Female domestic violence: How to get away with murder
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Female domestic violence: How to get away with murder

Domestic violence against men

On March 6, 2015 another woman using the "battered woman" defence walked free from an Australian court after being found guilty of the manslaughter of her former de-facto husband and father of her child.

Although the jury found Jessica Silva guilty of the manslaughter of James Polkinghorne, the kindly

Jessica Silva
Jessica  Silva walks free from court
James Polkinghorne
James Polkinghorne - stabbed to death by Jessica Silva

judge, NSW Supreme Court Justice Clifton Hoeben found that although she did not intend to kill Mr Polkinghorne, she did indeed intend to "cause him grievous bodily harm ", but nevertheless allowed her to walk from the court with just a good behaviour bond.

Evidence was given that Polkinghorne was high on "ice" and  making threats to Silva and was involved in an altercation with her father and brother on the street in front of her parent's house when Silva went inside, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Polkinghorne five times, resulting in his death.

The judge set Silva free notwithstanding that earlier in the day, in  a recorded telephone conversation between Silva and her brother Miguel, Silva said:

"I wanna fucking tell them everything but I fucking can't. Why do you think I don't tell them so he can bash me up all the fucking time. I'm sick of it. I don't know what to fucking do anymore.

This is two months after she left Polkinghorne and moved back in with her parents, so it was hard to see how he was still bashing her.

Silva then  asks her brother "is there anyone we can fucking contact, somebody to get him killed or something."

Mr Silva says there isn't and repeatedly urges her to go the police and to get an AVO out against him, she tells him "don't worry about it, I'll fucking stab him myself."

The court was told Silva spent the night before the murder with Polkinghorne in an apartment in Campbell Street, Sydney. While there Polkinghorne told her that he wanted her back and that he was sorry for everything he had done to her.

Silva and her son left the apartment next morning. Polkinghorne was not pleased she was leaving but did not threaten or restrain her.

This seems inconsistent with her claim she was afraid of him and wanted nothing to do with him.

During the day Polkinghorne began taking the meth, "ice", and succumbing to its effects began calling and texting Silva in an increasingly threatening manner. Around 9 pm he arrived at Silva's parents' home. By this time he was suffering a severe mental breakdown, was paranoid and delusional and screaming and shouting threats outside the house.

Silva's brother and  father confronted him and a struggle ensued. While they were wrestling on the ground, Silva went back into the house, returned with a knife. Her father, who could see what she was going to do, tried to grab the knife, and as a result, received an injury to his hand. Silva then carried out her threat from earlier that day, stabbing Polkinghorne at least five times in the shoulder, the back of his head and back.

Adam Houda
Silva's lawyer, Adam Houda, "She deserved an award for her bravery"

Silva's lawyer, Adam Houda, said Silva should not have been charged with anything, and that he will seek a full acquittal in the Court of Criminal Appeal.

"If anything, she deserved an award for her bravery," Mr Houda said.

This is an extraordinary statement from an officer of the court and an upholder of the law. It obviously takes great bravery to stab a man in the back when he is wrestling with two other men.

Jessica Silva joins a select group of women who have got away with murder by using the "battered woman" defence in front of bleeding-heart judges who have likely received feminist-sensitivity training.


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