On this day a year ago the lives of six young men intersected in the most horrible way. Most, if not all, were drunk. Within minutes one of them was dead on the side of a road 200 metres from the Alice Springs CBD.
According to testimony given to the Court in December 2009 most of the five young boys that admitted responsibility for the death of Kwementyaye Ryder spent the rest of that day drinking and partying, unaware that the man they had left unconscious on the road earlier that day had died within seconds of them leaving him.
Within ten days they were all remanded in custody in the local goal, charged with the murder of Kwementyaye Ryder. By April this year they had all entered pleas of guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and were sentenced to various periods of imprisonment. In less than two weeks one of those men will be freed from the Alice Springs goal.
Having sat through every day of the Committal Hearings in Alice Springs Magistrates Court and the two days of their plea hearings in the NT Supreme Court there are thousands of words that I could write about these events. In late December I reported on the Committal proceedings in the Alice Springs Magistrate’s Court in this short piece for the ABC’s The Drum.
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For now I’ll leave the commentary and reporting to others. In time I will write about these matters at greater length. For mine the best of the recent reporting on this matter is Liz Jackson’s report “A Dog Act” on the ABC’s Four Corners programme last Monday 19 July.
I would also recommend that you have a look at the Sentencing Remarks by the (then) NT Chief Justice Brian Martin and the other material at the Four Corners site here.
What I want to do today is present, a year to the day later, my photos of some of the places around Alice Springs that were relevant to this matter.
Bojangles is where several of the boys that put up their hands to the killing of Kwementyaye Ryder started – or continued – what was to be a long weekend of drinking.
By late in the evening of Friday 24th July 2009 all the boys (and Kwementyaye Ryder, though it is not known if they met) were at the Lasseter’s Casino. The boys left the Casino at about 6am on the morning of Saturday 25 July by car. The agreed facts tendered to the Court when they were sentenced noted that:
At approximately 6am on Saturday 25 July 2009, the five offenders…drove from the Lasseter’s Casino travelling to the Alice Springs CBD before driving through the Todd River bed. Anton Kloeden was the driver; Scott Doody, Tim Hird and Glen Swain were in the rear passenger seat and Joshua Spears in the front passenger seat. All the passengers had consumed a large amount of alcohol during the preceding hours.
A few hundred yards towards the Alice Springs CBD the boys turned off the Tunk’s Crossing into the river bed and headed north.
For many people living in Alice Springs the homeless campers in the Todd riverbed are little more than shadows on the landscape.
The agreed facts tendered to the Court in the course of the boys’ guilty plea included the following reference to the campers to the north of Schwarz Crescent (the Todd River was dry at that time):
The vehicle then travelled along the Todd Riverbed crossing over Schwarz Crescent causeway and continued to drive at speed towards a group of people camped approximately 120 metres north from the causeway…[including] the deceased…This group of people, some of whom had been sleeping, on seeing the vehicle coming at them at speed all ran to a nearby tree. One person…who is elderly and infirmed (sic), was unable to arise in time and remained on his blanket with the vehicle narrowly missing him.
At the Committal proceedings for the five (at that time) accused boys at the Alice Springs Magistrate’s Court one of the campers told the Court of the fear among the group and that:
“I was thinking it might be the triple K.” [meaning the Ku Klux Klan]
In relation to the people at the second camp to the south of the Schwarz Crescent causeway the agreed facts tendered to the Court included:
The offender Kloeden then drove the vehicle at speed towards another camp located approximately 100 metres south of the Schwarz Crescent causeway where three people…were camped and had been sleeping. The three people seeing the vehicle approaching them at speed, jumped up and ran to a nearby tree. The vehicle drove close by their sleeping area. The vehicle stopped. Some words were exchanged and then the vehicle continued up onto the roadway.
In evidence given to the Committal proceeding in the Alice Springs Magistrate’s Court in December 2009, one of the campers told the Court that the “words exchanged” included “You black cunts – fuck off out of this Todd River” and “Get out of the Todd River, you motherfuckers”.
By about 7.40am on the morning of 25 July 2009 Kwementyaye Ryder lay dead in a pool of his own blood. This memorial tribute marks the place where his body was found.