THE MINUTE MY HAPPY FAM­ILY DREAM ENDED

Sunday Herald Sun - - NEWS -

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.

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