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Robert Donald William FARQUHARSON





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Drove his car into a dam
Number of victims: 3
Date of murder: September 4, 2005
Date of arrest: December 14, 2005
Date of birth: 1969
Victim profile: His three children, Jai (10), Tyler (7) and Bailey (2)
Method of murder: Drowning
Location: Winchelsea, Victoria, Australia
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment with a 33 year minimum on October 15, 2010

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Robert Donald William Farquharson (born 1969) is an Australian father convicted of murdering his three sons on Father's Day in 2005 by driving them into a farm dam.

Farquharson was convicted in an earlier trial and was sentenced to life imprisonment with no minimum term. However, he maintained his innocence and appealed his sentence. On 17 December 2009, he won the right to a retrial, due in part to the key witness for the prosecution, Greg King, facing potential criminal charges himself at the time of the original trial. He was released on bail on 21 December, but was again convicted of murder on 22 July 2010.

Early life

Farquharson met his future wife, Cindy Gambino, in February 1990. In 1996, he took a redundancy package from his employer and bought a lawn-mowing franchise servicing his local area, a venture which lost him AUD 40,000.

Farquharson married Gambino in 2000 and they had three children by 2002. The pair separated amicably in 2004. Farquharson suffered bouts of depression and sought the assistance of a psychologist and later a psychiatrist to deal with the separation. He was prescribed the antidepressants Zoloft and later Avanza.


About 7 pm on 4 September 2005, as Farquharson was returning his children to their mother after a Father's Day access visit, his white 1989 VN Commodore vehicle veered across the Princes Highway between Winchelsea and Geelong, crashed through a fence and came to rest in a farm dam where it filled with water and submerged. His three children, Jai (10), Tyler (7) and Bailey (2), were unable to free themselves and drowned. Farquharson managed to escape and alerted another driver who took him to nearby Winchelsea. Police divers recovered the boys' bodies about 2 am the next day. They were still inside the vehicle and unrestrained by seatbelts.

After a three-month investigation, police prepared murder charges against Farquharson and went to his Winchelsea home on 14 December 2005. He was not there at the time but presented himself at the Geelong police station in the presence of his lawyer. He was arrested and charged with three counts of murder. He had previously requested and undertook a lie detector test, the results of which are inadmissible in court. He later appeared in the Geelong Magistrates Court, where he was remanded in custody and ordered to appear before the court on 7 April 2006.

Gambino told the court that she did not believe Farquharson intended to kill their children deliberately, saying "I believe with all my heart that this was just an accident and that he would not have hurt a hair on their heads. I don't believe this is murder."

Police alleged that Farquharson was in control of the vehicle in the moments before it crashed into the dam and that he earlier told a friend, Greg King, that he had intended to kill his children to get back at his wife. He was later granted bail and released from custody to appear at his trial which was scheduled to begin in August 2007.


Farquharson's trial for the murder of his sons began in the Supreme Court of Victoria, before Justice Philip Cummins, on 21 August 2007. A total of 49 witnesses appeared during the six-week trial.


Sergeant Glen Urquhart gave evidence that the steering wheel of Farquharson's vehicle would require a 220-degree turn to veer as it did on the highway to leave the road. There was no evidence of braking before the car entered the dam. The vehicle's headlights, heater and ignition system were all in the off position.

The body of the oldest child, Jai, was found protruding half way out of the vehicle's front door. The other boys were discovered in the back seat.

Police video re-enactments of the crime scene played before the court showed the car veering left, instead of right, towards the dam at the exact position on the highway the accident happened. Farquharson's car was found to pull slightly to the right, though not to the degree that would counteract the left-veering force according to Urquhart.

King, a bus driver, testified that he recalled a conversation with Farquharson two months before the incident outside a fish and chip shop. He said his friend spoke of seeking revenge on his former wife and of wanting to "take away the things that mean the most to her", meaning the children. King recalled Farquharson complaining how his wife had taken the newer of the two cars. But King's wife could not recall her husband relaying this conversation to her that day.

