Saturday, May 13, 2006

Flirting With Crime

The Brisbane Courier-Mail goes soft this weekend on a convicted rapist-murderer because it's got an exclusive interview with the killer's celebrity brother:

RUGBY League great Mal Meninga has broken years of silence over his jailed younger brother, Bevan, to reveal he will sponsor the convicted murderer for parole.

In a candid interview with today's Qweekend magazine, Queensland's new State of Origin coach tells how he has regularly visited his brother in jail since his return to Brisbane 18 months ago.
But in recalling the case in it's on-line promotion, the newspaper goes easy on the detail of what was described as the time as vicious rape and stabbing:

Bevan Meninga was aged 19 when he was convicted in 1992 of the murder of Sunshine Coast teenager Cheree Richardson.
then seeks to deflect from the 19 year old's criminality by drawing attention to the political capital the Queensland Liberal Party attempted to gain from the matter:

The case became a political football when it emerged the crime had been committed while the young man was on parole following his early release from jail on assault and other offences, also involving a woman.
This is a reference to 1992 State election campaign ads:

Queensland Liberals, Bevan Meninga Advertisement, 1992:
Cherie Richardson was murdered. Under Labor's early release system Cherie's murderer had been freed after serving only 14 months of a four-year sentence. Labor has the blood of these victims on its hands. The Bevan Meningas of this world will serve their full term.
The campaign backfired and the ads were withdrawn after complaints by Cheree Richardson's parents.

But the political fuss is a sidenote and a handy distraction for the Courier-Mail.

The Cheree Richardson-Bevan Meninga case is surprisingly almost invisible on the Internet. Searches turn up very little outside a handful of comments on the political aftermath. I turned to a search of Newstext to try to recall the exact details of the case but Newstext searches only go back 10 years.

However, more recent news of Bevan Meninga's life behind bars turns up a 2000 description of him as:

Convicted killer and rapist Bevan Meninga... his life sentence for a horrific attack on a woman, 19.
No such descriptive terms now admired celebrity brother Mal has chosen to re-own the brother one recalls he once publicly disowned:

Without condoning what his brother had done, Mal Meninga says he stood by him for the sake of their mother, Leona.

"It was more standing by her, really. It was a shocking thing for her to go through," he tells Qweekend.

"The media attention it had, and then the publicity some of the politicians tried to get out of it was terrible."
Mal's brother has actually generated more than his share of attention while in prison. The above Newstext excerpt in full reads:

CONVICTED killer and rapist Bevan Meninga, pictured, wanted $200,000 compensation for stress after witnessing a violent prison murder while serving his life sentence for a horrific attack on a woman, 19.

Meninga, 25, the brother of rugby league coach Mal Meninga, watched five inmates at Sir David Longland Centre murder Bart Hans Vosmaer in a jail gym in March 1993. Vosmaer was beaten with iron bars and had 20kg weight plates dropped on his head.

Prisons Service barrister Kay Philipson told Brisbane District Court Meninga was claiming post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing a murder "when in fact he had committed the very same offence" less than two years before. Judge Gary Forno dismissed what he said was "a most unusual" case.
Meninga wanted $200,000 of Queensland taxpayers' money to soothe his upset. The inmate had made front page headlines before - at a time when hyberbolic descriptions were not avoided - for getting plenty of soothin':

Prison officer resigns over her love for vicious sex murder

COURIER-MAIL, 06-06-1997, ... Pg: 001, 585 words, NEWS

A FEMALE prison officer has resigned over a secret relationship with murderer and rapist Bevan Meninga. Moreton Prison guard Tracey Billinghurst plans to marry Meninga, the younger brother of former Australian rugby league captain Mal Meninga.
Bevan Meninga is not a candidate for parole under any circumstances. He is a violent sex criminal and killer whose previous use of parole was as a further opportunity to seek victims.

Yet here is the Courier-Mail going easy for the sake of a celebrity flirt piece.

However, on the newspaper's online Queensland News page today, they breathlessly report on another violent sex criminal's sentence cut from eight years to six years:

Click to view full size screen grab
Sexual predator wins reprieve

Mark Oberhardt, May 13, 2006

A SERIAL sexual offender yesterday had his sentence for assault with intent to rape reduced on appeal, despite a history of offences against women dating back 18 years.

with a fabulous piece of what must surely be unintentionally ironic juxtapositioning.


-- Nick

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