THE PEOPLE VERSUS
JAMES RAMAGE - MURDERER
What does it take, when will sanity, let alone justice, prevail.
" Provocation " reduces it to man - well woman-slaughter,
then a minimum of eight, not the possible twenty. Slaughter is
still slaughter. He was fortified, being stronger physically,
but not justified. She was defenceless, helpless, innocent, and
the law which we trust to avenge us, failed her, just as he did.
The law is just another enemy of the victim, defender of the offender.
She did not provoke him. Was anyone there to hear her provoke
him. The legal system will not allow ' heresay ' relative to a
history of domestic violence, and yet allows this heresay
....... provocation as attested by the perpetrator. I have lived
25 years of domestic violence, been " protected" by
an intervention order, and would never be so reckless to my own
safety, knowing my ex-husband as I do, to say anything that would
anger him, regardless of what I thought. Even Julie Ramage's daughter
knew her mother feared him. The so-called " provocation "
is an unproveable, yet successful - escape from murder. The Eternal
Judge will not be so easily persuaded. He will, however, have
a huge case list, hence the need for eternity!
Keep up the good work Phil, we must never end this pursuit to
speak for those who no longer can.
Julie Ramage, nee Garrett, was loved by her friends and family.
All the stories suggest she was a warm and generous person - like
her twin sister Jane - who had so much to live for.
Below is what real people believe about the violence and the
I was glad to read your voice of reason in the Herald Sun today
as yet another violent man got away with murder quite literally.
I also read your book, Another Little Murder and find
it astonishing that the defence of provocation still exists in
the 21st century. As a logical proposition the defence of provocation
doesnt make much sense.
Firstly, would a reasonable man find the deceased actions or
comments so provocative as to lose his self control and kill.
Husbands and wives leave each other all the time with many a bitter
word spoken without lethal consequences. That alone should tell
us that the reasonable person would not find the revelation
of an extra marital affair an incitement to kill.
Secondly, women rarely avail themselves of this defence suggesting
that half the populous would not respond in this fashion. Surely,
this tells us that it is a defence to accommodate and excuse male
violence. If the reports of the Herald Sun are true what is extraordinary
is that Julie Ramage remained in this controlling marriage for
so long. Men who kill their wives in this fashion have a history
of abusive and violent behaviour which doesnt seem to come
to light in court. And what is distressing is the regular monotony
with which we read of yet another woman killed by a violent partner.
So what can we do about it? Im a qualified solicitor and
have done a stint as a criminal defence lawyer. Can I be of any
assistance to convince the parliament to step in and legislate
away this anachronism? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
I am a friend of Julie Ramage. I used to ride with Julie at my
property which is the on the road where her husband dumped her.
I am outraged - I know so many things that could have helped
that arsehole go down, but none of it would have been allowed.
I know she was so scared of him that there is NO WAY that she
would have said what she has been accused of. She would have been
absolutely terrified. I have read the papers for the last few
weeks and had to read all this crap, and what a lost soul this
man is presented as. The lies and portrayal of Julie have been
nothing short of amazing.
Nothing will bring Julie or your sister back, but I will personally
be maintaining my rage till the day I die.
Thank you for your article - it has been uplifting. Thank you
for confronting the QC - it helps to keep perspective that ******just
don't kill people; they practice law as well.
Firstly, I wanted to say that I am sorry to hear about your sister's
murder and the subsequent injustice committed against her, yourself
and your family.
Secondly, I would like to thank you for your article Julie's
Judicial betrayal. As a female law student I am outraged at the
decision by the courts to uphold the defence of provocation that
Dunn QC used in the Ramage murder trial.
You correctly stated that this law is barbaric, and like you
I believe it should be changed.
There are many flaws in the defence of provocation, the major
one being that the murderer can testify in court, while the victim
obviously can't. Another is that there is a subjective element
to the defence which allows the court to look at personal attributes
of the defendant. Finally, such a law is gender biased.
This law needs to be changed immediately, and hopefully I can
somehow play a part in making sure men are unable to use this
defence in the future.
Dear Mr Cleary.
Jane Garrett Ashton, the sister of the late Julie Ramage whose
husband in the next few hours may well get a verdict of Manslaughter,
rather than Murder, kindly directed me to you.
I've been to your principal website, and have a had a preview
of your book about your sister's case, and, perhaps, more importantly,
her life and the family that deserves something better from the
I am very interested, as a former Melbourne resident (and a current
resident of the UK (but still a USA citizen), in helping to address
the gross disparity in human rights that Provocation as a Defense
at trial allows. Changing the law that makes dead victims answerable
to their generally savage deaths is absolutely imperative.
