Christine Simpson will rest easy now. Well, as easy as she can, given the circumstances. The man convicted, sentenced and jailed for the rape and murder of her daughter 23 years ago will remain in maximum security prison.
For a brief moment, it appeared as though Andrew Garforth would be granted some reprieve – a downgrade to medium security. This would entail some privileges, like opportunities to work and study.
The Serious Offenders Review Council determined the re-classification, but after public appeals against this by Christine, including a tearful appearance on 'A Current Affair', NSW Minster for Corrections David Elliot intervened.
Andrew Garforth will now remain a prisoner of Goulburn Correctional Centre, Maximum division.
"This is based on concerns about community confidence in the justice system and significant victim impact concerns expressed by Ebony Simpson's mother", says Mr Elliot.
Yet not everyone's on board with the turnaround. Brett Collins of the Community Justice Coalition (CJC), a prison reform advocacy group fronted by John Dowd QC AO, says "the Garforth case epitomises the problem with political interference into our area of prisons." The CJC supported the Serious Offenders Review Council's decision to downgrade Garforth's status, because, in Mr Collins' words, "everyone's entitled to develop regardless of what they've done. It's a human right."
Ebony Simpson was just nine years old when Garforth abducted her as she walked home from the bus stop after school in the NSW country town of Bargo. He then raped her and drowned her in a dam.
The case became notorious for its horrific nature, as well as Garforth's cold-blooded lack of remorse. Bargo residents even sought the return of capital punishment.
Mr Elliot reinforced his decision by promising to "personally write to Christine Simpson and apologise for the distress caused to her family." He clearly takes his and the Liberal party's 'tough on crime' rhetoric seriously."Garforth is serving a life sentence and will die in prison."
The CJC is currently determining whether they can legally challenge Mr Elliot's ruling.