Apr 24, 2010

Care missing in Brimble case

Caroline Hutchinson – Sunshine Coast Daily – 23 April 2010

IS it just me or is everyone praying for the Brimble family’s pain to be over?

Almost eight years after Dianne Brimble’s humiliating death on the floor of a ship’s cabin, this week the Redcliffe mother was dealt a final insult.

A lengthy investigation, 16-month coronial inquest and subsequent manslaughter charges failed to secure a conviction over the mother of three’s death on the first night of her “holiday of a lifetime.”

NSW Supreme Court judge Roderick Howie this week said that while the accused Mark Wilhelm might have been “bad, loutish or even insensitive” on the night of Dianne Brimble’s death, he was not legally responsible for her manslaughter.

That means eight so-called persons of interest have now all escaped major charges over Ms Brimble’s death aboard the Pacific Sky cruise ship.

Justice Howie told the court that “the community (must) be aware that ... although the death of Ms Brimble was, to say the least, unfortunate, it was only technically Mr Wilhelm’s fault.

“She was an adult, and, on the evidence, voluntarily took the drug.

“She did not believe that it would injure her and neither did Mr Wilhelm believe it would injure her.

“Although he might have been morally or technically responsible for the death of Ms Brimble, I doubt he was legally responsible.”

Bottom line, the offer of a drug alone does not amount to manslaughter.

What I can’t reconcile is the duty of care.

While they have never been made public, the police recovered and tended up to 150 photos of Wilhelm and his ship mate Leo Silvestri continuing to use Ms Brimble for their sexual gratification after she had lapsed into unconsciousness.

Even in the daylight, when the pair claim they tried mouth- to-mouth resuscitation and showered Ms Brimble, they still didn’t alert the ship’s medical services.

All we’re left with, I guess, is the cautionary tale.

Leo Silvestri told the police that Dianne Brimble’s death in his cabin ruined his holiday.

Witnesses told the inquest Mr. Silvestri joked with fellow passengers that he considered throwing her body overboard.

In his first interview, in which Mr. Silvestri denied any involvement with Ms Brimble he told police that the night before she died Ms Brimble allegedly walked up to his table and said: ‘Hi, how are you going?’

“It’s like, ‘Hi, see you.’ I just brushed her off; I didn’t want to speak to her ... breath, yuck, ugly dog, just go talk to someone else. Ring the RSPCA,” Silvestri said.

Later in the interview, Mr. Silvestri repeatedly referred to Ms. Brimble as the “thing” and called her the “ugly dog”.

He prided himself on the fact he didn’t “talk to anything over 60 kilos”.

Dianne Brimble’s long-suffering family sat patiently through hours of similar evidence including secretly taped telephone conversations in which Mark Wilhelm is heard abusing and blaming Ms Brimble, and painting himself as “the real victim here”.

Someone raised these men.

Someone taught them that women don’t matter, that other people’s feelings and safety are irrelevant.

I’ve said it before, I know, but if Dianne Brimble’s story is worth anything, hopefully, it reminds us to consider how we are raising our sons.

For the sake of Dianne Brimble, and every fat, friendly girl who just wants someone to like her, look around today.

Look at your sons, and ask yourself what their values are?

Is your boy kind?

Is he generous of spirit?

Does he think about the needs of other people?

Is he brave?

Do you trust him to do the right thing?

Would your son stand up for a drunken girl being harassed or degraded by a group of older blokes?

Would he drag Dianne Brimble out of a ship’s cabin and call for help?

Look at your son.

Ask yourself if he’s that kind of boy. Because that’s the type of man we need him to be.

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