Another witness, Shane Atkinson, who discovered Farquharson on the side of the road, said Farquharson twice refused to call the 000 emergency number, preferring instead to travel to Winchelsea to tell his wife of his children's fate. The court transcript reveals Atkinson had to borrow a mobile phone to call police from the Winchelsea police station, which was closed for the night. This backs up the evidence given originally at the committal hearing that no mobile phone was available.

Matthew Naughton, an associate professor and specialist in sleep and respiratory medicine, told the jury that it was highly unlikely Farquharson had suffered a coughing fit in the moments before the accident. He further testified that coughing to the point of blacking out is an extremely rare condition, known as cough syncope, and that Farquharson was unlikely to have suffered such an attack while driving given the warmth of his vehicle. He later conceded, however, that he had never seen cough syncope, would not know how to take a history to determine it and was sceptical even of its existence, a consideration not backed up by others in the same sphere of medicine.


Farquharson relied upon the defence of losing consciousness due to a coughing fit and told police that he woke up in the dam. He said that the car begun to submerge when his son Jai tried to free himself by opening the passenger door.

Cam Everett, the owner of the property where the dam was located, told the court that a total of seven vehicles had crashed through his farm fence in eight years. No vehicles other than Farquharson's had ended up in the dam in that time.

Former police superintendent David Axup, who has not been a policeman for over 20 years, contradicted the prosecution's arguments about the path and steering of the car as it left the road, believing it had probably traveled on a 53-degree arc. He said this could be explained by the right camber of the road towards the dam as well as the fact that the car had poor wheel alignment, meaning it would move uncontrolled to the right.

Farquharson's thoracic medicine specialist, Chris Steinfort, also concluded it was "highly likely" that his patient haD suffered from cough syncope on the night. Steinfort has seen cases of cough syncope and believed the symptoms suffered by Farquharson were a "classic" example.


The day before the verdict came in, Farquharson arranged for flowers (three red tulips) to be laid at the grave of his children. Attached was a card reading "Dear Jai, Thinking of you on your birthday. Love you, Dad." Jai would have turned 13 that day.

After three days of deliberations, the jury found Farquharson guilty on 5 October 2007. Gambino broke down in court when the verdict was announced; her mother collapsed and was taken to hospital by ambulance. Justice Cummins allowed a recess of 15 minutes for the court to compose itself before proceedings resumed.

On 16 November 2007, Farquharson was sentenced to three terms of life imprisonment without parole. He then announced that he intended to appeal his convictions.

Appeal, bail and retrial

On 17 December 2009, Farquharson's conviction was unanimously overturned by the three appeal judges. They were critical of the trial judge, the prosecution and the evidence of key prosecution witness Greg King. On 21 December 2009 he was granted bail and released into the care of one of his sisters with AUD 200,000 surety.

The retrial commenced on 4 May 2010 before Justice Lex Lasry QC. The jury retired to consider their verdict on 19 July 2010 after hearing 11 weeks of evidence and argument. On 22 July, after three days of deliberation, the second jury again found Farquharson guilty of murder. On 15 October 2010 he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 33 year minimum.

Media offers

Harpo Productions, the company of American talk show host Oprah Winfrey, is reported to have offered Gambino $1 million to appear on the program and tell her story. Gambino told her story to Australian magazine Woman's Day, saying that she did not believe Farquharson had killed their children, but has since changed her mind.


Robert Farquharson loses appeal for killing sons

Chip Le Grand - The Australian

December 17, 2012

ROBERT Farquharson will spend the next 30 years in jail after losing an appeal against his murder convictions for killing his three sons.

The boys' mother Cindy Gambino, who broke down in court after the verdict, said outside the Victorian Court of Appeal: "It's all over. Thank God its all over."

Farquharson, now aged 43, drowned his sons Jai, Tyler and Bailey when he drove his car into a dam on the highway between Winchelsea and Geelong on Father's Day in 2005.

Farquharson was first convicted of the murders in 2007 and sentenced for three life terms. In 2009 he successfully appealed the convictions and was ordered to face another trial.

