The hell of living with hoons
An ugly Auckland echo of those problems around Wellington with the Mongrel Mob – a suburban mother’s cry from the heart:
“Thank you, Mr Booth, for recognising that quiet and decent people have a right – God given or not – to enjoy the decency of the neighbourhoods we bought into.
“I am increasingly aggrieved and peeved by the various columns and comments that appear to try and appease our local ‘hoons’ – because there is no better word for them.
“Loud music, broken bottles on the street, my autistic four-year-old drinking beer that was thrown into our garden, ‘wheelies’ or ‘burning rubber’ or whatever the term is on a regular basis.
“Seriously bad language – to the extent I had to take my five-year-old out of her room, and move her into our office, a tiny room that three of us now share because it is further away from the neighbours’ dramas.
“I lived in Ponsonby and Grey Lynn for many years as a student, and post-grad, as a single ‘party-minded’ 20-something.
“We moved out because we assumed we would be moving into a quiet, familyfriendly environment, most conducive to raising our family, providing optimum educational facilities, etc.
“However, luck of the draw – boy, did we luck out.
“Just one unfortunate neighbour situation has changed our new life from idyllic to absolute hell.”
So I am not the only critic of the Mr Asia-Underbelly TV show, although my criticism has prompted its executive producer Des Monaghan to defend it in Wellington’s Dominion Post where the column was published.
He describes himself as bemused that despite my having no intention of watching Underbelly: The Mr Asia Story I offered a “strongly worded critique”.
“If he did watch it, he would clearly see that the series paints a picture of Terry Clark, subsequently known as Alexander Sinclair, as a cold-blooded killer who sadistically came to enjoy killing.
“Screentime, the creators of the show, do not seek to glamorise criminals.
“One of the reasons we chose to emphasise violence was to reveal just how cruel and brutish the world of Clark and his associates was. Their world was terrifying, not glamorous.”
Mr Monaghan defends his writers and research as meticulous.
“We talked to police, reporters and a number of criminal identities who had direct knowledge of Clark and his activities. News reports from the time – including some filed by Booth – were tremendously valuable in our research.”
And he says the show does not claim Clark was Mr Asia.
Surely the advertising and title can only add then to the confusion.
Certainly while others have skimmed around it at least one writer in a national newspaper referred to Mr Asia “aka Clark”.
If she was confused, what about the viewers?
A justification of the show from its producer comes as no surprise.
But he does not respond to my major criticism that digging up a version 30 years later exposes mourning families to a replay of their original and continuing grief and distorts the truth.
The Monaghan defence does, however, includes a significant sentence: “Ultimately, what the show seeks to do is to accurately convey a sense of what happened.”
A sense of what happened.
But not for The Mercury in Hobart, where the Tasmanian newspaper’s website says the show doesn’t tell it like it was, and that that wouldn’t be so bad if they admitted dramatising and making bits up but it is promoted as a true story.
The Mercury accuses the makers of ignoring their own consultants, whose Underbelly book is accurate and doesn’t contain the blatant errors in the series.
“The whole Mackay/ Trimbole/Mr Asia affair is too important not to point out the Underbelly errors.
“Otherwise, generations of Australians too young to remember what really happened will have Underbelly’s distorted version implanted in their minds.” And not just Australians. Some of the non-facts The Mercury lists from just the first episode alone: • Trimbole didn’t meet Clark until the year after Mackay was murdered, yet Underbelly has them discussing the still-alive Mackay and even has Clark just about daring Trimbole to do something about him. • To suggest Trimbole had any role, let alone an important one, in the Great Bookie Robbery is laughable. • Trimbole never confronted Don Mackay at a political rally in Griffith. Mackay’s son Paul is not aware his father and Trimbole ever met or spoke. • Trimbole wasn’t with crooked cops in a Griffi restaurant the night Mackay was murdered, something Underbelly made much of.
He was in a motel in Sydney where he made a big thing of complaining about the wine. He also left a big tip so the waitress would recall him, aiding his alibi. • Clark didn’t come back covered in blood after killing Harry “Pommy” Lewis and then leap into bed with the perpetually naked girlfriend without taking his bloodstained clothes off.
Her evidence was that she didn’t see Clark until three days after the murder – and he certainly wasn’t wearing bloodstained clothes then. • The Victorian woman detective getting a tip that somebody was scouting around Melbourne for a hitman to do a job in Sydney never happened.
Victoria’s police only became aware five years later of the sequence of events in the Mackay murder.
And verdict on the fiction about his father’s murder: “I’m disappointed that the show went to air with a number of historical errors.
“The producers claim these errors, most of which they were aware of, help tell the essential truth.
“I can’t see how screening events that never occurred help to tell a truth.”
A “sense of what happened”?
Digging up old misery for innocent families and shot full of deliberate error.
I rest my case – with one last witness whose testimony I value.