-  # Donna Fitchett
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53 yrs old (2013)
VICTORIA - Melbourne
Sentenced in the Melbourne Supreme Court in 2010 to 27 yrs jail - 18 yrs non parole/she could be released as early as 2023...
Sentence to be served in a psychiatric facility/hospital, and may be transferred to jail at a later date.
Donna Fitchett/ CHILD murderer - Fitchett drugged, strangled and smothered her two sons, 11-year-old Thomas Fitchett,and 9 yr old Mathew Fitchett
at their Melbourne/ Balwyn North home in September 2005.
Grief-stricken dad asks:'How can you not get life?'
An evil mum who drugged and murdered her two sons should have been jailed for life, the boys' father says.
Donna Fitchett, 51, yesterday was jailed for 27 years, with a minimum of 18 years, for the "chilling, callous murders" of Thomas, 11, and Matthew, 9.
"How can you not get life for taking two innocent lives, under any circumstance?" ex-husband David Fitchett pleaded to the Herald Sun.
Earlier, outside court, a grief-stricken Mr Fitchett choked back tears as he said: "My boys. I love them, I miss them."
Fitchett has already served five years, meaning she could be released as early as 2023.
Prosecutors had wanted her jailed for life, which would have made her the only woman in Victoria serving a life term.
In 2008, Fitchett was sentenced to a hospital security order of 24 years, with a non-parole period of 18 years, for the murders. She successfully appealed, and faced a retrial.
"Having been through the ordeal twice, and seeking what I thought was justice for my boys after the first one (trial), going through the appeal process has been an absolute nightmare and a horrendous time in my life," Mr Fitchett said outside court.
"Thomas and Matthew deserve justice. Life by two was the only thing that would satisfy me."
Fitchett drugged then strangled or smothered her boys at their Balwyn North home on September 6, 2005.
Director of Public Prosecutions Jeremy Rapke, QC, said the sentence was under review. He said all sentences passed in the higher courts were reviewed.
At both trials, Fitchett pleaded not guilty owing to mental impairment.
Mr Fitchett has given the Herald Sun permission to publish a transcript of his harrowing phone call to 000 in the minutes after he found his sons cold in their beds. It is the first time a full transcript of the call has been published.
During the call, Mr Fitchett frantically tried to resuscitate the boys.
Donna Fitchett, who had slashed her wrists, called out: "I don't want to live."
In sentencing, Supreme Court judge Justice Elizabeth Curtain said Fitchett's crimes were "truly appalling and offensive to civilised society".
"You were their mother. Your responsibility was to nurture, care for, love and protect them," Justice Curtain said.
But in the greatest act of betrayal, Fitchett had robbed them of their lives, because "in an act of unfathomable selfishness, you came to the view that, in your words, 'you couldn't and wouldn't ever abandon them'."
Justice Curtain said she sentenced Fitchett on the basis that at the time she had mild to moderate depression.
David Fitchett looked down and wept during sentencing.
Fitchett had left her husband a letter saying she couldn't abandon "our beautiful boys". "I've been dead for a few days. I just wanted peace," she wrote.
"I overdosed the boys and when they were asleep I suffocated them and then strangled them in case they woke up.
"They put up a bit of a struggle but said nothing. They didn't know it was me or it was happening to each other.
"They were happy this morning, said they loved you and had a great Father's Day.
"I pray I don't live through this."
In the first trial, revenge over her unsatisfactory marriage was put forward as her motive.
In a letter to a psychologist on the day of the murders, Fitchett wrote: "Sadly I'm too broken to go on. Today the boys will be given an overdose as I cannot and wouldn't ever abandon them.
"They think we are going on an exciting trip today but I've told them they need to take some medicine so they won't get air-sick.
"I'm not a coward, nor am I crazy. I see this as my greatest act of love."
