Darcey Iris Freeman
February 11, 2004 - February 29, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial
Did a handwritten note left on the television by Arthur Freeman tell of something bad to come:

"You have a big fight on your hands and by no stretch of the imagination will it be easy"

Arthur was in the middle of a custody battle with his estranged wife, Peta. The battle had been going on for over two years.

Darcey Freeman woke up on what would be her first day of school. The night before her first day of school, Darcey's father had taken her and her two brothers to a beach house to get out of the heat. Darcey told her father she didn't want to be late for her first day of school, he promised her she wouldn't be. He didn't keep his promise.

On January 29, 2009, Darcey and her two brothers got into the car to go to school. While driving, their father pulled over on the West Gate Bridge, unbuckled Darcey, took her out of the car and walked to the side of the bridge where people who were traveling in the busy morning traffic were horrified to witness him lower her over the edge and drop her, 190 feet into the water below.

On what should have been her first day of school, Darcey found herself being thrown off of a bridge. Darcey would never get to play on the playground, never get to make new friends, never pick a favorite teacher or experience all of the things a child going to her first day of school should experience.

Witnesses were shocked and many called "000" which would send rescues teams into the water to get her. Darcey was pulled out of the water and for over 50 minutes, paramedics and police worked to try to save her. She was then transported to Children's Hospital, by helicopter. Ambulance Victoria paramedics team manger Trevor
Weston was involved in the rescue attempt and said things were not easy that morning:

"Anything that involves children takes its toll on paramedics. Fortunately it's not a very 
regular occurrence but when it does (happen) it really does hit home"

Detective Inspector Steve Clark, from the Victoria Police homicide squad, said that it had been reported that witnesses wouldn't have had enough time to stop Arthur:

"It's all happened fairly quickly, as I understand it, nobody had the opportunity. He's got straight 
out of the car, taken the young girl and walked to the edge of the bridge"
Detective Inspector Clark


While rescuers were working on Darcey, Arthur Freeman was on his way to the nearest law court where he turned himself in and was arrested. He only spoke in order to ask that someone look after his sons, Benjamin who was seven and Jack who was two, he gave them license plate number of his vehicle where the boys were. It was reported that Arthur was so incoherent that Benjamin had to step in and give information to the police.

"He was pretty down and he had the two other children with him and he tried to enter the court. 
He couldn't talk to anyone, he wouldn't talk to anyone, he was just a mess" 
Vince Mascia 

Arthur was put into a prison cell and was put on suicide watch. Peta had already phone the police when she learned that her children had not made it to school that morning. It was then that she learned what had happened to her daughter and she was by Darcey's side when she died.

Arthur was charged with murder in the death of his daughter. The officers and paramedics involved in the rescue attempt were being given counseling. Steve Clark, a detective inspector in Melbourne's homicide squad had this to say:

 "Often you think you've seen it all – and you haven't"

Darcey's family said that she was a beautiful, carefree, spirited child who loved to sing and dance. Darcey's uncle, Tim Barnes spoke of her will and determination and said that a sense of loss of emptiness has gripped the family and all who knew her:

"She knew her own mind and was prepared to always stand up for what she believed in. 
One memory that stands out in my mind was her choice of clothes. She would wear what 
she wanted to wear, end of story - even if it meant wearing pink Wellington boots to tennis"

"She's given us a lot of fun. She was into everything. She will never be forgotten. 
She had an effect on everybody"
Joe Barnes - Darcey's uncle

Both of Darcey's uncles said that there had been an overwhelming response from people around the world and that they hope the death of Darcey would remind parents how precious and irreplaceable their children are. Maternal relatives traveled from Western Australia to support Peta and help with funeral arrangements.

Arthur Phillip Freeman, who was 35 at the time, was in an acute psychiatric state and did not appear in court when he was charged with the murder of his daughter. Elanor Peattie, his lawyer said that she had been unable to get any details from him as for his wishes in court, however he had allowed her to be in court for him.

Police Detective Acting Sergeant Damian Jackson, who works with the homicide squad, stated that an assisting medical officer had found Arthur to be in the acute psychiatric state and found him to be unfit to interview. 

Flowers and a bear were left at the site where Darcey was thrown off of the bridge.

Darcey's friends remembered her in tributes:

"Darcey, you were so proud of all your achievements" 
staff from a Hawthorn kinder 

"You were such a spirited child who always loved playing 
chasey with the boys" 
 

"Words cannot adequately express how much we will miss our high-spirited, energetic little playmate"
Erica, Richard, Paul and Charlotte

"Thank you for sharing your short life with us, we have been touched in so many ways by you. Rest assured that your memory will live on in our hearts." 

