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  • Father found guilty of killing three sons
  • 05/10/2007 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 59 articles in 2007 )
Robert Farquharson
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Farquharson pleaded not guilty to murder, claiming he blacked out from a coughing fit shortly before the car entered the dam. (ABC TV)

The jury in the murder trial of Robert Farquharson has found him guilty of three counts of murder.

Farquharson, 38, was charged with the drowning murder of his three sons, 10-year-old Jai, seven-year-old Tyler and two-year-old Bailey, who died when the car he was driving ran into a dam at Winchelsea, near Geelong, in 2005.

He looked stunned as the jury handed down the guilty verdict after deliberating for three days.

The verdict was followed by dramatic scenes inside court.

Farquharson's former mother-in-law had to be carried from the court and was later taken to hospital.

His ex-wife Cindy Gambino broke down in loud sobs and the rest of his supporters were given 15 minutes by the judge to compose themselves before the hearing resumed.

His lawyers say they will appeal against the verdict.

Farquharson pleaded not guilty to the murders, claiming he blacked out from a coughing fit shortly before the car entered the dam.

During the trial the court heard Farquharson told police he considered himself to be an over protective father who did everything for his sons and vehemently denied deliberately driving into the dam.

The jurors heard Farquharson explain to police how he had tried to save the boys from the sinking car.

But the prosecution argued that he planned to kill the children to get back at his ex-wife, who had left him late in 2004.

During the trial, a friend of Farquharson, Greg King, told the court Farquharson spoke about killing his kids during a conversation outside a fish and chip shop in Winchelsea.

Mr King said Farquharson told him he wanted to get back at his former wife who was dating another man.

Mr King told the court Farquharson spoke of arranging an accident where the children died and he escaped, and mentioned Father's Day as a possible date.

But the lawyer for the accused, Peter Morrissey, argued Mr King's evidence was not reliable as he was a disturbed individual.

Debate over coughing fit

Whether it was likely Farquharson blacked out from a coughing fit played a central part in the court trial.

Medical expert Professor Matthew Naughton testified that coughing to the point of losing consciousness, known as cough syncope, is extremely rare.

He said it was unlikely Farquharson had a coughing fit when he was warm and seated inside his car.

But his evidence was refuted by Geelong doctor Christopher Steinfort who testified that Farquharson's story was entirely consistent with the rare condition.

During the trial, Acting Sergeant Glen Urquhart said the car was directed by three distinct steering movements before entering the dam, contradicting the argument Farquharson was unconscious at the wheel.

He told the court, the car moved off the road to the right, then straightened, before moving right again, narrowly missing a tree.

But other police officers gave contradictory evidence about what marks were found at the scene.

Ex-wife's evidence

Farquharson's former wife, Cindy Gambino, told the court her ex-husband was delirious and in a trance-like state when he came to tell her he had driven into the dam.

Ms Gambino appeared distressed as she told the Victorian Supreme Court Farquharson was saturated when she saw him at his house shortly after the crash.

He had been driven there by a passer-by who he had flagged down on the side of the road.

The man who drove him to the house, Steve Atkinson, told the court he offered Farquharson a mobile phone to call police but he refused it and insisted on being driven to see Ms Gambino.

In an earlier committal hearing before the Magistrates Court in Geelong, Ms Gambino stood by her ex husband saying he would not have hurt a hair on the boys' heads.

The murder trail before Justice Philip Cummins began on August 20 and heard 49 witnesses.


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