News State Victoria News Victoria heeds coroner’s call for review of domestic violence cases

Victoria heeds coroner’s call for review of domestic violence cases

domestic violence
Police allege the man doused his victim with fuel before neighbours came to her rescue. Photo: Getty
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The way family violence murder cases are handled in Victoria will be reviewed following a coronial recommendation.

The move comes after Victorian State Coroner Sara Hinchey pushed for murder cases where there was a known history between a victim and a perpetrator to be reviewed after handing down her findings into the 2011 death of 60-year-old Joy Rowley.

Victoria Police issued a statement on Sunday saying in light of Ms Hinchey’s recommendations, the handling of all such cases will be reviewed.

“In anticipation of the recommendations, Victoria Police had already commenced assessing how to implement systemic reviews of family-violence related homicides,” the statement said.

Victoria Police also reiterated an acknowledgement made during the inquest by Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter of the hurt and suffering felt by Ms Rowley’s family as a result of her tragic and untimely death.

The reviews and their timing will be conducted on a case-by-case basis to avoid interference with other probes such as homicide investigations, Victoria Police said.

Premier Daniel Andrews backed the move.

“The least we can do is to learn from each one of these tragedies in the hope that changes can be made and that lives can be saved in the future,” Mr Andrews told reporters.

Mr Andrews said family violence is the number one law and order challenge for Australia and that the work to end it will never stop.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said domestic violence was a “great scourge on our society” and anything to combat it was “absolutely spot on”.

Last Thursday, a man was charged with murdering Phillip Island mother-of-three Samantha Fraser, while Borce Ristevski was committed to stand trial for murdering his wife Karen in 2016.

Ms Hinchey released her findings into Ms Rowley’s death the same day.

Ms Rowley was found dead in her Rye home in October 2011 and her former partner, James Mulhall, was later sentenced to 19 years’ jail after pleading guilty to her murder.

Police recorded a number of domestic violence incidents between the couple and Mulhall was facing related charges at the time of the murder, Ms Hinchey said.

She found a lack of review into Ms Rowley’s case, both around the time of her death and up until the coronial investigation, resulted in “a lost opportunity for Victoria Police to engage in meaningful reflective practice as early as 2011”.

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