Put victims first, listen to their pain

A WODONGA man involved with support groups since the stabbing death of his son in Albury’s main street in 2002 has welcomed a move to make it mandatory for NSW judges and magistrates to consider the content of victim impact statements.

Bruce Kimball said legislation proposed by NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson had a lot of merit and should be passed.

“Anything that gives a voice to the families of people killed and input in the sentencing process is warranted,” Mr Kimball said.

Mr Robertson recently introduced a Private Members Bill in state Parliament to make the content of such statements essential for judges to consider, particularly in homicide cases.

The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal has consistently held in binding decisions that it is never appropriate for a court to consider a victim impact statement from a family member in a homicide case.

Mr Robertson said too often the legal system appeared to place criminals first and victims second.

Mr Kimball and his wife, Jean, made victim impact statements after Warren Alan Forbes pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of their son Ross, 31.

He was fatally stabbed in Dean Street in the early hours of January 6, 2002.

Forbes, who was on parole from Victoria at the time, later killed former Black Uhlans bikie Andy Hullick, 41, in a caravan at the back of a residence in Dallinger Road, Albury, on May 5, 2002.

A Supreme Court jury in Griffith found Forbes not guilty of murder, but guilty of Mr Hullick’s manslaughter.

Mr Kimball said it was his opinion that Justice Robert Hulme took notice of what they had written in their victim impact statements.

In his sentencing remarks, he made references to what the Kimballs told him.

Justice Hulme described Forbes as a “recidivist offender” with a remote chance of rehabilitation, but the sentence imposed was later reduced by 27 months on appeal making him eligible for release in February next year.

The Kimballs received assistance from the NSW Homicide Victim Support Group during the long process leading up to Forbes’ sentencing.

In November 2008, Mr Kimball was elected president of Support After Murder In Victoria Incorporated and filled that role for five years until stepping down last year.

He remains a vice-president and is one of nine people on Victoria’s Victims of Crime Consultative Committee.

The committee is chaired by former Supreme Court judge Justice Philip Cummins.

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