All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Call Me Cruel – Michael Duffy

on March 10, 2012

Call Me Cruel
Michael Duffy
Allen & Unwin
2012, 276p
Read from my local library

Kylie Labouchardiere was the product of a broken home. Her parents John and Carol divorced when she was young and she lived with her mother, who soon took up with a violent man. Carol then allowed her own mother, the children’s grandmother, to care for them and raise them after some time, so they did not have to bear witness to the violence her partner inflicted upon her. She chose her boyfriend over her children, something that Kylie never forgot. She witnessed many violent incidents. As a teen she was a bit wild, hanging around older boys with cars. She drifted around, from job to job, never really happy, always searching for something more. At 22 years of age, she married a quiet Navy man named Sean but their marriage lasted less than a year.

When Kylie was 23, she disappeared. She’d been staying with grandmother upon the breakdown of her marriage to Sean and she told her grandmother that she was going to visit some friends and stay maybe a week. She told others that she was going to live in Dubbo with a new partner. Conflicting reports and stories from Kylie herself before she disappeared made it hard to get a clear picture of her movements on the day of her disappearance and an idea of where she was actually going. After all, she was 23. She didn’t need to check in and report her every movement to her family.

Before too long a strange connection to Paul Wilkinson, an Police/Aboriginal Liason Officer who had worked out of Redfern and Marrickville stations became known to the police investigating Kylie’s disappearance. Wilkinson was not a police officer, but he worked as a buffer between them and the Aboriginal community. Relations were sour, as this was around the time of the infamous Redfern Riots. Wilkinson and Kylie had exchanged around 23,000 text messages in the previous four months – it was pretty obvious from that sort of number that they had been having an affair. The police were now fairly certain they were investigating a disappearance due to murder and that Wilkinson was the culprit.

What they didn’t count on, was how slippery Wilkinson was. A pathological liar, he sucked people in who had perhaps low self-esteem, abandonment issues, etc and spun them a web of lies laced in charm. He countered the police’s every move with wild stories that included framing New South Wales police officers with Kylie’s murder. He led them and the family on wild goose chases for her remains that constantly went no where, frustrating everyone.

It would be five years before there was enough evidence to bring Wilkinson to trial for the murder of Kylie Labouchardiere.

I don’t often read a lot of non-fiction but every now and then there’s a title that catches my eye and this is one of them. I’ve been seeing a lot about this book lately, in the newspapers etc. I didn’t know a lot about the case and trial at the time and the book even states that there wasn’t a lot of media coverage, particularly at the trial because a lot of things were suppressed given there was a lack of a body. The cover caught my eye when I was picking up holds from my local library so I added it to my pile.

The book jumps around a lot, so that can get a bit confusing as we go back and forth in Kylie’s life.  It seems like if ever anyone was bound for tragedy, it would be someone like Kylie, who was young, naive and it seemed, just looking to be loved. The book paints an unstable upbringing until she was placed with her grandmother and her endless changing of jobs certainly supports the idea that she was looking for something to make her happy. Wilkinson is described as good-looking, charming, self-confident. He was able to spin Kylie a web of untruth that was staggering in its enormity and complexity. When Kylie got news that threatened to derail Wilkinson’s rather cushy life (wife and baby in the background, affairs going on elsewhere) he seemed to give in by telling her they’d go to Dubbo but in reality, it seemed he had very different plans for Kylie.

This book shows just how long a process it can be in a police investigation like this, especially one where there is no body. This book was published this year and Wilkinson still has not divulged the location of Kylie’s body. After the trial (a veritable circus in itself with Wilkinson changing his plea multiple times, acquiring new lawyers, holding up the process in every single way he could conceive of) he offered once again to show police where he thought it was. But his family refused, therefore finally giving up the power he had over them. As this text, sent by Wilkinson to his former wife about the body says:

Everybody has reasons 4 hiding a crime. Mine is the family can live not knowing where and why 4 What they hav don. Call me cruel, call me nasty and YES Id agree, howeva my knowledge ISNT goin 2 b theres. It will hurt them NOT me. (sic)

The police had to work long and hard over 5 years, trying to find the evidence they desperately needed without the most important piece – they body of the victim. In the end it came by something very simple indeed, but it was all they needed to actually get the warrant for his arrest. The amount of lies Wilkinson told, to Kylie, to his wife, to their families, to different police officers, even to his lawyers and the judge at the time of trial, has to be read to be believed. And in his desperation to punish someone he was jealous of, he framed him for Kylie’s murder and cost him his job, his family and his home. And felt no remorse about anything he’d done.

A chilling book – all the more so because it’s all real.


Book #39 of 2012

2 responses to “Call Me Cruel – Michael Duffy

  1. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I read this earlier this year and you are right, Kylie just seemed to be the prefect victim for such a manipulative man. I hope one day her body is discovered so the family finds closure.

    • So do I, I think it’s a terrible thing that he won’t give it up, even now after all this time and especially after the trial. I did like that the family fought back and rejected the power he had over them by pretending to show them the location time and time again. But I hope one day for their sake they do find her final resting place and be able to give her a proper goodbye

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