‘If he’d not been out on bail, Danni would be alive today’

Amid an outpouring of grief and fury at Australia’s seemingly endless cycle of men’s violence against women, the mother of Dannielle Finlay-Jones has shared the one thing that would mean her daughter “would be alive today”.

Ms Finlay-Jones, 31, was brutally killed in December 2022, allegedly by tradie Ashley Gaddie, in the spare bedroom of her friend’s Cranebrook home in Sydney’s far west.

Gaddie took his own life in prison in April, The Daily Telegraph reported, 16 months after police charged him with Ms Finlay-Jones’ murder.

The 35-year-old had a lengthy history of assaulting and harassing women, and was serving a two-year sentence for stalking and choking a former partner. He was also on bail for another alleged assault of a woman.

But Ms Finlay-Jones, who met Gaddie on a dating app and had been out with him only a handful of times, had no way of knowing about his past, and no way of knowing that he was out on bail at the time.

And with no real warning about his real character, her mum Jacky tells 60 Minutes in the preview for a segment airing tonight, the “beautiful” school learning support officer never stood a chance.

“If he’d not been out on bail, Danni would be alive today,” Jacky told the program.

The segment comes as domestic violence advocates and legal experts call for urgent changes to bail laws in NSW to protect women like Ms Finlay-Jones and, more recently, Molly Ticehurst, who was allegedly murdered by her ex-boyfriend Daniel Billings last month.

Weeks before the 28-year-old was found dead inside her home in Forbes, west of Sydney, Mr Billings was released on bail, despite a police prosecutor urging Dubbo Local Court not to do so.

According to court documents, the prosecutor told the registrar on April 6 that Mr Billings – who had been charged on several offences against Ms Ticehurst, including three counts of sexual assault – that his alleged behaviour was “indicative of features in domestic violence offenders that we see often come to light after the most disturbing conclusions to their conduct”.

“That is an inability to let go of the relationship, a feeling of possessiveness and jealousness over the woman … repeated threats in relation to, you know, her not being with someone else,” he told the court.

The registrar granted him bail anyway. Fifteen days later, Ms Ticehurst was dead.

Now, Ms Ticehurst’s family are pleading for bail reform legislation to be introduced in her name that would ensure authorities know the whereabouts of people facing domestic violence charges when out on bail.

Under the proposed legislation, police would be notified if alleged perpetrators breach bail or other court directions. This could be in the form of electronic monitoring devices, which can be used for those on parole.

“There has to be something put in place that says if you receive bail today, we will know where you are the minute you walk out there,” spokesperson for the Ticehurst family, Jacinda Acheson, told the ABC.

“The monitoring devices need to be put in place and it needs to become Molly’s Law.

“Molly did everything that she could and, when she finally became brave enough – and let’s make that abundantly clear that Molly was brave, very, very brave and courageous – to ask for help, the help was not given.”

State Member for Orange Phil Donato, who met with Ms Ticehurst’s father last Monday, has expressed his support for it to become mandatory for alleged domestic violence perpetrators to wear tracking devices.

“It is already working in the parole space,” Mr Donato told the ABC.

“There is no reason why it couldn’t be extended also to the protection of victims of domestic violence.”

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