Judges deciding badly: Mossop J sends 93 year old to jail

Andrew L. Urban.

 Justice David Mossop of the ACT Supreme Court is the latest judge in Australia to make a bad decision in a criminal trial, by sentencing a 93 year old husband to nine years in prison for the mercy killing of Jean, his 92 year old wife, suffering from dementia. 

 Justice David Mossop said that while the length of any sentence would have little consequence given Morley’s limited life expectancy, only a term of imprisonment would be appropriate. Not callous or anything …

“Murder remains murder, notwithstanding the age or infirmity of the victim,” he said. “The forceful murder of one’s spouse must be denounced. Even in extreme circumstances of age and infirmity … [murder] is not acceptable,” he said. Some may regard that as pompous and insensitive.

Justice David Mossop

He suffocated Jean with a pillow after she came to bed one night, then tried several times to kill himself.

“[This is] a tragic end to the couple’s long and happy life together,” said Mossop.

Yes, thanks to His Honour’s failure to suspend the sentence, which would have been the wiser, more humane and justified decision.

Justice Mossop noted the killing had not been motivated by malice but rather by Morley’s inability to realise there were other ways the pair could live with more support. How ironic that Mossop failed to realise there were other ways Morley could be held accountable under the law, under the circumstances.

Morley has previously been given three to six months to live as skin cancers have penetrated his skull.


Other judges have also decided badly – four examples:


Justice Lee

In the recent Lehrmann v Network Ten & Lisa Wilkinson defamation trial, Justice Lee of the Federal Court’s decision that on the balance of probabilities Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins, has been met with an avalanche of criticism from commentators as well as lawyers. Writes Christopher Dore in The Nightly: “In legal circles, Justice Lee’s heavy judgment has landed like a thud. There is considerable unease about th

e boldness of Justice Lee’s reasoning, and subsequent conclusions. At the heart of the finding of truth, a rape most likely did occur, lawyers say, is how Justice Lee re-created the 40 minutes Lehrmann and Higgins spent in the ministerial office that morning in March 2019.

“Justice Lee acknowledged his dilemma in having to construct his own version of events when both Lehrmann and Higgins were unreliable, leaving him to opine over “the difficulties with fact-finding when the only two witnesses to an event do not tell the whole truth”. He could have chosen not to speculate one way or the other.”


In the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, Adams JA said: “… the evidence of the Complainant … was not so persuasive as to dispel the significant doubts raised by a number of seeming implausibilities and inconsistencies…” yet went on to refuse the appeal. Significant doubt is surely more than reasonable doubt?

In the same case, one of the four broad grounds of appeal contained in the 76 page petition (ignored by the NSW Attorney-General) showed “Serious shortcomings in the summing up given by His Honour the Judge (now deceased), including that the applicant had made “admissions … which is totally incorrect.”


Trial judge Alan Blow (now Chief Justice)

In the Tasmanian Supreme Court, (then) Justice Blow, in a murder trial prosecuted on flimsy circumstantial evidence allowed the DPP to speculate how the murder was committed and on a murder weapon. In his summing up, the judge referred to the non-existent murder weapon several times. In his sentencing, he impermissibly extended the sentence when the accused, who insisted on her innocence, failed to disclose the location of the body. The appeal court had to discount the length of the sentence.

When the conviction was appealed, two of the three judges dismissed the appeal with reasons that were challenged by the dissenting judge and by legal scholars.\



The judges in South Australia’s appeal court “fundamentally failed to pay due regard to the rule of law and to the well-established principles governing criminal appeals,” according to legal academics Dr Bob Moles and Bibi Sangha. “The principles espoused in their decision are not only contrary to established authority but have never before appeared in any legal judgment in Australia, Britain or Canada.”




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22 Responses to Judges deciding badly: Mossop J sends 93 year old to jail

  1. Pv says:

    Hi Poppa . You’re quite right of course. God or no god is up to the individual to believe or disbelieve. That however is not the purpose of quoting faith. Whether God exists or not can’t be answered as we have no proof one way or the other. What can’t be denied is that the teachings of Jesus Christ and others were intended to reach conscience . If they do that and no more , it’s still a positive thing. Of course he’ll be in a hospice. Circumstances demand that . It’s the verdict that is the problem not whether it is carried out to the letter. Pv

  2. PV says:

    Justices Lee and Mossop, should simply say We are human we make mistakes , . You may have noticed gentlemen that you have more than 12 people in these submissions to Andrew , who believe the Lee verdict was wrong and the Mossop verdict was without conscience. So we have 12 people in each case expressing NOT GUILTY verdicts . That means of course that if the 12 had been made into a Jury of their peers both cases would have had a different outcome . Is the jury of 12 verdict correct or are the Judges’s verdicts correct . ???

