Jody Gore was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the murder of her former partner, last year she was released, eight years early. NITV News speaks to Gore about the conviction and the years of violence she endured in the lead-up to the night that changed her life.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
20 Mar 2020 - 1:15 PM  UPDATED 20 Mar 2020 - 1:24 PM

Jody Gore is doing well, she's back on Country after four years and four months away. 

As a renal patient she said it's important to be home, where healing can take place.

"I’m doing good, you know blackfullas say when you go home, I’m from the Kimberley, I’ve been in Perth for the past four years, so now healing takes place," she told NITV News.

"My blood pressure is good, and as a renal patient it's important. I'm controlling my fluids, they're getting me ready for a kidney transplant.

"But yeah, it’s good to be back home with my family, my children, my friends, it feels good to be back on Country."

Ms Gore has been back in the Kimberley for five months now, after being released from prison where she was serving a 12-year sentence for the murder of her ex-partner.

On the day that Gore was told she'd be released - four-years and four-months into the sentence, - she said she felt as though her prayers had been answered.

"I came back from my dialysis and the officer said, ‘Jody you’ve gotta ring your lawyer up,'" she said.

"I rang him up and he said, ‘did you hear the good news’ and I said, ‘no’ and he said, ‘oh you’re gonna get released today or tomorrow’ and he said to keep it quiet until it was announced.

"I was like 'wow', I was excited. I said, ‘thank you God for answering my prayers.'"

Gore had been convicted of murder years earlier after stabbing her former partner at a party in Kununurra.

She'd been playing cards when she and her former partner had a fight. Gore, who had endured 14 years of domestic violence at his hands, took a vegetable knife from her bag and stabbed him.

'Beaten black and blue'

Lawyer and academic Hannah McGlade said there's much more to Ms Gore's case than it seems on the surface.

When she heard about Ms Gore's case, Dr McGlade enlisted the help of the West Australian newspaper. Digging into the story, Dr McGlade found that the evidence of the years of abuse Gore had survived had not been provided to the jury.

Dr McGlade said it was important to draw attention to what had been a 'miscarriage of justice' for Gore.

"We looked closely at the facts in Jody’s case, facts that weren’t put to the jury at all we showed the evidence of jody being a victim, her refuge files, evidence from an expert witness, a psychiatrist had not been tendered to court," she said.

"Really what happened to Jody was an absolute miscarriage of justice. I think this is happening to Aboriginal women and Aboriginal people at some level everywhere in Australia, that we don’t have access to justice, that justice is afforded to people who can pay for it basically."

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The day she was sentenced Ms Gore said she couldn't believe what she was hearing in the courtroom.

"When I heard the sentence at the trial I was shocked," she said.

"Violence against women is a crime, he had no right to lay hands on me. I was bashed, beaten black and blue."

Anti domestic-violence campaigner Dorinda Cox said Ms Gore's story is, sadly, representative of a wider problem for women in Australia.

"Jody’s story is definitely not in isolation of the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women across Australia," she said.

"I think that what we have done is through Jody’s story highlight the horrific circumstances that those women who are victims of violence on a daily basis, particularly the horrific injuries that Jody suffered and still carries on her body."

'Those days were over'

Although Ms Gore had separated from her partner by the night of the party that changed her life, Ms Cox said, leaving can prove to be one of the most dangerous times for women.

"Where do those women go to," she said.

"What we don’t value is that this person has been managing the perpetrator and their violence for as long as Jody had, over a decade, or decades.

"So this is about when do we start to rely on the commentary of victims to tell us how unsafe they are and what means of safety are required from us.

"We just assume that we know what that risk looks like. We also know that, coupled with research, one of the critical times of risk for women is when they actually do leave.

"They are put at risk, and we’ve seen that recently with the Hannah Clarke case in Queensland that there is imminent risk when these women leave.

"It becomes like a game of survival for these women who have been managing these behaviours."

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And Ms Gore said, just because they were separated, didn't mean her partner was out of her life.

Ms Gore said he'd been suffering with his mental health and she was asked to care from him.

"The saddest part is I had to take him in and look after him," she said.

"But I didn’t realise he was going to lay hands on me again, I thought those days were over. They say you hurt the people they love so he took it out on me."

'Cried out for mercy'

When the Western Australian Attorney-General heard about Ms Gore's case he said he was shocked at what had happened to her, and decided he needed to act.

"When you looked at the case of Jody Gore, it was trialled according to law as it then was," he said.

"I came to the conclusion that the law was inadequate to protect a victim like Jody. That’s why it needed changing.

"It struck me, it cried out for mercy. She’d been the victim for years. Mercy begins where justice ends and justice had not delivered a fair outcome for Jody Gore.

"She needed mercy for all that she had suffered."

While the Attorney-General acted to free Ms Gore eight years early, he did not wipe the murder conviction.

Dr McGlade said Ms Gore should not not have to live with that conviction hanging over her head, but she's glad that she has now been released.

"Jody should never have been charged, when there is evidence of self-defence a woman should not be put through a criminal justice trial,' she said.

"We as Aboriginal people, women, all citizens of Australia have to say if we are serious about stopping domestic violence in Australia then we have to stop punishing women who fight back and defend themselves. 

"These are not matters for a criminal trial and yet we see Indigenous women, migrant women, being charged with murder when there is a clear case for self-defence.

"Jody, against all the evidence was charged with murder and it was a fight to release her and it’s a great thing that she now has her freedom."

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

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