Geelong Advertiser

Darcey’s mum to give evidence at inquest


THE mother of Darcey Freeman, who was thrown to her death from the West Gate Bridge by her father six years ago, will give evidence at a coroner’s inquiry on her death.

Peta Barnes and Darcey’s grandmothe­r, Iris, appeared in the Coroners Court of Victoria yesterday to hear State Coroner Ian Gray declare he would hold a two-day inquest into the tragedy in July.

Arthur Phillip Freeman was jailed for life with a non-parole period of 32 years for the murder of his daughter, which he committed as revenge against her mother in a custody battle.

He had packed his three children into his car at his parents’ holiday home at Aireys Inlet and headed to Melbourne on January 29, 2009.

It was two years after the parents separated.

The day before he killed Darcey, Freeman’s custody time with his children was reduced by a court.

Ms Barnes indicated she had concerns over how 000 operators handled emergency calls and further issues with the legal profession’s handling of family violence matters.

Sergeant Sharon Wade told the court action had been taken on two of the main issues — safety barriers on the bridge and introducin­g world’s best practice in the Family Court.

The inquest would explore whether more could be done.

The court heard the inquest would aim to determine if general practition­ers fully understood their responsibi­lity to make mandatory reports to authoritie­s when suspicious that a child may be at risk.

It would also explore whether changes to the Family Court adequately addressed mandatory reporting of family violence and if anything could be done to improve the system.

The legal profession will also be scrutinise­d, with questions to be asked about a lawyer’s obligation to report disclosure­s by clients about family violence or child abuse.

The inquest will begin on July 15.

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