Outrage: Lavinia Dingle, with a photograph of her son, Simon, outside the Launceston Supreme Court last year.
Outrage: Lavinia Dingle, with a photograph of her son, Simon, outside the Launceston Supreme Court last year.

Coffs mother tells of heartbreak

LAVINIA Dingle’s 27-year-old son, Simon was taken from her and his two younger brothers a year ago yesterday.

Simon died at the hands of a stranger who – thanks to his age – can never be named.

The 17-year-old killer, who admitted to punching Ms Dingle’s son with such force it severed his vertebral artery, could be out of jail by July this year.

He did it to impress his friends – who then robbed Mr Dingle as he lay dying on the roadside.

“Thank you for the opportunity to raise the issue of my son’s tragic death, so that we can remind people of the inadequacy of the legal system,” Ms Dingle said.

She revealed she remained ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the outcome of the case and the ‘inadequate’ sentences handed down to the three males involved.

The two thieves who stole Simon’s wallet in the final moments of his life got off with good behaviour bonds. They remain free today.

“It was a cowardly and gutless attack on my unsuspecting son,” Ms Dingle said.

She cannot comprehend how the original murder charge laid against the instigator was downgraded to manslaughter, to which he pleaded guilty, by the time it reached Launceston’s Supreme Court in July last year.

And she says she feels helpless in her ongoing attempts to pursue the matter.

“It may be that the offender who killed my son will have been released before I have had the opportunity to air my grievances regarding the policies, practices and procedures in relation to the antiquated legal system currently in place,” she said.

Many people Australia-wide have contacted Ms Dingle and her two remaining sons since the killing to express their disgust and disbelief.

“It would appear than many government departments are driven by annual budgets – and I am now concerned this may have flowed through to the judicial system, with those budget and target-driven objectives now more important than justice itself.

“I am unable to lodge any form of inquiry as there’s no body that accepts any form of request to review the circumstances surrounding the reduction of charges against the offenders responsible for my son’s death.”

She says that – along with her two sons – it is fighting this system that is keeping her going, after the unspeakable tragedy her family has suffered.

“I can’t speak more highly of the assistance and support I’ve received from (nationwide support group) Victims of Homicide,” she said.

“This body has its foundations in the pro-activity of members of the public, who demanded and received changes in this area.

“I believe that in keeping these issues in the public arena we may effect more positive improvements in additional areas that sorely require them.

“My youngest son, who watched his older brother and mentor as he lay dying, was unable to work for six months, and he and his other brother will continue to feel outrage and frustration over the unsatisfactory resolution of the matter, as will I.

“We will never understand and we will never forget.”

Simon Dingle, 27, died after being attacked on his way to the Deloraine Apex Caravan Park where he was staying on the night of January 16 last year.

He fell to the roadside after a 17-year-old youth punched him from behind with such force the blow severed his vertebral artery.

The killer’s two friends then robbed the dying man of his wallet and the small amount of cash it contained.

The main offender will be eligible for parole less than a year after he was sentenced in July last year.

His two friends – the thieves – got off with good behaviour bonds.

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