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In the Name of her Father

April 12, 2011

Darcey Freeman.

Source Article: The Age, Feb 6 2009

MARK COLVIN: A judge has sentenced the Melbourne man who threw his four-year-old daughter off the Westgate Bridge to life in jail with a non-parole period of 32 years. Arthur Freeman won’t be eligible for parole until 2041.

The judge accepts that he could be a suicide risk due to his depression. Arthur Freeman was last month found guilty of throwing Darcey Freeman off the bridge in front of her two brothers on the way to her first day at school.

The sentencing judge told him he used his daughter to hurt his former wife in a case of “spousal revenge”. Justice Paul Coghlan said he wasn’t satisfied Freeman had shown remorse and added, “you’re yet to say sorry for what you have done”.

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry” is a line from the novel and 1970 film Love Story starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. The quotation appears twice in the film: once around the middle when MacGraw’s character Jennifer Cavilleri says it, and again as the last line in the film, repeated by O’Neal’s character Oliver Barrett IV as a tribute to Jennifer. The line was actually misspoken from the script, which read “Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry.”

A warning: you may find parts of Alison Caldwell’s report disturbing.

ALISON CALDWELL: During his three-week trial in Melbourne’s Supreme Court last month 37-year-old Arthur Freeman didn’t take the witness stand and remained silent throughout. But today after he was sentenced Arthur Freeman leaned back into a corner of the dock and shattered that silence.

At the top of his voice he shouted abuse at a member of his ex-wife’s family, accusing them of a diamond theft and of making death threats. Then Freeman was dragged from the court.

Moments earlier Justice Paul Coghlan said Freeman had not shown remorse or even begun to understand the enormity of his brutal crime.

PAUL COGHLAN: Your behaviour through the whole of this period of your life was self-centred with a strong tendency to blame others. You are yet to say sorry for what you have done. I am satisfied that you continue to lack insight into your offending and I regard your prospects of rehabilitation as bleak.

ALISON CALDWELL: Prosecutors had called for Freeman to be jailed for life without parole while his defence lawyers had pleaded for a minimum term.

In handing down the life sentence Justice Coghlan said he understood the prosecution’s argument but he was obliged to consider other factors.

PAUL COGHLAN: I’m obliged to have regard to the fact that you’re 37 years of age. Whatever happens you will spend what may be regarded by many as the best years of your life in prison. I have come to the conclusion that it is appropriate to fix a non-parole period. I do not regard you as being beyond redemption.

The site where four-year-old Darcey Freeman was allegedly thrown last week by her father, Arthur Phillip Freeman, 58-metres off of the West Gate Bridge is seen on February 3, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia. Darcy was allegedly thrown from the bridge by her father last Thursday as he drove across the bridge whilst her 2 brothers looked on from the car. A Valentine's Day truck convoy tribute is being planned to raise funds for the Freeman family, and also victims of domestic violence, which will see an as yet unknown number of truckers travel from Kalkallo on Melbourne's northern fringe to Williamstown, travelling over the West Gate Bridge, the site of the four-year-old's death.

ALISON CALDWELL: In January 2009 Arthur Freeman was driving his daughter Darcey and two sons to her first day of school.At the highest point of the Westgate Bridge he pulled his four wheel drive over into the emergency lane and coaxed Darcey out of her seat. He picked her up and carried her to the edge then he threw her off the bridge.

As he drove away his son pleaded with him to go back and get Darcey because she couldn’t swim.

PAUL COGHLAN: This was a killing of an innocent child. The circumstances of the killing were horrible. The throwing of your four-year-old daughter from a bridge more than 80 metres above the ground could not be more horrible.

What Darcey’s last thoughts might have been does not bear thinking about and her death must have been a painful and protracted one.

The killing was in the presence of your sons Benjamin who was then six and your son Jack who was two. The community hopes Jack will be too young to remember.

It can only be concluded that you used your daughter in an attempt to hurt your former wife as profoundly as possible. You chose a place for the commission of your crime which was remarkably public and which would have the most dramatic impact.

It follows that you brought the broader community into this case in a way that’s rarely if ever been seen before. It offends our collective conscience.

ALISON CALDWELL: During the trial some witnesses blamed themselves for what had happened, including friends of Arthur Freeman.

At the time Justice Coghlan assured them there was nothing they could do to stop Arthur Freeman as he sought revenge against Darcey’s mother during a custody battle. Today the judge repeated his concerns.

PAUL COGHLAN: One of the very unfortunate features of this case is that others seem to blame themselves for what you have done. They should not. You did what you did. You are responsible for it and nobody else is.

ALISON CALDWELL: Moments before the murder Arthur Freeman called his ex-wife and told her to say goodbye to her children. The day before Freeman had had his access to the children reduced.

Freeman pleaded not guilty by reason of mental impairment but his defence was rejected by the jury. [Mad, bad, tiger blood and bingo: how the media reports mental illness]

PAUL COGHLAN: Would you stand up please?

You will be sentenced to be imprisoned for life. I fix a period of 32 years before you will be eligible for parole.

It means that the earliest date you will qualify to be released will be the 29th of January 2041 when you will be 67 years of age.

ALISON CALDWELL: Darcey’s mother and Freeman’s ex-wife Peta Barnes showed no emotion at the sentencing and left the court without making a statement.

Several members of the jury that convicted Arthur Freeman were also in court to hear the verdict.

Justice Paul Coghlan said what Arthur Freeman had done was a fundamental breach of trust of father and child, an attack on the institution of family which destroyed the lives of others.

Source: PM, ABC News

Arthur Freeman

Arthur Freeman leaves court after being found guilty of killing his daughter

ARTHUR Freeman will be in the worst of company, no matter where he is sent to serve his prison time.

One strong possibility for Freeman’s new home is the Hoya unit of Barwon Prison, where Bega killer Lindsay Beckett, Mornington Monster John Sharpe and twisted sex fiend John Xydias are housed.

He may also be moved to the protective section of Port Phillip Prison.

Freeman would be under enormous threat if he were allowed into a mainstream jail section, where child killers and paedophiles are the most despised inmates.

But the haunting nature of his crime means he may not be safe, even in the protective section.

“He needs protection from protection … and if he got anywhere near mainstream, it’d be all over. They’d kill him,” a former prisoner said.

Death Penalty Law a milestone for Australia

Amnesty International welcomes the passage today of historic legislation that confirms Australia’s opposition to torture and the death penalty.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Torture Prohibition and Death Penalty Abolition) Bill 2009 passed through the Senate today without amendments. This final step in the legislative process means that no state in Australia can reinstate the death penalty for any crime.

As well, Australia has now explicitly prohibited the use of torture, formally affirming Australia’s position that torture is never acceptable under any circumstances or at any time. [Read more]

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