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Mother furious her son’s coward-punch killer allowed to play country footy

Mother furious her son’s coward-punch killer allowed to play country footy
07 Aug
8:40

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“What if I was in the area and had seen him playing on the ground? They just don’t get it. It’s all about the perpetrator and not the victim, it’s just not acceptable.”

When Closter was sentenced in late 2014 for the attack, Ms Politi and her family said the six year minimum sentence would “never be enough”.

“It doesn’t send a message of deterrence or punishment for a man who took my son’s life,” Ms Politi said following the sentencing.

She has since been trying to raise awareness of the scourge of street violence through the ‘Stop. One punch can kill’ campaign.

David Cassai's mother, Caterina Politi, outside the Supreme Court.

David Cassai’s mother, Caterina Politi, outside the Supreme Court.

Photo: Mal Fairclough

On Monday, Ms Politi said the news that Closter has been on day release compounded the anger she felt over the “lenient” sentence.

“[The sentence] was lenient as it was… he’s killed someone, taken a life in the most horrific way and ends up in a minimum prison and is out on the streets not even four years after killing David, that just shocks me to my core,” she said.

“To think David’s life is not worth much at all and he’s out there… I’m up for rehabilitation but the number one is punishment, rehabilitation will follow. This is truly not punishment, that’s where the system fails.”

Ms Politi’s comments come days after a man on parole, for holding a gun to the head of a shop assistant during an armed robbery, injured a 17-year-old in an off-the-ball incident during a senior football match several weeks ago.

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Victim, Branxholme-Wallacedale’s Sam Lambevski, suffered a broken jaw.

Violence on the footy field has also been hotly debated after Andrew Gaff’s swinging punch on Andrew Brayshaw which left the young Fremantle player with a broken jaw and three displaced teeth at the weekend.

Corrections Minister Gayle Tierney said the decision to allow Closter on day release would be reviewed.

“It is the Government’s expectation that decisions like this take into account the impact on victims,” she said.

“I have asked for this decision to be reviewed and if changes have to be made they will be.”

Police Minister Lisa Neville said it would have been a “huge shock” for Ms Politi to be told Closter was playing football.

“People in these minimum security facilities do get day releases. They are transported there and back and someone supervises them during that… country football is one of the areas minimum security do contribute to. They are assessed around their risks,” she told radio station 3AW.

“I imagine there are some issues that need to be looked at about where he was playing and where she lived, all those things… the Corrections Minister indicated to me she will ask Corrections Victoria to have a look at this.”

David Cassai.

David Cassai.

Photo: Supplied

But Ms Politi said she felt the government needed to improve the way they dealt with victims of crime.

“Every time something happens they react, they are not proactive in fixing things across the board, be it family violence, street and social violence – they react. They don’t put plans in place to really look at issue, just put bandaid over bandaid over bandaid,” she said.

“More families and victims are let down, and they keeping digging that knife in and twisting it.”

Opposition spokesman for corrections Edward O’Donohue agreed with Ms Politi.

“Yet again under Daniel Andrews the rights of criminals come before victims, their families and loved ones,” he said.

“After four years of the Andrews government, the justice system is broken and law abiding Victorians deserve better.”

A Corrections Victoria spokesman said the football rehabilitation program helps to reintegrate minimum security prisoners back into the community.

“Only minimum security prisoners who meet club eligibility standards are able to participate in local football leagues. They are carefully selected based on behaviour and risk assessments, and prison management works closely with clubs and the league to facilitate their involvement,” she said.

“Prisoners remain under strict and constant supervision at all times while in the community, with approved volunteers escorting them to and from training and games and providing supervision throughout.

“Where any issues are identified with a prisoner’s conduct, prison management will liaise with the club and the league and take appropriate action as required.”

In Victoria, victims of crime are able to find out limited information about offenders sent to jail for violent crimes through the Victims Register.

They are able to find information such as the length of the sentence, and when the offender applies for or is released on parole. However, they are not able to find out which prison the offender is in and details of any program – such as the football rehabilitation program – the offender attends or completes.

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