Carjacking to attract heavy penalties

CRIMINALS who assault someone in order to steal their car could face heavy penalties under new laws tabled in State Parliament yesterday.

Carjacking and aggravated carjacking will be included in the Criminal Code under amendments put forward by Police Minister David O'Byrne.

Carjacking involves assaulting a person in order to steal their car, or taking control of the car while the owner or their passenger is still in it.

It is not currently listed as a crime in Tasmania.

The most recent case in Launceston was dealt with as an assault.

In February 2011 a Launceston man forced a Blackstone Heights woman to drive him to hospital, and then drove off with her four-year- old son still on the back seat when she got out at a police roadblock.

He was jailed for two years.

A government spokesman said the new charges were intended to cover a situation like the Launceston case, where a child was on the back seat, or cases where a person only wanted the car for a short period of time.

He said those scenarios were not covered by the crime of robbery but were more serious than a charge of stealing a motor vehicle, which is dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

Police Association president Pat Allen said the association had not pushed for the change but supported anything that made it easier to prosecute criminals.

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