August 17, 2006 03:20pm
A VICTORIAN father will stand trial for allegedly murdering his three sons by driving them into a dam in a case a judge says was either a tragic accident or a deliberate and wicked act of revenge.
Robert Mr Farquharson, 37, was today committed to stand trial for the murders of Jai, 10, Tyler, 7, and Bailey, 2, who drowned in a Winchelsea dam, south-west of Melbourne, on the way home from a Father's Day outing in Geelong last year.
Mr Farquharson pleaded not guilty to the murders today, and has maintained he suffered a coughing fit and blacked out while driving, then tried to save his sons as the car sank.
Magistrate Jon Klestadt said Mr Farquharson's story was in stark contrast to what police claimed.
"There is no middle ground in this difficult affair at all," he said. "It was either a tragic accident or a premeditated, deliberate and wicked act of revenge by the defendant against his former wife," Mr Klestadt said.
He said tyre marks left by the car driven by Mr Farquharson, and the alleged anger the father had towards his ex-wife, could be enough evidence to convince a jury he murdered his sons.
"The forensic evidence itself provides a basis upon which a jury could come to the view ... that the act of driving the vehicle off the roadway was deliberate and that its passage from the highway into the dam was again deliberate," he said.
But Mr Klestadt also said there was a significant amount of evidence supporting Mr Farquharson's story.
Mr Farquharson's ex-wife Cindy Gambino told the court she did not believe he had murdered their sons.
But Winchelsea man Greg King claimed Mr Farquharson had told him he planned to kill the boys to punish Ms Gambino.
Mr Farquharson's lawyer Russell Sarah said Mr King's evidence could not be relied on as it was not corroborated by his wife, despite his claim he discussed Mr Farquharson's alleged threat with her.
Mr Sarah also said there was enough evidence to suggest Mr Farquharson could have steered the car by convulsing with his hand on the wheel whilst unconscious.
Prosecutor Jeremy Rapke, QC, said Mr Sarah's submissions were "as bizarre as the circumstances of this event," and there was sufficient evidence against Mr Farquharson.
This included notes made by a paramedic who attended the scene, describing Mr Farquharson's "piss-poor effort to rescue the boys" and police evidence that found the car was deliberately driven into the dam, as well as Mr Farquharson's "long-standing depressive condition".
Mr Farquharson had been taking medication for depression, which had allegedly worsened after his separation from Ms Gambino in November 2004, the court heard.
Mr Farquharson, of Mt Moriac, near Geelong, is on bail and has been ordered to face a directions hearing at the Victorian Supreme Court in Melbourne on October 31.