Drugged AFL fans in­cit­ing vi­o­lence

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - TOM MINEAR PETER ROLFE

cheap Auto out­let on Port Rd and was ad­ver­tised as “uniquely placed on a quiet road over­look­ing Bonython Park of­fer­ing panoramic views over the park­lands and city scape”.

Ms Ger­ard said although Clip­sal was sold for $750 mil­lion, Sin­ga­pore share­hold­ers re­ceived more than half the pro­ceeds and the fam­ily did not re­ceive as much as peo­ple as­sumed.

“There were a lot of debts and they had to be paid first,” she said.

With per­sonal fam­ily tragedy and busi­ness prob­lems com­pound­ing over the past few years, Ms Ger­ard said her fam­ily had tried to help her through the dif­fi­cult times.

“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

Known for her work with horses, Ms Ger­ard owned a coun­try home on 8ha of un­du­lat­ing, tree-lined pad­docks at Chapel Hill, near Echunga.

Ear­lier this year, a mort­gagee sale of that prop­erty reached $950,000, about $350,000 less than Ms Ger­ard paid for it in 2016.

Be­fore mov­ing to the Ade­laide Hills, Ms Ger­ard ran a farm­ing op­er­a­tion near Vic­tor Harbor, where she also took in dis­tressed horses.

She later co-founded horse sanc­tu­ar­ies – Win­damere and then the Lin­coln Park Horse and Hu­man Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre.

She bought a prop­erty in Monarto and ren­o­vated the home­stead on the land.

“I spent quite a bit of money set­ting it up,” she said.

She is a life mem­ber of the reg­is­tered char­ity but has now had to sell the Monarto prop­erty. She also has been gen­er­ous to friends.

“I’ve lent a lot of money out over the years to peo­ple who have needed it and a lot of it I’ve never got back,” she said. “But that’s OK, I was for­tu­nate enough to be able to do that.

“Now, of course, it’s gone the other way.”

The Sun­day Mail spoke to Ms Ger­ard’s trustee in bankruptcy and sev­eral cred­i­tors. All de­clined to make pub­lic com­ment on the mat­ter.

The great-grand­daugh­ter of set­tlers who ar­rived in SA in the 1860s, Ms Ger­ard said she re­alised there would be in­ter­est in her sit­u­a­tion be­cause of her fam­ily’s promi­nence. “Some­times I wish my name was just Smith,” she said. DRUGGED-up footy fans are caus­ing crowd-be­hav­iour prob­lems at AFL matches.

The MCG has iden­ti­fied fan drug use as a grow­ing is­sue and is call­ing for ac­tion to de­tect sup­port­ers on il­licit drugs at games.

On the eve of a block­buster finals se­ries, MCG Trust chair­man Steve Bracks said drug use was of­ten be­hind un­ac­cept­able be­hav­iour, telling the Sun­day Mail: “It’s an is­sue that we will have to deal with.”

The drug prob­lem has been high­lighted in the MCG Trust’s lat­est an­nual re­port, where Mr Bracks called out the use of drugs and said fans were also find­ing ways around “sen­si­ble poli­cies” on al­co­hol, fuelling “un­ac­cept­able acts of vi­o­lence”.

“The im­pact on pa­trons in the vicin­ity can be sig­nif­i­cant – at best un­pleas­ant, some­times fright­en­ing and, oc­ca­sion­ally, dan­ger­ous,’’ the for­mer Vic­to­rian premier said in the re­port. “Of­ten, poor be­hav­iours are in­flu­enced by the use of il­licit drugs which are very hard to de­tect in our cur­rent screen­ing pro­ce­dures.”

Vic­to­rian po­lice are con­sid­er­ing send­ing snif­fer dogs to matches if in­tel­li­gence shows the drug prob­lem is con­tin­u­ing to es­ca­late.

Fans caught with drugs are among more than 100 sup­port­ers evicted from AFL games this sea­son, which has been marred by a se­ries of vi­o­lent in­ci­dents. “The in­creas­ing use of il­licit drugs at ma­jor events and sport­ing matches is re­flec­tive of the broader com­mu­nity’s be­hav­iours, and at­ti­tude to­wards il­licit drugs,” Po­lice Com­man­der Tim Hansen said.

He said while most fans be­haved “safely and re­spon­si­bly”, there were “a few in­di­vid­u­als who choose to do the wrong thing”.

In the MCG Trust’s re­port, Mr Bracks said he was con­cerned about sev­eral re­cent vi­o­lent in­ci­dents.

“Our sys­tems for iden­ti­fy­ing, re­port­ing and deal­ing with these in­ci­dents are ro­bust but, the fact re­mains, our pa­trons can be ex­posed to some un­ac­cept­able be­hav­iour for a cou­ple of min­utes be­fore se­cu­rity and/or po­lice can get to the of­fend­ers,” he wrote.

Mr Bracks told the Sun­day Mail the sta­dium was work­ing with po­lice on the drug is­sue, in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion and en­force­ment strate­gies.

“It’s just ac­knowl­edg­ing and recog­nis­ing that it’s an is­sue that we will have to deal with,” he said.

AFL Fans As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Gerry Ee­man said while al­co­hol was “still the big­ger prob­lem”, drugs were an is­sue and snif­fer dogs could be used in a re­stricted man­ner.

“If they’re do­ing it only when they sus­pect some­one is on drugs and be­hav­ing in a way that is go­ing to af­fect the fans around him, then that seems sen­si­ble,’’ he said.

DOWN­FALL: He­len Ger­ard says she some­times wishes her name was “just Smith”.

EMPTY: How the site for the apart­ment block looks now.

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