Attempt Murder / Discharge Firearm With Intent charges, Battered Wife Syndrome
Author: Dennis Miralis
Client married to a violent man who repeatedly raped and tortured her during a long marriage lasting nearly 30 years. The alleged victim had terrorised his wife and family for years. He escaped from gaol after holding one of his sons at the point of a gun.
The accused (our eventual client) was not initially represented by this firm and sadly was sitting in gaol. Our solicitors immediately made a successful local court bail application. The accused, to protect her children, bought a gun and kept the victim under surveillance, ringing her children each night telling them that they were 'safe tonight'. It got too much for her and she approached her husband. The gun discharged and he tried to turn the gun on her but it jammed. She was arrested and charged with attempt murder, discharge a firearm with intent and other police charges.
We made application to hold a committal hearing at the Downing centre Local Court. The alleged victim brought a bag with him displaying a sign, "Thank Heavens for the Missus that Misses". The client had kept meticulous records over the years clearly showing how the system had failed her and her family.
Not guilty on those charges. Jury took 25 minutes to return verdicts. Evidence of her husband was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine whether or not criminal charges should be brought against him. Client found to be acting in self defence and it was demonstrated that she did not intentionally discharge the firearm. The husband was subsequently charged by police with sexual assault, attempted murder and other matter and sent to gaol for a minimum term of 10 years. The client went on to speak at the International Convention for Women's Rights in Geneva and now has her life back.
This case received significant publicity and was ultimately the subject of an episode of Australian Story on the ABC, Till Death Do Us Part, and a second episode The Courage of Her Convictions. Expert evidence was called during the trial for the defence case.
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