James Stoneham lures his ex-girlfriend to a park in Aberfeldie and fatally stabs her. The judge, Michael Croucher, says he couldn’t establish beyond reasonable doubt that the killer intended to kill and therefore reduces the sentence to a minimum 14 years. The girl, 20-year-old Adriana Donato had tried to placate Stoneham in the preceding months but it was to no avail. How could a judge make such a conclusion? If this doesn’t constitute murder - the court heard Stoneham told friends he was going to kill Adriana - what does?
As I learnt when my sister’s killer was found not guilty of murder due to provocation in 1989, the sympathy bestowed on men who kill the ‘woman in their life’ knows no bounds. The real issue here isn’t the sentence. It’s the way our society continues to ameliorate crimes against women by an intimate or estranged male partner that should be the source of our outrage.
It’s time for a genuine parliamentary inquiry into the way the courts treat violence against women.