Clayton James Palmer, who worked under the name “Sienna Fox”, was originally jailed for six years. (Supplied)
WA’s highest court has cut the jail term imposed on a transgender sex worker who was imprisoned in a male jail after being found guilty of infecting a client with HIV.
- Clayton James Palmer had unprotected sex with a man after learning she had HIV
- The Court of Appeal has reduced Palmer’s jail term from six years to four
- She will now be eligible for parole in April next year as opposed to early 2021
Clayton James Palmer, who identifies as a woman, was sentenced to six years in prison after a District Court jury convicted her of causing grievous bodily harm to a man with whom she had unprotected sex in 2014 and 2015.
The victim had responded to online advertisements for sexual services placed by Palmer, who worked using the name “Sienna Fox”.
Her trial was told Palmer had been told by a nurse that she had tested positive to HIV, but she did not respond to repeated attempts to discuss treatment for her and continued to advertise for male clients.
Palmer denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the nurse did not tell her she had HIV, but a jury found her guilty after about four hours of deliberations.
The sentencing judge took into account that jail would be more onerous for Palmer because she would be held in a male prison.
However, he said the offence was very serious and Palmer had breached her duty of care to the victim.
A ‘manifestly excessive’ jail term
Palmer lodged an appeal against the length of the jail term and the Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision, agreed to cut the six-year term to four years.
In its judgment, the Appeal Court ruled the six-year term was “severe” and “manifestly excessive”, saying there were substantial mitigating factors which meant the sentence should be reduced.
They included submissions that Palmer had gone from a “stance of denial” about her diagnosis to a “stance of acceptance”, and that she was now receiving treatment and posed no ongoing risk to the community.
The court also found that being held in a male prison meant Palmer would “experience hardship beyond that experienced by mainstream prisoners”, although it noted that that since being sentenced last year, Palmer had been moved from “the Crisis Care Unit” of the jail to “the Special Protection Unit” where conditions were less restrictive.
“The appellant can now access gender neutral toiletry products and has been provided with female underwear. However, prisoners located in the SPU require a high degree of protection, given the risk associated with their circumstances.”
The ruling means Palmer, who was not in court for the decision, will eligible for parole in April next year as opposed to early 2021, which would have been her earliest release date under the original sentence.