The widow of a father of five killed after he was bashed with a cricket bat in Geraldton almost six years ago says her family are anxious about his killer's release from jail.
Mathew Roy McDonald walked free yesterday after serving his full sentence for the manslaughter of Bill Rowe on Christmas Day in 2007.
Mr Rowe's widow Ellen said McDonald never apologised face-to-face and had refused to meet her.
"Obviously his response has made me extremely anxious," she said. "I don't know if he's remorseful or rehabilitated. I am worried about my family's safety and would have preferred that he make some effort to reconcile with me."
His release also brought back the trauma of her husband's death. That loss will be reinforced today when his beloved Dockers play in the grand final.
"Bill was an avid Dockers fan and should be with us barracking," Mrs Rowe said. "It hurts us . . . particularly knowing McDonald is out a free man watching with his family."
McDonald, 22, pleaded guilty to manslaughter when prosecutors agreed to downgrade the charge from murder and was sentenced to just over one-third of the maximum term allowed by law.
His five years and nine months sentence included nine months he received for a bashing in 2006, which was originally suspended.
In sentencing him in 2008, Supreme Court Justice John McKechnie said no punishment could fit the crime. He said though McDonald was drunk and had smoked a huge amount of cannabis that morning, there was no excuse for what he did.
The case outraged the community and Mrs Rowe believes the justice system lets down homicide victims and their families.
She highlighted Attorney-General Michael Mischin's recent comments about the wide perception that WA courts handed out soft sentences that were biased in favour of offenders.
Mrs Rowe said she believed that sentences were too low, punishment did not fit the crime and victims of violent crime and their families were not given enough recognition in the WA justice system.
She hoped the appointment of a Victims of Crime Commissioner would improve respect and resources and believed there should be some kind of release conditions put on all violent offenders.
Mrs Rowe said she would like to be notified where McDonald planned to live if it was near her home and he should be banned from going near her family.
Victims of Crime Commissioner Jennifer Hoffman said she was developing policy priorities. She urged victims and their families to join the victim notification register.