KASAMA Vol. 9 No. 1 / January-February 1995 / Philippines Australia Solidarity Group Queensland


by Emere Distor

FILIPINO groups in Brisbane were outraged over the conviction of a policeman who strangled his pregnant Filipino wife and dumped her body in a ditch in Munruben on 21 February last year.

Paul Young, a Queensland policeman and former prison officer, was only convicted of manslaughter after telling the court that he had an "out-of-body" experience during the time of the killing. Young insisted that he did not remember strangling his wife, Elma, although he did recall the incident as being "like watching a movie" and "looking over his shoulder" while she was being hurt and he could do nothing about it.

Defence lawyer, Ms Julie Dick, suggested during the trial that Young may have been in a disassociative state, a state where one suffers amnesia for a period of time. Two psychologists were called to the witness box although their opinions on disassociation differed from each other.

The jury, consisting of 6 women and 6 men, reached a decision after 24 hours. Justice Dowsett sentenced Young to 10 years imprisonment with no recommendation for parole.

Filipinos who belong to "Justice for Elma Young" were disgusted with the verdict and said, "He should have been convicted of murder, not manslaughter".

The Centre for Philippine Concerns-Australia observed that the presentation of some evidence during the 7-day trial was alarmingly in favour of Paul Young. Another obvious weakness of the trial was the failure to establish the history of domestic violence experienced by Elma since her marriage with Young in 1982.

"It is not surprising that we are concerned with the outcome of the trial since statistics of Filipino women murdered in Australia show a pathetic pattern of half-served justice or unresolved crime," said a CPCA spokesperson.

Elma Young, a registered nurse at the Logan Hospital at the time of her death, was the 18th Filipina killed in Australia and the fourth in Queensland since 1980.

David Mathieson is serving life imprisonment after drowning his fiancee, Teresita Andalis in 1980. In 1987, Antonio Juan Curado was convicted of murder after shooting Nenita Westhoff and her husband. Last year, Bruce James Hughes was sentenced to life imprisonment after brutally bashing to death Mila Wills, a deaf-and-mute Filipina.

A conference called "Stopping Violence Against Filipino Women in Australia" was held in Melbourne in October 1994 to expose the alarming increase of violence perpetrated against Filipino women and their children. The gathering was attended by over a hundred women from different sectors and states. Recommendations and proposals reached at the conference were submitted to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission which will release its report of Filipino women's issues sometime this year.