Terrible news about Jill Meagher!

I heard the news this morning that a body that is likely to be that of missing Melbourne (Irish) lass Jill Meagher was found buried in scrub last night. Police were taken there by a man who showed them where the body was buried in a shallow grave beside a dirt road in Gisborne South. The grave was very close the road under a tall tree.

This is such a sad story, especially for Jill’s husband and family. I’m sending them deepest sympathy for what they have borne and for what is yet ahead of them. This morning ABC Local Radio host Jon Faine was himself close to tears at times when talking of the tragedy, having known Jill as a close colleague. The whole ABC was in mourning. The whole of Melbourne is in shock.

This story is very unusual, because most murder victims know their killers. Studies show that around 70-80% know their attacker and about 20% of those murders can be attributed to a family member. So this random, opportunistic murder of a young girl only 10 minutes from her home is such an unlikely thing to strike a loving family and change their lives forever. People on talk-back radio are talking about increasing home security and other methods of keeping the bad guys away. The reality is, that random mans just that, unexpected, probably opportunistic, not even provoked in most cases.

There is no need to batten down the hatches. Perhaps there’s a need to take more care about presenting potential targets, not walking alone on streets late at night, being more wary of strangers. Not offering assistance if approached. It’s a sad thing that we have to be suspicious of someone who might be in need, but it’s a reality. Sympathy is a great ice-breaker.

This is not a new thing. In little old Hobart, thirty-five years ago, when I was  a young nurse, I lived alone in a bed-sitter. A young man knocked at my door around 9pm, and told me he had been involved in a car accident in the street outside and he needed to call for help. (Pre mobile phone days, of course). Being a trusting person, only anxious to assist, I let him in, whereupon he attacked me. Some time later he left me, gagged and tied to my bed hand and foot. There I remained until the following morning, when I was found by a friend who had a key to my flat. I was lucky. The attack was random, the man was never caught, but at least I wasn’t found dead.

The police have worked tirelessly on the search for Jill Meagher, their job made more difficult by the randomness of the attack and the lack of any solid suspects for days into the investigation. No doubt the story will unfold, but for the Meagher and McKeon families there is no happy ending.

 

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/man-charged-over-jill-meagher-case-20120928-26olv.html#ixzz27jHT7D6o

Missing ABC staffer Jill Meagher

What a mystery is the disappearance of Melbourne’s ABC radio staffer Jill Meagher! I’ve been watching the unfolding with great interest, as I used to live in Hope St West Brunswick and know it to be a narrow, pretty quiet, residential street (especially at 2am). Last seen wearing VERY high heels outside a shop in Sydney Road, talking to a man in a blue ‘hoodie’.

See footage http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/true-crime-scene/cctv-snaps-missing-woman-jill-meagher-just-450m-from-home-then-she-was-gone/story-fnat7jnn-1226479708333

Disturbing developments regarding the discovery of her handbag after police say they had searched the area, and even more concerning for the family is the ‘routine’ search by a forensic team of the home and car of Jill Meagher and her husband Thomas. The family must be distraught with worry and fear. My heart goes out to them. How can a young, vital girl vanish during a 10 minute walk from Sydney Road to her home?

If anyone knows ANYTHING please call Crimestoppers 1800 333 000.

 

If anyone knows ANYTHIUNG, please call Crimestoppers

 

Of course if foul play was involved, and it’s looking more like that scenario every day, the perpetrator had until Saturday to cover their tracks.

Free night out for Melbourne crime fans

Just a quick note to tell those in Melbourne that I’m hosting an ‘In Conversation’ with Australian-born writer and now Private Investigator based in California,Rachel Somerville. Her life as she tells it in her new book California PI takes my breath away. For those who’d like to hear us have a chat:

Rachel Somerville in conversation Robin Bowles

True Crime writer Robin Bowles will chat with Somerville about her new book California P.I.  This is Somerville’s own passionate account of the men whose lives she tries to save and of her journey from genteel, middle-class Adelaide to the ghettos and prisons of America as a private investigator.

Monday 10 September, 6.30pm

Readings Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn

Free, but please book on 9819 1917

Afghanistan

My heart aches for the all families of the young soldiers who have been shot in cold blood  in Afghanistan by so-called ‘friendly’ killers.  What has this bloody and useless conflict come to, when the army has to post ‘guardian angels’ (in effect, armed guards) to  watch over allegedly friendly troops in case they murder one of our soldiers trying to do his job? Our troops are volunteers, young men coping with all the shit that war brings, now afraid to turn their backs on so-called allies. Their mates, watching carefully, alert for the possibility an attack by a ‘green soldier’  will open fire. What a responsibility for the ‘angel’. What if he misses a sign, or shoots ‘a green’ only reaching for a sweat-rag from his pocket? Australian troops are now opposing the distribution of grenades to the green soldiers, due to the additional carnage a grenade could cause, if turned upon friendly troops. Do you blame them?

