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Arthur Freeman denied appeal after throwing daughter from West Gate Bridge
Westgate Bridge killer Arthur Freeman lost his appeal this afternoon against a 32-year
minimum term for the revenge murder of his four-year-old daughter Darcey.
The Court of Appeal rejected Freeman’s argument that the sentence was “manifestly excessive”
when compared to the sentences handed down to other parents who murdered their children.
The heavily-bearded Freeman, who appeared in the appeal court by video link to Port Phillip
prison, showed no emotion as the judgment was delivered.
Darcey was tossed from the bridge by her father in January 2009 on what was to be her first day at school.
Freeman, who was divorced from the little girl’s mother, claimed he was not guilty because he was
mentally impaired at the time, but this was rejected by a Supreme Court jury.
Defence lawyer David Brustman SC told the appeal court that his client did not quarrel with
the maximum term of life imprisonment, which was sufficient to condemn the shocking nature of the crime.
Mr Brustman said a 32-year-term was excessive and could not be justified in Freeman’s case or in
comparison with other sentences.
He said that Robert Farquharson, who murdered is three sons by driving them into a dam where
they drowned, received a life term with a 33-year minimum term.
He said Donna Fitchett, who killed her two infant children, received an 18-year minimum.
Delivering the lead judgment Justice Geoff Nettle said the court could find no fault with the sentence.
Justice Nettle said that a sentence could not be reached by comparing
the number of children who were killed by Farquharson.
Both cases involved revenge on partners and it was to be expected the minimum terms would be similar.
“Given the most heinous nature and gravity of the offence and the lack of remorse 32 years was
no more than appropriate,” Justice Nettle said.
Child killer Arthur Freeman bashed in brawl at Victoria's Barwon Prison
Child killer Arthur Freeman has been injured in a wild jailhouse brawl at the state's main maximum security prison.
The attack on Freeman - who is behind bars for throwing his daughter Darcey to her death from the West
Gate Bridge - is being investigated by police.
The Herald Sun believes he has been the target of constant taunting from other inmates at Barwon Prison, near Geelong.
Freeman exploded yesterday in response to more abuse from prisoners in the Hoya unit.
He and several others fought before guards moved in to control the violence. Freeman, 37, suffered minor injuries.
He and his foes are expected to be moved to separate sections of the prison system.
Hoya is a protection section of the jail used to house inmates under threat of attack.
Others include Bega killer Lindsay Beckett, Mornington monster John Sharpe and depraved sex offender John Xydias.
It is not known with whom Freeman was fighting.
He was earlier in the Metropolitan Remand Centre
but was transferred to Barwon in April after being sentenced to life in jail with a minimum term of 32 years.
He killed four-year-old Darcey on January 29, 2009, on what was to be her first day at school.
The crime, which sickened the country, followed a custody battle between Freeman and his ex-wife.
Freeman pleaded not guilty, his counsel arguing he was mentally impaired when he killed Darcey.
But a Supreme Court jury found him guilty after deliberating for five days.
The nature of the crime means he would be at extreme threat of violence in any mainstream jail section.
It was the second recent outbreak of violence at Hoya in which a high-profile inmate has been hurt.
Last month, serial killer Peter Dupas was taken to hospital after being attacked.
Dupas is appealing against his conviction over the murder of Mersina Halvagis at Fawkner Cemetery on November 1, 1997.
Gangland killer Carl Williams was serving time in Barwon Prison when he was murdered last year.
Arthur Freeman sentenced to life in prison for throwing daughter Darcey off bridge
the man who threw his four-year-old daughter off a bridge, has been jailed for life today.
Justice Paul Coghlan today sentenced Arthur Phillip Freeman to life with a non-parole period of 32 years.
Freeman showed no reaction throughout the hearing, but had to be pulled from the court room by three court guards after a bizarre outburst after the sentence was handed down.
Freeman backed into a corner of the dock to avoid guards as he accused an in-law of being implicated in the theft of diamonds from a Western Australian mine, Federal Police phone taps and mentioned death threats to himself in the rant.
