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

 

 

TWO GOOD MEN

Save a woman

An edited version of this piece appeared in theHerald Sun newspaper on Friday 22 June 2007.

‘You have to experience murder to truly understand the anger it generates’.  These were the opening words in my 2005 book Getting away with murder. Although the book dealt with the killing of Julie Ramage by her estranged husband in Balwyn in 2003, the words were derived from my personal experience with murder.  The moment I heard about the shootings in William Street last Monday I was taken back to that day 20 years ago when my 25-year-old sister was stabbed to death by a vengeful ex-boyfriend.  Although the circumstances of the killing of Brendan Keilar and the shooting of Kara Douglas and Dutch backpacker, Paul De Waard, were not identical to those surrounding my sister’s murder, there were enough similarities for it to send a chill down my spine.

The suburban Street where Vicki was attacked. The cushion lies where she was comforted by an ambulance officer.

My sister was trying to flee a possessive, armed man when she had her young life ended, at the same time of the morning as a man shot Brendan Keilar. If Peter Keogh had been armed with a gun, rather than a knife, when he attacked my sister outside the kindergarten where she worked, who knows what the death count might have been?  It wasn’t the first time Keogh had used a knife.  He was only 14 years of age when he brandished one at a policeman - alongside Preston Railway Station in 1963 - before being shot in the knee-cap.  After a string of attacks on women in the 70s, in 1981 he tried to stab a former girlfriend in her house in Northcote. Fortunately a couple of blokes on the local garbage run took on the role of good Samaritan and saved her.

When Keogh attacked Vicki Cleary, in Cameron Street, Coburg, on 26 August 1987, a cluster of bystanders saw much of what happened.  Unfortunately, they initially didn’t grasp the gravity of the situation and when they did, were too traumatised to act.  Only after Keogh emerged from the car in which he’d trapped Vicki did they fully comprehend what was happening.  ‘I thought it was just a domestic,’ one witness had told police.  Only after they saw Keogh’s knife glistening in the early morning sunlight did they realise just what the killer was really doing as they watched him ‘punching her’ in the car.

The nightclub where the tragedy began after a young woman was bashed unmercifully.

Witnesses in William Street have been reported as saying they saw a man with the gun walk ‘calmly and coolly’ from the scene of the carnage. Although it will be deemed merely personal opinion rather than established fact, in a court of law, it strongly resembles what a witness said aboutVicki's killer. He 'callously’ used atissue to wipe the blood from his knife' this witness told police. While he did, my sister lay dying in the gutter.  Since that day I’ve written and spoken extensively about the horrors of violence against women and how men must take a stand against such violence. After seeing Keogh sentenced to less than four years gaol, as a result of my sister allegedly provoking him, I lost all faith in criminal law and lawyers.

How ironic that it was a lawyer who saved Kara Douglas? If lawyer Brendan Keilar hadn’t intervened, the least Kara could have expected was a fearful assault. In an era when individualism reigns supreme and people are reluctant to go anywhere near a ‘domestic’ this father of three emerged like Superman.  Now he’s dead, and a distraught family is left to pick up the pieces. How was he to know that the man he tackled had a gun and was prepared to use it? Already, media reports have described Keilar as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Is the moral of the story that we should never try to help a woman being set upon by a man?  It wasn’t deep in the night, when alcohol and party drugs are so often responsible for violence.  It was 8.15 am in the morning! 

The place where Brendan Keilar dies.

As much as people are shocked by the shootings in William Street, some journalists still feel the need to tell us Kara was a party girl. Making $250 000 a year, said one report in The Age newspaper. What difference does it make whether she loves parties?  Would it be different if she were a stay-at-home mum?  Kara Douglas' personal tastes have absolutely nothing to do with what happened in William Street. Nor is this a story about bikies or guns. 

This is a story about the kind of violence only men can imagine. For every one of these inexplicable acts of violence there are streams of ‘garden variety’ domestic killings and bashings by ordinary suburban blokes. Had lawyer Brendan Keilar and Dutch tourist Paul De Waard not intervened, this would have been yet another ‘domestic’.  However, on this occasion a man - one who should be an inspiration to all men - is dead.  That Brendan's selfless courage was met with such brutality makes this a tragedy of incomprehensible proportions.

A tribute to Brendan.

Peter Keogh committed suicide in 2001.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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