War words are full of euphemisms: green and blue, guardian angels, collateral damage, died in the line of duty. That’s because we can’t face using the real words: Australians and Afghans, armed guards, unnecessary slaughter and murdered as they relaxed after a long day. That’s what is really happening.

Lest you think I am a bleeding heart pacifist for making this protest, let me say that I am what is known in ADF parlance as an ‘army brat’. This means I grew up moving every couple of years from house to house, school to school, no long-term friends, good at reading and playing with my pets. Although I attended a lot of parades when I was young, watched my dad out the front and learned to spit and polish his size 11 boots to a mirror finish,  I was never quite sure what to say about his job when ‘all the other girls’ had dads who were graziers, lawyers, bankers and doctors, rather than ‘soldiers’. What does a soldier DO, after all?

My father, who became a Brigadier before his retirement, was awarded a Military Cross for Gallantry in WWII. (He was only 20) . His older brother, also reaching the rank of Brigadier, was awarded an OBE for his services to the ADF.

Their father and their grandfather fought in the Boxer Rebellion, the Boer War, WWI and the Indian Uprising; they (one or other or both) saw active service in WWII, the Malaysia Emergency,  Korea and Vietnam. In ‘peacetime’, my father led men in 1RAR and 3RAR and the Royal Australian Armoured Corps. All frontline troops. My uncle was in the Infantry, training hundreds of young men known in ADF-speak as the ‘Grunts’, who carry huge weights of equipment on their persons and who grunt each time a foot hits the ground. And they walk everywhere.

Two of my four sons joined the Army. One served as a medic, wearing a side arm only and trained to administer aid and carry a stretcher under fire.  The other served in specialist forces, training visiting troops from countries friendly to Australia in techniques for which our soldiers hold the admiration of the world.

Five generations of our family have been engaged in seven major military conflicts.

When my sons were in the army I wished every night they would not be called upon to do their duty and face being killed by enemies of Australia. Or sent to support allied troops in combat. Of course, they would have gone, without question, if our country and the way of life my forefathers sweated through all those wars to protect was threatened. That’s what they signed up for. Our family has been lucky. No one died in battle. At least they would not have been shot in the back if they had died. Not killed in the prime of their youth by people they were on a daily mission to protect and serve.

I support the recently published comments by Major General John Cantwell. I say let’s bring our soldiers home. They are not being appreciated fighting another country’s war. In fact they are being shot and killed by those they are risking their lives daily for. Those people don’t deserve our brave sons and fathers and brothers and husbands. Let them shoot each other.

Bring Australians home from Afghanistan now!

Heard from a father who sent me this link which shows the pain caused to children by parental abduction. This little boy (only 12 years old) somehow managed to not only get a letter out from his place of ‘incarceration’ (uncle’s house) in Qatar to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, but even got a reply, ending with a hand-written note signed ‘David’, telling the boy he was on the case at high diplomatic level. It was written more than a year ago and there is no news about whether he has been rescued or not.

See link . http://bigpondnews.com/articles/TopStories/2012/08/14/British_PM_intervenes_in_kidnap_case_783290.html

This child was smart and resourceful enough to get his message out somehow and old enough to voice his misery. Toddlers can’t speak for themselves and some children never have the opportunity to make their voices heard. They live in hiding and in sadness, separated from all they once knew and loved.

Child abduction is child abuse.

New angle on Denis Tanner case

Last week Denis Tanner, former Victoria Police sergeant,  applied to the Coroner’s Court for the purpose of seeking a review of the finding made against him in 1998 by then Coroner Graeme Johnston that Denis Tanner shot and killed his sister-in-law Jennifer Tanner in a lonely country farmhouse in 1984. Jennifer died from injuries caused by two bullets in her brain and was buried as a suicide only 60 hours after her body was found late at night by her husband, Laurie (Denis’s brother). The Tanner family has always supported the suicide theory. I wrote a book, Blind Justice, in 1998, that did not.

Now here we are in 2012, 28 years after Jenny died and 14 years after the second inquest into Jenny’s death. As I often (but not originally) say, the wheels of the law turn slowly.