Justice Curtain said life sentences would not be appropriate because of Fitchett's mental illness, and principles that state a sentence imposed in a first trial should be viewed as the upper limit of the sentence to be imposed after a retrial.
Fitchett is in a psychiatric unit at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.
At least two other Victorian female prisoners are serving the same minimum term as Fitchett.
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Donna Fitchett sentenced to 27 years in jail
Child murderer Donna Fitchett has been sentenced to 27-years in jail by a Victorian Court today.
Fitchett drugged, strangled and smothered her two sons, 11-year-old Thomas Fitchett and Mathew Fitchett at their Melbourne home in September 2005.
The 51-year-old Fitchett was found guilty in a second trial in May this year. She had successfully appealed the first conviction on the basis of a legal technicality.
She admitted the killings but pleaded not guilty to murder on the grounds of mental impairment. The jury took about four hours to again find her guilty.
During the re-trial Crown prosecutor Gavin Silbert SC told the court Fitchett, of Balwyn North, planned her actions and clearly knew they were wrong.
He said that although Fitchett was suffering mild depression, she was not delusional when she killed her sons.
But defence barrister Patrick Tehan QC said Fitchett should not be convicted of murder because she was mentally impaired at the time of the killings.
Mr Tehan said his client had suffered moderate to severe depression for a long time and was unable to think rationally and appreciate the wrongfulness of her actions.
David Fitchett stared at his ex-wife as she was led from the dock back into custody.
Throughout the almost one-hour-long hearing, Fitchett hung her head, allowing her fringe to fall part way across her face, and intermittently wiped away tears.
Justice Elizabeth Curtain said the murder was premeditated, citing a letter Fitchett wrote.
"You knew what you were doing, you contemplated it, planned it and wrote about it, before you did it," Justice Curtain said.
When the boys did not succumb to the level of drugs that Fitchett gave them, she strangled Thomas and suffocated Matthew, Justice Curtain said.
"You knew that what you were doing was wrong," she said.
"You understood the enormity of your actions and sought to justify it," she said.
"You have committed two chilling, callous murders."
Justice Curtain said Fitchett had "altered for all time the lives of David Fitchett and created "unbearable, unforgiving pain for him and his family.
"No sentence this court gives can restore life to their sons, or peace to their father," Justice Curtain said.
Fitchett will be eligible for parole after 18 years.
'Truly appalling': killer mum Donna Fitchett jailed for murdering sons
A Melbourne mother twice convicted of killing her two young sons has today been jailed for 27 years.
Qualified nurse Donna Fitchett, 51, drugged and murdered sons Thomas, 11, and Matthew, 9, at their Balwyn North home on September 6, 2005, in what she described as her ‘‘greatest act of love’’.
But Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Curtain today branded Fitchett’s actions her ‘‘greatest act of betrayal’’.
‘‘You were their mother. Your responsibility was to nurture, care for, love and protect them and over the years you did that,’’ Justice Curtain said in her sentencing remarks.
‘But in the greatest act of betrayal and in a profound breach of (trust) you robbed each of them of their precious lives... in an act of unfathomable selfishness.’’
Justice Curtain described the crime as a ‘‘tragedy of profound magnitude’’ and ‘‘truly appalling and offensive to a civilised society’’.
Fitchett admitted she murdered her children but pleaded not guilty by reason of mental impairment. She claimed her major depressive disorder had led to their deaths because she intended to take her own life and felt she could not leave the boys behind.
She was first convicted in 2008 of murdering her sons and sentenced to 24 years' prison, with a minimum of 18 years, but appealed her conviction and was granted a retrial in May.
But a jury again found her guilty after she admitted drugging her sons and then strangling one and smothering the other.
Prosecutor Gavin Silbert, SC, had called for Fitchett to receive a life sentence on each murder count.
He described the original sentence as ‘‘manifestly inadequate’’, which he said was under Crown appeal when the retrial was granted.
