JUST ANOTHER LITTLE MURDER
Author - Phil Cleary
Publisher - Allen and Unwin
At the heart of Phil Cleary's book is a passionate man's determination
to honour the life of his murdered sister. Vicki was a young woman
from a close and loving family, murdered by a former defacto, who
pleaded provocation and was convicted of the lesser crime of manslaughter.
He resubmits to public scrutiny some of the evidence that led to
the verdict, a verdict that firstly stunned and ultimately shattered
both the author and his family. By thorough and painstaking research
of court and police records and by personal interviews he uncovers
evidence that should have been submitted and wasn't.
In the process he documents the life and ultimate death of an habitual
and violent criminal. But this book is not just an attempt to gain
retrospective justice for a sister slain and then dishonoured by
the system. It is as well, a searing indictment of a judicial system
that institutionalises injustice. It is an unashamedly class based
critique of a judiciary that fails all women who are the victims
of sexual assault, but particularly the poor and the powerless.
It portrays a brotherhood of judges and lawyers, responsible for
the dispensation of justice to victims of sexual assault, who are
crippled by the class and gender based assumptions that drive them
and by their own class backgrounds.
It is a book that resonates with the profanity of the streets,
the bourgeois platitudes of the courts and the menace of the police
cells. It contains language as warm as a mother's caress and as
cold and detached as a forensic report.
"Just another little murder" is a moving tribute to a
beloved family member. It is a beautifully crafted and unreservedly
honest account from a passionate and civilized man of a murder,
that begins at the point of a singular injustice and expands to
the plane of systemic injustice. It will have many in the judicial
system hanging their heads in shame.
So it should.
B.Sc (Hons) Melbourne University
Brian Sanaghan was a Northcote Municipal Councillor between 1977-1980.
He is a close friend of the author.