A second jury in deliberated on the case in 2010 and again found him guilty. In his second trial, the crown case against him included testimony from Ms Gambino, who had supported her ex-husband throughout the first trial.

The crown case was that Farquharson deliberately killed the children out of spite after the breakdown of his relationship with Ms Gambino.

Farquharson appealed the convictions from his second trial, submitting that the jury's verdict was unsafe and unsatisfactory, and that a key piece of evidence in the crown case - a conversation Farquharson had with a man at the local fish and chip shop - was unreliable.

Court of Appeal president Chris Maxell and justices Peter Buchanan and David Harper rejected the appeal, finding it was open to the jury to find him guilty on the evidence.

Farquharson was sentenced in 2010 to serve three consecutive life terms with a minimum of 33 years in jail.


Friends insist Farquharson did not murder sons

March 28, 2011

Supporters of convicted murderer Robert Farquharson say the father-of-three did not mean to kill his sons when he drove them into a dam on Father's Day in 2005.

Farquharson, 41, was found guilty of three counts of murder in a retrial last year and sentenced to a minimum of 33 years' jail.

In court he claimed he had blacked out from a coughing fit when the car veered off the road and plunged into the dam near Winchelsea in rural Victoria.

Farquharson walked away uninjured. The bodies of Jai, 10, Tyler, 7, and Bailey, 2, were found trapped inside the car.

Friend Michael Hart saw Farquharson hours before the boys' deaths but says he was never interviewed by police.

"Rob had come into my lounge room asking me to go out to dinner with him because it's Father's Day," he told ABC 1's Australian Story.

"I wasn't feeling too good and I looked at Rob and he was not looking good and he'd been coughing and splattering in the shed.

"I said, you are not well. You probably shouldn't be driving."

During the trial the defence counsel called on several witnesses to give evidence about a rare condition known as cough syncope.

But the court found the explanation inconsistent with crash reconstruction tests carried out by Victoria Police.

The prosecution also relied heavily on the evidence of Farquharson's friend Greg King, who claimed he was told of a plot to kill the children as "payback" against his ex-wife, Cindy Gambino.

Mr Hart says Mr King's evidence does not stand up to scrutiny.

"I know there was no plot," he said. "He wouldn't have told Greg. He would have told me. He told me everything."

Ms Gambino initially refused to believe her ex-husband had murdered the children. By the time of the retrial she had changed her mind and withdrew her support for him.

But her childhood friend, Wendy Kennedy, maintains Farquharson is innocent.

The friends are no longer in contact and Ms Kennedy told Australian Story it is because she does not accept Ms Gambino's new partner, Stephen Moules.

Mr Moules arrived at the dam shortly after the car Farquharson was driving ran into the water.

"I don't know what happened to Cindy, how she came to think that Rob was guilty, or if that's really what she believes," Ms Kennedy told Australian Story.

"She's living with Stephen. Stephen's been on television. He's said clearly that he smelt a rat and words to that effect.

"Cindy and I aren't talking now because I won't accept Stephen, so that's where the barriers come in there. That's why I can't explain where her head space is at the moment."


Father gets minimum 33yrs over dam deaths

By Sarah Fanrsworth -

October 15, 2010

A man found guilty of murdering his three sons by driving them into a dam in south-west Victoria has been sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 33 years.

Robert Farquharson was found guilty of deliberately killing his three boys, Jai, Tyler and Bailey in July.

They drowned when they were trapped in their car at the bottom of the dam near Winchelsea on Father's Day in 2005.

During the hearing, the boys' mother, Cindy Gambino fought back tears.

Outside the court she told reporters the sentence was never going to be enough.

"I have a life sentence, so should he," she said.

Farquharson, 41, shook his head as Justice Lex Lasry told him he had planned a horrendous crime and delibrately killed his vulnerable children.

Justice Lasry told the court the boys were subjected to a terrfiying death, which had traumatised their mother for life.

Solicitor Simon Northeast said Farquharson is innocent.

"In due course we will be lodging an appeal," he said.

