Well written. Easy to read. Could be in any place during drought heat and perceived threat. Showed the personalities well and how family upheaval and a troubled personality could collide tragically. Shows family loyalties.
On a fine evening in October 2014, in the small community of Wedderburn in Victoria, Ian Jamieson (aged 65) climbed through the wire fence separating his property from that of his neighbour Greg Holmes. Within 30 minutes, Holmes was dead. He had been stabbed more than 25 times. After returning home and collecting two shotguns from his gun safe, Jamieson walked across the road and shot Holmes’s mother, Mary Lockhart and her husband Peter, multiple times. He then called the police.
Why did Ian Jamieson murder three people? What caused him to murder three of his neighbours in this small community?
In this book, Ms Cuskelly attempts to find some meaning behind Ian Jamieson’s actions, some reason for these brutal murders. Jamieson originally pleaded guilty to the murders of Mary and Peter Lockhart and not guilty to the murder of Greg Holmes. He then switched to a third guilty plea, and then tried to return to a not guilty plea. These changes (and attempted changes) resulted in a technical legal argument which overshadowed the crimes and the victims. Ultimately there was no trial, and Jamieson was sentenced to life in prison in 2016.
‘It is a fearsome thing, the pronouncement of a sentence; an attempt to render justice for a crime for which there can be no real reparation.’
Jamieson appealed against the sentence in 2017: his appeal was disallowed.
I read this book and found no answers. Yes, it seems that there was tension between Jamieson and his neighbours over several different issues. But the issues seem comparatively small to this outsider. I guess we’ll never really know what caused Ian Jamieson to snap and to murder his neighbours. Ms Cuskelly does raise a possible explanation, of a friendship between Peter Lockhart and Ian Jamieson which turned sour, but I’m left wondering, dissatisfied, unsettled.
At the end of the book, Ms Cuskelly writes:
‘On my drive back to Melbourne, I feel I have caught a glimpse of what lies beyond this tale of murder, grief, cruelty, obstinacy and hard-headedness.’
We have the events, some (limited) sense of the impact of these murders on the community, and Jamieson’s self-pity.