Who Is Janine Balding?
Janine Balding was a woman from Wagga Wagga, New South Wales who was abducted, raped, and then murdered by a group of homeless youths in September 1988. Born in October 1967, Balding was just 20 years old at the time of her death. She was survived by her mother Beverley, her father Kerry, her younger brother David, and her fiance Steven.
When the news broke about Balding’s murder, it captivated people across the country and around the world. Her death became a huge media sensation. This is largely because the extremely violent nature of the crime juxtaposed against the young age of her killers (and later, the severity of the punishment) was a first in Australian history.
The Janine Balding Story – A Journey Through A Mother’s Nightmare, co-written by Balding’s mum, was released in 2005. The ‘Janine Balding’ book goes into detail about the family’s journey with grief as well as the investigation into her daughter’s death.
The Janine Balding Case
Janine Balding worked in Sydney, but she lived in a suburb outside of the city. Because of this, Balding would drive to the Sutherland railway station every morning, leave her car in the car park next to it, and ride the train to her workplace. Then, she’d come back, pick up her car, and drive home.
But one fateful afternoon, on September 8, 1988, Balding did not come home. As she was approaching her vehicle, a group of young, homeless kids attacked her, forced her into the car with them, and began driving down to the freeway.
Her abductors were Bronson Matthew Blessington (14 years old), Wayne Lindsay Wilmot (15 years old), Carol Ann Arrow (15 years old), Matthew James Elliott (16 years old), and Stephen Wayne ‘Shorty’ Jamieson (22 years old). Blessington, Jamieson, and Elliott – the three most involved in the crime – had only met earlier that day.
Taking turns, three of the men raped Balding repeatedly in the back of the car. The group then stopped in Minchinbury. After raping her once more, the trio bound Balding with rope and dragged her over the fence and into a paddock. Carol Arrow and Wayne Wilmot did not participate in the rapes, and they remained in the car as the three boys drowned Balding in a nearby dam.
The next day, Blessington and Elliot went to a juvenile detention centre to see a youth worker they knew. The pair confessed to a completely different assault and were taken in by police. At the station, Blessington and Elliot implied to investigators that they had some information about Janine Balding’s murder. This raised police’s suspicions, especially because Balding was only tagged as ‘missing’ at the time – her body had not yet been found.
After some prodding, Bronson and Matthew brought police to the crime scene and revealed the identities of their co-conspirators. It wasn’t long before all five were charged with the abduction, rape, and murder of Janine Balding.
Blessington, Elliott, and Jamieson were sentenced to life imprisonment in Australia plus 25 years – the youngest Aussie murderers ever given the maximum sentence. The judge acknowledged that it was unusual to give such a punishment, especially to Blessington and Elliott, who were both minors at the time they were sentenced. Still, they remain in jail without parole, prisoners never to be released.
Carol Ann Arrow, who is intellectually handicapped, was released on a three-year good behaviour bond on top of the 19 months she had already served in custody. Wayne Wilmot was sentenced to almost ten years in prison. Wilmot eventually became a serial sex offender and served multiple sentences for kidnapping and sexual assault. He was supposed to be released in June of this year but was denied it due to disciplinary issues.
The International Declaration Of Human Rights On Blessington & Elliott
The United Nations Human Rights Committee caused quite a controversy in 2014 when they declared Blessington and Elliott’s sentences as human rights violations. They argued that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole was too severe a punishment for two minors who could still potentially be rehabilitated.
The committee clarified that they weren’t saying that the men should be released, only that they should have been tried as juveniles in the first place. Despite this, the two have not been granted the opportunity to appeal and continue to serve the rest of their life sentences. Blessington and Elliot are now both in their 40s and have been in jail for the better part of three decades.
Justice For Janine
Janine Balding would have been 51 years old today, if it were not for Blessington, Elliott, and Jamieson.