8 August 1984 |
Rockingham, Western Australia
|Conviction(s)||Murder; deprivation of liberty|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment without parole|
Dante Wyndham Arthurs (born 8 August 1984) from Perth, Western Australia, is a prisoner who has been convicted of the murder and unlawful detention of eight-year-old Perth girl, Sofia Rodriguez-Urrutia-Shu.
On 28 June 2006, Arthurs' home was vandalised with windows being smashed by rocks thrown at the premises following his address being divulged on-air during a popular Perth talk radio show. Since then online chat forums indicate that he is one of the most reviled persons in Australia with discussions expressing wishes for him to receive a death sentence. Arthurs is currently detained in Casuarina Prison, and entered a plea of guilty on 17 September 2007.
In July 2006, to avert a possible mistrial, no further details have been released to the public regarding Arthurs' childhood in Perth, such as the school(s) he attended before the family moved to England in 1993. It was anticipated that such details would be made available at the conclusion of the trial. The Western Australian Liberal opposition have asked for clarification from the Western Australian Attorney General, Jim McGinty, over a claim reported in the Perth media that Arthurs had assaulted another young girl in the past only for the charge to be dismissed for reasons that were, at that time, not disclosed. McGinty refused to provide any details regarding this claim for fear of jeopardising the fairness of the trial. On 1 December 2006, Arthurs appeared via video link in the Supreme Court of Western Australia from Casuarina Prison where it was ordered he undergo further psychiatric tests and reappear before the court in February 2007.
On 31 July 2007, Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled that Arthurs receive a bench trial. Martin said that the "extensive, continuous and in some respects extraordinary" pre-trial media coverage, the circumstances of the offence and the fact that a judge would provide reasons for his or her decision supported a trial by judge alone. On 31 August 2007, Justice Peter Blaxell ruled that the bulk of the admissions made by Arthurs in a video recorded interview with police on the morning after the offence would be inadmissible at his trial on ground of "persistent importunity, or sustained or undue insistence or pressure". On 17 September 2007, Arthurs pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to charges of murder (a lesser offence than wilful murder with which he was originally charged) and unlawful detention. Two counts of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 10 were withdrawn because forensic analysis could not conclude if Sofia had been sexually assaulted before or after she died.
Following Arthurs' guilty plea, it was confirmed that he had been charged in 2003 with indecently assaulting another eight-year-old girl, but that the charges were dropped because the Director of Public Prosecutions considered that the police had been too robust in interviewing Arthurs and that a conviction was unlikely to be obtained. On 7 November 2007, Arthurs was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 13 years. He was also sentenced to two years for depriving Sofia of her liberty. Describing Arthurs' crimes as 'so evil they shock the public conscience,' Justice John McKechnie also advised Arthurs of the possibility that he may never be released as the release of offenders sentenced to life imprisonment must be signed off by the Western Australian Attorney-General.
New Western Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter has since revoked Arthurs' non-parole period, making him one of three Western Australians to have their papers marked "never to be released".
In a widely circulated email, it was claimed that Arthurs was Robert Thompson, one of the killers of English toddler James Bulger, who was granted permanent anonymity in 2001 and given a new identity and place of abode by the British government. The Australian government, the police and the British government have each denied the claim. On 29 June 2006, the British High Commission in Canberra issued a media release stating "There is no connection between the man arrested in Western Australia and the individuals involved in the James Bulger case." After Arthurs pleaded guilty it was publicly confirmed that he was under investigation by British police for sexually assaulting another girl in 2001. Arthurs was never charged with this incident because he left Britain for Australia before an identity parade could take place.
- "Community weeps for young murder victim" (in English). theage.com.au. The Age. 2006-07-04. http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/community-weeps-for-young-murder-victim/2006/07/03/1151778872555.html. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
- "Readers' Comments: DPP defends Arthurs plea bargain (18 Septepmber 2007). Perth Now. 18 September 2007
- "Home of girl's accused killer vandalised" (29 June 2006). The Age, 29 June 2006
- "Arthurs pleads guilty to Sofia murder". Retrieved 17 September 2007[dead link]
- "Fair trial fears for WA murder accused" (29 June 2006). The Age. Retrieved 14 July 2006.
- Parliament of Western Australia (28 June 2006).Dante Arthurs. Hansard. Retrieved 16 July 2006.
- Parliament of Western Australia Questions without Notice: Dante Arthurs. Hansard. Retrieved 16 July 2006.
- "Accused child killer to undergo more psych testing" (1 December 2006). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 26 December 2006.
- Arthurs v The State of Western Australia  WASC 182. Retrieved 3 September 2007
- Arthurs v The State of Western Australia  WASC 209. Retrieved 3 September 2007
- "Unlikely child-killer will ever be freed" (18 September 2007). news.com.au
- Sofia's parents criticise DPP (20 September 2007). news.com.au. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
- Sofia toilet killer jailed for life (7 November 2007). news.com.au. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
- Bulger injunction (10 July 2001). From cyber-rights.org. Retrieved 16 August 2006.
- Dyer, Clare (9 January 2001). "Bulger killers granted anonymity for life" The Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2006.
- Adshead, Gary; Morfesse, Luke; Cowan, Sean (29 June 2006). "I didn't kill UK toddler". The West Australian. Retrieved 19 August 2006.
- British High Commission (29 June 2006). Sofia Rodriguez-Urrutia-Shu. Media release. Retrieved 28 August 2006.
- Hamilton, Fiona; Foster, Patrick; Yeoman, Fran (1 October 2007). "British police left paedophile free to kill schoolgirl". The Times (London). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article2563189.ece. Retrieved 1 May 2010.