A County Court judge has criticised the mandatory sentencing that applies to people smuggling offences. The comments came during a plea hearing for a refugee who was found guilty of helping other refugees, including his family, enter Australia. Judge Dean suggested the mandatory penalty would create injustice: “One can understand why it happened and why a person would want to assist their own family or his wife’s family to travel or leave circumstances of persecution. It’s not lawful but it’s certainly explicable. He goes to prison and they are permanent residents.” The offender must be sentenced to a head sentence of at least five years, and a non-parole period of at least three years. Late last year, the High Court ruled that the sentencing regime was valid.