Crime: Spin and reality


p2327-Meagan-Merritt-1By ERWIN CHLANDA
It’s unlikely that a Hollywood blockbuster will be made about this street crime in Alice, but given the emphasis in an overheated election campaign on “tough on crime” policing and offending, it’s worth asking questions about it – again.
At 9.45pm on March 16 a young woman sat outside Rocky’s Pizza in Todd Street waiting for her pizza. Her handbag was on a table beside her. Two young men snatched the bag and scampered.
It’s the kind of crime in the middle of the town that keeps tourists away in droves.
A man who knows the youths had observed the theft, and told police who had been called the names of the two young men, and that they were from Hermannsburg. The police officers remarked that the youths had been on the cops’ radar.
Three uniformed officers, including a sergeant, and two plain clothes detectives were present that night.
The crime is still uncleared.
Today, five months and 10 days after the offence the perpetrators have not been dealt with.
Hermannsburg has a population of 600. It also has a police station.
This morning the victim said she is disheartened.
Police media told us today: “There has been no development with the handbag snatching incident, so it is just still under investigation.”
That was no more than the News had been told several times, when we enquired.
No explanation was given about the delay with what seems an open and shut case.
A case of justice delayed is justice denied?


  1. This is nothing. On March 20, 1998, I was suddenly ordered to leave a place where I had been invited to live eight months earlier although I had done nothing wrong. I refused to go and demanded that the police be brought out to deal with this eviction.
    Instead a group of thugs were contacted and came out to this place to deal with me. I saw their vehicle coming and easily avoided them as they searched for me in the surrounding area; however, it was a 40 degree day and I had very little water with me. For most of the day I made do with sheltering quietly in the shade of trees and bushes.
    By late that evening I was exhausted and made my presence known. The response by one person was to thrash me across my back with a broom handle in a vain attempt to persuade me to leave. This went on for some 10-15 minutes until the perpetrator gave up exhausted.
    The thugs from town returned and applied their special techniques to “persuade” me to leave of my own volition. I refused to do so, still demanding that the police be brought out, despite being punched in the jaw and jabbed with a wooden garden stake in my chest with sufficient force to perforate the shirt I was wearing. The only reason I didn’t suffer worse injury was due to my grabbing hold of the wooden stake to prevent it going further.
    Aside from that I offered no resistance as I knew to do so would provide an excuse for worse physical abuse justified by allegations of violence levelled against me – it would be my word alone against everyone else present.
    Eventually they gave up and contacted the police who came out and took me into town. I made a formal complaint to the police of the assault I had suffered for several hours, this included photos taken of my back which was criss-crossed with bruising from the thrashing I received from a broom handle. I still have my copy of the complaint recorded by the NT Police.
    I also went to the Alice Springs Hospital for a medical assessment and to record on my file the injuries I had endured.
    From that day on I’ve not had one word of response from the NT Police. This has come as no surprise, especially in light of what I’ve subsequently learned about this place from where I had been evicted.
    I also point out that on February 13 that year, while I was caretaking this place on my own, a local police superintendent and his family unexpectedly arrived on a “social visit”, supposedly to go swimming at a nearby dam which had filled with water from an isolated deluge a week earlier.
    The only reason the police knew about this dam and that I was living at this place was due to a fellow (a former high school classmate, I later learned) who had been swept down a nearby creek that had flash-flooded during the deluge, for whom there was a search conducted by the police the following day. (As it turned out, my old classmate had managed to get out and go home but had failed to notify anyone).
    There is much more to this event, and especially this place, than meets the eye; but if anyone’s seeking to get “justice” from the police, I suggest it’s far more likely to occur in another state or territory.


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