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Little girl's mum kept her pain and anguish to herself

The Age

Tuesday March 29, 2011

By ADRIAN LOWE and ANDREA PETRIE

THROUGHOUT the 12 days Peta Barnes has been in the Supreme Court, she has given little indication of the inner turmoil she has endured for just over two years.The loss she has suffered will remain with her for the rest of her life.Unlike many witnesses who entered court 11 over the two-week trial, who struggled to maintain their composure when questioned about her little girl's death, Ms Barnes gave little away.Shifting her weight from one leg to another and moving her hands around the top of the wooden witness box, the mother-of-three answered what she was asked succinctly.Aside from correcting the defence lawyer for calling the man in the dock her husband, she chewed the inside of her mouth perhaps in an attempt to control the words she would have preferred to say.But the moment Ms Barnes entered court signified exactly how she felt towards the man on trial, Arthur Freeman. She refused to walk past him.Entering via a side entrance for what was her first public appearance since the tragedy, she remained calm and direct in her answers before sitting in the public gallery alongside her family.Last night, after the jury indicated it had reached a verdict, Ms Barnes led her supporters into court and maintained her collected demeanour.As the jury foreman announced they had found her ex-husband "guilty" of their daughter's murder, Ms Barnes cast a passing glance at Freeman before turning away.With her hands clasped on her lap, she nodded in apparent agreement as Justice Paul Coghlan told jurors that he appreciated that their task had been an arduous one.Freeman was handcuffed and led away by court security as soon as the judge left the bench.Ms Barnes left close behind him and chose not to speak outside. Instead, she briskly passed the waiting cameras on William Street and was soon out of sight.Her mother Darcey's nanna sobbed after the verdict was announced and later hugged two women sitting alongside her. Her father Darcey's grandfather smiled and put his arm around one of them.On the other side of the court sat Darcey's other grandparents, Peter and Norma Freeman, who made a round trip from Geelong each day to lend support to their son.As they left court together they looked worn out by the ordeal of the past few weeks.Like everyone else involved in this case, they too have lost enormously.

© 2011 The Age

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