Following Coroner White’s finding last Wednesday on the death of Phoebe, once again I wish to thank all who have followed Phoebe’s story and supported our family over the past four harrowing years. At this stage it is sufficient to say that we do not agree with the principal aspect of the finding, but we are considering every aspect of the 89 page finding before venturing any public comment. There is now an avenue of appeal to the Supreme Court but due to the prohibitive cost and the uncertainty of our judicial system we are not considering that step.
The emotional support from family, friends and the many people whom we have never met, has encouraged us to keep fighting for the truth as to how our beautiful daughter came to lose her life.
The financial assistance we received allowed us to engage quality legal representation. Two public fund-raising events were held, one in Mallacoota and another in Melbourne. These events were pulled together by loving friends and generous members of both communities. We received countless donations from family, friends and members of the general public through the fundraiser site. We believe that unexplained deaths such as Phoebe’s should automatically be the subject of a full coronial inquiry. I am grateful for the media publicity which we believe led to the granting of an inquest. Our thanks go in particular to Channel Seven for their Sunday Night story and to Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker from Fairfax Media, for bringing the story to the public eye.
From the beginning we were advised that although the Coroners court makes Counsel assistance available to families (via Counsel Assisting the Coroner), in this case it was recommended that we have independent representation. We could not have afforded the legal fees for such a long and involved inquest. Donations from all sources raised a total of $48,500.00. We are extremely grateful to everyone who assisted us in this way.
We particularly wish to thank Sara Hinchey for the expert legal advice she gave us pro bono. Simon Moglia, our barrister and Marita Altman our solicitor, who both appeared for us for more than three weeks of sittings. They were dedicated in their careful preparation of documents and in representing us in court throughout the entire inquest. Marita Altman attended our final day in court for the delivery of the finding, pro bono. Thank you Marita!
We have chosen to donate the remaining $7,200.00 of the public money raised, to The White Ribbon Foundation to help stop violence against women.
Statistics show that intimate partner homicides account for one fifth of all homicides in Australia; of these, four out of five involve a man killing his female partner.
Thank you everyone.
Natalie Handsjuk (Phoebe’s mother)