Ann Irwin read a statement on behalf of Robert Farquharson's family, friends and supporters outside the court.

She says they maintain he is innocent.

"We as his family and supporters are not so blinded by love or sympathy that we would maintain his innocence if there was any evidence of guilt," she said.

"Rob is a broken man, a traumatised and deeply grieving parent who loves his children. He finds it difficult to accept the deaths of his boys and will carry this grief with him forever."

Ms Irwin says those who have not experienced what he has cannot judge him.

"Despite the fact that it is hard to accept, this was an accident. We are both devastated and outraged at the verdict," she said.

"The justice system has failed three young boys and their loving father and we are horrified that Rob is now faced with further trauma, grief and loss of liberty as a result."

Farquharson will be in his 70s before he is eligible for parole.

The sentence was delayed by about 90 minutes because the boys' mother, Cindy Gambino, was unable to make it to court on time because of bad weather.


Timeline of Robert Farquharson murders

October 15, 2010

THE events that led to Robert Farquharson's trial for the murder of his three sons.

1990 - Robert Farquharson meets his future wife Cindy Gambino. After some years as friends they begin a relationship and move in together.

October 1994 - The couple's first child Jai Farquharson is born.

July 1998 - Tyler Farquharson is born.

2000 - Farquharson and Ms Gambino get married.

December 2002 - The couple's youngest child Bailey is born. The couple's relationship is strained as Farquharson had not wanted another child.

November 2004 - Ms Gambino realises that she does not love Farquharson any more and asks him to move out of their house. The separation angers Farquharson. Ms Gambino becomes friendly with another man, Stephen Moules.

About May or June 2005 - In a conversation outside the local fish and chip shop Farquharson tells his good mate Greg King he will pay Ms Gambino back "big time" by "taking away the most important thing" to her.

September 4, 2005 - After taking the children to Geelong on Father's Day, Farquharson murders his sons by driving off the Princes Highway and into a dam. He gets out of the car and swims to shore.

December 2005 - Farquharson is charged with murdering his three sons and appears in court where he is granted bail.

August 2006 - Farquharson ordered to stand trial for the murder of his sons.

October 2007 - After a six-week trial Farquharson is found guilty of murdering the boys and the following month is sentenced to life in prison with no parole.

November 2007 - Farquharson lodges appeal against conviction.

December 2009 - Farquharson wins his appeal, his conviction is quashed and a new trial is ordered.

May 2010 - Retrial begins before Justice Lex Lasry.

July 2010 - After an 11-week trial Farquharson is again convicted of murdering his sons.

October 15, 2010 - Farquharson is sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 33 years.


Robert Farquharson guilty of murdering sons

July 22, 2010

A VICTORIAN father has been found guilty of murdering his three sons by driving them into a dam on Fathers Day.

After an 11-week retrial, a Victorian Supreme Court jury took three days to find him guilty of murdering Jai, 10, Tyler, seven, and Bailey, two.

As the verdict was delivered today, Farquharson trembled, shook his head and mouthed "no" as he looked to his weeping sisters in the court room for support.

His ex-wife and the boys' mother, Cindy Gambino, who was supported in court by her parents and new partner Stephen Moules, showed no emotion.

Ms Gambino's mother Beverley, however, collapsed outside court after the family rushed past a large media contingent without making comment.

She was quickly put into a taxi and whisked away.

One female juror was crying as the forewoman read the guilty verdict.

The boys died on Father's Day in September 2005 when Farquharson deliberately drove his car off the Princes Highway near Winchelsea, in Victoria's west, and into a dam.

Farquharson was given a retrial after his 2007 conviction and life sentence were quashed by an appeal court last year.

In his closing address earlier this month, prosecutor Andrew Tinney, SC, told the court Farquharson's resentment and anger toward his ex-wife "drove him to commit an almost unspeakable act of vengeance'".

Mr Tinney said after murdering the children, Farquharson had the "delicious reward'" of telling Ms Gambino about the deaths.

