The Monthly : 2018-12-01

FRONT PAGE : 44 : 44

FRONT PAGE

42 superannua­tion, making him eligible to re-join the public service on two conditions: he have “minimal contact with others” and work on “self-paced projects”. But there was a hurdle. The previous December he had been involved in a scuffle with a neighbour over the use of a car park at the flats where they both lived. The neighbour later told the court he had no intention of reporting the matter. It was Eastman, a frequent complainan­t at Canberra City Police Station, who did. (“Not again!” an officer allegedly said upon seeing him.) After a brief investigat­ion, police instead charged Eastman with assault. From then on, Thangaraj argues, the defendant became convinced he was the victim of a “corrupt” police force that had it in for him. (“I want to kill him,” Eastman wrote to a penfriend of the neighbour, “and get the bastard police as well.”) Citing Telecom records from early 1988 (another example of Eastman being his own worst enemy: he was embroiled in a payment dispute with the telco and requested his calls be monitored), Thangaraj asserts Eastman called 10 people advertisin­g guns for sale, buying his first that February under a false name (Thangaraj says Eastman immediatel­y returned it because it jammed, while keeping its telescopic sight, which the prosecutio­n says he would later attach to the murder weapon) and, three days later, his second (which was found that May by a passer-by, either dumped or cached in a culvert). With the committal hearing for the assault charge fast approachin­g, Eastman, accompanie­d by federal shadow attorney-general Neil Brown (“If I go alone I am sure I will be treated like dirt, as has happened on previous occasions”), met Winchester on December 16, 1988. This, says Thangaraj, was Eastman’s last shot at getting the police to drop the assault charge: to return to work for the government, the threat of a criminal record “needed to go away”. you the monthly — essay David Eastman leaving court, November 2018. © Lukas Coch / AAP Images

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