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Violet Roberts, then 47, with the assistance of her son, Bruce Roberts, then 17, were found guilty in 1976 of murdering husband and father Eric Roberts in Dec. 1975 at their home in Pacific Palms on the NSW North Coast. Violet was sentenced to life imprisonment and her son Bruce to 15 years jail as an accessory, the judge satisfied that Bruce had shot his father but that Violet had been the instigator. Evidence showed the brutal treatment by Eric Roberts towards his wife and family, tyrannizing his family with abuse following bouts of drinking. Violet endured 23 married years of violence from him, suffering broken bones and smashed teeth, losing her eldest son David to leukemia, while her son George later lost a leg in a bike accident. During the trial Eric Roberts’ repeated acts of brutality towards his family were rejected as an acceptable defence. A public campaign of demonstrations and lobbying to free both mother and son was waged from 1976 in an effort to secure a fairer sentence by regarding the killing as justifiable manslaughter.
After a few years both were released on licence. Violet later died in a house fire caused by her smoking in bed. What happened to Bruce is obscure; there are indications that he breached the conditions of his licence and was sent back to jail for an unknown time, and/or that he moved to Western Australia.
Dr. Mathews met Bruce when he was in jail in the 1970s; Bruce gave him this and another book (Daze of Our Lives, forthcoming), both written by Bruce while he was in jail (and censored in parts by the Dept. of Corrective Services), to be published. Now, some 35 years later, with changes in technology allowing e-publications, that wish can be fulfilled.
Dr. Mathews also met Violet and other members of the Roberts family.