"All my love, Darcey. In my heart"
Darcey's former kinder teacher, Jacqui Brouwers

Plans were put into place to have a carnival at Williamstown to honor Darcey. Money would be raised to help the Freeman family:

"I've spoken to a family representative and they support the idea of a carnival. It will be a 
family event, that kids will want to come along to" 
Organizer Prue Waters-Day

Darcey's Uncle, Tim Barnes, gave a 3:39 video taped statement:

"It is with great sadness that we sit here representing our family following the tragic loss of our beautiful young girl, Darcey. We would like to say on behalf of our sister, two boys and our family, that we all feel an extreme sense of loss and emptiness. 

We are in deep mourning over this tragic event. We are fortunate to have the support of our family and friends to help us through these trying times. We will never understand the reasons why or how any individual could ever do such an act to such a precious little girl.

Sometimes thing in life are just not fair. Darcey had a very determined nature, she displayed a very strong will and stood up for everything she believed in. She loved both of her brothers and particularly adored her older brother Ben. She had a passion for music, inparticular "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" was one of her favorite songs.

Darcey thoroughly enjoyed playing with her brothers and cousins. She could spend hours playing on the trampoline with everyone.

The family must now begin to look to the future. We will strive to provide the best possible care for Peta and Darcey's two brothers Ben and Jack. There are still many issues to be resolved and we are working through them, keeping the needs of the two boys at the forefront of our decisions.

Our family has been overwhelmed by the public support shown to us from around the world. We wish to thank the public for their heartfelt sympathy and well wishes. We would also like to take this opportunity to specifically thank the Victorian Police and the staff at the Royal Children's Hospital. Every single person involved has been simply wonderful. Words cannot express our appreciation for the wonderful care given to Darcey during her final hours. 

For the past two years, the various authorities have been made aware of fear for the safety of the children and unfortunately, no one would listen. We feel the judicial system has failed our family and will continue to fail other families until someone in authority starts to take action.

Our family has discussed some of the issues that have been noted in the media. Inparticular the reference to the publics desire to hold a memorial service in memory of Darcey. We are in favor of an event being held at a park where children have the opportunity to embrace life and enjoy activities
whilst having fun with their families.

Our family has also agreed that would we love to see a day dedicated to honor all children taken from us too early in their lives. Our desire is for this to be a celebration where families rejoice together through fun and laughter.

Moving forward from here, we would like the media to respect our need and desire for privacy and to leave us to deal with all of life's future challenges as they arrive. We understand the publics desire for information and connection, however, we value our privacy greatly. The ongoing care and development of Ben and Jack is paramount to us and privacy will assist us greatly with this.

We will be holding a private ceremony for Darcey and request that our privacy be respected. We are starting to look to the future and once again we express our deepest gratitude. We thank everyone for their wonderful support."

In May of 2009, it was reported that Arthur was going to contest the charge of murder against him for throwing his daughter off of the bridge. The Melbourne Magistrates Court was notified that Arthur would face a three day contested committal hearing in October. At that time, 16 witnesses would be cross examined by Arthur's lawyer.
Arthur appeared through a video link from prison and sat almost completely still the entire time only speaking to say that he could hear and see the proceedings answering when asked:

"Yes I can"

The day after the trial, Peta said that she and her son would NOT be appearing in court for the contested committal hearing. Most of the 16 witnesses would be police officers who were working the scene or other witnesses to what had happened.

UPDATE:

In April of 2011, Justice Paul Coghlan sentenced Arthur Phillip Freeman, who was then 37 years old, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 32 years. Arthur had been found guilty of murder the previous month and he didn't show any emotion during court. Arthur was, however, taken from the court room by guards when the sentence was read and there was an outburst.

It took Justice Paul Coghlan 40 minutes to read the statement he had prepared which said that Arthur had not shown any remorse for what he had done to Darcey and that he didn't understand how brutal the crime had been:

"You are yet to say sorry for what what you have done. Your attitude to these matters  remains self centered. I regard your prospects of rehabilitation as bleak"

Though prosecutors had pushed for Arthur to be in prison for life without parole, the judge said he had to consider other factors adding that whatever happens Arthur will be in prison for what would be the best of his years saying that even though others had been blaming themselves for what happened, it was all Arthur's fault and his earliest release date would be in January of 2041 and he would be 67 years old at that time.




Darcey's Song

Darcey lives beyond the clouds now
she'll always be looking down below
today Heaven gained an Angel

She never said good bye
she can't say mama don't cry
It'll be okay
see you some day

Even though she's not there
she can see your face
so don't be afraid
Heaven's a safer place

No she never got to go school
no she never got to make her first best friend
no she never got to go to high school
she never got to make her first boyfriend

She never said good bye
she can't say mama don't cry
It'll be okay
see you some day

Even though she's not there
she can see your face
so don't be afraid
Heaven's a safer place

Darcey lives beyond the clouds now
she'll always be looking down below
today Heaven gained an Angel

 Sung By: Jessica-Jade Bruce

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