THE MINUTE MY HAPPY FAMILY DREAM ENDED
WHAT sort of man hurts a harmless four-month-old pup for no reason — then tries to kill its owner when she finds him burgling her house?
The answer in this case is a vicious criminal addicted to ice.
His self-destructive impulses ultimately led to his violent death after a good Samaritan stopped him from assaulting the woman whose house he was robbing.
The hero neighbour Russell Harrison’s story was told in detail last week by my colleague Mark Buttler, who asked him to reveal his long legal and personal ordeal over the death of the burglar, Adam Slomczewski.
Someone will be mourning the dead man. But the survivors of the confrontation he caused have been left battered and shattered, too.
There is the good neighbour, who has waited almost two years to be cleared by a coroner who effectively found that Slomczewski’s aggression and drug abuse contributed heavily to his death.
And there is also “Jess”, the young mother Russell Harrison saved. She can use make-up to hide the scars on her face but the ones in her mind are still vivid, her emotions still raw.
Jess moved to Cassia Grove in Frankston in early 2015, when she was 33, because she wanted her two children to grow up there. She calls it the sort of “old-school family street” where kids can play safely in the neighbourhood.
But Jess and her family can’t live there now, not since the day of the intruder.
Their old, happy life was shattered on that December afternoon, as randomly as lightning striking.
It happened when Jess came home from work after lunch that Friday to check on Esmay, their new border collie pup.
She parked her car in the garage and walked through the workshop at the rear to reach the backyard. She was annoyed to find the workshop door open, thinking her son had left it like that. Then she found his cricket bag jammed full, lying at the top of the steps leading to the back door.
“What’s my kid doing?” she wondered. “Did he come home from school?” Then she saw that the back door was open behind the screen door. The flywire screen obscured her view but when she looked to the floor she saw the pup looking at her.
But something was wrong. The pup looked distressed and there were feet each side of her fluffy body. Jess realised the feet were too big to be her son’s. It was a man, the one she still simply calls “the intruder”.
He launched himself through the door and snatched the cricket bag.
Jess instinctively grabbed it and, as the intruder pulled her along, she started to scream for help.
He yelled, “Shut the f--- up!” and hit her in the face. He was wearing mittens — or socks — over his hands. She collapsed and the man grabbed her head and slammed it into the rocks used to landscape the garden.