Investigations Editor Bryan Littlely AdelaideNow
AS the state prepares to hear how the grisly triple murder of the Rowe family has affected the lives of those closest to the Kapunda family, the town’s mayor says the quiet country hamlet has not let itself become a victim of the horrendous crime.
Light Regional Council mayor Bill O’Brien says “like all country communities, Kapunda knows how to look after itself”.
But he admits the relief the town felt when alleged murderer Jason Downie muttered the words “guilty, guilty, guilty” in November for murdering Andrew, Rose and Chantelle Rowe will be short-lived if, on Monday, he changes his plea.
Downie, bottom right, is listed to appear in the Supreme Court to confirm his plea on the Harriet St murders on November 8, 2010, at the request of Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Pallaras, QC. Last month, Mr Pallaras asked the Supreme Court to re-arraign Downie because correspondence with loved ones had raised fears the guilty pleas may be “reversed”.
A full day of court time is also set aside on Monday to hear 26 victim impact statements in relation to the case.
Those statements will only be read if Downie’s guilty plea stands. A reverse of that plea will send the case to trial.
Mr O’Brien said a trial would truly test the grit of the town’s 3000 people, who had stayed strong in the first agonising days after the murders when the hunt for the murderer gripped the northern farming community.
“From the sadness and grief and the feeling of insecurity in the town at that time (of
the murders) to now … the community has come a long way,” Mr O’Brien said. “I commend the people of my town for the way they have come to terms with this.
“There’s still some hurting in areas of the town … there will be people still hurt- ing badly.”
“A trial has the potential to attract negativity on the town and the image it projects.
“Instead of being known as Australia’s oldest mining town or the home of Sir Sidney Kidman, there is the potential for the trial to make the town become known as the town that murder was in.
“This is an incident that could have happened anywhere … there’s no link to the town of Kapunda to that crime except that the people lived here.”
Mr O’Brien said the work of SA Police in the initial stages of the investigation had given the town early momentum to avoid being tainted in a similar way to Truro and Snowtown, when they were central scenes of two of the state’s worst murder sprees.
Light Regional Council and other town services worked to provide counselling in the town. The council also brought forward planned works to revitalise Harriet St where the murders took place.
“The planned council works in Harriet St were given a higher priority … I do not know one person in the community who did not support that,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The town continues to support Chris (Rowe – son and brother of the murdered family). The Rowes were friends of ours – friends of this community and we always are there for them.”