Jane suggests that law-change in the UK would be of signal use.
I have done no research on the subject here. Perhaps you could
A quick note of support to thank you for your words in today's
The concern, disbelief and anger I felt after reading the front
pages of this morning's newspapers were somewhat alleviated after
reading your column, and realising that there is a 'public' voice
of support trying to make a difference.
Read your article in Today's Herald-Sun. Very sorry to hear your
story - and a disgrace that this goes on.
I assume there must be some Government minister to write to about
the ridiculously lenient sentences in such cases. Who do you recommend
I contact to voice a concern on this issue ?
can't believe that prick got off on manslaughter. once again
the message is sent that it is okay for men to kill women because
they are partially responsible if they say what they think. who
witnessed the "provocative words" anyway? he had a history
of violence, doesn't that mean anything. i am furious
I am a 24 year old from Black Rock and last year l commenced
a criminology degree through Open Learning Australia. Always the
optimist regarding everything in life, l have never been so discouraged
until l commenced delving into the workings of our criminal justice
My last exam through Griffiths University in QLD was on the defense
of provocation. Some of the cases we studied made me nearly physically
sick to read of a girl provoking her ex boyfriend
to stab her new boyfriend to death by the mere act of being with
I thought provocation was more to protect victims such as battered
women and victims of long term abuse who cannot use the claim
of self defense due to the fact they often kill their abusers
whilst they are sleeping or in other such non confrontational
situations because they see every situation as threatening.
This is when provocation can be used when years of abuse
- physical, emotional or sexual - causes a person to lash out
Provocation should not be a scapegoat for men who cannot control
their women or their tempers.
Every time l take up a new unit in Criminology l become just
a bit more disenchanted with Australia and its sickening adversarial
Crime in Australia does pay, and although Christine Nixon is
doing a fantastic job to get criminals behind bars our
judges and juries are churning them back onto the streets.
How do we get more involved to change this how does a
24 year old make some kind of difference to a country that is
now telling its rapists best of luck in life you
are free to go??
Like you, I am disgusted that Julie's murderer is not committed
of the crime he did commit. I read in the Herald Sun today that
evidence was put to the jury that Julie was premenstrual and that
she carried feminine hygiene products in her handbag.
Gee, I'd really like to see one woman that doesn't! That is,
if they are not taking prescriptive drugs to stop their 'normal'
menstrual cycle. This outcome for this trial is not logical and
just confirms how influenced we are, still by the old fashioned
male comment, that 'she's off her tree 'cos its the wrong time
of the month'. So what if she did call him names - if it is true-
what is wrong with people - have we all gone soft - cop it on
the chin, or better still, just walk away. If someone calls me
some expletive or calls me a name it does not drive me to reach
into the kitchen drawer and grab the sharpest knife - pre menstrual,
menopausal or not!
I met Julie a couple of times through the equestrian world. She
struck me as being a quiet person with a love for her horses and
from those equestrian friends of mine who mixed with her on a
daily basis, would not 'hurt a fly' and that she was petrified
by her mentally and physically abusive husband. Too scared to
leave, I believe the comment I heard was. She had been 'trying'
to leave him for years.
I can't comprehend how anyone can 'get away with murder' when
Ramage openly admitted to murdering his wife. It was premeditated,
he had it all 'planned' - he had no intention of letting her live
and he wasn't thinking of walking away. I am so angry, what on
earth is society coming to - have they all gone mad!
I hope the family appeals. Sorry, I just had to say my bit. I
am going to purchase your book.
I have just read and agreed with your article in the Sun regarding
the murder of Julie Ramage.
It is unbelievable that 'provocation' can be used as an argument
for reducing a murder charge to manslaughter in this day and age.
I don't know what I am angry at most, the fact that this awful
'get out' still exists and he would have known this when he spent
the hours with his lawyer arranging to turn himself in and his
defence. What does this say about our community?
Or ; that only a fly on the wall can have known what went on at
the time and yet the jury chose to believe what of course he would
But, I think its the fact that 'provocation' still exists and
that a woman can be blamed for contributing to her own murder.
Are there any legal steps that if successful could overturn this
decision? Otherwise I guess an angry community should make its
voice heard to the Government? I will ring around and see what
is being done.
Just a short note to support entirely your excellent comment(
Sun,29/10/04) on the Ramage case.
