Parents of NSW murder victim Bridgette Porter demand justice for 10yo daughter on fourth anniversary of her death

Parents of NSW murder victim Bridgette Porter demand justice for 10yo daughter on fourth anniversary of her death
  • PublishedJuly 8, 2024

Rebekah Porter has no memory of the weeks after her only daughter, Bridgette known as ‘Biddy’, was murdered in rural New South Wales.

“I was on my way to work, I’d dropped into the post office and I received calls from my ex-husband saying she was dead. I couldn’t believe it,” Ms Porter said.

Picture of a smiling baby girl in a frame at a family home
Rebekah Porter said she couldn’t believe it when she was told her daughter was dead.(ABC News: Keana Naughton)

“I’d cry and then my body, in shock, would snap me out of it and I don’t have any memory for about six weeks.”

Bridgette’s dad, Dom, had a visceral reaction when police came to tell him the news in the bank that he managed.

“I reacted physically. I punched a hole between one office and the next,” Mr Porter said.

“Now I have nightmares, I have flashbacks, I don’t sleep or if I do sleep, feeling Bridgette lying on my chest.”

Bridgette Porter who was killed by her cousin is covered in a red blanket while sitting on her mother's lap
Bridgette’s mother said there are six weeks after her daughter’s death where she can’t recall anything.(Supplied)

The 10-year-old had been murdered in 2020. 

Her killer was arrested nearby a few hours later and was found guilty of murder but not criminally responsible in 2021.

They are now being treated in a forensic health facility and their identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons.

Four years today

Today marks four years since Bridgette was murdered.

In May last year, Rebekah and Dom discovered their daughter’s killer had been granted escorted day leave from where they were being treated.

“I thought, ‘Wait a minute, not only has this happened, my daughter’s name has also been suppressed, I can’t speak about her publicly’, so it was just like a bolt of lightning hit me,” Ms Porter said.

two framed picture of a young girl on a side table inside a house with candles next to frames
This month marks the fourth anniversary of Bridgette’s death.(ABC News: Keana Naughton)

In a statement, the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT), which decided if and when the person was released, said it “does not, and must not, discuss any matters that are current or pending before it”.

But its decision galvanised the family to start investigating how to get greater justice for Bridgette.

Biddy’s Voice

Under NSW law, the name of a child murder victim cannot be published or broadcast without the consent of their senior next of kin — such as parents.

Rebekah and Dom Porter have given the ABC permission to use Bridgette’s name and image, but they want legislative change to ensure a victim’s identity is not automatically suppressed.

“Bridgette’s memory needs to be honoured, her legacy needs to be honoured. I think it’s really disrespectful to suppress any victims of serious crimes,” Ms Porter said.

“Every victim deserves to have their story told, to have a voice. It makes them invisible and insignificant.

An urn with the name Bridgette written across it
Bridgette’s parents said their daughter’s memory needs to be remembered.(ABC News: Keana Naughton)

“I think we need to find a balance between protecting people who are mentally unwell and juveniles, and also giving victims a right to still have a voice and the significance of what’s happened to them to be told.

“This is one of the way worst crimes perpetrated by a young person on a child in Australia and yet that victim of that has been suppressed.”

‘No support’

A man with a beard looks sideways as he sits on a chair inside a house
Dom and Rebekah have not been able to work since Bridgette’s death.(ABC News: Keana Naughton)

Their trauma has been compounded by what they say is a lack of support for victims of crime.

When Bridgette was murdered, her parents were each entitled to $7,500 in recognition payments and a limited amount of counselling.

“I want to fight to ensure that other people don’t have to go through the process we’ve had to go through,” Mr Porter said.

“My dad’s a clinical psychologist, I can’t imagine somebody else trying to navigate this system without the huge level of family support that I’ve had.”

Dom and Rebekah have been diagnosed with PTSD and other mental health conditions. Neither has been able to work since their daughter’s death.

“I was just in utter shock to a point where I couldn’t dress myself, feed myself, my partner would have to dress me, prompt me to eat,” Ms Porter said.

A man wearing a bracelet with PTSD awareness written on it
Dom said he is fighting for change to get more support for victims of crime.(ABC News: Keana Naughton)

“Then I had a nervous breakdown 18 months later. I was diagnosed with delayed onset PTSD and major depression,” she said.

“There was very little support living in regional New South Wales.

“I wasn’t actually able to find a psychologist in person through victim services, only a psychologist available over the phone which is completely inappropriate for the level of trauma.”

System overhaul

At the time of the killer’s day release, Rebekah reached out to her local Independent state MP, Phil Donato.

Independent state MP Phil Donato stands outdoors and looks at the camera
Independent state MP Phil Donato said the DPP should have taken more time to guide the family through the case.(Supplied)

As a former police prosecutor, he was shocked by how Bridgette’s case was managed by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

“It seemed to be handled very quickly,” Mr Donato said.

“Clearly the family weren’t kept abreast of what was happening because they had so many unanswered questions and that really should have been explained to them by the DPP.

“I mean this is the most serious of offences that come before the courts.

“I would have thought that the DPP would have gone above and beyond what they would normally do to sit down and explain to the family.”

The Porters were denied access to the brief of evidence.

In a statement from the DPP, a spokesperson said “brief contains highly distressing and extremely sensitive evidence” and it was “determined it was not in the public interest to release the brief”.

mother of a young girl killed in Gunnedah 2020 looks at the camera
Rebekah and Dom have launched an e-petition to try to get NSW parliamentary inquiries established into the DPP and MHRT.(ABC News: Keana Naughton)

Rebekah Porter disagreed.

“I don’t believe that. I think that we’d be the best gauges of what’s going to traumatise us, and we want to fight and make sure justice was done correctly for our daughter,” she said.

With Phil Donato’s support they have launched an e-petition to try to get NSW parliamentary inquiries established into the DPP and MHRT, as well major reforms to victims support services.

It is also calling for a coronial inquest to examine whether Bridgette’s murder could have been prevented.

“It’s really about ensuring that the voices of Biddy and her family are properly and fairly heard,” Mr Donato said.

“The way that they’ve been failed by the system. We can’t let this continue to occur; we can’t let other families go through the same process. 

“That’s why we need to call it out, we need to take action, we need to try and raise it at the highest levels of government to effect change.”

Bridgette playing with a black dog
Bridgette’s father said his daughter had a lot to give and loved life.(Supplied)

Today, Rebekah said she felt one step closer to getting the justice her daughter deserved.

“I feel very proud that we’re finally having a voice and for justice for Bridgette. That gets me out of bed I guess and gives me some energy some days,” she said.

“I want my beautiful daughter to be recognised as what she was,” Dom said.

“She was a fantastic poet, she was a fantastic artist, she had great musical talents. She was just highly intelligent, highly gifted, had a lot to give and loved life.”


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