Denis Tanner is seeking a review via a tortuous path he has followed since that fateful night in 1984, through the intricacies of the legal system. The first inquest in 1985 delivered an open finding. Police pretty well dropped the investigation immediately. In 1998, at a second inquest, Coroner Graeme Johnston was in breach of the Coroner’s Act 1985 when he named Tanner as Jenny’s killer.

See Section 19 (3) http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/0904_coroner.pdf, which says a coroner may not name a person he/she thinks guilty of an offence.

The insertion of this clause, or a clause similar to it in other legal followers of the English justice system, came about because of the finding at an inquest in the UK which decided the guilt of Lord Lucan, who was alleged to have bludgeoned to death his children’s nanny with a piece of lead piping in the basement of his posh house in Berkeley Square in London.

Although there was no evidence, speculation was rife that in the dark,  Lucan had mistaken the slim figure of the nanny for his wife, whom, when she later returned home, he also bashed, without killing her. She escaped and, covered in blood, raised the alarm. An arrest warrant for Lucan was issued, but he had vanished.

He was named as the murderer of the dead nanny at the 1975 inquest into her death at Westminster Coroner’s Court. This finding, which named him as the guilty party without the benefit of a trial and deliberation by a jury, made Lucan disinclined to ever show his face again and he remains missing to this day! Probably dead by now, if not earlier. Obviously, a coroner naming a person as being guilty of murder, on the evidence he had heard in his court, which is much less stringent than trial evidence, could be considered a miscarriage of justice. People assume the Coroner must know what he’s talking about, believe the subsequent trial by media, etc.

For example the Daily Telegraph in UK ‘The gambling earl who murdered his children’s nanny’. No trial, just speculation.

The Lucan case is fascinating and you can look at it on http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9090249/Lord-Lucan-the-gambling-earl-who-murdered-his-childrens-nanny.html

So, getting back to the Tanner situation,  Section 19 (3) was added to our then ‘new’ Act in 1985 and apparently ignored by the Coroner in 1998.

Tanner faced his own round of media headlines then and since, such as front page, ‘HE SHOT HER’ in bold 6cm type following the finding, which did nothing for Tanner’s reputation, already in tatters from speculative media stories. You can read more about this in my book Rough Justice  downloadable from my website, or from http://www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/87382/20/rough-justice-2nd-edition.

I spoke to Denis this week about his new application. He will know in 60 days if Chief Coroner Judge Jennifer Coate will grant his application. His return to the Coroner’s Court was necessitated because he had been just about to have his application heard in the Supreme Court when a new Coroner’s Act (2008) was introduced. He’s convinced the government of the day deliberately gazumped him and that the new Act was written with him in mind. It’s taken him 4 more years to get to this position last week. As I said, the wheels of the law . . .

Anyway, now he’s back again, still trying to clear his name, this time championed by very emminent barrister Robert Galbally, not to be confused with his cousin Frank or AFL player Bob.

http://www.galballyrolfe.com.au/robert.html

(Denis’s former pugnacious barrister, Joe Gullaci, is now a judge, which kinda rules him out!)

Mr Galbally told the coroner that his client did not dispute the findings that Jennifer Tanner was shot and did not commit suicide.

He said that the finding that his client contributed to the death was, however, in dispute. This is a new position for Denis, which is interesting. Most people close to the case know that I’ve always told Denis I believe he did not kill Jenny, but that perhaps his subsequent actions, deliberate or accidental, assisted the outcome of the poor police investigation into the circumstances of Jenny’s death.

Mr Galbally said last week that a coroner’s findings could be set aside only if there is new evidence and if it is deemed “appropriate”, a term that is not defined in the Coroner’s Act. That should give Judge Coate some food for thought!

In addition, there were new witnesses who could alibi Denis Tanner for the night in question. (Given that the cops only consider three alibis airtight – hospital, jail or the morgue – this should be interesting!) These witnesses have waited a long time to come forward, but hey, look at the recently revised history of the Chamberlain case. One of the new witnesses remembers Denis ‘helping him into a taxi because he was feeling sick that night’, (Denis is that kind of guy, although no one believes it!), so who knows how Judge Coate will view this new application?

Watch this space.

Cheers

 

 

 

stories that keep on keeping on!

Hi everybody. Life has been hectic for me lately. In addition to personal/ family stuff, like helping my son moving house with his partner and gorgeous baby (see Matt Alexander on Facebook) the 10th anniversary of the arrest of Bradley Murdoch for the alleged murder of Peter Falconio is coming up on 22 August. This story, told in my book Dead Centre from my website, has continued to be discussed, dissected and debated. Everybody loves a good mystery and despite the NT police and the DPP being convinced of Murdoch’s guilt, many people find the details in the story told by Joanne Lees about the incident in the night lack credibility.