Fortunately I have not had to endure the loss of a loved one under
such circumstances, but I fail to see how the victim in these
cases can be maligned under the Law when obviously there can be
no right of reply.
Dear Mr. Cleary,
May I first share condolences for the loss of your sister to a
man who believed that it was his right to punish her for presuming
the right to choices about her life. I heartily applaud and stand
with you in your denouncement of easy sympathy given to the perpetrators
of these murders. I am disgusted and enraged by the Julie Ramage
case, and I want to thank you for speaking out against the injustice
- and for having the courage to do what you've done with your
I am a survivor of domestic violence who fled in fear of my life
- but I did survive, and I consider myself fortunate. I have been
an advocate for some fifteen years now.
I write to you with two requests: I wonder if you could tell me
who I can write to to protest the Ramage case, and to ask for
an end to conditions under which women are blamed for their own
murders. I am just so angry and I have had enough of it.
Second, I maintain a website for survivors of domestic violence
and rape. I want to make a new page and dedicate it to women slain
by partners, and I am seeking permission to use your article,
"Julie's Judicial Betrayal", because it so wonderfully
articulates the problems, the changes that must happen and why
they must happen. I am also going to put a link to your book on
I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience,
PS My webiste addy, just FYI is: http://www.pandys.org/aphroditewounded/
The page I'm building re domestic murders is here (with select
qwuotes form you; now I can link to the entire article!): http://www.pandys.org/aphroditewounded/dvmurders.html
Dear Phil, I read your heartfelt article in today's "Herald
Sun"and clenched my fists in impotent rage.
I was doing this 25 years ago as a young constable in the Victoria
Police, when I saw rank injustices of every description happen
in our courts. I have seen enough of homicide to know the shattering
effects it has on a family, and worse, how the law kicks those
families in the teeth with laughable prison sentences imposed
on creatures who really should be locked up for life. Like Julian
Knight - who copped a pathetic 4 years for every person he murdered
in Hoddle Street. May the sentencing judge be haunted by those
Interestingly, 2 murderers whom I knew back in my policing days
are still behind bars - they are women, and their victims were
men. I don't think that their crimes were particularly worse than
those committed on your sister or Mrs Ramage. Murder is murder
Former prisoners have told me that the length of the sentence
imposed is really irrelevant, seeing that "every year in
there feels like ten..." which, I am sure, is of inestimable
comfort to the dead and to those who mourn their passing!
Keep up the good work, mate. Maybe, just maybe, we will one day
have a legal system which truly cares about protecting law-abiding
citizens from those who seek to destroy life, love and hope with
their murderous inclinations. Maybe one day a life sentence will
mean precisely that - that the murderer dies behind bars with
no hope of ever being released on any grounds whatsoever.
"Provocation" be damned!
Yours truly -Barbara
I don't read the above newspaper very often. Most of the time,
I find it a quite dreadful right-wing, ultra conservative rag,
with the exception of Jill Singer and a couple of others.
I read about your sister years ago. Whilst I am generally in
favour of reasonable civil liberties, I couldn't agree with you
more. It disgusts me that whilst we don't hesitate to criticize
certain countries where we believe women are treated inhumanely
(and certainly there are plenty of those), we fail to recognize
what is happening in our own backyard.
A few months ago, when the focus was on football/soccer clubs
and the treatment of women, I was surprised to read letters in
the newspaper in which women were blamed for their 'style of dress,
attitude and loose morals.' Sadly, both men and women wrote this
type of letter to which I sent a scathing response.
A woman has the right to wear what she wants, to go out alone
or in a group, to invite someone home for coffee and just coffee,
to have a relationship, whether sexual or otherwise with whoever
she chooses. Men have been doing this for at least two millenia.
Men who hit, assault and kill women never do it out of love or
even passion. They do out it because they cannot stand losing
power or control, because they cannot deal with rejection and
because, sadly enough, they can. Such men deserve no sympathy
or understanding nor leniency. They are brutes not 'real' men
and deserve to be incarcerated where, perhaps over time, one can
hope that they will learn the error of their ways - sometimes
doubtful but still hopeful.
Men and women have to speak out and speak up about violence against
women. A man who violates a woman is not 'behaving badly.' He
is breaking a law, being immoral and inhumane. To say that men
cannot control themselves is a sad indictment of all men and I
know many men who do not fit this description.
