Ditched in an icy grave

Three lit­tle boys drowned... Was their daddy a mur­derer?

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Fa­ther’s Day 2005, and mum-of-three Cindy Gam­bino’s heart was full.

In front of her, a beau­ti­ful fam­ily moment was un­fold­ing.

Her boys Jai, 10, Tyler, 7, and Bai­ley, 2, gave their fa­ther Robert Far­quhar­son his presents – a framed photo of them and a set of pans.

It was bit­ter-sweet – the gifts a re­minder of one fam­ily bro­ken into two, the pots a stark re­minder of Robert’s sep­a­rate home.

The pair had di­vorced af­ter their re­la­tion­ship had fallen apart, plagued by debt, and life’s stresses.

Cindy and Robert had agreed a reg­u­lar cus­tody ar­range­ment – but to­day, Cindy had of­fered her ex-hus­band an ex­tra ac­cess visit – a spe­cial treat for Fa­ther’s Day. Telling her boys how much she loved them, she hugged them tight, be­fore wav­ing them off from her home in Winchelsea, Aus­tralia. The trio left with their dad, climb­ing into his car and set­ting off on the 12-mile ride to his home in Gee­long. They had take­away fried chicken for din­ner and Robert bought Jai a cricket ball and Tyler and Bai­ley each a DVD. Climb­ing back into the car that even­ing, the boys started the jour­ney back to their mum’s. And a cat­a­strophic chain of events was set in mo­tion. Af­ter cross­ing a rail­way over­pass three miles from Cindy’s home, the car went onto the wrong side of the high­way.

Sweep­ing across a grassy area, then down a slope, the car smashed through a wire fence, nar­rowly miss­ing a tree and plung­ing into a large dam.

While Robert swam to safety, his trapped sons trag­i­cally sank with the car.

There’d been no hope of sur­vival in the icy wa­ter, and the three young boys lost their lives that night.

Hor­rific.

Cindy would soon get a knock on the door from her ex-hus­band and then her world would fall apart. A fran­tic search-and-res­cue op­er­a­tion was launched and, at 2pm the next day, po­lice divers dis­cov­ered the lit­tle boys’ life­less bod­ies, still in the sub­merged car. The ex-cou­ple com­forted each other as their boys were later laid to rest at their lo­cal ceme­tery. But, shock­ingly, af­ter a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the po­lice ruled the tragedy a mur­der. Robert Far­quhar­son was ar­rested and charged with killing his boys. Cindy sup­ported him, in­sist­ing that he wouldn’t have in­ten­tion­ally killed their chil­dren. ‘It’s ei­ther a tragic ac­ci­dent or a pre­med­i­tated, de­lib­er­ate, wicked act of re­venge by the de­fen­dant against his for­mer wife,’ mag­is­trate Jon Klestadt

said as the case was com­mit­ted to trial.

In Au­gust 2007, Far­quhar­son pleaded not guilty to three counts of mur­der.

He claimed that he’d had a cough­ing fit that made him black out.

But pros­e­cu­tors claimed he was seek­ing a sick re­venge against his ex-wife Cindy Gam­bino, and had de­lib­er­ately driven the car into the wa­ter.

They said Robert had re­sented Cindy af­ter she’d left him.

Cindy later told the court that there had been ten­sions be­tween them since they’d split in 2004.

Robert had al­legedly been an­noyed she’d started a new re­la­tion­ship, fear­ing her new man would take his place as the boys’ fa­ther.

But Cindy said that she’d re­as­sured him this wouldn’t hap­pen.

She added that Robert was an­gry she’d kept the bet­ter car when they’d bro­ken up and re­sented the level of monthly child-sup­port pay­ments he had to make.

Speak­ing of Robert’s de­fence that he’d had a cough­ing fit, she agreed her hus­band used to suf­fer with his breath­ing.

But she ad­mit­ted she’d never seen him pass out, as he al­leged he’d done on the night of the boys’ deaths.

Talk­ing about her ex­hus­band’s char­ac­ter, she said dis­ci­pline al­ways fell to her.

‘Rob was a bit of a softie,’ she added.

When Robert took the stand, he broke down as he re­mem­bered the gifts he’d re­ceived from his sons hours be­fore they’d died.

Then he ex­plained about his cough­ing fit, and hear­ing Jai say some­thing about wa­ter as his son grabbed his arm.

‘I just re­mem­ber it be­ing dark­ness,’ he told the court.

Robert said he had no idea they were in a dam.

Clam­ber­ing out, he thought he’d be able to reach the boys again but, as he got out, the car plunged un­der­wa­ter. ‘All I can re­mem­ber is scream­ing for help,’ he said. Robert flagged down a pass­ing car and they drove to Cindy’s be­fore re­turn­ing to­gether to the dam. Asked by the de­fence coun­sel Peter Mor­ris­sey why he didn’t help, as strangers jumped in in a bid to save the boys, Robert said, ‘I thought they were dead.’ Later, his older sis­ter told the court that, on the an­niver­saries of the boys’ deaths, she would drive him to the ceme­tery. There, he would cry for hours over his sons’ graves. It seemed as if Robert Far­quhar­son was a fa­ther griev­ing for his three young sons, wrongly ac­cused of their mur­der.

But the pros­e­cu­tion painted a dif­fer­ent picture – of a man whose re­sent­ment to­wards his ex-wife had taken hold of him that fate­ful night.

‘The pris­oner killed not one, but all three of his chil­dren, wip­ing out his and his ex-wife’s fam­ily in one act,’ the pros­e­cu­tor An­drew Tin­ney said at the pre-sen­tence hear­ing.

But de­fence coun­sel Peter Mor­ris­sey begged for mercy.

‘It could not be doubted that he had a very gen­uine love for those boys, as at­tested in sworn ev­i­dence,’ he said.

Robert Far­quhar­son may have loved his sons, but was he blinded by his over­whelm­ing de­sire for re­venge against his ex-wife?

Would he do any­thing to make her pay?

Or was what hap­pened truly just a tragic ac­ci­dent?

LIVES: THREE LOST Tyler Jai, Bai­ley and

What do you think? Turn for the ver­dict…

The jury found Robert Far­quhar­son guilty of the mur­ders of his three sons.

Supreme Court Judge Jus­tice Philip Cum­mins sen­tenced Far­quhar­son, 38, to serve three life sen­tences, with no min­i­mum terms.

Judge Cum­mins said, ‘The aim was to en­sure all three were killed so their mother was left with no con­so­la­tion.’

In De­cem­ber 2009, the con­vic­tion was over­turned by ap­peal judges and a re­trial was or­dered.

But in July 2010, the se­cond jury found Far­quhar­son guilty of mur­der yet again.

He was sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment with a 33-year min­i­mum.

AL IN­TEN­TION KILLER? Dad Robert

Robert and Cindy, to­gether at the boys’ funeral

Pulled from the wa­ter: the car in which they died

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