Christine Burrows will never get over the death of her son.
But she is determined to see justice for his murder.
“Hell hath no fury like a mother scorned,” she says sitting on his bed in the family’s home in Raby, Western Sydney. The room is filled with memories of the teenager’s life, which is all his parents and two older sisters have left.
Todd was 16-years-old when he was stabbed in the heart by Jay Cook, 18, on October 2010. He died in hospital.
Cook was sentenced to four years for manslaughter. Justice Peter Garling said at the time: “He is a relatively young man … his prospects of rehabilitation are good.”
In January 2013, Cook was unsuccessful for pre-release, nine months on, he’s being considered again.
If granted Cook would be allowed supervised leave, where he will be released from jail at 8am, work in the community, and return at 4pm. He would be allowed to leave Friday night at 4pm and return Sunday night.
Fueled by a sense of injustice, Mrs Burrows is now fighting for changes to the legal system to ensure no mother has to endure “the most offensive thing any mother could ever go through”.
She is petitioning the NSW Attorney General and NSW Government to introduce mandatory minimum sentences of 10-years for knife killings. Her petition, posted on change.org, currently has more than 5000 signatures.
She has also handed out flyers in the Campbelltown/ Macarthur region to raise awareness, and has the support of NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir.
Ms Bashir, in reply to an email sent by Mrs Burrows to the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, was moved to act on the family’s behalf.
“It’s a disgrace and I’m going to present this to the police commissioner,” Ms Bashir said.
Renata Strnad, St Andrews, a signatory on the change.org petition commented, “Well it shows other kids the wrong impression…they will think: “Oh well let’s go and kill someone because we only get four years for murder.”
Mrs Burrows is hoping the groundswell of support will lead to action by the government.
“No one had ever mentioned pre-release,” said Mrs Burrows, “I don’t understand. It’s still giving him freedom.”
In a letter written by Mrs Burrows objecting to the pre-release of Jay Cook she wrote: “He took a life with his knife. He should do his full term.”
Since the death of her son, Mrs Burrows has not stopped fighting. She has fought to keep her family – husband Todd, and daughters Teigen and Rhiannon – together.
She also fought for FACS (Family and Community Services) leave during the court case, but was told, “If you were representing your child you would get FACS leave … but he’s not here.”
But the fight for justice is not one this courageous woman is prepared to lose. As she reminiscently leafs through an album filled with images of her son’s life, she makes a promise to herself – and to Todd.
“If I don’t succeed with where I’m going I’ll go further.”
The Department of Corrective Services confirmed the case was being considered. “It’s a very long hurdle, with many significant factors,” said department spokesman Adrienne Riddell, “the final say goes to the commissioner but it is still very early days.” – Bianca Mureddu