At 4:03pm on Monday the 26th of June 2006, a crime that would shock the nation occurred at the Livingston Shopping Centre in Canning Vale, Western Australia. 8 year old Sofia Rodriguez Urrutia Shu was brutally and callously sexually assaulted and murdered by 22 year old Dante Wyndham Arthurs.
Sofia was at the shops with her uncle, brother and sister, when she walked down a short passageway to go to the toilet. Her family awaited her return on a bench only metres away from the exit to that passageway. They waited just a few minutes before her uncle started to be concerned, to which he sent her 14 year old brother to check on her.
He called for her at the entrance to the ladies toilet and did not hear a reply. He then heard movement coming from inside the disabled toilet as he returned back along the passageway. He knocked on the door and called Sofia's name. Again, he got no reply. Her family then started a search of the shopping centre, worried they had missed her exiting the toilets.
Only a few more minutes passed, when Sofia's brother again went down that passageway. What he discovered next would turn his world upside down and would change his family forever. There are plenty of places online where the events of that day are explained in detail, so I will not go into them here. Suffice to say, Dante Arthurs was charged with Wilful Murder, Deprivation of Liberty and 2 counts of Sexual Penetration of a Child. All to which he pleaded not guilty.
After deliberation between Arthurs lawyer and the Department of Public Prosecutions, Arthurs plead guilty to Murder and Deprivation of Liberty. The charge of Wilful Murder was downgraded, as it was assumed there would be no certainty the state could prove that Arthur's intended to kill Sofia. The two charges of Sexual Penetration of a Child were dropped because it could not be proven that Sofia was alive at the time these offences occurred.
Arthurs was convicted of those two charges and sentenced to life imprisonment. However at the time, 'life' in this state was only 20 years. More importantly, the non-parole period for Murder at the time was a minimum of 7 years and a maximum of 14 years. On the 7th of November 2007, Arthurs' was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of just 13 years, back dated to the time of the offence. Therefore, Arthurs would be eligible for parole on the 26th of June 2019.
There was massive public outcry in Western Australia at the leniency of the sentence handed to Arthurs. For someone with such a predatorial history, who had committed such an horrific crime to potentially walk free after only 13 years, rocked this state to its core. However, in reality, the Judge had no alternative but to impose such a penalty, as that is the only penalty he had available to him at the time.
After the public reaction and as a direct result of this crime, the inadequate laws surrounding Murder and Wilful Murder in this state were changed. However, Arthurs conviction remained unaltered and as such, as of the middle of next year, he has the legal right to be considered for release.
Sofia was a student at the Mater Christi Catholic Primary School in Yangebup. So was my son. Our family are members of the close knit Mater Christi Parish community. I knew Sofia and I stood beside her family through this entire ordeal. Sofia rests in The Chapel of the Innocents at our parish and I visit her often. I would not be doing her memory or her legacy any justice if I did not fight against the possible release of her killer. 13 years imprisonment for such a crime is grossly inadequate.
Therefore I ask that you visit and sign the petition HERE to our Attorney General, which will hopefully send a clear message from the Western Australian public, that Dante Arthurs does not deserve to be released into our community.