Justice system ‘unfair and deficient’

HE father of two boys murdered by their mother has attacked defence lawyers as manipulators of an unfair justice system and backed prosecutor Jeremy Rapke’s controversial stand on victims’ rights.
“The system favours the accused far more than it should,” David Fitchett wrote in a letter to The Age. “They have all the rights.”
Mr Fitchett said his ex-wife Donna had “fooled a lot of people” with claims of mental impairment: “My life has been destroyed by the action of one person; at sentencing, all the judge could worry about was what impact jail would have on her state of mind.”
He thanked Mr Rapke, “who took a chance against some odds to prosecute my ex-wife. If people like you were not in our defence system, bullying defence QCs … would have all the criminals set free. Somebody that is in the system has to be critical of it, as it has many deficiencies and without somebody challenging it there will never be changes made to improve it.
“The law is not untouchable and when mistakes are made somebody should be accountable. If not, then our society will keep heading in the same direction where there is always an excuse and a reason nobody is accountable for their own actions, however deplorable and despicable they may be.”
Donna Fitchett gave a cocktail of sedatives to her sons Thomas, 11, and Matthew, 9, before strangling and suffocating them at their North Balwyn home in September 2005, two days after Father’s Day. A court was later told she had chronic depression and had suffered postnatal depression after each child.
Four days before the killings she told her husband she was going to leave him and take the boys, but later decided she could not go on with life as a single parent. She had planned to commit suicide after killing her sons.
A jury rejected her defence of mental impairment and she was sentenced to 24 years, with a minimum of 18, in a secure psychiatric facility. She is appealing against her conviction and prosecutor Mr Rapke, QC, filed an appeal against the “manifest inadequacy” of the sentence.
Mr Rapke ignited a legal firestorm last week when he told The Age he sometimes privately counselled judges who made insensitive comments about victims from the bench. (He did this only after the trial was over.)
Chief Justice Marilyn Warren accused him of endangering the fairness of the criminal justice system. Prominent Melbourne QC Robert Richter accused Mr Rapke of cheap shots, playing politics and taking on the role of judge as well as prosecutor.