'It's the one thing I can still do for Jessica': Mother of woman murdered by her partner vows to end domestic violence
Donna Kupsch heard her daughter's screams just a few doors down from her home in Launceston, Tasmania
New Idea writer
Donna Kupsch’s daughter Jessica lived just a few doors down from her home in Launceston, Tasmania.
‘It meant I could hear her screams,’ Donna recalls tearfully. ‘I’d hear them all the time and there was nothing I could do.’
Jessica lived with violent partner Mathew Tunks, and over a six-year period she was periodically bashed, often sustaining serious injuries and frequently involving the police.
‘There was a FVO (family violence order) served on him but it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on,’ Donna says.
‘He wouldn’t leave Jessica alone and she was too scared to leave him. She thought he’d kill her.’
It was only in mid-2012, when Jessica felt their new baby was also at risk, that she found the strength to leave.
‘She and the baby turned up on my door after a brutal bashing. She had a broken arm and was petrified, but it was the final straw,’ Donna tells New Idea. ‘I thought we’d got him.’
But shockingly, Tunks was given a 10-month suspended sentence for convictions including assault against Jessica.
‘When we heard he was out, we were beside ourselves,’ says Donna.
‘Then he kept pestering her and eventually she decided to meet him to tell him it was over.’
August 9, 2012 was the last time Donna saw her daughter alive. Tunks beat the 29-year- old to death that night, inflicting injuries so severe the court heard it looked as if she’d been in a car accident.
‘It was horrific,’ Donna says. ‘He pleaded guilty to murder and got 23 years, but it should never have been allowed to happen.’
Jessica was a victim before she was killed. Everyone failed her – the courts, the system, even I was helpless.
‘Now I’m determined to fight for change. It’s the one thing I can still do for Jessica.
‘Three years have passed and it’s still as raw as it was, and other women need to read this and realise that death is a very real ending to a violent relationship if they don’t get out. Families are destroyed as a result. Jessica’s kids and I are very much proof of this.’
New Idea is raising funds for victims of domestic violence to provide them with We Care Packs. We aim to help one woman a day in 2016 – but we need your help to do that.