Fitchett’s lawyer, Patrick Tehan, QC, argued at her plea hearing that his client should receive a shorter sentence than originally imposed because she was depressed and experiencing a tough time in prison.
Fitchett sobbed and at times shook as Justice Curtain ordered her to serve 18 years before she is eligible for parole. She stood silently with her head down and occasionally wiped her nose with a handkerchief.
Justice Curtain said the murder was premeditated, citing a letter Fitchett written to her psychologist before she killed the boys.
‘‘You knew what you were doing, you contemplated it, planned it and wrote about it, before you did it,’’ Justice Curtain said.
When the boys did not succumb to the level of drugs that Fitchett gave them, she strangled Thomas and suffocated Matthew. You knew that what you were doing was wrong.
‘‘You understood the enormity of your actions and sought to justify it,’’ she said.
‘‘You have committed two chilling, callous murders.’’
Justice Curtain said Fitchett had ‘‘altered for all time the lives of David Fitchett and created ‘‘unbearable, unforgiving pain for him and his family’’.
‘‘No sentence this court gives can restore life to their sons, or peace to their father,’’ she said.
Outside court, David Fitchett thanked prosecutors for persisting with the case and fought back tears as he spoke of how much he loved and missed his boys.
‘‘Having been through the ordeal twice, seeking what I thought was justice for my boys after the first one and going through the appeal process, it being an absolute nightmare, a horrendous time in my life,’’ he said.
‘‘To live it again has just been unbelievable.
‘‘Thomas and Matthew deserve justice. Today’s sentence has been extended from the first one. Whilst in my mind it is nowhere near enough, life by two is the only thing that would satisfy me, but it is better than what it was last time.
‘‘My boys, I love them and miss them.’’
Mother killed her sons 'out of love'
A mother believed killing her two children was a necessary act of love because her thinking was irrational and despairing, a court was told yesterday.
Two psychiatrists told a Supreme Court jury that Donna Fitchett was suffering a major depressive illness when she drugged and smothered sons Thomas, 11, and Matthew, 9.
Prof Paul Mullen said Ms Fitchett, 49, thought her sons could not have a decent life without her.
"I don't think a loving, caring mother -- who we know she was -- could come to such a woeful and absurd conclusion unless something was affecting her reasoning," he said.
"She was acting for the children, in the interests of the children and out of love.
"It does raise a question about whether a person in this state of mind, coming to those conclusions, could have been thinking rationally or reasonably about their actions."
Prof Mullen said Ms Fitchett's ability to carefully plan the killings and arrange her own affairs in the days before the boys' deaths did not change his diagnosis.
Ms Fitchett has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder, claiming mental impairment.
The former nurse drugged and strangled or smothered the boys in their Balwyn North home on September 6, 2005.
Prof Mullen and Dr Daniel Sullivan said Ms Fitchett was not suffering a psychosis characterised by hallucinations or delusions. Both men also ruled out revenge on her husband as a motive.
Dr Sullivan said Ms Fitchett was clearly aware of her conduct, but her reasoning for it and composure were grossly disturbed.
He said: "Although not psychotic, her descriptions of severe depressive symptoms and deranged thought processes prior to the killing of her children and the absence of other clear explanations of her behaviour are, in my opinion, grounds for a possible mental impairment defence."
Ms Fitchett told Dr Sullivan she had been on a "manic high" in the weeks before killing Thomas and Matthew.
The jury was told she described the breakdown of her marriage and how she "put on a facade" that she was happy.
Dr Sullivan said when Ms Fitchett decided to leave her husband, she believed she could not leave the children.
"She felt she could not kill herself and leave the children with him because they would not be able to get over it and it would be too cruel to them," he said.
Dr Sullivan told the jury Ms Fitchett said her husband "didn't know how to love" and "ending their lives would enable me to end mine".
He said she spoke of her attempts to take her own life as wanting to "join my boys".
The trial, before Justice Geoffrey Nettle, continues.
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