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Ian Dobinson


Prior to joining the faculty in 2004, Ian Dobinson was an Associate Professor at the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong. He had also taught at Mitchell College, Bathurst (now Charles Sturt University) and been a Research Officer with the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

Ian has written, researched and taught extensively in the areas of criminal law and criminal justice. His major research 1983- 89 on Drugs and Crime in Australia remains an important pioneering work in the area.

During his 13 years in Hong Kong, Ian developed a keen interest in Chinese Criminal Law and, since arriving at UTS, has developed both research and teaching links with leading law schools in China.  Since 2007, he has taught the popular elective of Advanced Criminal Law.   This has also supported his ongoing research on topics such as involuntary manslaughter and criminal defence law.

Image of Ian Dobinson
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law
BA (UNSW), LLB (UNSW), LLM (Hons) (Syd)
+61 2 9514 9664

Research Interests

  • "Sports Courts", Statutory Fund Grant (with D. Thorpe, UTS)
  • "The Unreasonable, Reasonable Person", Statutory Fund Grant (with L. Townsley, UTS)
  • Chinese Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Involuntary manlasughter
  • Criminal deeences

  • Criminal Law
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Punishment and Sentencing
  • Police and Policing
  • Prosecutional Discretion
  • Chinese Criminal Law and Procedure


McConville, M., Choong, S., Choy Dick Wan, P., Chui Wing Hong, E., Dobinson, I.R. & Jones, C. 2011, Criminal Justice in China - An Empirical Inquiry, First, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK.
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Dobinson, I.R. 2013, 'The guilty plea: an Australian/Chinese comparison' in McConville, M. & Pils, E. (eds), Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, United Kingdom, pp. 187-208.
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Dobinson, I.R. 2013, 'Doctors who kill or harm their patients: the Australian experience' in Griffiths, D. & Sanders, A. (eds), Bioethics, Medicine and the Criminal Law Volume II, Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, pp. 248-264.
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Dobinson, I.R. & Johns, F. 2007, 'Qualitative Legal Research' in McOnville, M. & Chui, W.H. (eds), Research Methods for Law, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK, pp. 1-239.
Dobinson, I.D. & Johns, F. 2007, 'Qualitative legal research' in Research Methods for Law, pp. 16-45.


Townsley, L. & Dobinson, I.R. 2007, 'The Not So Ordinary, Reasonable person or the man From Clapham Just Got Off the Bus', Australasian Law Teachers Association : Law and Public Policy: Taming the Unruly Horse?, ALTA, Australasian Law Teachers Association, University of Western Australia, pp. 1-25.
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In Crime, Reason and History Alan Norrie argues that criminal law is neither rational nor principled, so that the extraordinary is as much the norm as the ordinary.1 In a subsequent article, Norrie seeks to use the objective test in provocation to demonstrate his point. As Norrie states,2 this has led, in England, to the apparent but somewhat irrational recognition in law of a reasonable glue sniffer,3 reasonable immature person4 and a reasonable obsessive.5 It is possible to add others such as the reasonable battered woman6 and reasonable depressive.7 In referring to the Australian High Court case of Stingel v R,8 Norrie further suggests that this case recognizes the existence of the reasonable erotomaniac.9 While we do not necessarily agree with Norries specific assertions regarding provocation we do agree that role of the reasonable or ordinary person in criminal law is both contentious and problematic.

Journal articles

Dobinson, I.R. & Elliott, E. 2014, 'A Householder's Right to Kill or Injure under the Crime and Courts Act 2013: An Australian Comparison', The Journal of Criminal Law, vol. 78, pp. 80-97.
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Section 43 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 has amended s. 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 such that a person may be acquitted in a case of self-defence in his or her own home where he or she uses disproportionate, but not grossly disproportionate, force against an intruder. This extends to circumstances where a householder intentionally kills such an intruder. This amendment, a result of Conservative Party policy, appears to be based on populist appeal and a response to certain high-profile cases. By comparison, Australian home invasion legislation imposes limitations on the rights of a householder to kill in circumstances such as a home invasion. In addition, a number of Australian jurisdictions provide for a partial defence of excessive self-defence. Section 43 provides only that the disproportionate force used by a householder be reasonable in the circumstances as the householder believed them to be. Further to this, the amendments are vague, ambiguous and likely to create significant uncertainty.
Dobinson, I.R. 2011, 'Drug Supply, Self Administration and Manslaughter: An Australian Perspective', Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association, vol. 4, no. 1 & 2, pp. 41-52.
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Dobinson, I.R. & Thorpe, D.E. 2009, 'What's Wrong With the Commissioner? Some Lessons from Downunder', Seton Hall Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 105-148.
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Dobinson, I.R. 2009, 'Medical Manslaughter', University of Queensland Law Journal, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 101-112.
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Townsley, L. & Dobinson, I.R. 2008, 'Sexual assault law reform in New South Wales: Issues of consent and objective fault', Criminal Law Journal, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 152-166.
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The purpose of this article is to assess the recent reforms to the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) in relation to sexual assault. Two of the main reasons for reform were to increase the reporting of sexual assault and to increase conviction rates. It is not possible to assess the impact of the reforms on these two factors; as such, the article focuses on the legal changes and their predictive impact upon the proof of liability for sexual assault offences. Specifically, it assesses the statutory definition of consent, the expansion of the circumstances whereby consent would be negated or vitiated, and the adoption of an objective fault element. The article also considers, where relevant, the current law on sexual assault in other Australian jurisdictions, as well the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.
Dobinson, I.R. & Chiu, T. 2005, 'Access and Equity: The New South Wales Court Interpreter Service', Current Issues in Criminal Justice, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 30-46.
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Lo, S.H., Dobinson, I.R. & Wing, C. 2004, 'Sentencing for Drug Offences in Hong Kong: An Overview', Hong Kong Law Journal, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 13-45.
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Dobinson, I. 1993, 'Pinning a Tail on the Dragon: The Chinese and the International Heroin Trade', Crime & Delinquency, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 373-384.
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This article discusses some widely held misconceptions about the involvement of Chinese criminals in international heroin trafficking. The evidence considered in the article undermines those claims that large, interlinked syndicates control heroin distribution from the source to the street and also that the triads are heavily involved in the heroin trade. The implications of these data are briefly considered. © 1993, SAGE PERIODICALS PRESS. All rights reserved.
Dobinson, I. & Ward, P. 1986, 'Heroin and property crime: An australian perspective', Journal of Drug Issues, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 249-262.
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The study described in this article was based on the interviews of 225 prison property offenders in New South Wales gaols. It provides information on the relationship between the commission of crimes, such as armed robbery and burglary, and the regular use of heroin, as well as profiling the behaviour of one identifiable sample of users. © 1986, Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. All rights reserved.
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