Blenheim woman Donella Knox shuts down protests, wants to 'move on'

Ruby Knox, left, with her mother Donella, the week before Ruby was killed.
SELINA POWELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Ruby Knox, left, with her mother Donella, the week before Ruby was killed.

A Blenheim woman who killed her autistic daughter does not want any protests to be held in her name, her lawyer says.

Donella Knox was sentenced to four years in jail in December for the murder of her 21-year-old daughter Ruby last May.

Supporters including Knox's friend Sharna Butcher decided to organise a rally protesting Knox's conviction and the lack of support for parents with autistic children.

Sharna Butcher, left, with Donella Knox, at a pirate-themed birthday party before Ruby's death.
SUPPLIED

Sharna Butcher, left, with Donella Knox, at a pirate-themed birthday party before Ruby's death.

However, Knox's lawyer Simon Shamy said Knox did not want any protests to be held following her sentencing as she wanted to "keep her head below the parapet".

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"The protest was not organised at Donella's request and she has asked me to clarify this," Shamy said.

Lawyer Simon Shamy says Donella Knox never asked anyone to protest for her.
SUPPLIED

Lawyer Simon Shamy says Donella Knox never asked anyone to protest for her.

"She does agree that it would be helpful for people in her situation to have more help. But she really just wants to move on."

After Knox's comments, Butcher decided to cancel the protest and instead focus on a petition that called for better support for families of disabled people.

"At first it seemed like taking to the streets trying to make change would be a great way to start our campaign. However after much thought, consideration and new knowledge given to me, I now believe that it will be best starting with a petition," Butcher wrote on a Facebook page created in support of Knox.

Donella Knox is sentenced for murder at the High Court in Blenheim.
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Donella Knox is sentenced for murder at the High Court in Blenheim.

The petition on change.org also called for an agency to be created to oversee government services and other agencies that provide support for the families of disabled people.

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Butcher said on Saturday Knox should not be in jail for killing Ruby.

"The only reason she's in prison today is because the system failed her. If she'd had enough support, Ruby would still be alive."

But Shamy said the sentence of four years in jail was a good one. It was the second shortest term of imprisonment ever handed down for murder in New Zealand, he said.

"I think the law has done a pretty good job under the circumstances. It shows the justice system does work."

Shamy and Knox decided to plead guilty to murder after they were told Knox would get four years' imprisonment if she admitted the charge.

It was a less risky move than pleading not guilty and going to a jury trial, Shamy said.

"In order to get an acquittal, we'd have to get the jury to take no notice of the law.

"They are supposedly the conscience of the community and that can lead them to disregard the law.

"I don't think we could have got manslaughter. Technically it was her, and there was intent to do it."

Knox, serving her sentence at Christchurch Women's Prison, was still in shock after murdering her daughter, Shamy said.

"She said it was really weird, not having to be providing that intensive second-by-second care, flushing bowels and restraining Ruby.

"I guess it's a sort of unintended respite care for her, being in the women's prison."

Knox had not given any reaction to support shown for her since her name suppression was lifted on Friday, Shamy said.

"She's not getting every piece of feedback. She has no computer, newspaper, radio, I think she gets a bit of TV. 

"She is still hugely remorseful, and regrets a great deal. Donella is a pretty humble person. She just wants to do her penalty and get out, and start to rebuild her life."

Knox will be eligible for parole in April 2018.

 - The Marlborough Express

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