‘Mercy’ Sentence for Female Offender
This news article was posted by Kumar as a reply under a recent thread but we agree with Allan Harvey that it deserves its own thread so here it is. A woman planned and attempted to murder her three children and white knight Justice Paul Heath rode to her rescue, going to great lengths to explain and justify his chivalry. She was sentenced to two years ‘intensive supervision’, a helping sentence that will require her to attend some counselling and to report to a probation officer initially once a week then reducing. Such a sentence does not oblige her to cooperate with treatment, take medication as directed or anything much else. This pussy pass might seem extraordinary for such serious offending but it’s actually quite ordinary when it comes to female offenders.
As Allan Harvey replied in the earlier related thread, it would be a step forward if males were more often to be shown something of the understanding and compassion typically shown to females. However, the decision to avoid any punitive aspect of this woman’s sentencing, including giving her name suppression, may not be helpful in our society’s efforts to reduce violence. Women routinely see other women who have committed violent offences being treated with huge leniency and this provides no deterrent. Many women correctly believe that if they hit, threaten or abuse others they are unlikely to be ordered out of their homes through a police ‘Safety Order, very unlikely to be charged with any offence and even if they are they will probably have their behaviour excused and avoid significant punishment.
We note other noteworthy aspects of the article concerning this case. Probably coming straight from the judge’s justification, it states “It was important to the mother her children were killed painlessly, efficiently, and without a lot of mess.” Well maybe, but for any male no mention is generally made of such things. For example, in the (recently resurrected on tv) case of the murderer Greg Meads, no mention appeared to be made of the fact that his murder was instant and painless, and this didn’t stop his sentence from exceeding the minimum sentence for murder. His offence was the most simple and humane example of murder one could imagine and there was significant provocation, yet even that didn’t enable a male to receive the minimum sentence of life imprisonment with a 10-year non-parole period.
Justice Heath said “The most significant factor in this case is that, had the children been killed, your conduct might have amounted to the crime of infanticide, rather than murder – notwithstanding your actual intent to kill.” This highlights the law of infanticide, a sexist law enabling women to murder young children with a MAXIMUM sentence of only 3 YEARS PRISON, but they usually receive much less. That law is based on the idea that women are such fragile, child-like creatures whose minds are so easily overwhelmed by their feelings that they should be shown care and help when they murder. Judge Heath clearly took this belief to further extremes in treating a 14-year-imprisonment crime (X3) with only a helping community sentence.
The judge then went on to refer to this offender’s history of depression and the factors that led to a relapse prior to the offending, and referring to her delusional thinking that she was protecting her children from the pain of living without her. But the woman did not qualify for an insanity defence, so it’s spurious then to blame her behaivour on delusions and “severe mental illness”. A legalistic bet both ways it seems.
Psychiatrist Dr Susan Hatters-Friedman (isn’t it interesting how names can fit professions…) attributed this woman’s offending to ‘altruism’ and called such murders of children ‘extended suicide’ that arose out of loving their children so much and being concerned what would become of them. Yeah right. Sisters unite!
Waikato University (surprise, surprise) law lecturer Brenda Midson said this case was likely to act as a precedent to guide future decisions, in that it acknowledges “the offender is low on the scale of moral blameworthiness, because of the situation she was in”. Yeah right, Ms Midson will be hoping that in future women who murder their husbands as they sleep in bed will be treated low on the scale of moral blameworthiness. This case is actually extremely significant and dangerous as a precedent. Men and children, be very afraid.
The esteemed judge claimed that society would not be at further risk from this mother. Well hang on, she has been prone under stress to relapses of mental disorder causing delusional thinking and she demonstrated her willingness to murder children! How can anyone be confident she will be safe in the future?
Note also that the woman is seeing her children in supervised access and the psychiatrist’s report celebrates her rebuilding her relationship with the children. No doubt the supervision will be lifted at some stage given the great faith people seem to have in her harmlessness. That may all be for the best but you can be sure children won’t receive the same opportunity to rebuild their relationship with a father who tried to murder them. CYF would quickly intervene to take those children away from any mother who even allowed such a father to visit the house.
More duplicity and sexism, it never seems to end.