  3. pv says:

    11.40 pm 30 July 1997. Thredbo disaster . Group of young people buried below the rubble of a collapsed ski lodge. As the rescue effort got under way , I heard that the SES were caught short on all sorts of needs , needed to quickly rescue the victims.
    After a couple of days and nights of carefully removing rubble so that it did not cause a further cave – in and potentially kill some survivors. The director of the SES working out of Woollongong , told me there would be shifts of digging and debris removal happening 24 hrs a day ! All volunteers ! The nights get cold and wet in in July . In fact as we all know , Snow can fall in those areas even in mi9d summer . I closed my Business and swore to help the SES find whatever equipment was needed.

    They needed food , to feed the 1500 volunteers . Day and night ! they needed towels to dry them in their breaks , Wet weather Parkers , Sox , and quick energy foods such as sweets and chocolates ,. I called a friend who worked in Wholesale meats. He gifted immmediately at my request , without question 1,000 kilos of steaks chops and sausages

    to feed the rescuers. I asked Kennards for the use of work lights and generators as some SES equipment had failed ., Woolies Neutral Bay donated hundreds of loaves of bread , Accor hotels about 3000 towels , Nestle after some pushing sent a huge box of chocolates .
    People gave their goods and their time without hesitation.
    The group that supplied the meat did not have a refrigerated truck to send the TON of meat , so an independent courier with a refrigerated truck vlunteered to use it to deliver the meat from the northern beaches of sydney to Thredbo . About a seven hour trip ! he got it there and slept in a shed on top of wet towels , so he could get a bit of sleep before his journey back to Sydney. On his way home he received a call from his wife , to check on his safety and wellbeing . He picked up the phone and said he would be home that night and everything would be ok. He had done his part to help the effort. A police car , heading in the other direction , saw him turned around and gave chase . Of course he stopped as soon as he heard the siren . He told the policeman that he had just delivered a gift of 1 ton of meat for thye SES to consume and that his wife just wanted to know he was ok. THE LAW IS THE LAW is what the policeman said . , and fined him something like $180 . Probably a days wages for him at the time. He got home that night and called me , Told me how happy he was to have been able to help ! Then with a little nervous laugh he told me about the fine . , and that even though he explained what he had done
    and the brevity of time taken to reassure his wife the policeman issued the penalty.

    I called the highway Patrol and told them what happened , and asked if they could cancel the booking. No way , they said , once issued thats it . ! i called the premiers office and said that if the fine could be cancelled it would be seen as an appropriate gesture by police and the State Gov. Guess what ! in less than 30 minutes i got a call back. Done ! he said and thanks for your help and please thank the courier.

    I was given an award by the then premier BOB CARR. as were many who assisted me in the effort. After a year all parties were invited to Parliament house for a reunion celebration. I could not attend ! The Moral of this story is that sometimes Justice is best served with a bit of humanity and common sense . I believe that if the fine had been taken to the court a magistrate would have done what that Policeman would not .

    We need more such common sense in our Gov and our police and our Courts PV

  4. Pv says:

    Dear countess. You can’t possibly know her wishes or his intent . “ I lamented about not having good shoes until I met a man with no feet. “ Don’t you get it …. They will soon both be in a better place …they were his only thoughts. He had faith. Someone without faith would not understand. Pv

    • Jerry says:

      Donald Morley will NOT spend one night in prison . It could be said that the sentence was just a formality. Mr Mossop would have been well aware that Mr. Morley was going to die in hospice care. Similar to the South Australian Judge hanging little innocent Ray Bailey. You confessed, to the dear Queensland policeman so now we’ll hang you with the Government rope . Don’t get excited ! It’s just a formality . Nothing personal.

  5. Julie says:

    Hasn’t Judge Mossop heard of Euthanasia.
    He obviously didn’t watch Michael Haneje’s film, ” Amour “either.
    The judge’s decision to incarcerated the elderly, & sick, accused is devoid of compassion

  6. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich says:

    I agree with Judge Mossop –MURDER is MURDER ! To excuse him is to open the flood gates. There is no such thing as “Mercy Killing ” ! There is no “mercy “in killing someone , especially someone who could not make a decision either way or defend herself ! It is the act of a SELFISH SOCIOPATH who only cared about himself and the inconvenience she posed to HIS life ! What about the marriage vow “to love in sickness and in health ” ? I have seen too many men and women, who, when they discovered that their spouse had eg terminal cancer immediately commenced affairs with the view to finding another meal-ticket who owns a luxury home , etc. My father did not murder my mother because she had dementia, nor did I kill my husband (whom I loved more than life ) because his prolonged death from cancer was causing too much trouble/inconvenience and expense . REAL LOVE is forever no matter how hard things become. This old man never loved her or he could never have done something so horrible as suffocating her ! MURDERER ! Our Society is now degenerate with child murder , ie abortion and many other horrible things, no wonder there is so much crime , including assaults on partners /wives and their murders because society no longer values life. In my youth murderers were hung. If just one man who murdered his wife were hung today , it would immediately stop the epidemic of one woman in Australia being murdered by her partner every four days .

