Brother's pain shames courts
By PIERS AKERMAN -
DAILY TELEGRAPH - SYDNEY
ALMOST daily, the courts pass judgement and sentence criminals
penalties that leave the majority of Australians shaking their heads
Yet whenever a judge passes a tough sentence, like the 55 years
imprisonment awarded to one of Sydney's serial gang rapists recently,
are always a handful of shrill individuals eager to claim that such
a penalty is
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
Yet the truth is not difficult to determine. It is right in our
A few weeks ago, I ran into an old sparring partner, the former
Victorian footballer and sometime independent federal
parliamentarian Phil Cleary.A victim of the Victorian education system and the Marxist dialectic,
sees many things through class-war blinkers. That's how I perceive
him to be,
In the past, we've disagreed on almost everything except the need
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
At a chance meeting in Adelaide, during which we shared a bottle
Barossa shiraz, he mentioned that he had finished writing a book
man who murdered his sister, Vicki, and the subsequent trial, and
send me a copy.
Acceptance of such a gift is always a two-edged sword. I feel
read such volumes and am not infrequently embarrassed when asked
critique. But I am glad that I have read Phil's book, Just Another Little
Brother's Pursuit Of Justice (which is published by Allen &
Unwin and should
be available at most book stores), because it shocked and enraged
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
was just that deeply southern. Cleary's book bears out that
Briefly, because it is another man's story and you should read
yourself, Vicki Cleary was stabbed to death in her car, outside
kindergarten where she worked, by a violent serial rapist and child
named Peter Raymond Keogh in 1987.
That vicious murder is really only the beginning of the story,
Cleary began researching Keogh's background almost as soon as the
foreman declared the revolting killer to be not guilty of murder
on the grounds
of provocation and Supreme Court judge George Hampel, who heard
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
given to the allegation that Keogh was "an alcoholic depressive"
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
carving knife to the school when he ambushed and killed her, didn't
count for anything.
Provocation as a defence has always puzzled me, just as the use
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
in Victoria and NSW but that, of course, comes too late for Vicki
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
how he managed to clearly remember the words Vicki allegedly used
provocatively but could not remember anything about stabbing
The high-fliers might have been too busy assisting people-smugglers'
the top of the migration queue that week to help bring justice to
of a sleazy little murderer.
This tale of one's man search for truth and justice is a raw story,
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
many Australians believe they have to fight to find justice in the