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  • Judge defends security
  • By Fergus Shiel
  • The Age
  • 12/12/1997 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: Admin ( 14 articles in 2001 )
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Extra security had not been considered for a woman killed outside the Family Court in Dandenong on Wednesday, the Chief Judge of the Family Court, Justice Alistair Nicholson, said yesterday.

Justice Nicholson said the woman had never expressed fears for her safety and the Court records revealed no prior violence against her.

He said extra security could have been provided if it had been sought, or if there had been other warning signs. However, the courts security did not extend to the streets. Ms Anne(sic) Elizabeth Parsons, 50, was stabbed to death during a lunchtime adjournment of proceedings at the Dandenong court.

Her former partner, Mr Robert Clive Parsons, of Shelley Court, Ashwood has been charged with her murder.

Justice Nicholson said the couple had been in court over a child custody dispute. The children were now in the care of the mother’s sister.

He said the Family Court had no record of violence between the couple and Ms. Parsons had never expressed fears for her safety.

The couple had been separated for a number of years. "I gather they lived within 500 metres of each other, and had done so for many years", he said. Had there been any concerns for Ms. Parsons’ safety, Justice Nicholson said extra security precautions could have been taken by the Court.

"We can take reasonable steps to protect people if we know of a threat. We can take steps to try and provide entry at different times and that sort of thing", he said. "But in this case there was as far as I am able to determine... no prior signal that would have led to that happening".

Justice Nicholson said family law was "a stressful jurisdiction" and government legal aid cuts had exacerbated matters. We are finding greater difficulty with unrepresented people coming to court, not getting independent legal advice, and acting perhaps more irrationally than they otherwise would", he said. Such cuts were not thought to have had a bearing in this case, although Mr Parsons was unrepresented.

"I gather that the man was unrepresented, but on the other hand, the file indicates that there were substantial assets", he said.

Justice Nicholson said the Family Court dealt with about 50,000 applications nationwide each year, most without incident. Still family violence was all too common, he said. "There’s an unacceptable level of family violence in our community, which we all know", he said.


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