Mum killed sons to punish dad, court told

Last updated 20:42 14/05/2008

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A mother murdered her two sons soon after Father's Day to punish her husband for their unsatisfactory marriage, a prosecutor has told a Supreme Court jury in Melbourne.

Donna Fitchett, now 48, drugged the boys, aged 11 and nine, with a "cocktail" of sedatives, then later smothered and strangled them, prosecutor Gavin Silbert, SC, said in opening her trial.

He said Fitchett was a qualified nurse who stockpiled a large quantity of prescription drugs at the family's Balwyn North home.

Mr Silbert said her husband, David, came home about 6.40pm on September 6, 2005 - two days after Father's Day - to find the boys dead at their house in Dight Avenue.

He said the killings were premeditated, planned in minute detail, and carried out in cold blood.

"She knew exactly what she was doing," he told the jurors and Justice Geoffrey Nettle.

Mr Silbert said Fitchett told David Fitchett the Friday before the killings that she was leaving him, and criticised his personality. She said he was incapable of communicating and fulfilling her needs.

In a letter to her psychologist - dated the day of the killings - Ms Fitchett said she told her husband to take the boys out on Father's Day and enjoy themselves because it would be the last they had as a family.

She said in the letter that the boys thought they were going on an exciting trip, and they needed to take some medicine so they wouldn't be sick.

"I'm not a coward, nor am I crazy. I see this as my greatestact of love. I'm not punishing David, I pity him," she said.

Fitchett has pleaded not guilty to murdering her sons.

Defence counsel Graham Thomas, SC, said the issue for the jury would be whether Ms Fitchett was mentally impaired when she killed the boys.

He said she was identified at Box Hill Hospital after the killings as being suicidal.

A police doctor who interviewed her the next day found that she was unfit to be interviewed and a suicide risk, he said. The doctor sent her straight to a psychiatric institution.

Mr Thomas said Fitchett suffered a deep and chronic depression. He anticipated two senior psychiatrists would testify that she was so depressed at the time of the killings as to be mentally impaired.

The trial continues.

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- The Age

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