just wasn't in the cards for you to die last night? Love as always - your good friend - Dave".

Police later found a bag filled with tools including a crow bar, drill, soldering iron, cable ties and a knife that Smith had left at the property.

The story Stalker receives shorter sentence cut after Today Tonight segment first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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