A Perth woman who survived capture by Australia’s worst serial killing couple, David and Catherine Birnie, is now campaigning to have mandatory parole board review hearings revoked.
Thirty years after Kate Moir survived being kidnapped and held prisoner at the Birnies’ home in 1986, she wants authorities to change the law which states WA’s worst murderers must be considered for parole every three years, even if they don’t apply for it.
Moir was hailed as a hero when, in 1986 and aged just 17, she was kidnapped by the Birnie's before she managed to escape and alert police -- which led to the end of a killing spree that ended the lives of four young women, aged between 15 and 33.
David Birnie killed himself in prison in 2005 but Catherine Birnie is still ‘alive and well.’
“She has a partner in prison and she is the head of the library. Yet every three years when I have to read about her parole being reviewed, it brings the nightmare back all over again,” Moir said.
Moir, who is now a happy mother of three, told The Huffington Post Australia she wants to be known as a survivor and not a victim -- yet she wants to represent the victims in calling for a change to the WA laws.
“I want the legacy that I leave to be that of a survivor and a hero, never a victim. But enough is enough," she said.
"I am appealing to the West Australian Attorney General to revoke mandatory parole board review hearings for murderers whose crimes were premeditated and beyond doubt due to a plea of guilty.
"I want the Attorney General to change the law and stop reviewing Catherine Birnie’s parole. She does not apply for it herself, it is automatically reviewed and every time it happens, it causes me incredible pain.”
According to WA’s sentencing laws, Birnie’s strict-security life sentence is reviewed every three years since she finished serving her minimum 20-year non-parole term in 2000. Moir is notified every time Birnie’s sentence is reviewed, causing her great anguish.
“Every time I hear that her parole is being reviewed, I relive the nightmare. It causes significant trauma because I relive it and it feels like it happened yesterday. My name was always protected because I was a minor at the time I was captured, but due to the internet, if anybody googles my name, it is everywhere and linked to the Birnie killings," Moir said.
"As a mother of three, this is dreadful for me as my children can easily Google my name. So the rise of the internet has made the law that provided protection for my name, absolutely ineffective."
Kate Moir is appealing to the WA Government to change laws. Picture Kate Moir
Moir is pleading for the WA Government to make an exception to the mandatory parole consideration if the prisoner doesn’t apply for release.
“This will mean that crimes like these are not recycled in the public every time the mandatory parole date comes up. We need to remember the Birnies for what they were - ruthless murderers. They were ‘nobodies’ who became ‘somebodies.’ So the time has come for them to become ‘nobodies’ again.”
HuffPost Australia approached Attorney General Michael Mischin for comment and was given this statement:
"The Attorney General acknowledges the concerns felt by victims and their families and is looking at ways to reduce stress felt by the families during statutory reviews of prisoners."
WA Attorney General Michael Mischin. Picture Michael Mischin
“Victims and their families may elect to not being contacted by the Victim Notification Register every time a statutory review of prisoner is scheduled for consideration by the Prisoners Review Board," Mischin said in a statement.
“I am looking at further ways to improve the process, including legislative amendments”.
Moir is also appealing to the media to stop publishing photos of the Birnies and their victims because doing so causes even more anguish.
She is also appealing for people to join a support group on Facebook ‘We Support Kate’ to help put pressure on the WA Government to listen to her appeal. She also has a Change.org petition.
"The more more people who support this, the better chance we have to change this law and end the anguish for the families of the victims as well as survivors like me."