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Monday
Jun072010

Court affirms licence to kill as another "battered woman" walks free after execution-style murder of husband

On 4th March 2006, Claire Margaret McDonald gasped and burst into tears as a Victorian Supreme Court jury found her not guilty of the execution style murder of her husband, Warren John McDonald. The court was told that McDonald had donned camouflage gear and lay in wait with a high-powered rifle for her husband to approach. She fired six shots, mortally wounding her husband.

McDonald successfully used the "battered woman syndrome" defence, claiming she had suffered years of abuse at the hands of her husband. Within days, Queensland woman, Susan Falls, having probably read the media reports of Heather McDonald's stunning acquittal, decided to execute her abusive husband in the same fashion, in what prosecutors would describe as a cunning, calculated murder.

Falls paid a friend, Anthony Cummings-Creed $5,000 to buy a 22.calibre pistol with silencer on the black market. On May 26, 2006 while her husband Rodney Falls was drinking at his pub, she made him a dish of curried prawns for his dinner, knowing that their children would not eat any of the dish. Falls crushed up a number of sleeping tablets and laced the prawns with the mixture, assuming that the curry would mask the taste of the sleeping tablets.

Following the meal, her husband became drowsy and fell asleep in his recliner. Falls walked up to her husband, placed the pistol against his temple and fired. She told the court she could see the burn mark and smoke coming from the hole in his head. She waited two hours, and not sure her husband was dead, placed the pistol under his jaw and fired another shot.

Why didn't Susan Falls resort to a legal remedy?

The question remains: if Falls had the presence of mind and the planning skills to acquire a pistol with silencer, to lace her husband's meal with sleeping pills, to walk up to him and place a pistol to head and shoot, to fire another shot two hours later and to use co-conspirators to dispose of the body, why didn't she have the presence of mind to avail herself of one of the myriad of legal resources to deal with the problem?

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