2019-10-10 by W.M.
Murderer Jody Gore released from prison early after domestic violence history revealed
A woman convicted of murdering her abusive partner in 2015 has been released from prison nearly eight years early after the WA Government took the extremely rare step of intervening to reduce her sentence.
- Jody Gore has served four years of her 12-year murder sentence
- Her history of domestic violence was key in the Government deciding to release her
- Law reforms are planned to better account for domestic violence victims
The move came as the Government announced changes to the law to allow criminal trials to more easily include evidence of family and domestic violence, and better account for self-defence situations.
Jody Gore was released on Thursday morning just four years into a 12-year sentence after the Government recommended the remainder of that term be remitted.
Gore stabbed her former partner to death during a drunken argument at a Kununurra house in June 2015.
Her 2016 Supreme Court trial heard evidence that she had been “regularly physically and verbally assaulted” by the man and she acted in self-defence when she stabbed him with a knife three times.
Family shocked by surprise release
Gore’s cousin Kerrianne Trust grew up with her and said the family was still in shock at the news.
“I just started in crying — it was just tears of joy, we were in shock,” Ms Trust said.
“We just are in shock but very happy, I am just so happy.”
She said before the abuse started, Gore was happy and friendly, and the carer of two young children from the time they were babies.
But the repeated abuse left her covered with bruises and cuts.
“There was violence from her partner, I didn’t witness it but I seen her bruises and cuts and things like that from him,” she said.
Jody Gore’s mother Judith Gore and cousin Kerrianne Trust were shocked at her sudden release. (ABC News: Courtney Fowler)
“He used to do it when they were together, not when anyone was around.
“But she’d just had enough and when it happened, he was gonna attack her, she had to [resort to] self-defence.”
‘Now is the time for mercy’
Attorney-General John Quigley said Gore’s history of domestic violence was a key factor behind the decision, announcing the Government would also make changes to the law to better account for victims acting in self-defence.
“That decision took into account an assessment of the seriousness of her medical conditions, the greater impact that has upon her as an Indigenous woman who must be kept imprisoned away from her country and family,” Mr Quigley told State Parliament.
“[It also took into account] the extent to which it is likely that the substantial history of domestic violence caused or contributed to her actions.”
Attorney-General John Quigley says Gore’s history as a domestic violence victim was central to the decision to release her. (ABC News: Kate Leaver)
But Gore will not be pardoned for the murder.
Mr Quigley said he sought advice from the State Solicitor’s Office after recent media reports put the case in the spotlight.
He also cited a Court of Appeal decision, which mentioned the prospect of the Government using the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
“She has served more than four years in prison,” Mr Quigley said.
“The Government has decided that now is the time for mercy.”
Domestic violence law reform announced
Mr Quigley conceded changes to the criminal code in 2008 to better account for domestic violence victims acting in self-defence had not worked and said further amendments would now be made.
“The McGowan Labor Government will introduce legislative reforms to provide for jury directions and expert evidence to address stereotypes, myths and misconceptions about family and domestic violence,” he said.
Those proposed changes would also make it easier for evidence of family and domestic violence to be introduced in criminal trials.
The new laws would require judges to give greater direction to juries in domestic violence cases. (ABC News)
Justice Lindy Jenkins, who imposed the 12-year term in 2016, said at the time there was a need for a “deterrent” sentence because there was “far too much drunken violence in the Kimberley”.
Mr Quigley said the decision to cut the sentence short was not a criticism of the judiciary or jury.
A ‘miscarriage of justice’
Hannah McGlade, a Human rights lawyer and Noongar academic at Curtin University, questioned the original decision to imprison Gore.
“Yes, the system failed her, mistreated and discriminated against her as an Indigenous woman subjected to severe violence for two decades,” Ms McGlade said.
“This was a very big decision the government made, a right decision showing care and compassion.”
Ms McGlade said changes need to ensure women fighting back against domestic violence are not further victimised.
“We need to ensure that there is reform so this doesn’t happen again to women in Jody’s situation.”
Criminal lawyer and Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia’s law school, Stella Tarrant, welcomed the decision to release Gore early.
“I think the Attorney-General’s decision can be read as an indication that the Attorney-General considers it to be a miscarriage of justice,” Associate Professor Tarrant said.
She said Gore’s case was a example of current legislation failing in cases where domestic violence and abuse was alleged.
Associate Professor Tarrant says the law is failing domestic violence victims. (Supplied: University of Western Australia)
The reforms would mean judges would need to provide greater direction to juries in cases where domestic violence and abuse were alleged to have occurred.
Associate Professor Tarrant said the executive decision to pardon Gore did not overturn the original decision and she would still have a criminal record.
She said she had worked on similar cases and the reforms highlighted the need for a greater understanding of domestic violence cases by courts.
“The awareness about the nature of intimate partner violence and how it affects those who are victimised by it needs to be understood by all parties in the prosecution, not only the defence lawyers — the onus is on the state as they are viewing any women’s case,” she said.