February 23rd, 2016
The brutal murder of a young girl at the hands of her father in 2009 still haunts a police officer who was one of the first on the scene.
Police officer, Colleen Spiteri, 43, has launched legal action against the Victoria Police and VicRoads seven years after the death of four-year-old Darcey Iris Freeman, the Herald Sun reports.
She says her employers failed to fulfill their duty of care to her in the months following Darcey’s death.
The little girl was murdered by her father, Arthur Freeman, who tossed her from Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge in an attempt to hurt the child’s mother.
Darcey Iris Freeman, 4, (pictured) was murdered by her father in 2009 – she was thrown from Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge
One of the police officers, Colleen Spiteri, (pictured) who was first on the scene is suing Victoria Police for the handling of the murder
Ms Spiteri says she was not properly monitored by Victoria Police following the incident
Darcey’s father Arthur was sentenced to 32-years-jail after the incident
Ms Spiteri was one of the first officers on the scene and gave Darcey CPR, but the little girl could not be revived.
Ms Spiteri says she now suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder because Victoria Police failed in their duty of care following the incident.
The police officer, who has two grown children, submitted a victim impact statement to the court during the girl’s murder trial.
In the report Ms Spiteri said her sadness over the event had not diminished, The Australian reported at the time. ‘It breaks my heart,’ she said in the statement.
‘I could not help Darcey,’ she said. ‘I pleaded with her to wake up. She didn’t.’
In a writ filed with the court on Monday Ms Spiteri alleges support systems used by Victoria Police are not adequate to support officers exposed to stressful events.
Ms Spiteri says she gave Darcey CPR but could not revive her – she says she now has depression and post-traumatic stress disorder because she didn’t receive sufficient counselling
Freeman threw his daughter into the water after calling her mother and telling her to say her goodbyes
Ms Spiteri gave evidence in court in 2011 saying the incident still saddened her
It is also alleged Ms Spiteri was not given proper counselling after attending the crime scene.
Ms Spiteri is suing VicRoads for not having adequate safety guards along the bridge, The Age reports.
The writ says VicRoads should have known the risks of not having safety guards on the bridge.
Barriers were erected on the bridge soon after the incident. In 2014 Darcey’s mother Peta Barnes won a settlement with Vic Roads over the lack of barriers on the bridge.
Freeman threw the girl from the bridge after ringing her mother to tell her to say goodbye to her three children. He was sentenced to 32 years jail in 2011.
It is not yet known how much compensation Ms Spiteri is asking for.
Ms Spiteri is also suing VicRoads because they did not have railings installed which could have stopped the incident
– Belinda Cleary