May 27, 2004
A B O U T   U S T H E   W E S T   O N L I N E T H E   W E S T   S H O P T A B   F O R M R E G I O N A L S T H E   G A M E
 
 
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Fine
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Fine
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Fine
25C
Geraldton
Fine
21C
Kalgoorlie
Fine
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Perth
Fine and sunny
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Fine
19C
Albany
Fine
18C
Mum free after murder bid
 
DAVID DARRAGH
 
 
Antidepressant drugs prescribed to a mother contributed substantially to her two attempts to kill herself and her two young children by gassing them in the family car, Chief Justice David Malcolm has ruled.

The 32-year-old woman, whose name is suppressed, walked free from the Supreme Court yesterday with a four-year jail term suspended for two years after pleading guilty to four counts of attempting to murder her daughters, then aged nine and two. She made separate murder-suicide attempts near Waroona and Pinjarra on June 17 last year.

Justice Malcolm found the medication affected her mental state and "substantially contributed" to the offences.

"The drug . . . impaired her capacity for rational thought to such a degree that her responsibility for her actions was substantially diminished and her capacity for rational thought and action was gravely impaired," he said.

Justice Malcolm described the woman as a loving mother who cared for her children and said her prospects of recovery were reasonably good due to the support of family and friends.

The Department of Community Development would determine whether and when she could resume care of her children, who had suffered considerable trauma.

The woman has already had supervised access visits to her children, who live with her father.

She was also sentenced to intensive supervision orders and 80 hours community work. The woman, who lives near Bunbury, wept in the dock and hugged her father in the public gallery after being sentenced. The court was told she had a history of depression and was prescribed high doses of Aropax (paroxetine), a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, and Efexor (venlafaxine), a serotonin noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitor, in the months before the offences.

The doses were increased after the first of her four suicide attempts in May 2002.

The drugs are also marketed under the names Prozac and Zoloft.

Renowned British critic of antidepressants David Healy, who examined the woman's case, concluded that it showed diminished responsibility resulting from the drugs.

Outside court, the woman's father said he saw a marked improvement in his daughter's health after she stopped taking the drugs.

He said authorities should provide warnings on the drugs and doctors should monitor patients and make them aware of possible side effects. Patients should also question any increase in the drugs if their condition was not improving.

He said he hoped she would be reunited with her children.


 
 
 
 
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