National attention on a local cause

A local woman’s battle to have a law changed regarding the definition of guilt by reason of mental illness has gained national attention.

Wendy Robinson has been involved in a court case spanning over 18 months to prevent her brother from inheriting from their parents’ estates after he murdered them in 2014.

The case has gained plenty of media attention across the country with television, radio, online and print news picking up the story.

Wendy told The Cobar Weekly her cause is gaining some traction thanks to the widespread attention.

“The messages I’ve been receiving have been amazing: the support and the reaction from the public see the need for the change of these rules,” she said.

She is also pleased the NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman is reviewing and considering changing the wording of the law.

In a court ruling in August 2016, Justice Stephen Campbell found that Cobar residents Ian and Margaret Settree had been murdered by their son, Scott Settree, in December 2014.

Justice Campbell said at the time of the offence, the accused was deemed to have been suffering from a significant mental illness and returned a special verdict of not guilty due to mental illness.

In an interview with The Cobar Weekly following the murder trial, Wendy said she was “satisfied” with the outcome of the case against her brother.

Wendy said it did not however sit well with her or her family that there was ‘no conviction recorded’.

She then decided to join in lobbying to change the wording of the law.

“I thought ‘this should not be happening’ and thought I’d give a go and see what happens,” Wendy said.

Wendy had to put the petition aside while she took further legal action to prevent her brother from benefiting from her parents’ estates.

“We didn’t know it would go on for 18 months, we thought it would be over in a few months.

“His rights were forfeited to half the estate but it came with conditions, which is a first,” she said.

Wendy reports she has been ordered to pay for her brother’s legal fees and give him some money from their parents’ estate for his welfare, which she estimates is $250,000.

“I wasn’t a bit surprised mum and dad had left some money to Scott in their will but I was determined that he wasn’t going to get half.

“It was the principle all the way through but I was totally shocked that I had to pay for him to fight me, that is the bit I really can’t understand,” Wendy said.

“I plan on continuing with my campaign for change, I’ll never give up on that.”

Wendy said the media attention from her case has helped to get a lot more signatures for her petition.

She said meeting other victims similar situations also makes her more determined to fight for changes to the law.

Wendy has another meeting with the Attorney General in March.