Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Heartless South Australian goons

THE shooting death of a Clare woman and the prosecution of her grieving husband for firearms offences, will be the subject of a high-level SA Police internal inquiry.

John and Julie Taylor's 20-year marriage ended in tragedy when she was accused of embezzlement and took her own life.

Police then charged John with allowing his wife to access the couple's .22 calibre handguns - despite both of them being licensed pistol shooters.

Although that charge has since been dropped, police are now conducting an internal review of their dealings with the Taylors.

The incident has also concerned mental health experts.

SANE Australia deputy chief executive Paul Morgan said police could have conducted themselves more sympathetically.  "I understand police have a very tough job to do but ... there must be compassion," he said.

"Police, doctors and anyone else dealing with those close to a suicide must be aware of the ripple effect these traumatic events have.  "Those left behind are more vulnerable to take their own lives, and so police must take into account their support needs."

Mrs Taylor, 42, served as secretary of the Clare Dog Obedience Club until June this year, when she was accused of defrauding $6000.  After speaking with police, she underwent mental health evaluation at Clare Hospital and was discharged.

On June 27, she fatally shot herself with a .22 calibre handgun registered in John Taylor's name.

Police subsequently alleged that Taylor, 59, had wrongfully allowed his wife access to the gun safe's keys and failed to secure the ammunition box with a padlock.

Last week, Taylor faced the Elizabeth Magistrates Court.  In a letter to magistrate Joanne Tracey, he said he and his wife were licensed pistol shooters.  "Julie was my wife, we had no secrets between us and we had a happy marriage," the letter said.

"Now I am being prosecuted because I told my own wife where the gun safe key was kept."

Ms Tracey questioned whether the charges were appropriate, and prosecutors agreed to withdraw the handguns count.

Taylor pleaded guilty to failing to use a padlock on the ammunition box, but was convicted without penalty.


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