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Saori Jones, victim of violence
Supplied Saori Jones, victim of violence

Saori Jones arrived at the women's refuge in June last year with her two small children, frightened for her safety and theirs.

The shy, Japanese-born 31-year-old had sought refuge from her violent husband before, but returned to him.

In 2008 he beat her around the head severely and was given a community-based order by the court. Again, she returned.

But this time was different. She was determined to leave him for good and make a new start.

Refuge workers and police helped her retrieve belongings from the Yokine house of Bradley Wayne Jones, a drug-taking drunk who sometimes flew into uncontrolled rages.

"She was very frightened of him," her refuge case worker said.

"When we went to the house to do the property retrieval, the police said to us, 'it's not the first time we've been here'. They knew the place very well."

Saori had met her Kalgoorlie-born husband at a bus stop. She had come to Australia on a working holiday and had no family here.

She lived with her four-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son at the refuge for several months.

"She was quiet and shy, very polite and gentle and never raised her voice to her children," one of the staff said.

"She didn't like confrontation at all. She didn't like to say 'no' to her husband, so gradually he began having their daughter two nights a week.

"We had a safety plan for her to take a friend with her to pick up and drop off."

Mrs Jones moved into a transition house owned by the refuge and started looking for a rental property.

"Saori said she felt like she could make a life here in Australia and she was starting to feel really positive," her case worker said.

"She was thinking of going back to study and was not considering returning to Japan.

"She said life was better for the children here. She was keen to start a new life in Perth."

On December 16, she missed an appointment with her case worker.

"It was not like her," a staff member said.

"She was 100 per cent reliable."

The refuge phoned police and asked for a welfare check.

"A policeman rang back and said he had sighted the children at (Jones') house and Saori had left the children and run off with a best mate for a weekend down south somewhere and that (Jones) hadn't heard from her since she had left," the case worker said.

"We knew that wasn't Saori, that wasn't her behaviour and she would never leave the breastfed baby ever. She barely left him with us and when she did, he cried the whole time. He was a delightful baby so long as his mum was around."

A senior staff member took the phone. "I insisted on speaking with him as well," she said. "I told him I wanted it noted that I wasn't happy with that. I was quite strong about it. I spoke to him to emphasise my concern.

"I said I'd like to put out a missing person report and he said, 'well we've seen the children and they're perfectly all right'. He said she would arrange a time to pick the kids back up on the weekend. The policeman said she had a good thing going with the best man from the wedding."

The workers were told to keep calling Mrs Jones and ring back after the weekend if necessary. "With our limited skills and ability, we tried to find her," the manager said.

"We called and texted, spoke to her neighbours, called other agencies, found an interpreter to contact her family in Japan."

The refuge notes indicate the police were called first thing on Monday, December 20, and then three times the following day.

When another police officer spoke to Jones on December 21, his story had changed.

"The policeman said he'd said she went off with an acquaintance of hers, whose name he did not know,"

A missing person report was lodged and Jones was finally questioned properly about his wife on December 23.

What it revealed was sickening.

Mrs Jones' body was in the bedroom, where it had been decomposing on the bed for 11 long summer days, while her children were in the house.

Jones told police that on December 11, when she had come to collect their daughter, he was drunk and landed a "full-on punch" to her head that knocked her off her feet and caused a "huge bruise" on the side of her face.

According to the prosecution, he "stated he could not recall his actions once she was on the ground or if he assaulted her further and only came to his senses when his four-year-old called on him to stop".

"The victim lay prone on the floor. Whilst she lay injured and unresponsive, the offender lifted up her shirt to enable their 10-month-old son to breastfeed."

Jones said he cleaned vomit and blood from Mrs Jones' face and put her on his bed. She was alive but he did not call an ambulance.

He was charged with manslaughter but pleaded to a lesser crime of assault causing death because the body was so badly decomposed that a cause of death could not be established.

He was sentenced to five years jail and could serve less than three.

If police had found Mrs Jones on December 16, it might have been different.

"I just felt frustration and disappointment that the police didn't take us seriously and chose to believe his story instead," her case worker said.

"I don't know how many times I told police, 'this is not Saori. She would not leave the baby, not even overnight, let alone a few days'.

"It's unlikely to have saved her life but those kids should not have been in that environment for that amount of time."

The refuge manager said there were many police officers who were "terrific" when dealing with domestic violence but Mrs Jones' case had rocked her faith.

"It's so distressing for the staff to have gone through that time knowing that something had happened to her but being powerless to do anything about it," she said. "The lack of justice for Saori has only added to that."