An article discussing the findings of Kate Fitz-Gibbon’s research examining the Victorian operation of defensive homicide has appeared front page of The Age today. The article discusses Kate’s research findings which were published this month in The Griffith Law Review.
Kate’s research examines the operation of the offence of defensive homicide in Victoria. The offence was introduced not as a replacement for the abolished provocation defence but rather as a ʻsafety netʼ between murder and an acquittal for women who kill in response to prolonged family violence. However, the research reveals that since its implementation in November 2005 the offence has primarily benefited male defendants who have killed a male victim, with only 3 of the 26 cases of defensive homicide thus far involving a female offender.
In one case the offence was successfully used by a male defendant, Luke Middendorp, who had killed his estranged female partner, Jade Bownds. It is this case which Kate’s research stresses is particularly problematic given that it mirrors many of the problems previously recognised in the operation of the controversial partial defence of provocation. Her article analyses the trial and sentencing transcripts from the Middendorp case to illustrate how through the operation of defensive homicide the Victorian law of homicide has continued to minimise the status of victims and in so doing has been unable to distance itself from the narratives of victim blame, denigration and delegitimisation that were heavily critiqued in the operation of the provocation defence.
Read The Age article on Kate’s research here.