Forster, January 1998 on a Saturday morning.
At around 2.45am two of our ambos, Phil McCarren and Steve Martyn walked into the station with a bloke who had copped an awful flogging. They had been called out to him, but his injuries were not severe enough to warrant a trip to the District Hospital.
The bloke, whom I’ll call Dave, was a bit pissed with a blackened, bleeding and swollen shut right eye. His lips were also swollen and his mouth bled freely. Dave had a sore stomach and chest, the receiving end of a kicking.
Dave told of a woman he met earlier that evening at the local nightspot, the ‘Ant Ranch’. They took a taxi to her place and not long after being dropped off, five aboriginal men set upon him. He was bashed and robbed of his wallet containing around $200. He thought that the woman might have set him up for his attackers.
When asked where he’d been robbed, he nominated the Post Office. Seeing that the ambos found him an hour beforehand on the ‘flight path’ in the backyard of 26 Helen Street, Forster, we decided to look there.
The ambos went off to do what ambos do while Rick and I took as much detail as we could from Dave – which was bugger all due to his inebriated state – not even the girl’s name was known. He was staying with an uncle so we decided to drop him off there and chase him up later when he was sober.
On the way to his uncle’s place we stopped across the street from 26 Helen Street. Dave pointed to number 24, saying that he might have been attacked outside that place.
As soon as we were rid of Dave, we went straight back for a ‘captain cook’ at 24 Helen Street. The house had a large tree out the front with foliage reaching down to the ground obscuring everything beneath and behind it. I was keen to check the scene of the robbery for anything left behind. As Rick and I crossed the street blokes appeared from beneath the tree running in all directions.
It was reasonably well lit in front of the two-storey building. One bloke ran down the left side and another took to the right. Rick took off after the lefty while I got on the tail of the righty. It was hard to believe that robbers would hang around for between one and two hours after a robbery.
However, in this game if the rabbit runs – guilty of something – it’s a natural reaction for cops to chase rabbits.
Once I was down the right side of the building I realised that my rabbit was big – built like a refrigerator – large box shaped dressed all in white. He ran into and through a metal fence at the rear, demolishing it.
In any event, he was well away and considering his size, lucky me. Rick was at the back of No 26, his bloke was also long gone.
We had no idea who they were or why they were running, surely not the same blokes that took to Dave. But, this was the flight path and anything and everything happened here. As I approached the front of the building, I stopped in my tracks.
A slim attractive completely naked woman was slowly walking up an external flight of stairs from the front of the building to the upstairs apartment. The entire stairway was well lit by a light atop the stairs, the same light that had made it possible for us to see the fleeing men. I yelled for Rick and quickly followed the woman up the stairs and into the top floor flat.
As I entered through the open front door I found the naked woman crying as she walked in circles around the apartment’s living room. She had fresh injuries to her mouth and left eye. As I took stock two young teenagers appeared from another room. They looked as shocked as the woman. It quickly became apparent that she lived in the flat and the two boys were her sons.
Rick went straight to their phone and called for the ambulance while I asked the boys for a sheet or a large towel. The older lad went to a linen closet and returned with a large towel, which I wrapped completely around the woman whom I’ll call Sally. The towel had two purposes – to protect her modesty and to collect anything that came from her body such as hair, blood or semen.
“We are from the police, I realise something has happened to you,” I said in an attempt to be tactful.
“Isn’t it obvious, I have been raped?” she replied.