Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Literature : Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 


Brother's pain shames courts

By PIERS AKERMAN - 15sep 02

DAILY TELEGRAPH - SYDNEY

ALMOST daily, the courts pass judgement and sentence criminals to penalties that leave the majority of Australians shaking their heads in disbelief.

Yet whenever a judge passes a tough sentence, like the 55 years imprisonment awarded to one of Sydney's serial gang rapists recently, there are always a handful of shrill individuals eager to claim that such a penalty is unjust.

Politicians who call for serious penalties for serious crimes are accused by the same civil libertarians of playing to the rednecks; commentators who say the same thing are charged with pandering to the public and inflaming debate.

Yet the truth is not difficult to determine. It is right in our faces.

A few weeks ago, I ran into an old sparring partner, the former champion Victorian footballer and sometime independent federal parliamentarian Phil Cleary.A victim of the Victorian education system and the Marxist dialectic, he still sees many things through class-war blinkers. That's how I perceive him to be,
anyway.

In the past, we've disagreed on almost everything except the need for intelligent, civil debate and decent public conduct, but there's been a degree of civilised respect for each other's positions – and that's how it can be between adults.

At a chance meeting in Adelaide, during which we shared a bottle of excellent Barossa shiraz, he mentioned that he had finished writing a book about the man who murdered his sister, Vicki, and the subsequent trial, and offered to send me a copy.

Acceptance of such a gift is always a two-edged sword. I feel compelled to read such volumes and am not infrequently embarrassed when asked for a critique. But I am glad that I have read Phil's book, Just Another Little Murder – A
Brother's Pursuit Of Justice (which is published by Allen & Unwin and should be available at most book stores), because it shocked and enraged me.

No matter that I had my own brushes with the Victorian judiciary and bar a decade ago and formed an opinion that our southern cousins' view of justice was just that – deeply southern. Cleary's book bears out that view.

Briefly, because it is another man's story and you should read the book yourself, Vicki Cleary was stabbed to death in her car, outside the kindergarten where she worked, by a violent serial rapist and child molester named Peter Raymond Keogh in 1987.

That vicious murder is really only the beginning of the story, however, because Cleary began researching Keogh's background almost as soon as the jury foreman declared the revolting killer to be not guilty of murder on the grounds of provocation and Supreme Court judge George Hampel, who heard the
case, passed a piddling sentence of four years' jail for the crime.

That's right, four years' jail, because Keogh hired a bright, tough silk to defend him, just as he had done throughout his criminal career.According to the defence, Vicki Cleary had "provoked" Keogh to stab her to death by allegedly saying to him at the time of the attack, "f*** off" or "piss
off", or "I don't want to talk to you".

It was also offered, and accepted at the trial, that consideration should be given to the allegation that Keogh was "an alcoholic depressive" and was allegedly more likely to lose control.

The fact that he had been overheard threatening to "neck" Vicki Cleary about a month before the murder, and the obvious evidence that he had taken a carving knife to the school when he ambushed and killed her, didn't seem to
count for anything.

Provocation as a defence has always puzzled me, just as the use of alcohol can be cited as possible mitigation – except when the charge is one of drunken driving.There has, in recent days, been talk of removing the provocation defence both in Victoria and NSW but that, of course, comes too late for Vicki Cleary and
her family. Nor were there high-flying silks flying to their side to ensure that her rights were represented, no Julian Burnsides or Geoffrey Robinsons to ask Keogh how he managed to clearly remember the words Vicki allegedly used so provocatively – but could not remember anything about stabbing her.

The high-fliers might have been too busy assisting people-smugglers' clients to the top of the migration queue that week to help bring justice to another victim of a sleazy little murderer.

This tale of one's man search for truth and justice is a raw story, wrought in anguish and hammered out with passion.I suspect it will count for more than anything Phil Cleary ever did as the
independent MHR for Wills.

The book deserves to be widely read but, more importantly, it should be read by every judge and every civil libertarian who has ever wondered why so many Australians believe they have to fight to find justice in the courts.

akermanp@sundaytelegraph.com.au


                  

 

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