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My brother doesn’t have a voice anymore, but I am his voice and I love him

One morning I got a phone call from my mum at 5am to tell me Matt was missing, this was a call I never saw coming, could never ever imagine happening and the impact it would have on my life from that point onwards would be horrific and life changing.  My mum called me to tell me Matt was missing, and I could sense panic in her voice. She said she could not get hold of him and that the police had called her in the early hours of the morning saying they had found his car and there was blood on the steering wheel. I instantly instinctively knew something was horribly wrong. I said, “I’ll be right there, I’m coming to you now“. I called work telling them I won’t be in and that my brother was missing. I then drove to my parents’ house straight away. While driving I was frantically calling my brother’s mobile over and over to only keep getting his answer phone every single time. I then remember telling myself “it’s going to be okay he’s probably had a car accident hit his head, is walking around confused and the police will find him, he’ll be okay, God I hope he’s okay, please God let him be okay!

I got to my parents and started calling the police pleading with them to please find my brother, I’m worried. They told me they were sending someone to the house now and to wait for them to arrive. When they arrived only minutes later I opened the door to two police officers and a victim support person. Looking back on this moment now, they had already known my brother was dead but couldn’t tell us until he was formally identified.What unravelled next was a nightmare I could never ever imagine, I did not see coming and could not even begin to comprehend how any human beings could do that to another person and then to us – we are a loving caring family.I found out over the coming weeks that my brother was lured to a house, beaten, then stabbed to death and dumped on the side of the road. My entire life was shattered beyond disbelief, smashed into millions of pieces and what filled those millions of cracks was pain, grief, confusion, hurt, anger, frustration, shock and despair.

These moments I will never forget, they are forever etched in my brain like I have experienced them just yesterday. Trauma does that to you, it forever sticks, down to the very minute details. It can come back in flashes or when you least expect it and can play out over and over in your mind’s eye.

I didn’t know life without my brother, I didn’t want to know life without him and what the heck was I going to do without him here. I was lost, hurt and deeply confused. I also now must process and live out my entire life with coming to terms with the worst conceivable way he could have been taken away from me.

During the first year of losing Matt I had to deal with a justice system that was so offender focused it spanned out over a year before his killers were sentenced, they all then got discounted sentences for pleading guilty to their reduced charges. Just 5 weeks after they were all sentenced I then got to experience the parole system and have been attending parole hearings every single year since my brother’s killers were sentenced. I lost relationships, lost my job because I just couldn’t go back as I was crying all the time and attending court hearings, I had to go to WINZ every month for 8 months to get $250 a week to live, I had to go to the Doctors every 3 months during that time to get a medical certificate so I could get that benefit, to say I wasn’t fit to work. I had to fend off media, nurse my parents and take care of them, move them out of their house because it was just too painful for them to live there anymore, I then had to ease back into work and try to rebuild what I could. I had to try to stabilise my emotions while attending parole board hearings and then go back to work like a normal day the next day. Doing all this while processing pain and grief like no other.

Matt and I were so close, we only had 18months between us and I could never imagine my life without him, I was so lucky I was so close to him and we truly were like best mates. We called each other every day, hung out and were always there for each other. I remember some of my last words to him at 7pm on the night just before he went missing were of me moaning about my work and how tired I was, and being the person he was he would just listen and be there for me, I ended the call by saying “I’ll come see you Sunday okay, see you then.”Nearly four years on, I still struggle, I still regularly cry, I still live with hurt and pain and I continuously struggle to come to terms with how he died. One of his offenders is already released living in the community with her kids. She did three years in prison for luring my brother and setting him up to be murdered. She was eligible for a parole hearing only 5 weeks after being sentenced. One is eligible for parole next month, he got 5 years and two months in prison, and the other got 10 years. When I hear things in the news about offenders being referred to as victims, being compensated by the justice system and that people like Andrew Little wanting to support offenders more, it absolutely crushes me. What about keeping people like you and I and my brother safe? The types of rights and chances offenders get are many and the level of support offenders are entitled to and get far outweigh that of their victims. My brother doesn’t have a voice anymore, but I am his voice and I love him. He is a person and his life is so precious to me, to his family and friends. He matters, is loved, and he is severely missed by us all. His right to live was taken from him without a second thought or second chance and it was brutal.

I want people to know how precious Matt was to me and that there are people out there living in our communities who are real victims and survivors, struggling in their own unique ways from horrific things that have forever changed their life. Offenders are not the real victims here and every one person lost to heinous callous crimes is one too many

Emma Stevens