Academic who sent herself threatening letters given community sentence

Other messages referred to her as a “racist bitch” and a “China-hating lesbian” and said they knew where she lived and knew her smell. The letters were sent at the time the university was considering the controversial closure of its Traditional Chinese Medicine course.

Judge Bourke said the Crown suggested that Jolley’s motive was to escalate the course closure, however there was not enough evidence to make a finding about this.

He said it was argued the “unusual” offences might be seen as “attention-seeking”, and this is “the most plausible explanation for at least some of the letters”.

“I have difficulty, however, in accepting that this provides an explanation for all 10 of the false letters given they spanned a period of three-and-a-half months,” Judge Bourke said.

“I have even greater difficulty in accepting that personal stress or attention-seeking behaviour provides an explanation for such extreme measures as the offender cutting up her own clothes and later sending items of her own underwear to the university.


“Ultimately, the evidence does not permit me to arrive at any clear conclusion as to why the offender committed these somewhat bizarre offences.”

Judge Bourke said Jolley had already been subjected to punishment outside of court, including receiving widespread media attention and being informed that she had been removed from the editorial board of an international journal.

He said it is “most unlikely” she will ever get a job in her chosen field again, but said “it is the offender’s own actions that have brought these adverse consequences upon her”.

Jolley maintained in the trial that she had sent only one of the letters, with a view to getting herself fired in a time of stress.

Judge Bourke said it was not credible that Jolley would decide to “throw away her career” by being intentionally discovered in this way.

He said “at first blush” it may be considered that the offences were due to some kind of psychological impairment, however this was given little support by the evidence because in the months the letters were sent Jolley continued to hold down her senior academic position.

“It is implausible, in my opinion, that over this period she could have held down such a position, and at the same time been so affected by some kind of a psychological condition that she was driven to embark on such a concerted campaign of threatening actions.”

When Jolley’s sentence was announced, she hung her head and looked to the ground. When asked if she understood the sentence, she responded that she did.

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