It is time to call for law reform for mandatory life sentencing for rapist murderers

It is time to call for law reform for mandatory life sentencing without parole for rapist murderers.

It is fitting that on International Women’s Day I break my 31 year silence to speak up about my sister Anne-Marie Culleton’s rape and murder in order to speak up for justice for rape and murder victims and their families.

My name is Eileen Culleton. I am a resident of NSW, Australia and the sister of murder victim Anne-Marie Culleton. Anne-Marie was raped and murdered on 23 February 1988 when Jonathan Peter Bakewell, 26, broke into her flat in the middle of the night when she was sleeping. Anne-Marie was only 20.

Today I made a submission to the NSW Review of Sentencing for Murder and Manslaughter.

I called for the crime of rape and murder to receive a mandatory life sentence with no parole.

It is my position that society needs a zero-tolerance policy toward rapist murderers and this should be reflected in sentencing. They should never get a second chance to rape and murder another person again.

I also called for rape and murder to be a stand alone crime to reflect its gravity and to enable specific mandatory sentencing.

It is my belief that strong sentencing for the crime of rape and murder will send a strong message in society and help to reduce all violent crimes against women.

A mandatory life sentence with no parole for the crime of rape and murder meets the sentencing purposes of just punishment, crime prevention, community protection, community condemnation, making the offender accountable and recognising the harm done to the victim and their loved ones as well as the community.

Mandatory life sentencing without parole for rapist murderers also ensures certainty, equality and consistency of sentencing for the offenders, the victim families and the community.

Rape and murder is a gender crime which strikes fear into the hearts of all women in the community.

The brutal rape and murder of my sister Anne-Marie while she was asleep in her flat is every woman’s worst nightmare.

The rape and murder occurred in the Northern Territory by Jonathan Peter Bakewell who was on the run from South Australia after breaching his parole.

Despite being given a life sentence with no parole, the laws were changed and Bakewell was released in 2016 and is now living in South Australia. However, given that he has crossed borders to kill before, means that women in NSW or anywhere in the country are not safe from this dangerous offender.

Since his release two years ago Bakewell has breached his parole twice for drug taking and I am living in perpetual fear that he may rape and murder again.

Keeping our community safe is the role of our government and police, supported by the rule of law.

This is another important reason why we need mandatory life sentencing without parole for rapist murderers. Today there are victim families in NSW and across Australia living with the ongoing fight against the parole release of rapist murderers. This living nightmare for victim families has got to stop.

My proposed mandatory life sentencing without parole for rapist murderers will be vital for women’s safety and for justice and ending the parole battle nightmare for victim families.

I commend the NSW government for their national leadership in calling for this murder and manslaughter sentencing review and hope the government will be strong and set a precedent Australia wide in addressing the crime of rape and murder which is a scourge on our society and ongoing risk to women’s safety.

My submission is available here:

Eileen-Culleton-Preliminary-Submission-into-Review-of-Sentencing-for-Murder-08032019-Version-2.pdf

I encourage you to also make your own submission in the next phase when a consultation paper will be produced dealing with the issues identified by the terms of reference and preliminary submissions.

Together we can drive law reform for mandatory life sentencing without parole for rapist murderers.

Together we can make our community a safer place for women.

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