During a 40-minute statement that had finished moments earlier, Justice Coghlan said Freeman had not shown remorse or even begun to understand the enormity of his brutal crime.
“You are yet to say sorry for what you have done," he said.
“Your attitude to these matters remain self-centred. I regard your prospects of rehabilitation as bleak.”
Darcey Freeman died after being thrown 58m to her death off West Gate Bridge in Melbourne on January 29, 2009.
Freeman, 37, was last month found guilty of murder despite pleading not guilty on the grounds of mental impairment.
Freeman's lawyer had argued that his client was "mad" not "bad".
In handing down the life sentence, the judge said he understood the argument that he should be “locked away for ever”, but he was obliged to consider other factors.
“Whatever happens, you will spend what many consider will be the best years of your life in prison.
But he said he did not think he was “beyond redemption” and took into account good behaviour, family support and references.
The judge also said, "One of the unfortunate features of this case is that others blame themselves", but the judge said they should not.
“You are responsible for it. And nobody else,” Justice Coghlan said.
The judge said while there was little evidence that Freeman was suffering from mental illness, he did accept that the murder was not premeditated.
“We do not know what Mr Freeman was thinking."
In a victim impact statement read to the court at Freeman's pre-sentence hearing early this month, his former wife Peta Barnes said Darcey's loss was "indescribable".
"Not a day goes by where I do not constantly think of Darcey, where I don't miss her and wish with all my heart that she was with me," Ms Barnes said.
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Freeman killed Darcey in a "fit of anger" at Ms Barnes.
Freeman had the amount of time he had custody of his children reduced the day before he murdered Darcey.
Minutes before the murder Freeman telephoned Ms Barnes and told her to "say goodbye to your children" and "you will never see your children again".
Dozens of motorists stuck in peak-hour traffic on the bridge watched the murder.
One witness, Barry Nelson, recalled seeing Darcey's hair and limbs flying.
As Freeman walked back to his car he looked like he "may have been posting a letter", Mr Nelson said.
Freeman's six-year-old son Ben also witnessed his sister being murdered.
"She didn't even scream ... on her fall," Ben told police.
When Freeman drove off Ben urged him to turn back.
"Darcey can't swim," he said.
Freeman will be eligible for release on the 29th January 2041. He will be 67 years of age
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Arthur Freeman needs extra jail protection, former prisoner says
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.
Ted Baillieu is under pressure to introduce new measures so more children do not suffer the same horror as Darcey Freeman.
Freeman is being held at the Metropolitan Remand Centre.
It is possible he will soon be transferred to Melbourne Assessment Prison so corrections
officials can work out where best to send him.
He has, since his arrest, been among a small group of prisoners in the state's correctional
system that have the top security rating.
A pre-sentencing hearing will be held Friday and Freeman is expected
to be sentenced before Easter.
Herald Sun (30-3-2011)
Bridge death dad guilty of murder
AN evil father faces life in jail after a jury found him guilty of murdering his daughter Darcey Freeman by throwing the four-year-old off the West Gate
Bridge in revenge against his ex-wife.
The jury of five men and seven women took five days to reach its guilty verdict, and rejected
defence that he was mentally
impaired when he killed Darcey while driving her to her first day of school.
Freeman remained motionless and emotionless as he did during the two-week trial when hearing the verdict, which was handed
down at 7.50pm. His expression was mirrored by his ex-wife Peta Barnes and his parents.
Ms Barnes' mother cried uncontrollably, as did most members of the jury, when their decision was read out.
The emotional toll this trial had on the jury was evident on Sunday when they told Supreme Court Justice Paul Coghlan that they would
not be able to reach a unanimous verdict and tension between jury members was clearly evident, with some also in tears.
But yesterday, in what is to believed to be a first, seven individual jurors penned their own questions and quizzed the judge
about the law and the defence of mental impairment.
Ms Barnes gave evidence that moments before Freeman, 37, murdered their daughter, he phoned her and said "say goodbye to your
children" and during a follow-up phone call seconds later said "you'll never see your children again".
