News State Victoria News Darcey Freeman verdict released

Darcey Freeman verdict released

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No one is to blame for the death of a four-year-old girl thrown from a Melbourne bridge except the father who murdered her, a coroner has found.

Victorian Coroner Ian Gray released his findings on Friday into the death in 2009 of Darcey Iris Freeman, who was thrown from the West Gate Bridge by her father Arthur Freeman.

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Darcey died in hospital on January 29, hours after Freeman stopped the car carrying her and her siblings, picked the four-year-old up and threw her from the bridge. Darcey was en route to her first day of school.

Several motorists witnessed the peak-hour incident before Freeman got back into his car and drove to the Federal Court complex in the city centre, where he was arrested in a distressed state.

Freeman was found guilty of his daughter’s murder by a jury in 2011 and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum period of 32 years.

The coroner found no one could have predicted Freeman was going to throw his daughter 58 metres to her death that day.

“The evidence before me leads me to conclude that Freeman’s actions, and Darcey’s death, were unable to have been predicted with any great certainty,” Mr Gray wrote.

It is important to place the responsibility of her death where it properly lies – solely on her father – the coroner says.

Darcey was murdered the day after a court made final orders in a long-running custody battle between Freeman and his former wife Peta Barnes.

As part of that battle, Freeman and his history of family violence had been assessed by a psychologist.

Ms Barnes told the inquest she had expressed concerns to her GP that her estranged husband could be vengeful enough to kill the couple’s children to “get back at her”.

The GP told the inquest they did not recall having concerns about the children or witnessing any worrying behaviour from Freeman.

Another two GPs who treated Ms Barnes, Freeman and Darcey also said they did not see anything to suggest Darcey and her siblings were at risk.

“At no time was I concerned that he was in any way a violent character with regard to his children,” one said.

The coroner made no adverse findings against the GPs or other professionals who had seen Darcey and her father, but said there was scope generally for better training about the risk of family violence.


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