Queensland rape sentence reduced on appeal

Aaron Bunch

A murderer who raped a Brisbane woman twice and indecently assaulted another has had his sentence reduced on appeal after claiming it was heavy-handed.

Shane Antoni Symss, now 42, was sentenced in 2019 to 16 years' imprisonment for rape, assault, breaking and entering, and stealing after he attacked the women in 1996, aged 18.

His first victim was a single mother-of-two aged 33 that he threatened with a screwdriver as he blindfolded, gagged and raped her twice in her Logan unit.

One of her young sons almost interrupted the attack but the woman put herself between him and Symss, telling him to return to his bed while the assailant hid.

Symss attacked his second victim, then 70, in her bed at her Mt Gravatt home, where she lived alone.

At knifepoint, he tied her up and tried to lift up her blouse, but the woman grabbed the blade and swung at Symss, who fled.

DNA evidence identified Symss as the assailant but not before he had moved to NSW where he smothered and stabbed an elderly widow in 1998.

He was sentenced in 2001 to 22 years' imprisonment for the murder and remains in custody.

Symss was charged with raping and assaulting the 33-year old woman in 2009 and assaulting the 70-year-old woman in 2011.

He pleaded guilty to the charges in 2019 and was sentenced to 16 years, which was to be served after his murder sentence.

Through his lawyer, Symss argued the term was "too harsh to be just or fair" because it would result in him serving 36 years in prison, with a release date of 2035 when he was aged 57.

The Queensland Court of Appeal agreed, saying that imprisoning a person from aged 24 to almost 60 "is to inflict a punishment that is so harsh that it must be ameliorated".

"Such mercy is not a reflection of (Symss') characteristics or his deserts. It reflects the attitude of our community," Justice Walter Sofronoff QC said.

Symss sentence was reduced to 10 years' imprisonment on Friday. He will be eligible for parole in 2023 after serving 40 per cent.