Extend parole ban for killers
THE heartbroken mother of a Perth man bashed and burnt alive in a murder plot orchestrated and carried out by five people, including his partner and mother of his child, says the State Government’s proposed parole ban for mass murderers and serial killers should be extended to all murderers.
Lisa Mills has spoken out to question the Government’s approach, saying all murders were heinous crimes and that her family’s grief was no less than someone whose child was murdered by a mass or serial killer.
The Government’s legislation, passed this week by the Lower House, will allow the Attorney-General to stop mass murderers and serial killers from being considered for parole for six years, instead of three years.
Mrs Mills’ 30-year-old son Travis Bennjamin Mills was bashed unconscious at his Seville Grove home and put in the boot of his car, which was set ablaze on a vacant lot in Hilbert on Good Friday 2015 — the day before his daughter Ruby’s first birthday.
Five people received life sentences for the premeditated murder, including Mr Mills’ partner Seleena Monique Ruthsalz and her mother Joanne Christine Ruthsalz.
“The devastation to the families is the same. We’re secondary victims of a heinous crime and no matter how our children have been murdered — whether it’s one person who’s done it to a group of people or five people that have murdered someone like my son — the pain is no different for any of us,” Mrs Mills said.
Mrs Mills said anyone who thought there was a distinction should walk a day in her shoes. She still suffers nightmares from sitting through evidence at the trial of her son’s killers — involving blood splatter patterns and the particularly haunting and grizzly detail of a “burning skull alight in the boot of the car”.
“I drove past a burnt-out car a couple of weeks ago on the way to work and that just started a whole sobbing episode, it took me right back to Trav dying. Things like that just affect us all the time,” she said.
The intense grief of her son’s grisly murder was compounded by the unbelievable betrayal of his partner, who had cried with her family, helped plan his funeral and had an offer to move into the family home.
Mrs Mills said their one saving grace was little Ruby, now a bright and inquisitive 41⁄2-year-old, whom she and her husband Kim are raising.
“To be honest I think Ruby probably saved us . . . we had to get out of bed because we had a baby to look after,” she said.
On the advice of a psychologist, they are honest with Ruby about her parents.
“She knows that her dad’s in heaven and she knows that her mum’s in jail. She knows that her mum’s in jail because she did something really naughty,” Mrs Mills said.
In a recent blog, Mrs Mills, a mother of four, describes having to “wear a mask to function” in everyday life, and how the pain is always there under the surface. It never allows them to recover, just survive, though they do experience “snippets of happiness”.
“We are alive but at times barely functioning . . . our lives will never be the same. My granddaughter will never know the amazing man that was her father, how will she understand and come to terms with the fact her mother murdered her father?”
Mrs Mills said her son’s killers who had planned his murder for six months, and all murderers, deserved to spend the rest of their lives behind bars. Instead, his killers received life terms with minimum periods ranging from 13 to 24 years.
This week in Parliament, Attorney-General John Quigley said the Government would not be expanding its legislation to include other categories of murderers. The Opposition had called for it to cover child killers like Dante Arthurs, who killed schoolgirl Sofia Rodriguez Urrutia-Shu, and is due to be considered for the first time next year.
Mr Quigley extended his deepest condolences to Mr Mills’ family, but said the Government went to the 2017 election seeking a specific mandate for parole laws relating to serial killers and mass murderers.
“I can only begin to imagine the devastating emotional impact this tragedy has had and will continue to have on Mr Mills’ family and friends,” Mr Quigley said.
“In framing this extreme measure, we confined it to mass murderers and serial killers to minimise the risk of a constitutional challenge to what will be the toughest parole laws in the country.”
He said WA was the only State where the attorney-general had to approve release of all homicide offenders, whether mass, serial or single killers.
We’re secondary victims of a heinous crime and no matter how our children have been murdered . . . the pain is no different for any of us.
Constant pain: Travis Mills’ siblings Renee Whitmarsh-Knight, Jayden Mills and Rhiannon Shales, with parents Lisa and Kim Mills and a picture from 2014 when daughter Ruby was born. Picture: Daniel Wilkins