Posted by: jkirkby8712 | March 28, 2011

Monday, 28th March 2011 – when murder is murder!!

I find it inconceivable that a jury currently sitting in Melbourne is unable to agree on a murder  verdict, where there is no question that the crime was not committed, but because of the views of pychiatrists and pyschologists, etc, claims of insanity at the time appear to alter the ‘seriousness’ of the murder in question. I know all the experts out there will disagree with me, but I don’t care – murder is murder, and sane or not, the act was committed, a young girl’s trust in the security of a father, and her life, stolen from her. This is the report, this morning, that has stirred up my ire!!

“Jurors say they will never be able to reach a unanimous verdict in the murder trial of a man who threw his four-year-old daughter off Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge.  Justice Paul Coghlan urged the jury to continue trying to reach a verdict in the case of Arthur Phillip Freeman, who flung his daughter Darcey from the bridge on January 29, 2009. The jurors will now go into a fifth day of deliberations in the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday.

On Sunday, they told Justice Coghlan they could not come to a unanimous decision.  “The jury believe it will never agree unanimously on a verdict no matter how much further time the jury spends on deliberations,” the jury said in a written question.  “The jury therefore requests that you direct us how to act in this situation.” Justice Coghlan said he understood that it was a stressful case for the jurors but urged them to continue deliberations. “Do I understand that it is stressful for you, of course I do, extremely so,” he said. “This is a difficult case with hard issues and I thank you for the work you’ve done.” Jurors were asked to decide whether Freeman, 37, was “mad or bad”. During a two-week trial, they heard differing opinions regarding Freeman’s mental state on the day he killed Darcey. Graham Burrows, a psychiatrist called by the defence, said Freeman was in a dissociative state and suffering from possible psychosis when he killed Darcey. But two psychiatrists called by the prosecution found he was not mentally impaired at the time.The jurors will resume their deliberations at 10am (AEDT) on Monday.”

Of course he was ‘mad’ when he killed his daughter – no sane person sets out to murder their own child, no matter what degree of insanity you wish to place upon the act. But in my view, that can never be a justification to allow the perpetuator to escape what he/she justly deserves.

Further to the above, I received a couple of interesting responses on the subject from friends, which I thought I would add here.

  • [R] It is a difficult crime to comprehend- I have wondered if he may be simply a psychopath- cannot see the child as someone with rights, just a thing to use- but then anger makes us all insane- in that state we are physically capable but unreachable by our rational brain – maybe his level of anger was unbelievably great  cause of some impulse control or other brain problem? It seems a common scenario, kill kids to punish partner  – points to some lack of empathy, emotional maturity, capacity to really love – whether can be termed insanity though … very difficult? How can his family recover from this?
  • [Bill] Thanks for your thoughts R. I don’t believe I’m vindictive or revengeful by nature, but with children in particular, where as in this case, no means of defence [presumably trusting to the last moment] is available, I cannot agree with or justify the ‘defence case’ type arguments, withthe aim of lessening a sentence or level of conviction.
  • [M] The thought of killing one’s own child is so incomprehensible that in my mind I can only associate it with some kind of mental instability. The question for me is: is it temporary insanity or a longterm mental problem. I’m not entirely convinced there is something called evil which can be distictinctly separated from mental illness/stunted mental development.
  • [R] I suspect stunted emotional and mental development is responsible for most such crimes- a psychologist once told me that many,many people dont get beyond an emotional age of 3-5, which is disturbing 😦
    They don’t develop empathy and impulse  control to an adult level – act now, regret it later.

 Subject to all of the above, the judge in this case urged the jury, which on Sunday had stated it unlikely they could reach consensus, to keep trying.  They went back today, and did just that. Early this evening, they apparently reached concensus, as this report indicates –  ‘The man who threw his four-year-old daughter off Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge has been found guilty of murder. Arthur Phillip Freeman stared straight ahead and showed no emotion as a jury foreman announced he was guilty of murdering his daughter Darcey.  At the end of five days of difficult deliberations, the jury delivered its verdict just before 8.00pm (AEDT) on Monday after it had appeared it would be unable to reach a unanimous decision.  Several of the five men and seven women on the jury wept as Justice Coghlan thanked them for their service’.

So I suppose that was the headline I was hoping to see, and if the truth be known, the verdict that most people in our society would believe was the right one. Fromthe same report overnight [9 News],   ‘Jurors were asked by Freeman’s defence lawyer to decide whether the father of three was “mad” or “bad” when he killed Darcey.  Minutes before he killed Darcey, Freeman had telephoned his former partner Peta Barnes and told her to: “Say goodbye to your children”.  He then parked in the left-hand emergency lane of the bridge, put his hazard lights on, left his two sons in the car and picked up Darcey. He threw her over the bridge.  As Freeman drove off, Darcey’s older brother Ben urged him to turn back. “Darcey can’t swim,” he said.  Freeman drove to the Federal Law Courts complex where he started sobbing and shaking uncontrollably.  He was later arrested there’. While it would not have made any difference to the horror of what was done, I’ve often wondered – why the little girl, and not one of the two sons? Perhaps his mind at the time was telling him, that the loss of the daughter would hit her mother the most!  The outcome of the court case will be reported upon in some detail over the next day or so – for myself, I shall leave it there!

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