Coronavirus risk a factor in sentencing of Robert Madex for shooting daughter in the head


March 26, 2020 19:05:57

A Gippsland man who shot his daughter in the head will finish his sentence at home after a judge found him to be at a greater risk of contracting coronavirus.

Key points:

  • The 69-year-old Gippsland man is sentenced to 449 days’ jail and a two-year community corrections order
  • He had been in custody since the shooting and pleaded guilty to conduct endangering life and a weapons charge
  • The judge said Madex would be at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 if he remained in prison

On January 2 last year, Rodney Charles Madex shot his daughter Tammy with a rifle at a home they shared in Glengarry North near Traralgon.

Madex, 69, pleaded guilty in Melbourne’s Supreme Court last week to conduct endangering life and possessing a weapon.

In sentencing remarks on Thursday, Justice Rita Incerti acknowledged that Madex had been in custody since the shooting and was at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 if he remained in prison.

“An important and unprecedent factor which I take into account is the impact of COVID-19 and the risk that it poses to you if you are sentenced to prison,” she said.

‘I shot Tammy. Call an ambulance’

The court heard that on the night of the shooting, both father and daughter had been drinking.

Prosecutor Catherine Parkes said they had been struggling emotionally since Madex’s wife of more than 40 years died of cancer in 2017.

“In the period leading up to the offences, they were both regularly drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and arguing,” Ms Parke said.

About 10:30pm, the pair had an argument somewhere on the property and Ms Madex went to her bungalow bedroom.

“A short time later, the offender entered the victim’s bedroom. He was holding a loaded firearm,” Ms Parkes said.

“He stood about two metres away from her. She saw the barrel of the gun and said to him: ‘Oh yeah, go on.’

“Then he discharged the firearm in her direction. The bullet struck her on the right-hand side of her forehead. She immediately felt pain and was bleeding from the wound.”

The court heard Madex then left the bungalow and did not call triple-0. Instead, he called his son, Kirk, and told him: “I nearly killed Tam.”

Kirk Madex called his sister, Tina, and told her what happened, before driving to the Glengarry North property.

Rodney Madex also called Tina about this time and said to her: “I shot Tammy. Call an ambulance.”

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Rifle found on top of water tank

Tammy Madex was hospitalised with a scalp haematoma and approximately 30 gunshot pellets embedded in her skull and surrounding tissue. 

She was discharged on January 4. She later made a statement to police but declined to write a victim impact statement.

A search of the property found a .22-calibre Stirling MK9 Rimfire bolt-action rifle on top of a water tank.

Defence lawyer David Cronin told the court that all four of Madex’s children wanted their father to come home.

“Tammy, Jason, Kirk and Tina Madex were all present at court this morning, all have authored character references,” Mr Cronin said.

“They love their father. The passing of their mother had a difficult effect, but more importantly when he is released from custody, they will continue to support him.”

Due to capacity restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Madex children were not able to be in the courtroom for the proceedings.

COVID-19 risk

Mr Cronin said while in prison, Madex had remained sober and was undertaking counselling.

“Mr Madex knows that his daughter could have died,” he said.

“But fortunately she didn’t, and what the defence position is, is that what occurred on that night was not something that occurred out of malice.

“But it was a culmination of untreated grief, depression and, as the psychiatrist makes note, a reliance or coping mechanism with alcohol instead of proper treatment.”

Justice Incerti sentenced Madex to 449 days’ jail and placed him on a two-year community corrections order.

“Mr Madex, your actions were very reckless and serious,” she said.

“On the other hand, I accept that you have deep remorse for your actions and reasonable prospects of rehabilitation.

“In this case, given the unprecedented and unique circumstances due to COVID-19, coupled with the considerations … including the objective gravity of your offending and sentencing purposes and in particular, your age and the risk to you in not being able to properly self-isolate, I consider that a community corrections order with a custodial sentence is in the best interests of the community and in your best interests.

“I want to say that you are very fortunate to have the support of your family in these circumstances, and as I said, this could have had a catastrophic consequence for Tammy and your entire family.

“This is an opportunity for you to go home and deal with the matters that have been at the heart of your offending and to ensure it never happens again.”

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