Murder of Ebony Simpson

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Murder of Ebony Simpson
Ebony Simpson
Date19 August 1992 (1992-08-19)
LocationBargo, New South Wales, Australia
CauseAbduction, rape and asphyxiation, caused by drowning
Death(s)Ebony Jane Simpson
(aged 9 years)
BurialEbony Simpson at Find a Grave
ConvictedAndrew Peter Garforth
SentenceLife imprisonment; no possibility of parole

The murder of Ebony Jane Simpson occurred on 19 August 1992 in Bargo, New South Wales, Australia. Aged nine years, Simpson was abducted, raped, and murdered by asphyxiation when Andrew Peter Garforth (born 5 August 1963) drowned Simpson. Garforth pleaded guilty to the crimes and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Abduction and murder[edit]

On 19 August 1992, Simpson disembarked from her school bus. Her mother, who usually met her at the bus stop, was busy that day and had arranged for Simpson’s older brother to meet her and accompany her home, after his bus reached the bus stop. But his bus arrived later than usual and Simpson was not there. Simpson, not seeing her brother at the bus stop decided to start the walk home, which was only a short distance away, and see him at home.[1]

With her house in sight, Simpson passed a parked car that appeared to be broken down. The car’s driver, Garforth, grabbed her, threw her in the boot and drove off to a remote dam. Once there, he bound her with wire, raped her, weighted her schoolbag and threw her into the dam's reservoir where she drowned.[2]

A team of over 200 volunteers, including Garforth, and 100 police searched for Simpson.[3]


Garforth confessed to the crime after police detained him, showing no remorse for his actions during the confession and court sessions. He pleaded guilty to the murder of Simpson and was sentenced in 1993 to life imprisonment. Justice Peter Newman refused to fix a non-parole period and ordered that Garforth's papers be marked "never to be released".

In discussing the meaning of 'life imprisonment' when Garforth appealed his sentence the Judges said, "[T]he community interest in retribution, deterrence, protection of children and the community in such situations may so strongly outweigh any regard for rehabilitation that a life sentence becomes the only option."[4][5][6][7][8]

In 1995, Garforth lodged several claims for victims' compensation via his lawyers, relating to alleged assaults which occurred in prison. The claims were later withdrawn after public outrage. Garforth appealed to the High Court of Australia, but he was refused special leave.[9] It is one of two similar cases which were refused special leave.[4]


Simpson’s parents, Christine and Peter Simpson, joined forces with Grace and Garry Lynch, the parents of New South Wales 1986 murder victim Anita Cobby, to create the Homicide Victims Support Group.

Following the 1988 state election, the NSW Government introduced legislation in 1989 and 1990 broadly aimed at truth in sentencing.[10][11] Garforth's case was often cited as a test case for the application of the principle of life sentencing[12][13] and security classification.[14][15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Humphries, Glen (17 April 2014). "Mother recounts Ebony Simpson tragedy in new crime series". Illawarra Mercury. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  2. ^ Tullis, Ashleigh (17 August 2017). "Ebony Simpson's murder remembered 25 years on". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  3. ^ Carty, Sarah (14 July 2015). "He should be shown no mercy - just like my daughter: Mother's agony as man who raped little Ebony, 9, and tossed her in a dam is given cushy privileges behind bars". Daily Mail Australia. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b Anderson, John (17 November 1998). "The Law Report". Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original (transcript) on 1 May 2004. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
  5. ^ Nicholson, John C. (Justice) (n.d.). "When Life Means Life". Public Defenders Office. Government of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  6. ^ Kernohan, Liz; Chikarovski, Kerry (23 November 1994). "Garforth High Court Appeal". Hansard. Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  7. ^ Nile, Fred; Hannaford, John (15 November 1994). "Garforth High Court Appeal". Hansard. Legislative Council of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  8. ^ Nile, Fred; Hannaford, John (12 April 1994). "Criminal Convictions Appeals". Hansard. Legislative Council of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  9. ^ Garforth v The Queen [1994] HCATrans 149.
  10. ^ Patty, Anne (13 September 2013). "NSW sentencing laws to be simplified". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  11. ^ Cunneen, Chris (March 1992). "Dangers and opportunities in the sentencing crisis" (PDF). Current Issues in Criminal Justice. Sydney Law School. 3 (3): 349. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  12. ^ Andreson, John L. (2006). "'Indefinite, inhumane, inequitable' – The principle of equal application of the law and the natural life sentence for murder: A reform agenda" (.rtf). University of New South Wales Law Journal. 41. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  13. ^ Arnold, Ann (2 February 1997). Enough Is Enough: Victims of Crime (transcript). Background Briefing, Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Security classification and management of inmates sentenced to life imprisonment" (PDF). Standing Committee on Law and Justice. Legislative Council of New South Wales, Parliament of New South Wales. 4 April 2016. ISBN 9781922258144. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Life Prisoners' Inquiry: The Hearing Report". Justice Action. 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  16. ^ Nedim, Ugur (17 July 2015). "How Are Prison Inmates Classified?". Sydney Criminal Lawyers.

Further reading[edit]

  • Reade, Helen (2003). Little Girls Lost: The Stories of Four of Australia's Most Horrific Child Murders, and Their Families' Fight for Justice. Rowville, Victoria: Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-86503-937-3.

External links[edit]