"In this case, in the end, your head, members of the jury, will clearly and strongly tell you something that your heart may not want to believe," he said.

"It is that the accused really did murder those three defenceless children; it is that a human being really can sink to such depths.

"You should find him guilty on all three counts of murder."

Farquharson's barrister Peter Morrissey, SC, said his client blacked out.

"What you could find is that the evidence proves to absolute certainty that it did happen," he said.

His sisters sat in shock in the court and watched as he was taken to the cells.

Farquharson will be sentenced at a later date.


Farquharson denies telling witness what to say

By Peta Carlyon -

June 23, 2010

The man accused of deliberately driving his sons into a dam near Winchelsea five years ago, has denied telling a former friend what to say to the police.

Robert Farquharson, 41, is being re-tried for the murder of his three sons.

He is accused of deliberately driving them into a dam, near Winchelsea, in the state's south-west, on Father's Day, 2005.

The Victorian Supreme Court has heard that prior to their deaths, Farquharson told a former friend he was going to pay back his ex-wife, "big time."

Farquharson has admitted that after the boys drowned, he did tell the same man, who was by then, wearing a police wire, to tell investigators that he was a "good bloke," who was often seen around town taking the boys on bike rides and to the football.

But he told the court, he was not feeding him lines, or trying to avoid police scrutiny.

The trial continues.


Ex-wife Cindy Gambino breaks down at Robert Farquharson trial

By Lauren Wilson - The Australian

May 7, 2010

A MOTHER has given a jury a harrowing account of the last moments she spent with her three sons before her estranged husband drove them into a dam in what prosecutors allege was a deliberate act of murder.

Robert Farquharson's three young sons Jai, 10, Tyler, 7, and Bailey, 2 drowned after being trapped inside their father's Holden Commodore when it sank to the bottom of a dam on the outskirts of Geelong on Fathers' Day in 2005.

Mr Farquharson has pleaded not guilty in the Victorian Supreme Court to the murders of his children, maintaining he had a coughing fit and blacked out at the wheel.

The boys' mother Cindy Gambino chocked back tears in the witness box today as she described saying goodbye to her sons' for the last time.

Ms Gambino told the court that she had driven the boys over to Mr Farquharson's house with a framed photograph and saucepans for him as a Fathers' Day gift.

She said that after spending ten minutes at her former husband's home she asked her boys if they wanted to have dinner with their father and arranged for him to drive them home.

"The biggest regret of my life is asking that question," she sobbed.

"Bailey's last words to me where "cuddle mum" and I cuddled him and I left and that was the last time I saw them alive."

Ms Gambino said Mr Farquharson had a "love/hate" relationship with his children and "resented me something badly" after the pair separated in 2004.

She told the court she never denied Mr Farquharson access to the children, but "the worst part about it was that he never really asked to have them than often, and the kids never asked if they could see dad."

The court heard that Mr Farquharson would often complain about child maintenance payments and his difficult financial position.

Breaking into tears, Ms Gambino said the payments were set to slightly increase before the deaths of the children, but "it ended up not being increased because the children died and he didn't have to pay maintenance anymore."

She described the conduct of Mr Farquharson the night of their children's death as being, "like he lost his pushbike".

The trial continues.


Dad had 'love-hate' relationship with drowned kids

By Sarah Fanrsworth -

May 7, 2010

The Victorian Supreme court has heard a man accused of killing his three children had a love-hate relationship with them.

Robert Farquharson is being retried for drowning his children by driving them into a dam in south-west Victoria five years ago.

Cindy Gambino lost her sons Jai, Tyler and Bailey Farquharson when their father crashed his car into a dam near Winchelsea in 2005.

Robert Farquharson is accused of deliberately killing the boys in an act of revenge against his wife after she left him.

Giving evidence, Ms Gambino told the court Farquharson had a love-hate relationship with the children and treated them like possessions.

The court heard he would often wind-up his eldest son until he lashed out.

Ms Gambino said after their separation, her husband did not often ask to see the children and they did not ask to see him.

Robert Farquharson has pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder.

The trial continues.



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