The Victorian Supreme Court will hear a case involving a woman who alleges police failed to protect her from her abusive partner for nine years.
The Victorian Supreme Court will hear a case involving a woman who alleges police failed to protect her from her abusive partner for nine years.

Cops allegedly failed to protect woman from 9 years of abuse

A VICTORIAN woman has won the right to sue the State Government, alleging it failed to protect her from an abusive partner for nine years.

On one occasion, the mother from regional Victoria alleges an officer dropped the father of her children off approximately 140m from her home despite knowing there was in intervention order in place limiting him from coming within 100m of her.

Supreme Court Justice John Dixon says police from two Victorian towns have a case to answer about whether or not they did enough to protect the woman, who cannot be named.

The State of Victoria had asked the Supreme Court to either dismiss the case or strike out claims they owed the victim a common law duty of care.

But Justice Dixon rejected the application, saying the case was "fact rich and fact intensive" and a summary dismissal would have been an "extreme measure".

Case files seen by our sister paper news.com.au reveal that between 2005 and 2014, the woman's abusive partner perpetrated repeated incidences of family violence against her and her children.

She alleges that on 19 separate occasions over nine years she or her children were the victims of physical violence, threats to kill and property damage.

The perpetrator, who was "invariably intoxicated", was the subject of four intervention orders prohibiting him from "assaulting, harassing, molesting, threatening or intimidating" a member of the family.

 

A woman from country Victoria claims police failed to protect her from almost a decade of abuse.
A woman from country Victoria claims police failed to protect her from almost a decade of abuse.


He was also banned from approaching, telephoning or contacting them or being within 100m of the house when intoxicated.

The victim alleges that a police officer, who was aware of an intervention order in force in March of 2006 that limited the victims' ex-partner coming within 100m of the house, "gave him a lift in a police vehicle, dropping him off approximately 140m from the plaintiff's premises in the expectation that he would walk the remaining distance".

On a second occasion soon after, police dropped the same man off while intoxicated. The victim reported to police that he assaulted her in front of her daughter.

Later, in 2008, the father turned up at the victims' home while intoxicated. The family left and called triple-0 but there was "no substantive response", according to documents.

In January and December 2013, the woman's former partner attended her home uninvited, "stayed a number of days and committed family violence by being verbally and physically abusive" and "coerced (the victim) into sexual relations with him which she complied with to avoid him committing further family violence".

The victim alleges that police officers and senior officers owed her and her children a duty of care given their history as victims of family violence. Key to her claim is the allegation that she suffered psychological harm as a result of breaches of those duties.

In his summary, Justice Dixon said he rejected the defendant's application to dismiss the case because it would "forever shut out" the plaintiffs from seeking to prove their claim.

The victims' lawyer say her claim will be a landmark test case. She said in a statement through her lawyers that she was relieved the court would hear her story.


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