APPOINTMENT AS SENIOR CROWN PROSECUTOR AND A MARRIAGE AT PORT MORESBY

In 1963, the author was appointed Senior Crown Prosecutor for Papua and New Guinea, and in that same year he married Dianne Jean Littlewood who had accompanied her father and mother to New Guinea in 1962 when her father was appointed manager of the National Australia banks in Papua and New Guinea.

 

The image on the left shows Dianne when she travelled to New Guinea with her family in 1962 at the age of twenty. The author is shown at right at the time of his mariage to Dianne. The wedding took place at Port Moresby.

 

The author's position as Senior Crown Prosecutor did not diminish the obligation to travel constantly with the Supreme Court on circuit. This meant leaving Dianne alone with only her Queensland blue heeler cattle dog to protect her against intruders. By 1964, the first signs of the lawlessness that now afflicts the independent Papua New Guinea were becoming apparent in the major towns. With 20,000 detribalised native male vagrants living in shanty town conditions on the edges of Port Moresby, the incidence of crimes such as rape, robbery and burglary began to soar. It became dangerous for white couples to park at the beach or any secluded spot at night. To do so, invited sexual assault by native vagrants on the woman, bashing and robbery. It was dangerous to travel without a firearm even to the local drive-in, because a vehicle break-down in the scrub between the town and drive-in would invariably result in the occupants of the car being attacked by vagrants waiting for such an event to happen.To protect Dianne and their daughter Emma while the author was away on circuit with the Supreme Court, chainwire was fitted to all windows. This gave the impression that the occupants of the house were imprisoned. However, chainwire could not provide complete protection against criminal intrusion. On one occasion, a native furtively entered her home while Dianne was preoccupied. Her loyal cattle dog gave warning and chased the intruder from the house. On another occasion, the author was himself menaced in his front garden by six native vagrants who demanded the right to live in the empty servant quarters at the rear of the house.

To avoid leaving Dianne and Emma alone while he was on circuit, the author sought an appointment that involved no travel from Port Moresby and he was appointed Assistant Secretary for Law (Executive) of both Territories.

The crime situation in Port Moresby and other towns continued to deteriorate. Europeans involved in motor traffic accidents involving injury to a native pedestrian risked violent and immediate attack by associates of the injured native regardless of who was at fault. In 1966, firearm licences of all Europeans, police excepted, were revoked. This effectively put an end to outings to places such as the drive-in or remote picnic spots. The increasingly dangerous aspects of life in Port Moresby persuaded the author that this was not the place to raise a family and he decided to accept an offer of a commission as a Major in the Legal Corps of the Australian Regular Army.

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