Shot kneecaps, smashed legs: Threat to crims


p2235-Gary-Hall-SMBy ERWIN CHLANDA
There is a paramilitary group in Alice Springs ready to shoot offenders in the knees or smash their legs with baseball bats.
They are selected by a council, swear an oath of allegiance and receive training.
Is it weapons training, we asked its spokesman Gary Hall.
“I don’t think there will be a lot of weapons training involved, to be honest,” he said.
“It doesn’t take a massive lot of training to shoot someone in the back of the legs. What is does take is balls.”
The group is called the Alice Springs Volunteer Force which was formed last year and announced publicly last month.
Mr Hall, who arrived in town from Northern Ireland six years ago, will not disclose the number of members nor their identity except to say “it’s growing by the day”.
He says the organisation is a response to inaction and ineffectiveness by the government and the police in dealing with escalating crime.
Violence in Alice Springs is rampant. One of the places he claims it can be seen is around the Caltex service station on North Stuart Highway.
He says: “Three or four cars arrive with large men in them [these are his ‘offenders’, not his ‘volunteers’], they will batter whomever’s there, get back in their cars and drive away.
“There are weapons inside these cars. Weapons have been used and are being used all around here.
“We have a Minister of Police. We pay him a large salary to ensure our safety is met – not just reacting to crime but preventative measures also. It’s missing. It’s not good enough.”
Mr Hall sees nothing wrong with what he proposes: “The responsibility for the safety of this town is the responsibility of every man and woman in this town.
“We shouldn’t rely just on the government, just on the police. We have a duty of care to each other, and to our properties.
“All too often people are only too happy to sit on their big, fat behinds and do absolutely nothing but whinge and complain.
He says the recent spate of rock throwing was the final trigger for the group to get into gear.
He was there on his own at Billygoat Hill, as a leading figure of the Concerned Citizens Council, but was soon joined by more than a dozen others – no-one was armed.
The paramilitary group is a separate organisation, Mr Hall says, and will have an impact on the crime rate when their measures become known.
Says Mr Hall: “Word goes around, Mr such and so is in the hospital, he had a bullet though the back of his leg.
“Oh, why is that?
“Well, you know, he keeps robbing people’s houses, he’s always stealing cars. He goes to jail for a couple of months and he’s out again and steals cars, you know, that fellow?
“And now he’s walking around on crutches because his knee’s been blown off, or he was taken to an alleyway and had his legs smashed with baseball bats.
“Do you think he wants to steal another car? Do you think that will make the other men in his neighbourhood think twice about stealing cars? I guarantee you, yes it does.”
Is he not complicit in the intended criminal actions of the group?
Says Mr Hall: “The Minister for Police speaks for the police. But he still not a police officer.”
Are you in touch with the members of the group?
So you know who they are?
“Of course I do.”
Have the police asked who they are?
Do you find that amazing?
“I don’t think police investigate possible future crimes. There have been no shootings of kneecaps. If anyone is shot in Alice Springs by a paramilitary belonging to the Alice Springs Volunteer Force they will proudly notify the media, they will proudly claim that operation.”
Mr Hall gives as an example the man who walked into a Subway shop and threatened a girl with a knife, and has since been arrested: “He is on our radar.”
Mr Hall says the group’s message is “this is not happening in Alice Springs any more. That’s the message we’re putting out to those men and women who think it’s a good idea [to commit crimes].
“Alice Springs is no longer an easy target.
“It is not a soft touch, because there are men and women prepared to deal with you in a manner we deem necessary.
“Do not rob in this town. It’s not going to happen any more. Alice Springs is no longer for the taking. It’s a beautiful town we celebrate in so many ways. I’m a musician and I love it here.”


  1. Thanks Erwin, good interview. Hard to believe this clown. He thinks this will solve problems in The Alice?
    Worked well in Northern Ireland where he comes from, didn’t it? Another loud mouth blow-in, crikey the town has had its share, in town five minutes and they have the answers.
    Stone / Conlan / Giles etc, but none of them was threatening violence like this looney. What a mutt.
    Hard to believe there will be much real support for this nonsense, Alice Springs jail time would not be pleasant for people sucked into taking the sort of actions being bandied about.

