Lulu saw it first and when she showed interest I saw that it was a big bloody knife and pulled her away. It had probably been tossed from a passing car. It was a heavy duty butcher’s knife, with dried blood on the blade. Butchers look after their tools, so this one had probably been deliberately discarded. The blood suggested violence, so it should be reported to the police.
I dialled the emergency number, asked for police and said it was not an emergency and was transferred to another number, which rang for a while.
As it rang, I saw a black car with tinted windows approaching along the near side of the road perhaps looking for something on the side of the road. The police answered and I briefly explained. They said not to touch it and
to stay at the scene; someone would collect it immediately. The black car passed slowly and the passengers must have seen something as it turned and came back up the other side of the road, then turned again, stopping opposite me.
A large tattooed man got out. He was wearing a cap sideways on his head, a black vest and dark glasses; he looked agitated.
He asked what I was doing and I told him I was telling the police about the big knife on the ground. He said he would take it to the police and I said they were coming to fetch it. He was called from the car and had a quick conversation, then turned to me and jabbed forked fingers in my direction and then gestured at his face. I just looked at him. He then leapt into the car which sped away with wheels spinning and engine snarling. The rear number plate was obscured by mud; all I read was a P and a 3.
His gesture was clearly a threat to me to keep his identity a secret. It made me nervous, but also angry. I might be nearly seventy but I am not going to shrink from my civic duty.
The police were very interested in the identity of the people and the car. There had been a stabbing at the local hotel and it looked like the victim was going to die. They took me home to drop Lulu and then to the station where a detailed statement was taken. I was then showed pictures of people and tattoos, none of whom I recognised, but identified the car type from pictures. I would be called in to view film from security cameras later.
Sure enough a few days later I went in and viewed footage from the hotel cameras and was able to identify what looked like the car, which had a registration of PBY 243. The victim of the stabbing had died – the case was now a murder investigation.
A month later, I received a call to say there had been an arrest and asked to attend an identification parade at the Capalaba Police Station. There was a viewing room with a one way mirror. A number of men were paraded in batches of five, wearing vests in order to display tattoos, which all except two men had. I identified the big man who had spoken to me by his size, a distinctive rose tattoo on his shoulder and a black and white ear stud.
I was told that he was believed to have been involved in the stabbing and that he would also be charged for his attempted intimidation of me. He was known as Lani Diamond and was a known member of the Black Blokes criminal gang.
Months later a policeman knocked on the door and served a Court Subpoena on me to attend a murder trial at the Brisbane High Court. Lani Diamond had been jointly charged with two other men.
On the appointed day I reported to the Court and was directed to a waiting room. On my way there I saw the big man Lani Diamond coming in the main court entrance; he was quite smartly dressed. He was with four other men and when he saw me, he looked around. He then made the same two finger jabbing gesture at me and his own face. I stood my ground with my hands on my hips and stared back at him.
They moved off towards the Courtrooms and I, now a bit shaky, found my way to the waiting room. A barrister in a gown and bands approached me a few minutes later and reported that that my evidence may not be required as the murder charges against Lani had been dropped. The intimidation charge would be referred to a District Court. My report of the second attempt at intimidation pleased him as he said that there were cameras which would have recorded this and that the man would be re-arrested after the charges were withdrawn. He bustled off to arrange this.
An hour later a detective identified himself to me and we went off to an office where we viewed video footage of the court intimidation incident. He told me Lani had been re-arrested as he left the Court after his murder charge had been withdrawn. I gave a statement and was eventually released having been warned to be on my guard as the man would probably be bailed.
I can’t say that I was not somewhat apprehensive: gang revenge attacks were the stuff of movies and novels, but life must go on and we can’t submit to bullies.
The other two men charged with murder were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.
Nothing further happened about my case for months.
One Tuesday afternoon I received a call from a Police Superintendent who asked me to come the next day to the Police Headquarters in Brisbane in relation to Lani Diamond.
I was directed to a meeting room at the police offices. No-one else was there, but tea and biscuits were laid out.
The door opened behind me and I glanced over my shoulder, as someone said Aha!
It was Lani Diamond….
Such a strange surge of feeling, suddenly finding oneself trapped alone, face to face with a snake in the citadel of law and order!!
He stared at me and then grinned, which set my heart racing – this was it, I needed to face him down – he was a very big, mean looking man with that wolfish grin …
We stared at each other, each awaiting the other’s move. Just then a uniformed policeman entered and seeing what was happening grinned and said: Easy boys! There’s no problem, we’re all friends here…
Lani smiling came over and said Gidday and shook my hand.
I decided to sit down as my knees had got a bit shaky.
The superintendent explained: Lani was an undercover policeman who had penetrated the Black Blokes gang but had needed to prove himself as a gang member, so had threatened me and been arrested and charged. I had to be genuine witness so was not advised about him.
Based on his evidence, the gang was broken up with multiple charges being laid and drugs, guns and money recovered. It was a one of the biggest Police busts for years, still hush-hush, but they wanted to thank me for my little part which had secured the job.
Lani just did his duty, so I suppose, did I.
I feel good about it … now my heart has stopped thumping.