On 12th July 2013, 64 year-old Dermot O’Toole, a jeweller of Hastings on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, was attending his shop with wife Bridget when they were suddenly confronted by a knife-wielding robber.
Mrs O’Toole was shoved violently into a cabinet and was stabbed several times. Mr O’Toole positioned himself to protect his wife and was stabbed twice, with the blade travelling into his chest the full length as he lay on the floor. He died soon after despite the best efforts of police and paramedics.
The perpetrator, high on ice at the time of the robbery, was captured soon after and the police and general public were outraged to discover that he was on parole at the time – – and had a lengthy criminal history involving more than 160 convictions.
Gavin Perry, 26 years old at the time of the murder, had spent most of his adult life in gaol, and a County Court judge had previously described his record as “diabolical”. He had appeared in court for the first time at 12 years of age and had committed two other armed robberies in the week before he murdered Dermot O’Toole.
During his trial Perry pleaded guilty to murder, intentionally causing serious injury and three counts of armed robbery. He was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 23 years. During sentencing Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth noted that Perry had poor prospects of rehabilitation and was someone who would pose a continuing risk to the community.
The entire tragedy reignited the already volatile debate concerning the granting of parole for recidivist, violent offenders. The Dermot O’Toole murder came less than a year after the Melbourne rape and murder of Jill Meagher by Adrian Bayley, another criminal with an extensive record, who was also on parole at the time.
Mr. O’Toole’s son Dale later said “If there is any doubt that a criminal is dangerous – no matter how small – then they must complete their full sentence.”