Woman’s Day (Australia)
‘He will kill again’ One woman’s quest for safety
One survivor of an evil paedophile killer is doing all she can to make sure he stays behind bars
When nine-yearold Samantha Knight was snatched from the street near her Bondi home on August 19, 1986, it was the kind of story that made every parent hug their children a little tighter.
TV appeals to find her were futile – the angelic
blonde seemingly just vanished from the street. The nation was shocked when serial paedophile Michael Guider admitted he killed little Samantha. To this day the evil murderer has not revealed where the little girl’s body is.
Guider’s sentence will expire in June this year and Adelaide mum-of-two Chantelle Hamilton is fighting against his release with everything she’s got.
“I want him kept behind bars so he can never kill again, because mark my words, he will,” she says.
It’s an atrocious crime close to 30-year-old Chantelle’s heart – as a little girl she was one of Guider’s victims. And it was her evidence that ultimately led to his arrest and conviction for the abduction and manslaughter of Samantha Knight.
“I was six years old and having a sleepover at a friend’s home in Manly when I met Michael Guider,” Chantelle recalls. “My friend’s mum had to go out. She knew Guider and he babysat us while she nipped out.”
When left alone with the girls, Guider, now 69, drugged them and took naked photos of them. “He made us pose and touch each other,” says Chantelle. “If we weren’t in the right position, he moved us.”
Chantelle remembers being taken to a beach and a forest to be photographed. When she got home she told her mother, who called the police.
In September 1996, Guider was jailed for 16 years, with a minimum of 10, for 60 sex offences against Chantelle, her friend and nine other children.
TRAUMA LIVES ON
Shockingly, he had stashed 5000 images of children and among them were photos of Samantha. Police charged him with her murder, but the monster would only admit to manslaughter, claiming she died when he accidentally overdosed her with Normison, a powerful sedative.
“It was probably the same drug he used on us,” Chantelle tells Woman’s Day.
In 2002, Guider was jailed for 17 years with a non-parole period of 12 for Samantha’s manslaughter. For Chantelle, though, the trauma of what she’d been through remained and she struggled to put the experience behind her.
“I went off the rails when
I was a teenager and suffered from depression,” she says.
Then in her 20s she met Anthony, a baker. “At the time I couldn’t tell Anthony about what happened,” says Chantelle.
In 2014, she got a letter from the Victims Register telling her Guider was eligible for parole. “I had a panic attack,” says Chantelle. “Anthony found me sobbing and it was only then I told him everything.”
He was a pillar of strength, supporting her when she wrote to the parole authority saying Guider would kill again if he was released. Thankfully, he remained behind bars.
Cunningly, Guider had never applied for parole. “If he was paroled he’d be subject to strict conditions,” Chantelle explains. “But if he did his full sentence, he’d be freed with no conditions. He could slither out of jail and be babysitting that night.”
ON A MISSION
In December 2018, Chantelle got a letter from the Victims Register saying Guider’s sentence expires on June 6, 2019. “I was devastated and angry,” she says. “He hadn’t even revealed where Samantha’s body was. How could he be released?”
This spurred Chantelle on to launch a campaign to keep Guider behind bars. She wrote to politicians, and in February the NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman began court action to keep Guider behind bars for another year on a continuing detention order. He also applied for a five-year order to place the predator under strict supervision.
Last month, Chantelle launched a petition calling for Knights Law. “If a child killer hasn’t revealed where the body is I want a law that means they must be jailed at least until they do,” she says.
Within two hours, Chantelle had 14,000 signatures. Two days later that number had increased to more than 40,000. She’s also organised two protest marches, calling for the new law and for Guider’s release to be halted. “As a mother, I have absolutely no faith at all in the authorities to protect my children,” she says. “What we’re doing right now to protect kids isn’t working.”
The first march is at Jetty Road in Glenelg, Adelaide, on April 28. The next is on May 25 at The Esplanade in Bondi. The petition now has 100,000-plus signatures.
Chantelle is still waiting to hear if the NSW Government will win its court battle to keep Guider locked up. If that fails, she says she’ll be waiting at the prison gates when he’s released.
“I’ve heard he’s cut his hair and shaved his beard so he won’t be recognised,” she says. “But I’ll never forget his face. I want to look him in the eye and let him know I’m not that scared little girl now. I’m a mother and I’m fighting for the safety of children. He haunted me and now I’m going to haunt him.”
‘He could slither out of jail and be babysitting that night’