Who Is Janine Balding & Why Was Her Death Famous?
Janine Balding was born in 1967 in Wagga Wagga, a four and a half hour drive from Sydney. She then moved to Sydney to become a bank teller at the State Bank of New South Wales. In September 1988, a month shy of her 21st birthday, Balding was abducted, raped repeatedly, and then murdered.
It was the case that shook the nation. Janine Balding made headlines, not just because of the gruesome details of her death, but because her abductors were a group of homeless youth – the youngest was just 14 years old at the time of Balding’s murder.
There is a book written about the murder of Janine Balding. The book, entitled The Janine Balding Story – A Journey Through A Mother’s Nightmare, was co-written by Balding’s mother and detailed the police investigations, trials, and aftermath of Janine’s death.
Janine Balding’s Last Day Alive
On the afternoon of September 8, 1988, Janine Balding was on her way back home from work. Like plenty of other people, she drove to the railway station every day, leaving her vehicle in the nearby car park for the return journey.
That night, however, Balding was attacked by a group of homeless people: 16-year-old Matthew James Elliott, 14-year-old Bronson Matthew Blessington, 22-year-old Stephen Wayne ‘Shorty’ Jamieson, 15-year-old Wayne Wilmot, and 15-year-old intellectually-handicapped Carol Ann Arrow.
The group hijacked her car at knifepoint, forcing Balding into the backseat. While they were driving around, Blessington, Elliott, Wilmot, and Jamieson took turns raping her repeatedly. Then, they drove off to the side of the freeway in Minchinbury, and tied Janine up in rope. Jamieson, Blessington, and Elliot dragged her to a nearby dam, drowned her, and left her lifeless body in the water while Arrow and Wilmot waited in the car.
Confession, Arrest, & Conviction
Guilt got the better of Blessington and Elliott, and they went to a youth detention centre where they confessed to an unrelated assault they had committed earlier in the day. The youth worker called the police, and the two boys dropped hints that they knew Janine Balding was raped and murdered, although they denied their involvement.
At the time, Balding had only been reported missing, and her body hadn’t been found yet. Because of this unprompted “confession”, police started suspecting that the boys had more to do with her disappearance than they had initially admitted to. Eventually, the two boys led police to the dam where they had left her body, and the other three members of their group were arrested.
Despite their youth, Jamieson, Elliott, and Blessington were all sentenced to life imprisonment in Australia, plus 25 years. They are still serving that sentence today, prisoners never to be released. Because Wilmot did not participate in the murder, he was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison. Arrow did not serve time in jail, but she did spend 19 months in custody. She was also sentenced to a three-year good behaviour bond.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee On The Conviction
In 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found that Blessington and Elliott’s sentences violated human rights as per the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. According to the UN, life in prison without possibility of parole, even in the event of rehabilitation, was a “cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment”, especially considering that they were minors when they committed the crime.
The courts were ordered to review the sentences and potentially grant the two men, now in their 40s, parole – if they prove that they are progressing towards rehabilitation.
What Happened To Bronson Blessington?
Bronson Blessington was only 14 years old when he was sentenced to life in prison. While serving time, Blessington converted to Christianity and has expressed remorse over the rape and murder of Janine Balding. A few years ago, he tried to appeal to the courts for parole based on the fact that he was just 14 at the time of the crime, claiming that he’s “reformed” because of his faith. Balding’s remaining family fought to keep Blessington in jail, and the courts rejected the appeal.
What Happened To The Other Convicted Murderers?
Jamieson and Elliott are still serving out the remainder of their life sentences in maximum security. After being charged for her kidnapping and assault, Wilmot was released in 1996. However, he soon found himself back in prison for assaulting other women.
He was recently rejected from the Sex Offenders’ Program for bad behaviour. Although he was set to be released in June of this year, the NSW government is still fighting to keep him in jail because of his history of violence and sexual assault.
Janine Balding was raped and murdered in the most brutal way possible, and for no apparent reason at all. Her killers were swiftly brought to justice and continue to serve life sentences for their crimes. And although some of the killers have shown remorse for their crime, the sad truth is that no amount of justice will ever bring her back.
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