Life term sought for man's 'betrayal' of sons

By Karen Kissane

The Age (Melbourne)
27 October 2007

Robert Farquharson should spend the rest of his life in jail for murdering his three sons as revenge against his former wife, prosecutor Jeremy Rapke, QC, has told the Supreme Court.

Children trusted their parents to protect them from harm and love them, not use them in a shabby act of retribution, he said yesterday. "Mr Farquharson is to be sentenced as much for the monumental act of betrayal that the murder of his three children represents as for the loss of their young lives."

Mr Rapke said Farquharson should receive three life sentences with no minimum term.

Farquharson, 38, of Winchelsea, was convicted of murdering his sons by deliberately driving his car into a dam on Father's Day, 2005. Jai, 10, Tyler, 7, and Bailey, 2, all drowned. Farquharson pleaded not guilty, claiming he had a coughing fit, blacked out and found himself in the car in the water. He said he tried to save the children but failed.

The prosecution alleged that his motive was to punish the children's mother, Cindy Gambino. Farquharson resented that she had left him, taken up with another man, kept the better car and created financial difficulties for him.

Mr Rapke said the children were not so young that they would have been immune from "fear, shock, feelings of abandonment and plain terror in the last few moments of their lives. We shall not dwell on the scene that must have played out in the car as it sank below the surface of the dam and slowly filled with water Where was the father of these three children as they fought for their lives? He swam for his life, made (according to him) some desultory attempts to save his children, and thereafter actively discouraged rescue attempts from brave strangers and others who were prepared to dive into the icy water to try to save the children A father does not abandon his children like that."

Mr Rapke said Farquharson showed no remorse and had contemplated killing the children in this way off and on for months.

Defence counsel Peter Morrissey told Justice Philip Cummins that Farquharson maintained his innocence. Mr Morrissey said there was no
remorse because he had pleaded not guilty. Therefore no psychological or psychiatric evidence would be called in mitigation of the offence. He asked the judge not to impose a life sentence or, if he did, to set a minimum term.

Mr Morrissey asked the judge to consider Farquharson's previous good character, his history as a loving, attentive father, his excellent
prospects for rehabilitation and his grief over the loss of his children.

Farquharson's older sister Carmen Ross told the court that on anniversaries of the boys' deaths she would drive him to the cemetery where he would "cry at times for his boys".

He will be sentenced on November 16.