Robert Farquharson 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 ex-wife or partner. Yet despite the horrific and pre-meditated nature of the killing of his three sons, the media’s response has been subdued. Throughout his trial 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 the question.
Cindy had a new partner and a new life, only to have that life destroyed by the wilful drowning of her three 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 compassion.
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.
Prosecutor Jim 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 he was considering killing his children. Like Jonker he wanted his wife to suffer. It was King's evidence that buried the killer. Just as Cindy Gambino 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.
For 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 act.
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.
Note: Cindy Gambino died on Tuesday, 10 May 2022, at just 50 years of age after suffering 'a medical episode' in her home on Sunday, 8 May 2022.