A UK TV company is currently filming aspects of the story in Australia for the Crime Investigation pay TV program and their delightful film crew spent an hour re-arranging my lounge room, (very politely) this week. We filmed for a couple of hours.

I also discovered that Murdoch has been moved from his incarceration at Alice Springs Correctional Centre, which is close to the dead centre of Australia, back to Darwin, where he has no access to a prison-based automotive workshop to use his skills repairing vehicles and teaching young aborigines on short stay sentences a few tricks of the (automotive!) trade, during their time inside.

The rumour is that the NT Minister was getting fed up with guerilla action around Alice, co-ordinated by a ‘puppetmaster’ in Vienna (does this make me sound like a Conspiracy Theorist?? Believe me, it’s TRUE!) and Murdoch has paid the price by being moved to a tougher prison.

I’ve also just released my first e-book. Fed up with the way print publishers squeeze writers for their last drip of blood (especially CRIME writers!) we decided to get with the modern world and go E-publishing. Sad in one way, but I must say I’ve become VERY attached to my Kindle over the past couple of years. I can take 10 books on my travels, average cost about $8 each and the kindle is user friendly, lightweight and easy to read. You can, of course download Kindle apps to android readers or just download my book from my website, which you must be on already if you are reading this.

The new e-book is called Have You Seen my Child and it tells the inside story of the Sydney father whose 3 yo son was abducted by the boy’s mother. The father spent the next 3 years looking for him and eventually set off a cycle crusade around Europe. 6500 kms, nine countries and 4 months later, incredibly, he found him in Amsterdam. It’s an inspiring story, more interesting because of the rising incidence of International Parental Child Abduction, due to cross-border marriages and the ‘shrinking’ of the world.

The issue has had quite an airing lately, over a year since the great international interest created by Ken’s story, with the Italian father who was successful in having the court return his three daughters after their Australian mother refused to return to Italy after a holiday. (This is a common ruse used by abducting parents.) There is an international  Convention in place, to which Australia is a signatory, that allows for Left-Behind parents to maker application to have their abducted children returned. This usually works, but you have to know where they are first. In Ken’s case, his wife and son simply vanished after flying to Frankfurt, without his knowledge or permission.

If you are interested in the Hague Convention you can find it at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hague_Convention_on_the_Civil_Aspects_of_International_Child_Abduction

Legal Affairs writers from The Australian wrote a couple of excellent articles about the plight of the children and the parents on http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/landmark-case-tests-childrens-rights-to-take-part-in-parents-legal-disputes/story-e6frg6nf-1226444839874

 

The other story that popped up yesterday, after about 12 years, was the return of former cop Denis Tanner to the Victorian Coroner’s Court to seek a re-opening of the investigation into the death of his sister-in-law Jenny Tanner (see my book Blind Justice). I spoke to Denis last night. Tune in tomorrow for an update. Getting late and moving is VERY tiring!

 

Cheers,

 

Robin

New Short eBooks

I’ve recently published four short eBooks. I’m loving the new platform that lets me publish short as well as long stories.

Rescuing Tara.  A bullying and sexually abusing father produced videos of his terrified 5 year old daughter  for over 5 years to sell internationally to satisfy a network of child porn lovers. Read here in short but gripping detail how Bart Huskey met his match at the hands of cops in cyberspace.

Creative Accounting: The perfect murder? This short story romp about lust for money, hatred of the one who provides it and getting away with murder (and the money) is a fiction must read for murder buffs.

Due Process: Is the law just? A father’s relentless search for the reason his healthy  daughter died in sudden and  unexplained circumstances does not deliver justice to him or his family. Instead, this story describing his quest reveals bureaucratic bungling, confusing opinions, heartbreak and more deaths.

Police Line: Is there one law for those at the top and a different one for those at the front line? This story describes how a young, dedicated and straight cop was driven from his career because he crossed the line. But with a degree of poetic justice in the end, those who persecuted him eventually faced their own career-defining dramas.

Updated eBook Editions of Dead Centre and Rough Justice are available

Yes, they are now out.

Updated editions of Dead Centre and Rough Justice are now available.

Dead Centre has been updated with an extensive new introduction that updates the information in the book. Rough Justice has been extensively updated throughout the book.

Buy them at the following locations (more being added):

Robin’s Books on Apple’s iBook store (iTunes)

Robin’s Books on Amazon US

Rough Justice 2nd Edition: Smashwords.com      Amazon       Amazon UK

Dead Centre 3rd Edition: Smashwords.com      Amazon       Amazon-UK