The Age

Battle for boy ends in double tragedy

By Julie Szego
Social Affairs Reporter
The Age (Melbourne)
August 3 2002

The lesbian mother at the centre of a bitter Family Court battle with a gay sperm donor was found dead in her Melbourne home on Thursday, along with her two-year old son, in an apparent murder-suicide.

The mother, 40, lived with her lesbian co-parent, who had fought alongside her earlier this year to restrict the father's contact with the child.

In April the donor father won the right to have regular contact visits with his son after a Family Court judge ruled that it was in the child's best interests.

Since the trial, the co-parent had played the role of intermediary in facilitating the visits. It is believed those contact arrangements had been progressing smoothly and the father was enjoying a healthy relationship with the toddler.

It is also believed the birth mother had received psychiatric treatment since the court case.

A police spokeswoman said last night the mother and child's names could not be released but confirmed the matter was being treated as a murder-suicide.

Detectives are preparing a report for the coroner on the incident and an autopsy is expected later.

The birth mother and co-parent had brought proceedings to restrict contact between the sperm donor father and the child to twice a year. The father sought regular contact.

The couple and the father gave conflicting evidence on understandings they had reached before the child's birth. Initially, the child's birth was concealed from the father. The biological mother insisted that she, her lesbian partner and son were a complete family unit.

At one stage, she said her son emitted a strong male odour after contact with his father.

Justice Paul Guest ordered fortnightly four-hour visits between father and child, with the length of the visits increasing incrementally to include overnight stays, alternate weekends and half of school holidays by September, 2004.

Copyright 2002 The Age Company Ltd.