Old laws dictate Ken Cannon's sentence for 1986 Wagga rape


SERIAL rapist and killer Ken Cannon could serve as little as two years more in jail for the knife point sexual assault of a teenager in Wagga 28 years ago.

That's because Cannon must be sentenced according to the laws at the time, which prescribed a maximum 10 years' jail for his offence.

When other complicated legal factors and a hefty discount for Cannon's early guilty plea are taken into account, the penalty may pale into significance compared to the 20-year sentence prescribed now.

"I have to look at the maximum penalty at the time, the sentencing regime at the time, which isn't the sentencing regime now," Judge Deborah Payne said in Wagga District Court, where Cannon appeared in person on Thursday for the start of sentencing submissions.

"I hope that is very clear, the law is the law and I have to uphold the law."

The attack in Bolton Park on November 8, 1986, was the first of three known rapes of young Wagga women by Cannon while armed with a knife.

Two victims escaped with their lives, but one - Sally Jones - was stabbed to death by Cannon in April, 1987, and her body was dragged into the Murrumbidgee River at the Wiradjuri Reserve.

The third victim was attacked in May, 1990, and Cannon was sentenced for that crime in 1991 after being jailed for Ms Jones's murder.

He still has about six years to serve for the 1990 rape.

Cannon was charged with the 1986 attack in February this year after a police cold case team linked DNA taken from the victim's underpants with Cannon's profile.

He pleaded guilty in Wagga Local Court on August 6 to sexual assault without consent and has adhered to that plea in the District Court.

Cannon, with receding grey hair and tinted prescription glasses, fidgeted with some documents in the dock while his 1986 victim sat only a few metres behind him in the public gallery.

Aged just 15 when she was assaulted, the woman travelled from interstate for the sentencing hearing.

Judge Payne told Crown representative Rennae Gee and defence counsel Michael King that Cannon's sentence for the 1986 crime would have to start when his current sentence expires.

Because of the complex legal issues at the heart of sentencing, Judge Payne said she could not finalise the matter before the end of the District Court's current Wagga sittings on Friday.

"It's not going to finish this sittings ... I don't have any time tomorrow," Judge Payne said.

She adjourned the case to the March sittings of Griffith District Court.

It is possible the case may not end even then, and Judge Payne may have to take it with her to Albury in April.