Father appeals over triple murder

ROBERT Farquharson has appealed against his convictions for murdering his three sons and against his sentence of three terms of life imprisonment without parole.
There was not enough evidence to sustain the verdicts and the sentence was “manifestly excessive”, according to documents filed by his lawyers to the Court of Appeal.
Farquharson was sentenced to life in jail last November for having driven into a dam near Winchelsea on Father’s Day 2005 with his children Jai, 10, Tyler, seven, and Bailey, two.
The Supreme Court was told he planned the killings to punish his former wife, Cindy Gambino, for leaving him.
Farquharson pleaded not guilty, claiming he blacked out in a fit of coughing and woke to find the car in the dam. He said he dived in to try to save the children but could not reach them in the dark, icy water.
The documents list 31 grounds for appeal against conviction, including alleged failures by trial judge Justice Philip Cummins in rulings about medical evidence and about reconstructions of the path of the vehicle.
It is also claimed the prosecution failed to disclose before the verdict that key witness Gregory King had charges pending against him (police later provided a letter of support at his plea and sentence).
Mr King testified that Farquharson had spoken to him of revenge against his estranged wife that would involve an accident at a dam.
The appeal claims the judge’s charge to the jury distorted issues, ignored or underplayed important parts of the defence case and “was marred by evident displays of emotion”. The appeal against the sentence claims the judge erred in failing to fix a minimum term and in placing insufficient weight on Farquharson’s mental condition. Other errors included the judge treating Farquharson’s behaviour after the death of the children as evidence of self-centredness, the appeal claims.
Justice Cummins said at sentencing: “Your conduct beside the dam demonstrated your self-centredness. Two young men came across the scene. They offered to dive into the dark and still water to try and save the children. You said it was too late.”
Ms Gambino told a women’s magazine she refused to believe Farquharson deliberately killed their three sons. She said he was a kind, loving father whose conviction for murder was a travesty of justice.

First published in The Age.