Eyes boring into the back of her head, Jemima Fraser squeezed past her father’s attorneys and made her way to the witness stand, where she could see him directly in the dock.
WARNING: This story contains graphic content with details that may cause concern to some readers.
“I’ve spent the last four months writing and deleting words that can never compare to the damage this man, Adrian James Basham, has done to our lives. My life. He murdered my mother,” Jemima said.
In 2018, her estranged father, Adrian Basham, viciously attacked her mother, Samantha Fraser, at the home they once shared in Cowes, Phillip Island, and then staged her death to look like a hanging.
The alarm was raised when Samantha Fraser failed to pick up her three children from school.
Basham, 46, later claimed his wife killed herself the moment after he brutally beat her because she was severely depressed.
But that was eventually rejected by a jury, which took less than two days to find him guilty of his wife’s murder.
Today he faced a hearing at Victoria’s Supreme Court where his eldest daughter, now a teenager, cried as she described the “disgusting” crime.
“My whole life was ripped away from me. I’ve lost my mother, a father, my social life and a chance for a normal future,” said Jemima Fraser.
She also repeated the refreshingly cruel words hurled at her in the months following the crime.
“Kids want to come at you with all kinds of mean comments and theories like, ‘I bet her mom didn’t even die and she did it to get attention,'” she told the court.
Her nine-year-old sister, April Fraser, worked with a counselor to tell the Supreme Court her world had been turned upside down.
“It just feels like there’s a gap somewhere in my heart,” she said in a statement read in court.
“On special occasions, I realize that Mom isn’t waiting for me.
“I have to cherish the memories I have of her because they are all I have. He took most of my heart by taking her away.”
The three children are now being cared for by their grandparents, Trevor and Janine Fraser, who were Samantha Fraser’s parents.
Marked occasions “forever stained with sorrow”
Trevor Fraser told the Supreme Court his fondest memories of his daughter, who uplifted others through her work as a psychologist, were marred by her violent death.
“When Adrian entered the garage after Samantha drove in…she would have known what was going to happen,” Mr. Fraser said.
“It’s also not possible for any of us to fully understand the initial confusion in the minds of these three young children, aged nine, seven and five, desperately waiting at the flagpole after school for a mother who never arrived She.”
“Still understanding their trauma, their sadness and even their anger as they realized it was their father who should have loved them but ended up ruining their life.”
His wife, Janine Fraser, told the Supreme Court that the murder also deeply affected their other grandchild, Rex Fraser.
“He was so scared his father was going to get out of prison during the trial,” said Janine Fraser.
“Mother’s Day, birthdays, Christmas are all days now forever stained with sorrow.”
As the victims’ statements were read in court, Jemima Fraser was comforted by loved ones, including her mother’s best friend, Lija Matthews, who held her hand.
Prosecutors have long accused Basham of murdering Samantha Fraser because he allegedly raped her and she was due to testify against him just days later.
The rape allegations were dropped after her death.
The defense argues the murder was not premeditated
Ashley Halphen, who is defending Basham, pleaded for clemency today and told the Supreme Court the murder was not premeditated.
“There is no evidence Mr Basham was aware of the existence of the rope until he was in the garage,” Mr Halphen said.
“The use of the rope was born out of spontaneity back then,” he said.
But Judge Lesley Taylor urged him to make that argument.
“The purpose of visiting her other than killing her is not in his interest,” Justice Taylor said.
“If Mr. Basham went there thinking Ms. Fraser would be alive when he went and with the intention of getting her to drop the rape charge…why the need to leave his own phone behind,” she said, referencing in an attempt to cover his tracks.
But today’s hearing was finally suspended before moving on after Basham, who twice interrupted the hearing by waving and heckling, became “very distraught”.
“He is not following suit appropriately,” Mr Halphen said.
“Your Honor, I don’t feel like we have his confidence, at least for now. I don’t feel comfortable proceeding with the plea today,” he said.
“He’s not following the advice we gave him to explain what’s going on, to explain some of the arguments that were made and why they were made.”
“I consequently have concerns about the future, to the extent that Mr Basham accepts how this matter has proceeded.”
Judge Taylor said she accepted defense attorney’s “experienced and very credible opinions” and adjourned the pre-sentencing hearing until October, but not before issuing a warning to Basham.
“I want to be very clear. This process needs to be heard, difficult as Mr. Basham finds it,” she said.
“We are here because he has been found guilty and there is a very living issue that I need to resolve that is out of his hands now [it] What ever.”