The Crown prosecution argued the former Whittington man was angry over having his custody arrangements with his three children, Ben, 6,
Darcey, 4 and Jackson, 2, cut by almost four hours a week on the day before Darcey was thrown 58m to her death.
Prosecutors used psychiatrists, police and civilians to show his actions were "voluntary and conscious" when he did
the unthinkable on January 29, 2009 at 9.15am.
"In a (fit) of anger with Peta Barnes (Darcey's mum) he stopped on the bridge and threw Darcey over the rail," Crown prosecutor Gavin Silbert, SC,
said during closing arguments. "We are perhaps indeed fortunate that he didn't throw all three children over the bridge."
He said Freeman was clean-shaven with short hair at the time of the murder, but had since changed his appearance for the trial
and adopted the "Rasputin-like appearance of a mad monk".
After Darcey's fatal fall, CCTV vision captured Freeman frozen when he arrived at the Commonwealth Law Courts,
where was shaking and unresponsive to his two young boys' hugs and questions.
Defence Barrister David Brustman, SC, said during closing arguments the jury had a "herculean task" to acquit Freeman and asked
them was his client "the face of pure evil?".
During his opening address, Mr Brustman told the jury they had to decide if Freeman was "mad or bad" when he killed his daughter.
The trial was told six psychiatrists assessed Freeman but only one, sole defence witness Professor Graham Burrows, found him mentally impaired.
Burrows, who examined Freeman 11 months after the tragedy, said Freeman was in a "dissociated state" and likened his mind to someone who sleep
walks and does not remember their actions.
Freeman will return to court for a plea hearing on Friday.
Geelong Advertiser (28-3-2011)
Arthur Freeman 000 call -
Dead Darcey like doll in the water hears Victorian court during trial of Arthur Phillip Freeman
Darcey Freeman looked "like a doll" when police saw her floating in the water below Melbourne's
West Gate Bridge, a jury has heard.
Water police were called to the Yarra River below the bridge after hearing a child had
been thrown off the structure on January 29, 2009, the Victorian Supreme Court heard today.
Senior Constable Alistair Nisbet told jurors as he came down the river in a boat he noticed
an "object" in the water.
"As I got closer I begun to make out the figure of a child ... (it was) like a doll in the river," he said.
The four-year-old was pulled from the water and Sen Const Nisbet said he noticed she was bruised and had no pulse.
Her father Arthur Phillip Freeman, 37, of Hawthorn, is accused of murdering her by throwing her off the West Gate Bridge.
He will argue he was mentally impaired at the time.
After the alleged murder, Freeman went to the Commonwealth Law Court complex in the CBD.
CCTV footage of the court's foyer area was played to the jury today.
Freeman is staring out of a window and appears to be shaking.
Security guards can be seen trying to talk to him, but Freeman appears not to respond.
Freeman's children stand beside him and at times put their arms around their father.
The trial before Justice Paul Coghlan is continuing.
Bridge dad told wife to say goodbye - court
A man told his former wife to say goodbye to her children before he threw their four-year-old daughter off Melbourne's West Gate Bridge, a jury has heard.
Arthur Phillip Freeman, 37, of Hawthorn, has pleaded not guilty in the Victorian Supreme Court to murdering his daughter Darcey.
The court has heard that Mr Freeman stopped his car in an emergency lane high on the bridge, carried Darcey to the railing and threw her off in January 2009.
Witnesses described her falling like a rag doll to the Yarra River, about 50m below.
Darcey, who was to start school that day, died from drowning and other injuries, the Melbourne jury has been told.
In a call to his former wife Peta Barnes around the time his daughter died, Mr Freeman said: "You will never see them again" and "say goodbye to your children", the court was told today.
Defence lawyer, David Brustman, SC, said Mr Freeman was mentally impaired at the time. He has no argument with the facts of the case.
Mr Brustman asked the jury "was Mr Freeman mad or was he bad?"
He said Mr Freeman was so mentally impaired and his decision-making process so flawed that it caused him to kill his daughter.
The trial before Justice Paul Coghlan continues tomorrow.
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