The government of Western Australia has released a woman convicted of murdering her abusive partner four years into a 12-year sentence in a case that has sparked major legal reforms.
Jody Gore stabbed her partner three times in June 2015. During her trial the Supreme Court heard evidence Ms Gore had been “regularly physically and verbally assaulted” by her partner.
Attorney General John Quigley said he had not heard of Ms Gore, who was convicted in 2016, until a series of articles in the local daily newspaper, which led him to intervene in August this year.
“After seeing a report of new evidence that detailed Ms Gore’s plea for help at the Kununurra Crisis Accommodation Centre in late 2011, I asked the Solicitor General to give the case consideration… The Government recommended to the Governor… to exercise the royal prerogative of mercy to remit the remainder of (her) sentence,” he said, adding that Ms Gore’s serious health problems were a factor in the decision.
While the Attorney General noted that the exercise of the royal prerogative “turns upon the unique and tragic circumstances of this case”, he said 2008 reforms to the Criminal Code to enable victims of domestic violence to use self-defence as a defence in trials “may not have had their intended effect,” and announced new reforms.
The Department of Justice is urgently preparing drafting instructions, and the government will “introduce jury directions to address stereotypes, myths and misconceptions about family and domestic violence; and make it easier for evidence of family and domestic violence to be introduced at trial and sentencing, including expert evidence”.
Ms Gore’s release has echoes of the case of Sally Challen, who killed her husband Richard with a hammer in 2010 in Surrey after 31 years of living in an abusive marriage.
Mrs Challen’s murder conviction was reduced to manslaughter with diminished responsibility in June this year and she walked free.
During the appeal hearing the court heard evidence relating to Mrs Challen’s state of mind at the time of the killing and the issue of "coercive control" – a pattern of behaviour by an abuser to harm, punish or frighten their victim which became a criminal offence in England and Wales in December 2015.
The murder conviction was overturned by three judges who said the evidence of a psychiatrist – stating Mrs Challen was suffering from two mental disorders at the time of the killing – was not available at the time of her trial and undermined the grounds for her murder conviction.