Family's Agonising Wait for a Decision on Jock Palfreeman's Future

Views on BG | December 2, 2009, Wednesday // 09:10|  views

Jock is set to give his final statement in court today. It is understood he could be facing up to 20 years in jail. Photo by BGNES


By Boel Eriksson

The Mosman brother of Jock Palfreeman has spoken for the first time of the “tough and emotional” two years since his brother was locked up in the notorious Sofia Central Prison in Bulgaria on murder charges.

Jock is set to give his final statement in court today. It is understood he could be facing up to 20 years in jail.

Today’s statement is Jock’s chance to tell his side of the story in court, almost two years since the day that changed his life.

On Boxing Day 2007, while on holiday in Bulgaria, Jock witnessed the assault of two Romas by a group of about 20 football fans. Going to the men’s aid, he was allegedly attacked by the group and wielded a knife to protect himself.

He has been charged with murder after allegedly stabbing a 20-year-old man to death during the fight.

He also faces a charge of attempted murder over the alleged stabbing of a 19-year-old man during the same brawl.

Jock claims he acted in self-defence but was refused bail and has been in prison since.

It is expected he will be sentenced within the next few weeks.

Spencer Palfreeman, 21, said the past two years had been “a bit of a whirlwind”.

“It’s been very tough,” he said. “In the beginning it was very emotional but now we are just trying to concentrate on the progress in court, the facts and Jock’s wellbeing.”

Spencer, his parents and other brother, aged 15, found out Jock had been arrested through the media.

“We saw stories in the media but for the first two weeks they had the name wrong. It said John Freeman, but the description was ‘22-year-old Australian on holidays in Bulgaria’,” he said.

“We knew there was a chance it was him because the description matched, but we were hoping it wasn’t.

“It was at that time between Christmas and New Year’s (Eve) and we could not get in contact with anyone to tell us what was going on.

“I had never left Australia and never dealt with anyone outside the country.

“It was hard.”

His father, Simon, flew to Bulgaria within a few weeks. Spencer has travelled to Bulgaria twice to visit his brother.

Jock is not allowed to make phone calls or use the internet, and visitors are allowed two 45-minute visits per month.

“Me and my brother are 15 months apart, so he’s not only a brother but a friend,” Spencer said.

“When I saw him, we didn’t talk about the case.

“We talked about old times, friends, rugby. Sometimes about current affairs and politics. We tried to have a normal conversation, make him feel part of what’s happening with friends and in Australia.”

The last time Spencer saw his brother was in court in July this year.

“It has been a lengthy case but we need to respect that Bulgaria’s court system is different to Australia’s,” Spencer said.

Jock’s friends and family have rallied to raise awareness about his case since his imprisonment.

On Monday, friends and family of Jock met outside Parliament House in Canberra and Bulgarian embassies in Athens and London to remind authorities they are following the case, and to hand out information leaflets.

Spencer encouraged supporters to write letters to Jock.

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Tags: Jock Palfreeman, Bulgaria, Sofia Central Prison, jail, court case, brother


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