Anthony Robert Harvey, the Perth father who was jailed indefinitely for murdering five members of his family, has launched an appeal against his historic jail sentence.
Harvey admitted responsibility for what is one of WA’s worst mass killings – the murders of his 41-year-old wife Mara, their daughters Charlotte, three, and two-year-old twins Alice and Beatrix, and their grandmother Beverley Quinn, 73.
They were all killed with knives and blunt instruments at the family’s Bedford home in September last year, with the Supreme Court told Harvey had planned the crimes for days and wrote in a journal about eliminating his family.
Last month he became the first person in WA history jailed for life with an order to never be released from custody – effectively imprisoning him until he died.
Harvey’s lawyers on Friday lodged a notice with the Court of Appeal that he intended to appeal against the sentence imposed by Justice Stephen Hall.
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A sentence for the very worst of crimes
During the sentencing last month, Justice Hall said the order to never be released – the maximum penalty available under WA law – was reserved for the very worst cases.
“Frankly, I struggle to find words that are adequate to convey the magnitude of your offences,” he said.
“Your actions are so far beyond the bounds of acceptable human conduct that they instil horror and revulsion into even the most hardened of people.
“It is necessary to make an order that you never be released in order to meet the community’s interest in punishment and deterrence.”
Justice Hall said Harvey took the lives of his family members in an “exceedingly brutal manner”.
Mara Harvey was the first to die, after being hit with a piece of pipe and then stabbed when she returned home from her night fill job at a local Coles supermarket.
Harvey then targeted his daughters, who were stabbed while they were sleeping, with one suffering 38 wounds.
The next morning, when Ms Quinn turned up as usual to help look after the family, she was hit with the pipe and stabbed.
Harvey then stayed with the bodies for days, covering them with doonas and bunches of flowers and writing letters apologising for what he had done.
He eventually drove to the Pilbara town of Pannawonica, where his parents lived, and confessed to his father, who called police.
Harvey breached ‘fundamental’ duties of a father
Justice Hall said Harvey’s family were all loving and much loved, and the children in particular were “so very young”.
“Their potential to grow and achieve and have families of their own was cut short by your actions,” he said.
“The murder of children is conduct that is held by society to be especially heinous.”
Justice Hall said the children were asleep in their beds where they “should have been safest”.
“They should have been able to trust their father to protect them,” he said.
“That is the most fundamental duty any parent has.
“You breached that trust and failed in that duty in the most extreme way imaginable.”
Harvey was impassive throughout the sentencing.
Axe killer had indefinite sentence overturned
No other person in WA has ever received a “never to be released” sentence, a provision that was introduced in 2008 by the then-Labor government under changes to the state’s homicide laws.
Before that, the only person who faced the possibility of never being released was William Patrick Mitchell, who murdered four members of one family with an axe in the Mid West town of Greenough in 1993.
There was an order at one point that he should never be granted parole, but it was overturned on appeal.
He was then given a life term with a 20-year minimum, which expired in 2013, after which he applied for release on parole but was refused.
Under the legislation, offenders are eligible to be considered for parole every three years after they have completed their term.
Every one of Mitchell’s applications has been refused.
He is due for parole consideration again in September this year.