Childers backpackers fire survivors and victims’s families send letters to the parole board, begging them to keep the convicted killer locked up.
Childers backpackers fire survivors and victims’s families send letters to the parole board, begging them to keep the convicted killer locked up.

Please don't let murderer out: Survivors' parole plea

QUEENSLAND'S parole board president Michael Byrne QC has received dozens of letters from survivors and victims' families of the Childers backpacker hostel which have pleaded for authorities to never let mass killer Robert Paul Long out of jail.

An emotional Bill Trevor, the former Isis mayor, handed Mr Byrne more than 30 letters in Brisbane this morning.

Hostel survivor Richard Tempest also spoke with Mr Byrne about handing a petition to the board which so far has more than 17,000 signatures.

Fifteen backpackers died when Long set the Palace hostel on fire in June 2000.

Long, now 57, was jailed for 20 years but he could be released in weeks.

"Richard and I came here this morning for all of those young people that couldn't," Mr Trevor said.

"We fully understand that the parole board has criteria to work with, but we've been assured victim statements are one of the criteria they will look at.

Survivors of the Childers backpackers fire have written to the Parole Board urging them to not let Robert Paul Long out of jail.
Survivors of the Childers backpackers fire have written to the Parole Board urging them to not let Robert Paul Long out of jail.

"And all can ask of them is to consider the effect on so many communities across the world, not only here in Australia but families, survivors, community members, worldwide."

Long was charged with arson and two counts of murder of twins Kelly and Stacey Slarke but not over the 13 other deaths.

Families and survivors have called for Long to face further murder charges however this has been ruled out by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Tempest said Long had ruined his life and he had post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I certainly hope that the letters are really read in detail and really put across the messages that the people want to convey to the board," Mr Tempest said.

"We ask that they take into his account his previous history, he has a long list of criminal convictions.

"I've got a letter from his ex-partner's stepdaughter about an incident that happened in the 1990s in terms of a choking.

"She is fearful (of) is he going to find her or her family?" Mr Tempest said.

"She is fearful for when basically he walks the streets again. All of this together needs to be taken into strong account."

Mr Tempest said he was unsure if the parole board would listen but he hoped it would show them why Long should remain locked up.

As previously revealed by The Courier-Mail, Long has worked as a carer in a geriatric unit at Wolston jail.

He has been described by an officer as a "model prisoner" whose "institutional behaviour has been perfect".

But another former prisoner who spoke to The Courier-Mail said Long stood over other prisoners and abused his role as a carer by trading their food for his own benefit.

"He's a nasty little man," the former prisoner said.

"He won't be an asset in the community because he is a snaky, snaky, little bastard."

 

PARLIAMENT TOLD LONG'S PAROLE APPLICATION SHOULD BE BURNED

 

LETTER FROM FIRE SURVIVOR RICHARD TEMPEST:

 

Dear Mr Byrne, I am choosing to write to you as the President of the Parole Board of Queensland, to express my concerns in regards to the pending Parole Application from Robert Paul Long to be released from Prison after the 20 year sentence he was given in 2000.

You may or may not be aware that, Robert Long was the convicted Murderer and Arsonist after setting fire to the Childers Backpacker Palace Hostel on June 23 2000.

I, along with 69 others from around the world survived managing to escape the burning inferno of which we were awoken to, sadly 15 other people did not!

At the time I was a 25 year old who had left the UK earlier that year to travel the world, enjoy life, meet new people and gain new experiences.

I had saved money to do so for a number of years prior to allow me to travel for a while before utilising my Work Holiday Visa for Australia that I had been granted.

I arrived in Sydney around May 7 2000, then like many other backpackers started to make my way up the East coast of Australia spending a few days in several places before moving on.

I had made some great friends of fellow travellers in Hervey Bay just south of the Childers town-ship and had stayed there for about two weeks in the beautiful area.

I then decided it was time to seek some work to keep and maintain the finances and having done my research along with speaking to other backpackers whilst travelling, on June 22 I jumped on a bus and travelled to Childers, checking in to the Palace Backpacker Hostel who arranged work for me on the Trevor Farms nearby to pick zucchinis.

Little did I know at this point that I would never start work and probably more importantly little did I know that someone would intend to take my life only having been in Australia a mere seven weeks whilst innocently sleeping in a hostel accommodation!

What I would like you as the President, the Parole Board and anyone else that potentially has any involvement and or say in Long's Parole hearing application to know is just how 'much' impact it has had on so many lives, the victims' families, us as the survivors, our families and the people and community of the town of Childers.

I can only speak for myself and detail just how much I strongly feel it has changed and affected my life, not only mentally and psychologically but in the form of PTSD which will be long-lasting affecting for the rest of my life with experts saying previously of up to 25% of my life will be affected.

It has had an extensive effect on my life causing disorders, stress and anxiety and other habitual orders associated with PTSD.

I strongly feel that Robert Long should NOT be released from Prison despite serving a 20 year sentence which was the maximum a person could serve for a multiple murder under Queensland Law back in 2000.

If he is released he will continue to be a danger and a threat to society, who says he is OK after 20yrs to be released along with his previous history of arson.

This person should not be allowed to walk the streets ever again.

Who is going to be responsible for if/when someone else to cross him or upset him for there to be a retaliation of some description, I'm certain no one would want to take that risk and allow him back into the Australian Society.

I would like to formally request that Robert Long is further charged with the Murders of the remaining 13 Victims and the Attempted Murder of myself and other 69 Survivors.

Yours sincerely

Originally published as Backpacker fire survivors beg for Long to be kept in jail