The Federal Government spent 7 years and $2 million dollars of
taxpayer funds to make advertisements aimed at trying to change
abusive attitudes towards women. These ads were aired for a week
or two and then just as suddenly disappeared. Violence against
women (and children) is endemic and well-hidden. It takes place
at all levels of society and in places which would surprise many
people. It's a problem that has solutions, but far more time,
energy, and financial resources need to be allocated and this
should be done sooner rather than later.
Dear Phil I'm writing to you because you seem to be the
spokesperson against the archaic defence of provocation. I'm furious
about the slap on the knuckles that Ramage is getting for murdering
Julie Ramage - and so is everyone else who I have spoken to about
outrageous situation. I hope that there is some action group which
harnessing this anger to make a strong public protest against
defence of provocation and the men (murderers, lawyers, judges
journalists included) who have relished this law. Please let me
what this action group is called and how they can be contacted.
there is no such action group, please let me know what I can do
arrange a protest. I strongly feel that now is the time to rally
together like minded people and force the pollies to take notice
Dear Mr Cleary.
Having read your article in the Herald Sun you now have made me
aware of this issue, It is almost like saying that a paedophile
could use the existence of a child as a defence against his actions.
There is no amount of provocation that can justify the taking
of another human life. It is a form of defence that must be abolished
to protect either male or female victims. It seems such a smug
rationale for an horrendous act of aggression. You have my total
support in wanting this changed.
I find it strange that after all my years of reading newspapers
and having emotions stirred at times, that your article titled
above, is the first one I have been moved enough to respond to.
I recall my disgust when I heard on the radio that James Ramage
was to be sentenced on a manslaughter charge for causing the death
of Julie Ramage, how can it be just and fair that a man can punch
and strangle, and receive a manslaughter charge.
I do understand the laws that talk of premeditation etc. with
regard to murder, however it seems that we as a society are clearly
saying that it is accepted if anyone uses words in a conversation,
that may be hurtful, then it's alright to take their life, because
it can be argued that it's provocation, what a joke. What a farce
for all women, that words said in any manner, can determine a
death sentence for them, isn't enough that we live in constant
fear from ex-loved ones, that any words can be said to women &
their families about threats to kill them, but that is acceptable,
because it's said in anger and the only thing that women can do
as a defence is to take out a restraining order which even the
legal system says is not worth the paper it's written on as it
has to be breached to be effective and a breach could mean being
That Phil is how I now live my life, to all appearances it looks
normal I go to work (looking over my shoulder, changing the way
I go continually), I visit friends, family, and get on with the
art of living and it has now become just that, an art to survive
because I no longer know if my ex-partner has got on with his
life or is he watching and waiting to make good his threats.
I feel empathy for both yours and Julie Ramage's families for
you are all left to carry the legacy of the selfish actions of
others and I can only imagine that the pain never goes away, at
best it can only dim!
I have read some of your comments and those of people who have
written you letters, and I admit I am still seething over this
defence of provocation.
Has anything been organised ie a protest, petition or something
similar that I could be a part of? Maybe there is some group that
you know of who are fighting against this unjust law. I may be
interested in joining them.
I enjoyed what you had to say when you recently spoke in Shepparton
during the "Week without Violence".
You may, or may not, remember that I spoke with you when you had
finished speaking to the group and I mentioned that each week
I write a column for the Shepparton News and it is my intention
to write a piece about the issue you discussed on Thursday night.
Once I have assembled something I will send it to you for comment,
if that is okay. I was fascinated by your passion and I was really
taken with your view that men need to intervene if and when they
know, or even suspect, that another man is using violence, of
whatever sort, to intimidate women.Again, it was great to hear
you speak and and thank-you for visiting Shepparton and bringing
Hello Phil Cleary,
re your article in the Herald Sun "Julie's Judicial Betrayal",
I have to ask, like so many others, just where is the justice?
Some justice for some, and other justice for others! These judges
have a lot to answer for - when will they dispense true justice
What about the wives who have killed their husbands [after years
of horrendous domestic violence, physical beatings and emotional
and psychological violence] who have been sent to gaol for years?
They weren't allowed the luxury of such an excuse!
I seem to remember not long ago, and wish I'd kept details, of
support for a woman who did just that - but I can't remember if
she was paroled or released or not. I know that hearing her story
brought back all the horror of my marriage, and the times I wondered
if I'd live to see my children grow up, but luckily I escaped.
I hope that he, the murderer, will get his in the end, and that
other women don't suffer the same fate. This is rather pointless,
but I had to have my say.