Friday, February 20, 2009

A MURDER TOO CLOSE TO HOME

Keen-eyed readers will be aware that my family and I live in Clarkson, a northern suburb of Perth (or southern suburb of Geraldton, according to several friends).

Keen-eyed watchers of the news will have heard that a murder occurred in Clarkson a couple of nights ago. You can read about it here and here.

Here's the newsie round up: two groups men got into an argument over a girl whilst hanging out at a local primary school. One man stabbed another. His mates got him to hospital, then went to the stabber's house and, unable to break into the locked house to gain their revenge, chased a friend into his shed and stabbed him 20 times, killing him.

Here's our round-up: we live across the road from our son and daughter's primary school. Directly opposite our house are a number of parallel-parking spaces. Beyond them, a path leads from the footpath into the school. From our front door to the basketball courts is a distance of maybe fifty feet. Our children walk that path twice a day, every day.

On Wednesday night, whilst Lyn was pulling the car out to take Aiden to guitar practice, several men ran from the school grounds, up the path, openly bearing weapons (Lyn mentioned at least one golf club) and screaming death threats at people behind them. They jumped into a car in the parallel parking spots, and screamed away, almost side-swiping our car in the process. By the time Lyn had dropped Aiden off, picked me up at the train station and returned home—maybe twenty minutes—the area was roped off and several police were in attendance. Twenty feet from our front door was a crime scene. These men had been in a knife fight. In our children's school. On the pathway that our children walk down from the road to the basketball courts on their way to school. Twenty feet from our front door. These men then went and murdered someone in a house in our suburb. Murdered an innocent bystander because they were angry and seeking revenge over an argument about a girl.

I'm not stupid and I'm not naïve. I know about crime: I've seen it, been its victim, known perpetrators and criminals of various stripes over the years. I know it happens in suburbs and in homes. I'm not blind. I don't even bat an eyelid at the notion of murder- I live in a city that's played host to two of the worst serial murderers in Australian history, a city where people get thrown from traffic bridges and if the bouncers don't get you in our nightspots, the gangs will. I've met suicides, prostitutes, and convicted drug felons. They don't make rose coloured glasses in my prescription. But:

If Lyn had been half a second slower on the brakes, she and my children would have been part of this crime. They would have been innocent bystanders in the way of a gang of angry, armed men who had already (and would go on to) exhibit extreme, fatal, violence. I have no shred of doubt that they would have been seriously harmed. My children's school is a crime scene. The path they walk every day of the school week is, quite literally, a blood-soaked crime scene. One of the two places my children should feel safest in the world has been used as a backdrop to gang violence and attempted murder.

I will not tolerate my family being in such an environment.

Aiden finishes his high school career at the end of next year. We will take that time to get the house ready, and then we will sell it, and move. Mandurah appeals: we have friends there, it is close to the town where I grew up, and it has everything I consider necessary for a good family environment. It is time to get ready, and leave.

5 comments:

Paul Crilley said...

I know how you feel, Lee. My family are starting to think seriously about leaving South Africa for this exact reason. Probably for France.

Satima Flavell said...

How utterly sickening.

Sara said...

That's horrible, Lee. I read about this and found the sheer randomness of the killing the most terrifying aspect.

There can be no cast-iron guarantee that any place is safe, but I think living close to a network of friends and/or extended family is a great idea.

Jason Crowe said...

Had a similar reaction back in December 2005, when I found myself with my wife and 1 year old daughter suddenly in the midst of a full-scale fucking race riot. What lunacy were we up to to be in the middle of something like this? Just walking home after a coffee with friends at our favourite local. After something like that it's hard not to look at every young male you pass in your street and think: "You were one of them weren't you?"

Anyway, I heard Mandurah rocks.

Happy thoughts to you and yours.

Jason

Adrian said...

Good grief, Lee. I'd heard about that business in Clarkson, but had no idea until now that it was so close to you and yours. Yes, Mandurah does sound lovely. (Though I've noticed an uptick in violent crime reported in that lovely town over the past several years, but still...)