Asia-Pacific

Australian father jailed for Melbourne bridge killing

West Gate Bridge, Melbourne
Image caption The girl was thrown from the bridge in full view of rush-hour commuters

An Australian man who killed his four-year-old daughter by throwing her from a bridge in full view of rush-hour commuters has been jailed for life.

Arthur Freeman killed Darcey in a fit of rage, amid a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife.

His two sons, then aged two and six, witnessed the murder.

Judge Paul Coghlan ordered that Freeman would not be eligible for parole for 32 years, but said the 37-year-old was not beyond redemption.

The day before the murder, in January 2009, Freeman had been told his visiting rights to his children were being reduced.

He had telephoned his ex-wife and told her to say good-bye to her children because she would never see them again.

Dozens of motorists stuck in rush-hour traffic saw Darcey plunge to her death, and one eyewitness described how Freeman had returned to his car as if he had just posted a letter.

The jury heard that Darcey's elder brother, Ben, had begged his father to return because he knew the girl could not swim.

She sustained massive injuries in the fall and eventually drowned.

Judge Coghlan said Freeman had acted out of revenge.

"What Darcey's last thoughts might have been does not bear thinking about and her death must have been a painful and protracted one," he said.

"It can only be concluded that you used your daughter in an attempt to hurt your former wife as profoundly as possible"

Freeman's defence team claimed that he had been mentally impaired at the time of the incident, but the court rejected the argument.