March 30, 2006

The main talking point in my circle at the weekend was about the rights and wrongs of the MacDonald case.


Claire MacDonald was acquitted by a Supreme Court jury on charges of murder and even manslaughter. Even though she lay in wait for her doomed husband, Warren MacDonald for ninety minutes until he walked into her trap. She wore a camouflage jacket and plastic gloves.


Maybe predictably, the women participating in lunchtime debate sympathised and empathised with the killer.” He got what he deserved” was the general consensus. And “ the brute drove her to it”.


Now, I am not doubting that Claire MacDonald lived a nightmare of a life with a cruel, sadistic man. Although he wasn’t there to defend his name or sullied reputation.


I have no doubt that she suffered mental and physical abuse. That she was raped. That she was subjected to painful anal sex as punishment for real or imagined slights that angered her  husband.


But how could a jury rule that this was self-defence?  The killer planned this. She even involved her children in a plot to lure her husband to a part of the farm where she lay in wait. They were instructed to tell him – when he got home -- that the battery had gone in a four-wheel drive and she would meet him there.


Claire MacDonald had an hour and a half lying in her sniper’s nest to decide if she should go through with. She said later her hands were shaking and she didn’t know if she could. She did. She shot him in the back and then fired the rest of the bullets in the magazine. Then she reloaded and fired again.


This was self-defence? And, as the unarmed man was lying, dying, and, standing him she said she hated him for making  her do what she had just done.


There has been much talk about provocation. Justifiably. But I thought provocation – as a defence – was no longer applicable in Victoria . And anyway, I think provocation should have no part in a jury’s deliberations. It should certainly be taken into account by a judge when deciding on a sentence.


But in Claire MacDonald’s case  she stayed with her husband for 17 years. They had five children throughout the reign of terror. The last one only two years ago.


On the day that Warren MacDonald was killed his wife made him breakfast, put the kids in the car and did some mundane errors  like visiting the post office, the bank and the chemist. Then she drove home. Instead, she should have kept driving.


Monday, March 6, 2006

©Copyright Derryn Hinch 2006