  2. The problem is, they get off too lightly. A lot go to jail in the winter to keep warm and are better off in jail. They get well fed, clean clothes and a roof over their heads, plus a lot of their mates are there.

  3. I guess the question to be asked is whether the vigilante group will be part of the solution or become an extension of the problem and therefore create more “incidents” for the police to deal with. I know of no legislation which condones or allows vigilante activity in the NT.
    Neighborhood Watch and Night Patrol used to have significant damping affect on night time antisocial behavior. Not living in the Alice for a few years now, I don’t know how bad the situation has become.
    I recall the time when I went with the night shift to do police patrols in the town and saw first hand what incidents the officers encountered. I also spent several hours another time cruising with the Night Patrol going through the town and town camps watching and helping Night Patrol officers handling the problems. It is no easy task for both the police and Night Patrol. They should be thanked for their unflagging dedication.
    The ASNews should seek an interview with the Minister for Police and / or the Minister for Central Australia to see what the government is doing to address what may be a serious community issue.
    On the other hand, the government / community may consider the problems as perceived by the vigilante group not to be serious hence the perceived lack of police action.

  4. It is clear and known that Gary Hall has mental health issues. To publish interviews or follow a sick member of society does no good to the sufferer or society. Please support Gary to seek the help he needs and highlight the situation to the ignorant that may follow him.

  5. Haven’t we just allowed a truly nasty situation to develop! Because make no mistake, this is our doing. It’s on us, all of us, as the residents of Alice Springs.
    A recent publication has the author saying that far from being the welcoming town full of happy campers that we like to say we are, we are in fact a town of “high fences, locked gates and snarling dogs”. Think about it. He’s right. Some of our best examples of urban architecture are our fences.
    I talked with a bloke the other day who told me of having to step over a pile of human shit on his way to work one morning. And this was in the CBD.
    Oh well, we say.
    Oh well indeed!

  6. I would have to agree with Hal. I often wonder who the prisoners are when I see houses behind high fences and angry dogs. The schools have high fences. You would have to say its overdone.

  7. Thanks for your post Kim Hopper, I wasn’t aware of that. Hope the oxygen this publicity has given him does no further harm, and that his mental health improves.

  8. Sadly, Mr Hall spent his childhood in a violent subculture in Northern Ireland, and now as an adult believes that violent approaches are “normal.”
    Thus, he only knows how to create a similar subculture of violence for young people here.
    Of course, it will only increase the number of mentally ill adults like Mr Hall.
    As an antidote, we need a series of interviews with local adults who understand how to raise healthy children. As they saying goes, It takes a village …

  9. It’s interesting reading the comments implying that Mr Hall is somehow unbalanced, if not barking mad, because he advocates targeting offenders knees and legs and/or grew up in the violent subculture of Northern Ireland.
    But how is any of that different from the violent subculture of Indigenous Territorians that so many of the young offenders are growing up in? Take a walk around town and and ask why we see so many Indigenous adults limping along on a badly damaged leg.
    Could it be because their violent subculture also targets the knees and legs of offenders in their law? Not baseball bats, but nulla nullas and spears have been used to inflict that damage. Still are, from the look of things.
    So instead of castigating Mr Hall for overstepping the mark, perhaps it would be more accurate to say he is speaking in a locally understood and accepted language.
    Unfortunately for him, vigilantism is both a slippery slope and against the law of the land. He would do well to remember that slippery slopes are slippery, and the law of the land (that’s Australia) will apply.
    But in trying to understand where he is coming from, we could all do to remember that the police are powerless against under-age offenders, and equally powerless are the often mentioned but mostly missing-in-action Elders.

  10. Answer to violence by violence does not seem to me to provide an answer or a solution. Central Australia is not Northern Ireland.

  11. Will Mr Hall call the ambulance to take his “victims” to ED? Will more medicos be available to look after some more injuries or shall he leave “them” bleeding to death?

  12. Just room for thought: We are going to need a few more wheelchairs and crutches to cope.

  13. Sounds like a terrorist to me. Should we allow people of this ilk to continue living here? I agree with you, Ian Sharp and Kim Hopper.

