Callous, obsessive and cold-hearted Peter Rex Dansie won the war to control his wife’s life by drowning her in a city pond in her wheelchair, her family says.
Callous, obsessive and cold-hearted Peter Rex Dansie won the war to control his wife’s life by drowning her in a city pond in her wheelchair, her family says.

Obsessive murderer wanted to control his wife and her money

Peter Rex Dansie's obsession with his wife, Helen, was born not of love and devotion but an all-consuming need to control her life and be the sole beneficiary of her money.

His fixation was so great that he isolated her from their son, Grant, and all of her family and friends - and finally killed her when she became too great a financial burden.

On Monday, Helen's loved ones told the Supreme Court that Dansie had turned his wife's welfare into a competition, which they, despite their best efforts, had lost.

"Peter sees things as 'win or lose' and he has certainly beaten me, he has won," Helen's friend, Eugenia Giorgio, told the court.

"By killing Helen, he won … but that win cannot be worth the cost."

The court heard Helen Dansie was a retired microbiologist and academic who loved gardening, cats and being with members of her family.
The court heard Helen Dansie was a retired microbiologist and academic who loved gardening, cats and being with members of her family.

Grant Dansie said his "heinous" father had beaten them by taking advantage of the "flawed" tribunal system designed to aid persons with disabilities.

"My mother did what she could to protect me from Peter Dansie - unfortunately, I was unable to protect her from Peter Dansie," he said.

"We fought for years to ensure she was safe and looked after, and we failed … she fell through the cracks of the system that was meant to protect her."

Dansie, 71, was last year found guilty of murdering Helen, 67, by pushing her into a Veale Gardens pond in April 2017.

She was disabled due to a stroke - Dansie has long claimed her wheelchair accidentally went into the pond and she drowned despite his attempts to save her.

Grant Dansie, son of murdered woman Helen Dansie, outside the Supreme Court after his father, Peter Rex Dansie, was found guilty of murder. Picture: Sean Fewster.
Grant Dansie, son of murdered woman Helen Dansie, outside the Supreme Court after his father, Peter Rex Dansie, was found guilty of murder. Picture: Sean Fewster.

Justice David Lovell rejected those claims, finding Dansie was obsessed with controlling Helen's assets and dismissive of others' concerns for her welfare.

He ruled Dansie was not prepared to "spend any of what he considered his money" to improve her quality of life.

Instead, Dansie had a "very keen interest" in pursuing sexual relationships with women in China and, at the moment of Helen's death, had "a specific intention to kill her".

On Tuesday, in a victim impact statement read to the court, Grant Dansie said he, his wife and children would forever suffer the loss of his "wonderful" mother.

Ginny Giorgio (right), a friend of Helen Dansie’s, leaves the Supreme Court after sentencing submissions. Picture: AAP / Sam Wundke
Ginny Giorgio (right), a friend of Helen Dansie’s, leaves the Supreme Court after sentencing submissions. Picture: AAP / Sam Wundke

 

The wheelchair in which Mrs Dansie was seated when she was murdered by her husband, Peter Rex Dansie.
The wheelchair in which Mrs Dansie was seated when she was murdered by her husband, Peter Rex Dansie.

He said Dansie deserved no less than a "harsh sentence".

"I have no words for Peter Dansie because he does not comprehend the callousness and brutality of his crime," he said.

"He does not understand or care how it affects others, he does not care what he did to mum or how she suffered.

"We will ensure mum is remembered with dignity and as the fantastic, warm and kind-hearted person she was."

Ms Giorgio described Helen - a retired microbiologist and academic - as a "skilful and powerful woman" who "saw herself as a mother first".

She said the weaknesses of the tribunal system left Helen with "no chance" of resisting Dansie's wishes, desires and intimidation tactics.

Peter Dansie with members of the court, during a scene visit to the pond at Veale Gardens where Helen drowned. Picture: AAP / Sam Wundke
Peter Dansie with members of the court, during a scene visit to the pond at Veale Gardens where Helen drowned. Picture: AAP / Sam Wundke

"She was a dignified woman, and I did what I could to protect her dignity," she said.

"Peter did not respect her wishes or her role as a mother … the system designed to protect Helen could not work.

"He had a loud, roaring voice and Helen had barely a squeak."

Counsel for Dansie asked he be sentenced to no more than the mandatory 20-year term for murder, saying that was "longer than his life expectancy".

Prosecutor Jim Pearce QC said such a lenient sentence would be inappropriate.

"The minimum is for crimes at the lower end of the objective range of seriousness and this is not that offence - this is a premeditated murder," he said.

Justice David Lovell will sentence Dansie in two weeks.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. 


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