Friday, February 26, 2010

Australian ex-policeman gets 15 years for driving wife off pier in car

KATE HAGAN [The Australian Age]

February 26, 2010
A WOMAN who narrowly escaped death when her husband chained her inside his car and drove off a pier fears he will come after her when he is released from prison.

Former policeman Cameron Neil Cook, 44, was sentenced to 15 years' jail, with a minimum of 12 years, yesterday for a brutal four-hour attack on his wife that began at the couple's home at Cheltenham.

After private investigators confirmed his wife was having an affair, Cook pinned his wife to a bed and bound her hands, feet and mouth with tape before punching her in the face and calling her a whore.

He threatened her with a knife before chaining her to the rear seat of his car and driving to Mordialloc pier.As he drove at high speed into the water, he said: ''I'm sorry but I'm taking you with me. I am not going to let someone like you raise my son.'' However, the car landed in shallow water and the woman was able to free herself .

Sentencing Cook in the Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth said he had shown no remorse over the 2007 attack and had said to a prison officer about his wife, ''She's a f---ing bitch, and when I get out of here I will do the job properly.''

Cook had also told his parents in various recorded conversations that his wife would ''get hers'' when he was released from custody.

Outside court yesterday, Cook's wife, who cannot be named, said she was scared about what would happen when Cook was released and she considered the possibility of him hurting her to be ''very real''. ''I'm just really relieved that it's over,'' she said. ''It's been a 2½-year legal battle.''

The woman said it had been difficult for her son, whom Cook had given a sleeping tablet before setting out to kill his mother. ''It's been tough for him, what a nine-year-old makes and understands out of this I really don't know,'' she said.

Justice Hollingworth called the attack on September 7, 2007, ''cowardly, violent and unprovoked'', and said Cook had left his wife with permanent physical and psychological injuries. Cook pleaded guilty to three charges, including attempted murder.

Justice Hollingworth said stories of people attacking partners out of jealousy or an inability to accept the end of relationships were ''all too common'', and general deterrence was relevant in sentencing. She said Cook did not seem to have accepted responsibility for his actions and was still hostile towards his wife.

Justice Hollingworth said such feelings might diminish with time ''or it may be that your feelings will intensify, as you sit in prison continuing to ruminate and obsess about your predicament and blame your wife for what happened.

''Your conduct was a completely inappropriate response to the breakdown of your marriage. It cannot be said that there is no real risk that you will try to harm your wife when you are eventually released from prison. The need for specific deterrence remains a very real sentencing consideration in this case.''

Justice Hollingworth was not swayed by defence arguments that Cook's time in jail would be more onerous because of restricted access to his son. ''You brutally attacked and tried to kill your son's mother after drugging the young boy and leaving him alone in the house; it is hardly surprising that one of the consequences of your actions has been some restriction on access to your son.''

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