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Losing the Children by ABC

Losing the Children

by ABC

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On Anzac Day morning this year, Brisbane man Jayson Dalton took the lives of his two small children, Jessie and Patrick, and then killed himself. Dalton had been a doting father who lavished love and attention on his children. So why did he take their lives?

The tragedy followed what Jayson Dalton told his children was "a bad day in court". On the Friday before, he had failed in his application to the Family Court to have "shared care" of his children.

For the children’s mother, Dionne Dalton, it was the final betrayal by the man she had loved and married three years earlier.

Four Corners tells the story of this family breakdown in the context of the Government's recent initiatives to reform the Family Court system, and the rising political influence of men's groups.

Liz Jackson has obtained exclusive and intimate interviews with members of both of the families affected, legal representatives and the men who counselled Jayson Dalton in the weeks before his death.

Jayson Dalton had a public profile as a One Nation candidate in the 1998 Federal election and polled over 12,000 votes. He appeared to many as a convivial country bloke and a loving father. Behind the closed doors of his marriage there were allegations of continuing and escalating domestic violence.

As the situation worsened, the marriage broke down and a bitter battle for the children followed in the Family Court.

In her first television interview since her appointment, Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant talks about the legacy of such cases and the challenges they present to the Court: "I think it affects, it affects everybody. We all live in, in the shadow of this happening to us unquestionably."

And the men who supported Jayson Dalton in the lead up to the tragedy warn that it will happen again "Do something. Do not ignore this", says one.

"Losing the Children"- Four Corners, 8.30 pm Monday 16 August, 2004.
  dvrcvlibrary | May 24, 2009 |
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