Review: Every Parent’s Nightmare by Belinda Hawkins

Title: Every Parent’s Nightmare

Author: Belinda Hawkins

Published: Allen & Unwin June 2013

Status: Read from July 06 to 08, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

In 2008, ABC TV’s Australian Story senior journalist Belinda Hawkins fielded a phone call about a young man being held in a Bulgarian prison. Jock Palfreeman, an Australian national and British Army recruit, had been accused of murder after a brawl in the country’s capital and was facing a life sentence. The story caught Hawkins interest and this book, Every Parent’s Nightmare, is the result of a comprehensive five year investigation.

With access to police reports, legal documents, CCTV footage and witnesses, Hawkins pieces together the most likely sequence of events on the night of December 27th, 2007 after Jock Palfreeman’s decision to defend a Gypsy being harassed by a drunken group of privileged young Bulgarians. She then goes on to expose the flawed investigation and corrupt procedures that led to Jock’s conviction for the murder of Andrei Monov.

Cooperation from Jock and his father, Dr Simon Palfreeman, ensures that the personal costs of this harrowing case are not forgotten. It is every parents nightmare to wave your child off on an overseas adventure only to be faced with a horrific situation such as this. As Jock languishes in a crumbling soviet jail, his father and family continue to fight for his health, safety and freedom.

Whether Jock Palfreeman is actually responsible for inflicting the wound that killed Andrei Monov remains a mystery, Jock claims to not remember and the ‘witness’ accounts are proved here to be completely unreliable. What is evident from Hawkins detailed and exhaustive study of this case, and is independently verified by experts, is that this young Australian did not receive a fair trial.

Jock remains in a Bulgarian prison serving a twenty year sentence despite the reciprocal extradition agreement between our countries. Bulgaria is demanding a financial contribution from the Palfreeman family in order to agree to Jock serving his remaining sentence in Australia while Monov’s grieving, well connected parents continue to exert influence on decisions about his case.

Every Parent’s Nightmare is a well crafted and meticulously researched account of a tragedy that left one young man dead and another jailed for life. Confronting, moving and utterly gripping, this is a true life story that deserves public notice.

Updates on Jock Freeman’s case can be found at Every Parent’s Nightmare while you can pledge your support at

Available To Purchase

@Allen & Unwin I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia I @AmazonKindle

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn White (@KathrynsInbox)
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 21:01:12

    Sounds absolutely fascinating. It’s amazing how legal systems can differ around the world and the attitudes that some countries may have toward foreigners caught in their legal system. I’d love to read this one and find out more.



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 15, 2013 @ 14:04:17

      Though Australia’s legal system is by no means perfect, Bulgaria’s is a far scarier proposition.



  2. harvee
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 21:27:31

    Makes you want o tell your kids never to get involved in other people’s fights, even to defend someone. Sad.



  3. Patty
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 23:10:24

    Wow…this is extremely scary stuff!



  4. synergyglassart
    Jul 13, 2013 @ 16:40:46

    I’ve read this book also and was utterly blown away by the corruption in Bulgaria and the injustice poor Jock has had to endure. I’ll continue to follow his story.
    Belinda explains a tricky and confusing situation in a factual, chronological fashion that is quite easy to follow along step by step with what Jock and his family experience.
    The strength of the Palfreeman family is inspiring and uplifting.



  5. Jan Edwards
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 08:33:16

    It is a fascinating and honest book. i finished it in two days.I was over in Bulgaria a month ago and would love to have visited this young man. I was not aware I could have done so. They were having a protest at the time, although it was quiet and orderly. So much can be missed in translation, omission and suppression of important details.I hope he is proven innocent and acquitted.



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