Sentencing offenders with personality disorders: A critical analysis of DPP (Vic) v O'Neill

Jamie Mark Walvisch, Andrew Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In DPP (Vic) v O'Neill, the Victorian Court of Appeal held that personality disorders do not constitute an 'impairment of mental functioning', and so should not mitigate an offender's sentence. In doing so, it significantly limited the scope of the Verdins principles: The principles that govern the sentencing of offenders with mental health problems in all Australian jurisdictions, as well as in New Zealand. This article critiques the O'Neill decision. It argues that the Court's approach misunderstands the nature of personality disorders and improperly relies on a definition of 'impaired mental functioning' that fails to take into account the diverse ways in which mental health problems may be relevant to the sentencing process. It suggests a different approach to sentencing offenders with personality disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-444
Number of pages28
JournalMelbourne University Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Criminal Law
  • Mental Health
  • Sentencing
  • Personality Disorders

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