  14. We who live in and love this town see it very differently to the outsiders who must think we are all as mad as many of us see Mr Hall.
    I believe that in the discussions below @ Hal Duell is close to the money. I have believed, and shared, for a decade and more that Alice could be a more modern version of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities.
    There are two distinct subclasses here, with only a minor cross-over among the middle class, even wealthy, indigenous.
    At most times the white fellas live (mostly) safely behind their walls and fences as Hal notes, while many Indigenous from camps and those living rough subject their fellow bros and sisters with untold savage violent beatings or simple neglect toward their kids.
    It’s still the law of the jungle out there: the strong win, the weak lose. These events seem to be largely accepted as normalised and expected behaviour. The police do what they can, but no one expects the situation to change too much.
    A sentence to The Big House is seen as a Right of Passage by many Aboriginal males. It offers a simpler and easier life of routine without the complications of humbug and pay-back.
    Indeed the police have in the past been complicit in the process of pay-back. We are all aware of cases (not recently to my knowledge), of police standing by and “supervising” pay-back events to ensure that they don’t get out of hand. Whatever that means.
    It is when the violence spills across the colour barrier or affects tourists that all the unwritten rules seem to change.
    Society cannot be controlled by a police or even a paramilitary force when the basic social principles of that society have broken down.
    The NT is swamped and way over-represented with police officers on a national scale. But observe what most of them are doing most of the time!
    The courts too keep putting reoffenders back on the streets until their unsocial behaviours can no further be tolerated. By then much damage has been done to property and person.
    Up to this point the police have acted as a group with little more than detain and move-on powers. Often a mere taxi service to get drunks back to the town camps.
    It’s quite a pitiful state of affairs especially when we realise the level of funding that in the past has been provided to Night Patrol and a legion of youth “services” who, whenever I’ve called them for assistance, are missing in action.
    Our problem is that we have learned to tolerate the intolerable. We accept the public screaming and shouting, the spitting, public urination and defecation and public brawling.
    If we interfere both parties are likely to turn on us. So we all (police included) learn to ignore many issues that would not be accepted in civilised societies.
    Maybe we deserve these behaviours when we mostly retreat behind our fences and expect the police to control, if not change, society.

  15. Sharp, ignorant, arrogant and condescending as usual … most of you 90 day leftward, bigoted wonders on here ought take a good look at all comments posted on Alice Springs Community Open Forum over the past two years and ask yourselves why you have done jack shit about the disgusting situation in OUR Alice.
    Anti-social behaviour since the mid ’80s has destroyed the tourist industry and you all only survive on your Federal handouts from Canberra.
    Todd Street / Mall is now on the world wide scene as a blight on our beautiful Red Centre and you are to blame for this “paramilitary” bullshit. You all disgust us who gave up in despair … and reluctantly departed.

  16. If the anti social behaviour is not getting out of hand why then is the NT Government going to spend $1.69m on high powered weapons and stab proof vests?
    I also notice that child abuse in the NT has risen 95% in the last 12 months.
    All hell is going to break loose when people need to work for the dole, both indigenous and white people.

  17. Re: Mark Posted May 9, 2015 at 4:46 pm
    Visit the Northern Territory, see apartheid in action.
    Expect chaos to continue flowing around and into Alice Springs.
    The required change is for Commonwealth to abandon racist, apartheid, policy and legislation.
    Until then expect few changes.

  18. If the Northern Territory government were to ban takeaway alcohol on Sundays, this would send a powerful message.

  19. Well, at least he’s speaking his truth. Pity the poor bugger, mentally ill and being new to the town, just doesn’t understand the culture or the people … the mob who drink and take drugs, those who starve and are homeless, those who don’t understand English because they speak the original language for that country plus five others … and who find it hard to live someone else’s lifestyle.
    To learn to straddle both cultures is very hard. How can you believe busting kneecaps and legs would stop all the above?
    Wonderful people have been fighting for the cause in the Alice for sometime. I’m sure they wouldn’t agree with breaking legs, bashing kneecaps. Aboriginal Land Always Was Always Will Be.


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