News State Victoria West Gate murder with coroner
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West Gate murder with coroner

Darcey Freeman perished when thrown from the Westgate Bridge, leaving an Age reporter suffering psychological trauma. Photo: AAP
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The murder of four-year-old Darcey Freeman, who was thrown off Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge by her father, will be the subject of a coronial inquest.

Arthur Freeman was sentenced to life in jail with a non-parole period of 32 years after killing his daughter in January 2009.

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Darcey’s two brothers, aged two and six, watched as Freeman pulled his car over and threw the girl to her death on the way to her first day of school.

She was just two weeks shy of her fifth birthday.

Freeman had pleaded not guilty by reason of mental impairment, but his defence was rejected by the jury after a three-week trial.

During the trial the court heard Freeman murdered his daughter after a custody dispute as a result of his recent divorce with Darcey’s mother.

When handing down the sentence, the judge said Freeman had used his daughter in an attempt to hurt his former wife “as profoundly as possible”.

In 2012, Darcey’s mother Peta Barnes launched civil action against VicRoads, alleging it ignored long-term warnings about the need for safety barriers on the bridge.

A state coroner’s report eight years earlier had recommended anti-suicide barriers be installed on the bridge.

But the Victorian Government did not begin installing them until February 2009 in response to Darcey’s death.

The two parties settled the case for an undisclosed amount.

The inquiry will examine a number of issues such as the adequacy of mandatory reporting of child abuse, training for GPs and the obligations of lawyers.

A number of witnesses are expected to give evidence, including the Department of Human Services and Ms Barnes.

The two-day inquest was scheduled for July this year.

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with ABC

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