LIFE AF­TER BETH

Kip­pin fam­ily tell of grief one year af­ter bru­tal death

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS McMA­HON

A YEAR on from the bru­tal killing of El­iz­a­beth “Beth” Kip­pin in Wul­guru, her fam­ily is still com­ing to terms with their loss.

The death of the great- grand­mother ( right) last July has left a big hole in the Kip­pin fam­ily, par­tially filled only by their fight for jus­tice and re­form of the state’s pa­role and pro­ba­tion sys­tem. Nephew David Kip­pin yes­ter­day told of the fam­ily’s con­tin­ued grief and drive to en­sure noth­ing like this ever hap­pens again.

“It still takes its toll, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the ini­tial shock of when it hap­pened,” he said. “No mat­ter where you go, as soon as they hear the name ‘ Kip­pin’, they say ‘ we re­mem­ber Beth and we’re sorry’.”

THE bru­tal killing of El­iz­a­beth “Beth” Kip­pin shook the en­tire com­mu­nity and a year on from the shock­ing crime, her fam­ily is still com­ing to terms with their loss.

On July 26 last year, the quiet of Wright St in Wul­guru was oblit­er­ated as an al­legedly naked and drug­fu­elled An­thony O’Keefe, 33, went on a ram­page, killing Mrs Kip­pin, 81, and se­ri­ously in­jur­ing sev­eral oth­ers just seven hours af­ter be­ing re­leased from the Townsville Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre.

The loss of the great­grand­mother has left a mas­sive hole in the Kip­pin fam­ily, par­tially filled only by their fight for jus­tice and change in the state’s pa­role and pro­ba­tion sys­tem.

Nephew and fam­ily spokesman David Kip­pin yes­ter­day told the Bul­letin of their con­tin­ued grief and drive to make sure noth­ing like his aunty’s death ever hap­pens again.

“It still takes its toll, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the ini­tial shock of when it hap­pened,” Mr Kip­pin said.

“It hasn’t left our thoughts, it’s strange that we give lit­tle thought to the ac­tual event it­self, it’s more about what hap­pened with Beth, not nec­es­sar­ily who was in­volved at this point.

“It’s al­ways in our thoughts, no mat­ter where you go, as soon as they hear the name ‘ Kip­pin’, they say ‘ we re­mem­ber Beth and we’re sorry’.

“That’s been great, that’s still been hap­pen­ing to­day, 12 months on.”

Mr Kip­pin said the fam­ily spent no time dwelling on Mrs Kip­pin’s al­leged killer, barely think­ing about him as they await a trial date to be set. O’Keefe’s case is due to be mentioned in court this week.

“I don’t give him much thought at all. I don’t know why. There’s cer­tainly not a

IT STILL TAKES ITS TOLL, I DON’T THINK I’LL EVER GET USED TO THE INI­TIAL SHOCK OF WHEN IT HAP­PENED

feel­ing of hate or any of those sorts of emo­tions at all,” Mr Kip­pin said. “It’s a name at this point in time, that’s all I as­so­ciate it with.

“I’ve never laid eyes on him. That will hap­pen at some stage and that will be an in­ter­est­ing con­fronta­tion when it hap­pens, but at this point in time, we have to al­low the due process.”

Mrs Kip­pin’s death prompted a state gov­ern­ment re­view of pa­role and pro­ba­tion, lead­ing to the big­gest changes to the sys­tem in more than a cen­tury.

“I think we all know that this is not just an­other death of an el­derly lady, it’s be­come a piv­otal lever for the com­mu­nity to say, ‘ enough is enough’,” Mr Kip­pin said.

“We think we have a job that has been thrust upon us, it’s not some­thing we’ve cho­sen to do, but we have an obli­ga­tion, I guess, to en­sure what­ever we can do on be­half of the broader com­mu­nity to make this a safer place, then we’ve got to do it.

“We are happy with the rec­om­men­da­tions ( in the pa­role and pro­ba­tion re­view), but more im­por­tantly we were stoked with the level of col­lab­o­ra­tion and con­sul­ta­tion we were given as a fam­ily, with how that was pro­duced.

“We can’t let this op­por­tu­nity pass to make sure some­thing hap­pens and some­thing has al­ready hap­pened, with the re­view.

“We give the gov­ern­ment full marks, but … a re­view is one thing, ex­e­cu­tion is the sec­ond.”

The fam­ily has been ac­tively cam­paign­ing for changes to the ju­di­ciary, with Mr Kip­pin say­ing the prob­lem is broader than the just the pa­role sys­tem.

“I think the con­cern now ex­tends past the pa­role sys­tem, it’s about the ju­di­cial sys­tem al­to­gether, it’s about the sen­tenc­ing re­quire­ments and there have been some ques­tions raised over the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of some of the sen­tences given re­cently,” he said.

“This prob­lem is much broader. It is very com­plex and there is no sim­ple an­swer, but one thing I do know is that peo­ple are feel­ing less safe to­day.

“And it is the pri­mary role of the gov­ern­ment to make sure the cit­i­zens feel and are safe and I think there needs to be a re­fo­cus on the whole ju­di­cial and crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to make this a safer place.

“The laws should be re­flect­ing what the com­mu­nity wants and needs and I think they’re fall­ing short.”

SHOCK­ING: Po­lice on Wright St af­ter the shock­ing in­ci­dent last year; ( right) El­iz­a­beth “Beth” Kip­pin and ( be­low) nephew David Kip­pin.

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