Lawyer frustrated at lack of treatment

A LAUNCESTON lawyer has questioned why drug treatment orders aren't available as sentencing options in the Supreme Court.

Defence counsel Adrian Hall expressed frustration in court yesterday about the number of clients whose offending was driven by drug habits.

Mr Hall represented three young men yesterday whose criminal behaviour followed a similar pattern of law-breaking to fund drug addiction, mainly methamphetamines.

"It almost makes defence counsel obsolete in cases like this, there's not a whole lot I can say about it," he said during one plea mitigation.

"He's youthful, he's troubled, he's got a drug problem."

Drug treatment orders are available only in the Magistrates Court for offenders whose crimes are principally motived by drug addiction.

In such cases a prison sentence is deferred while the offender undergoes drug rehab.

If they fail the program they must then serve the prison sentence.

The orders are not available for crimes involving violence.

Yesterday Opposition justice spokeswoman Vanessa Goodwin said drug treatment orders would be explored "as part of the broader review of sentencing options" if the Liberals were elected.

However, Labor immediately ruled out any expansion of the orders "because matters before the Supreme Court are of an extremely serious nature, where guilt or innocence is determined by a jury".

"In my view [it would be] inappropriate," Attorney-General Brian Wightman said.

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