    • andrew says:

      There is an arguable view that this man did indeed love his wife … loved her enough, in fact, to do the most awful thing, before attempting suicide, inconsolable sadness. The court was not expected to excuse him, but to take the circumstances into consideration, perhaps suspending the sentence. The court is not a place for vengeance.

    • Julie says:

      How can you purport to know the reasons he or they arrived at the decision to take her life & then his own in the home they shared? How do.you purport to know anything about his motivations?

  7. tony brownlee says:

    Mossop J. is far too young to be guided by sufficient life experiences to delivery an appropriate and fair sentence in this matter!

  8. tony brownlee says:

    Many of late seem to have missed the fact that criminal trials are not courts of truth or justice they are courts of “law” and the “law” spits out much different conclusions than applying the tests of beyond reasonable doubt or on the balance of probabilities, do. It is just rubbish to believe a guilty verdict means the offence was committed and or a verdict of acquittal means the offence was not committed. Decisions are as the law dictates and not otherwise. How often here in these pages alone have we witnessed this!

    • Jerry says:

      How many good citizens realize- criminal trials are not courts of truth or justice. In other words, truth and justice can go to hell ! Apparently, then there must also be no law forbidding the police/dpp and Judge lying their effing guts out ?Well, that sure explains many a Wrongful Conviction. Decisions are as the law dictates. There is a law that dictates flexible forensics or forced false confessions ? Bloody must be ! Have looked up at the Lady of Justice outside the Old Bailey in London, a parody of which portrays her as a prostitute. There is a lovely pedestal position at the entrance to The High Court of Australia building in Canberra. It is described as in the very fitting brutalistic style of architecture. A Kings Cross Hooker statue would be appropriate – would it not ? A fist full of dollars in one hand and a victims head in the other . There ya go – truth and justice for the good citizens.

  9. Jerry says:

    The man is going to be in a hospice,not prison. However (as usual there is a however). It is quite clear that in our society you can’t bump off your spouse because they are very sick. That’s the message . Seems like a qualified contractor – and they can stuff it up . Wrong address etc etc.

    • Pv says:

      Hi Jerry , perhaps in a lucid moment , she asked him to help her die. Perhaps they made a pact? We’ll never know . There is also assisted suicide to consider if she had moments in which she could express her wishes. One of the comments you may have noticed , talks about verdicts not always reflecting the truth. To me of course that’s no surprise. You won’t find the truth easily if you don’t look for it.
      There is no greater method , to get a correct verdict , than to recognize lies and ONLY seek the truth . I know of a conviction , where something was alleged to have happened in a room that that can be shown ,did not exist .no question raised of course by the prosecution. I can only see darkness in our courts if a win
      Is more important than how you get it. Remember ! It took Lindy Chamberlain 11 years to get a not guilty verdict instead of simply overturning the conviction. The system fought her tooth and nail. Pv

  10. Pv says:

    Can you imagine the bravery required , knowing the possible consequences of assisting in the death of someone you truly love. The heartbreak of carrying it out and the turmoil of feelings ,knowing you are going to stop the suffering. 69 years married and after ending the suffering, being prepared to take your own life , is true and unselfish love of the highest order. Not murder , no way. He deserves better than the callous disregard by the judge , of an act of mercy. It seems to me that appointment of judges has no relationship to their humanity or their ability to look into the humanity of others . Please God intervene in yet another failure of our so called Justices. Pv

    • Poppa says:

      If there was such a God as the one you supplicate for reactive action, able to fix wrongs, The God would have not need of prayer.
      For if you believe The God to have REACTIVE POWERS ,then logic says YOU and others of your faith ilk would have to also credit The God as having PROACTIVE PREVENTIVE POWERS.
      As there is no recorded & proven incidence of such GOD INTERVENTION either way, it surely begs the question as to the validity & justification for harbouring in one’s mind such belief. A so called “Religious book” of stories and fables has no value in terms of relying upon it as being FACT .

  11. Don Wakeling says:

    Justice Mossop didn’t always hold the views he expressed in this case,namely, that regardless of age, crime must carry the need for punishment. In 2017 he sentenced a 17 year old for the rape of a 17 year old girl which continued ” while she was in tears”. Did he go to gaol? No. Mossop J dealt the rapist a Suspended Sentence, subject to a Bond to be of Good Behaviour for 18 months with a condition to perform 100 hrs of community service.

    How on earth do we get these Judges.

  12. gail yvonne churchill says:

    dear souls……old age and care is a quandary for many, including me……the decision to send this man to prison, rather than palliative care is incomprehensible. The law is an ass – justice is not served with this decision.

    • Jerry says:

      He is not in Prison .He is not in prison. He is in a hospital for the dying (hospice) where the judge knew he’d be .

  13. Pv says:

    I am sad.! There is no comment that would in any way give insight as to what judge Mossop could possibly be thinking ! It was not an act of Murder, it was an act of kindness . This is horrible. ! The old man tried to take his own life so he could be with her in heaven. He has a spot there reserved for the near future. Shame on you Judge Mossop. You are not capable of seeing anything. Pv

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