Victim killers in parole plea

Two women who murdered their husbands are making a plea for mercy from behind bars, claiming they are domestic violence victims who should be freed.

A petition will be presented to State Parliament next month to review the cases of Robyn Buller and Lesley Dowling, who are serving life sentences at Bandyup Prison.

Lawyers claim that if the women had been tried under 2008 amendments to the Homicide Act, they would have had defences available to win an acquittal or receive a lesser sentence.

The amendments, introduced by then-attorney-general Jim McGinty, instructed the courts to take histories of domestic violence into account.

Buller was jailed over the shooting of her husband David in 1999.

Dowling was convicted of wilful murder along with her teenage son Marcus Pitts over the 1994 killing of oil rigger Neil Dowling.

A spokeswoman for the Social Justice Alliance, Donna Chung, said both women had suffered extreme abuse by their victims and did not pose a threat to the wider community.

Professor Chung is hoping for the intervention of Parliament after a knockback by Attorney-General Michael Mischin to legal petitions on behalf of the women.

Mr Mischin did not agree that the 2008 amendments would have changed the outcomes for either Dowling or Buller.

In Buller's case, he noted the significant degree of planning and concealment of the crime and he did not consider it likely that she would have been acquitted or sentenced to a lesser term.

In Dowling's case, he considered there was not sufficiently compelling evidence that she would have been acquitted if she had been tried under the current law.

He also said that though there would have been the option of a lighter sentence, the trial judge's comments suggested he would not have used that option.

The families of the women's victims could not be contacted.

At the time of Dowling's court case, her husband's friends and workmates said they did not believe he was a perpetrator of domestic violence.

David Buller's mother told the media he was a humorous man who was not the abusive monster his wife described.

Professor Chung said there were often not witnesses to domestic violence.

"It is our view that it is unjust to keep these two women in prison," she said.

"At the very least, they should be given the opportunity for automatic parole."

The West Australian

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