The hell of liv­ing with hoons

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - To con­tact Pat Booth email off­pat@snl.co.nz or write care of this news­pa­per. All replies are open for pub­li­ca­tion un­less marked Not For Pub­li­ca­tion.

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.

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