THE Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services asks who will speak for the silent witnesses who suffer domestic terrorism each day and who will speak for those who are not here to tell their truth?
The death of Japanese-born Saori Jones at the hands of her violent and abusive husband shocked the community when he left her body to decompose in his house with their four-year-old and eight-month-old children in December 2010.
The sense of shock was heightened when it was announced that her violent husband could serve as little as three years if he gets out on parole in December 2013.
He had pleaded guilty to unlawful assault causing death, which was legislation brought in to address the one-punch deaths that were occurring in pubs, clubs and public spheres.
The council is calling for a more appropriate legislation framework to deal with deaths where it can be established there has been a history of physical violence and abuse, as in the cases of Saori Jones and a woman in Kununurra, whose violent partners have been charged with serious assaults on them and they had severe injuries.
They both had a documented history of domestic and family violence with the perpetrators and specialist staff from women’s refuges should be called as credible witnesses in these hearings.
The council wants a change to the laws that results in a strengthening of penalties similar to those brought in recently by the Attorney General where if someone kills anyone as a result of drunken driving it becomes a manslaughter charge that carries a penalty of 20 years in jail.
If the State can charge someone with murder without so much as finding a body, I think something more needs to be done as a result of the deliberate concealing of a body for 10 days and the failing to call for medical attention.
Otherwise, it is a grave and disgraceful injustice.
Angela Hartwig is chief executive of the Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services (WA).