MURDER IN THE DAM
This is an edited version of an article published in the Herald-Sun in October 2007
isn’t the first nor sadly will he be the last man found guilty of
killing his children as an act of revenge against an estranged wife.
Yet despite the horrific and pre-meditated nature of the killing of the
children, the media’s response has been subdued. Throughout the court
case Farquharson was portrayed as a bit of loser; a sad little man down
on his luck. One newspaper even ran the story under the headline Death of a family, as
if some cheery family had been torn apart by the accidental death of a
child. It seemed not to matter that Farquharson and his wife, Cindy
Gambino, had been separated for some time and reconciliation was out of
Cindy had a new partner and a new
life, only to have that life destroyed by the wilful murder of her
beautiful little children. And with those children went a mother’s
life, for she will forever be haunted by their murder. Not so the man
found guilty of this cowardly act of revenge. While Cindy remains in a
state of shock and disbelief, the killer has displayed a keen eye for
his predicament. ‘ The jury found Robert guilty, but I can tell you he
maintains his innocence of the charges. He will maintain his innocence
in court during the plea,’ said his lawyer Peter Morrissey.
It’s a far cry from the image of a bloke jumping from a sinking car and
leaving his eldest son to grapple with the terror. Most men I know
would die for their children. ‘I'd do anything to have them back, and
I've got to live with this for the rest of my life, that I couldn't
save my kids,’ said Farquharson. To those who believe he murdered his
children the words are like oil on a fire. If only he’d said, sorry. If
only he said, I went mad! At least we could try to be compassionate.
But when men act with such vengeance then lie, it’s impossible to find
I’ve written many articles over the
years - and two books - about men who kill. One such man was Kemalettin
Dincer. A Turkish Muslim, Dincer stabbed his 16-year-old daughter
Zerrin to death in 1981 in the midst of an argument about her
boyfriend. The crown prosecutor, the now deceased, Jim Morrissey, was
stunned when the judge allowed Dincer a defence of provocation. Justice
Lush ruled that as a ‘devout Muslim’ Dincer was more likely to be
thrown into emotional turmoil by his daughter’s alleged sexual
relationship with her boyfriend.
Morrissey was the father of Farquharson’s lawyer, Peter Morrissey.
Morrissey can protest his client’s innocence, as he must, until the
cows come home. But he well knows that men can and regularly do kill
their own kith and kin. Eight years after Kemalettin Dincer stabbed his
daughter to death, Roland Jonker drove his two children to an isolated
spot outside Perth and gassed them to death in a devastating
murder-suicide. The murder of the children followed the breakdown of
his marriage and was reported in one newspaper under the headline Dad loved his boys to death.
We should never entertain such myths. Jonker didn’t love his boys to
death. He hated his estranged wife so much he killed them to inflict
the maximum suffering on her.
It was for the
same reasons, Farquharson told his mate Gregory King, that he was
considering killing his children. Like Jonker he wante dhis wife to
suffer. It was King's evidence that buried the killer. Just as Cindy
Gambino has never wanted to believe her estranged husband could kill
their own children, so do most people struggle with the idea that a man
could do what Farquharson did. That's why King didn't act when
Farquharson talked about murdering his children.
those of us who’ve had a sister or daughter murdered by an estranged
partner it’s a different story. The moment I heard about the boys in
the dam I ‘knew’ it was murder. Like killing an estranged partner, it’s
what some men do. Unfortunately the courts are littered with stories of
men who were given an inkling of a man’s murderous intent and failed to
There will no doubt be the usual chorus of
men telling me that women kill their children too. Yes, they do, but
less frequently – 63 % of such killings are by men - and for far
different reasons. Mad women, or women terrified about the safety of
their children, have been known to kill. But rarely, if ever, are such
killings an act of revenge against the father. Men have a monopoly on
the revenge killing of women and children. And only men can put an end
to these killings.
For my thoughts on the Australian Story version of the crime:
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