Welcome to our ninth warrior mum. I have to warn you this is a heartbreaking and disturbing story about a wonderful Australian wife, mother, grandmother and teacher, told by her daughter, Janine. Sadly, not all our stories have happy endings and give us the outcome we would all like to read about... But as the warrior mums already featured in this series know, it's YOUR story, to be as long or as short - as happy or as sad - as YOU want it to be. The stories are real and truthful and each one stands alone.
I would like to thank Janine for her willingness to re-visit the days of her childhood and for her patience as we clicked away through Ausie and Brit time zones in the early hours of the morning to re-write her Mother, Marie Greening Zidan's courageous story.
I have featured this story in two parts for what I hope will be obvious reasons.
"My poor mother would take my brother to specialists and doctors, looking at allergies and side effects of the medications that would cause or exacerbate his obsessive compulsive behaviour. She knew until my brother was properly diagnosed with asperger's that he would be at the mercy of mental institutions."
|Janine's beautiful Mother|
In the Catholic school she attended she came top of her class in year 12, despite the fact that the nuns put her in with the preps class to teach her a lesson, telling her she was not as clever as she thought she was. The comment, obviously intended to squash her spirit, had the opposite effect and made my mother more determined than ever to succeed.
“You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine,
you make me happy when skies are grey...”
|Peter and Janine|
He was such fun to be with, always cracking jokes and making me laugh. We spent most of our time together.
M. It must have been frightening for your mother having to stand by and watch your brother suffer at the hands of people she should have been able to trust. How long did Peter stay in the psychiatric hospital?
The Mental Health Services controlled his life. His medication over the years had lots of devastating effects on all of us. I could never invite anyone home because of my brother’s behaviour. If only the powers that be had recognised his autism instead of putting him through the trauma of needless psychiatric treatment and almost destroying his mental health and personality.
M. And then you lost your father and she became a single parent. How on earth did she cope?
|Janine's clever Mum|
Most of the time she offered her services for free. She was not out to make money. She cared for people and would often say to me “Share what you have. If you have a dollar and someone has nothing, give them half.”
|Janine with her Mum|
M. Please tell us what led up to your mother's murder?
On October 14th 2000, Mum was asleep when two youths broke into her property. They took her handbag, which was later found, but $400.00 and some personal items were missing. By this time my mum had trouble standing and walking so she could not go to the police. I was away from home when we spoke on the phone and she said the police could not go to investigate the crime for two days. During that phone call she told me she loved me. If only I’d known it was the last time I would speak to her. Now it seems she was saying goodbye because the next day Peter spotted the same two youths entering the house and told Mum. They knew my mother was on her own with a disabled son and she was easy prey. My mother immediately rang me leaving a message to tell me the thugs had returned but I was still away from home and didn’t get that message until the next day when it was too late.
There is no way anybody can prepare themselves for what I was about to see. I ran into the house and into a blood soaked room. My mother was dead. She'd been battered, raped and strangled. Her lifeless body had then been wrapped up in a quilt with items placed on top. My poor dead Mum wrapped up like a present. The policeman led me out of the room.
M. How did you cope with such a vile and devastating end to your poor mother's life?
I was so traumatised I had a heart attack the next day. I’d never had heart trouble before. The cardiologist said I had what was called broken heart syndrome. The shock had killed one of the valves in my heart. Peter was taken into care that night and through no fault of his own has since been shunted from pillar to post. I remained in hospital for 10 days preparing mums funeral from my hospital bed.
That day our lives changed forever but we struggled on as best we could.....
|After all Peter's been through he still manages to smile|
It was ironic that the DHS (Department of Human Services) were buying up houses in my mother’s area to accommodate troubled youths. There was an outcry from residents about DHS buying up local properties but when they (DHS) discovered that a murder had occurred at my mum’s address they quickly sold off the property at a loss of $60,000. When interviewed by the Herald Sun I said if the DHS had asked my opinion, I would have been okay with them helping young people who had not committed serious crime. The DHS could have gone ahead with their plan to use the house and donated the $60.00 to my brother instead of throwing it away.
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see
She was a great storyteller and no matter what tragedy came her way she was not a person to feel sorry for herself and was always helping others.
I thank her for the journey she took me on in life and for the person I am today.
I went on to become involved with a charity that myself and a group of other people set up. It's called THE FORGETMENOT
Forget-me-nots are what my mother gave me, they represent the memories of those we love. My mother will never be forgotten, she was indeed a warrior mum fighting all of her adult life for my brother Peter's rights and for his asperger's to be recognised.
Appeals that would end up in the High Court in Canberra over the last 13 years have taken me on a journey of fighting the legal system.
I have long fought to have the suppression orders lifted from the two killers of my mother to give her dignity, but most of all, for public safety.
The crime was so sickening and evil. After their arrest the two youths, unsupervised, rang me from the youth detention centre, leaving an obscene song on my answering machine besides other messages. I could hear people laughing in the background.
While in custody one threatened staff at the youth centre. One of the offenders assaulted a young girl who was on a work placement, and the same offender has broken his parole twice since being released.
The last time, back in 2010, he was not put back in jail.
How naive was I to think that the law was about justice?
Back in 2007 the Herald Sun took the case to the Supreme Court to name the two killers of my mother.
The Supreme Court would not give permission for the case to go to the Children’s Court, which has the power to lift the suppression order.
In 2010 when the offender broke his parole, there was outrage in a country town when it was revealed one of the 'Granny killers' lived there. Victoria’s top judge Marilyn Warren stated that there should be a national review of laws protecting the identities of child criminals.
I haven’t heard anything about it since.
When the Herald Sun did a poll about naming and shaming the two offenders, over a thousand readers agreed they should be named.
Last year the Director of Public Prosecutions went back into the Supreme Court on my behalf, asking that the Children’s Court be allowed to hear an application to lift suppression of the names of my mother’s killers.
Justice Bernard Bongiorno, who put the original order on their names when they were sentenced, said no.
The lawyers for the offenders had argued that there was no public interest in revealing their names and it would not assist them in their rehabilitation.
The DPP did not take a stance and I felt they just went through the motions. I was told it was not about my mother, or public safety.
Marie Greening Zidan, killed by two teenagers who are now out of jail
These offenders throughout the years have had the best lawyers, that the tax payers had paid for.
I was told I could appeal the suppression order, but no one would take up the case.
After asking lawyers about pro bono representation, I was told if I was the offender, the murderer, they would take on the case. But not as a victim.
In America a lawyer would take on my case, as there are as many lawyers supporting victims of violent crime committed by juveniles as there are for the juvenile offenders.
I have met with the Attorney General Robert Clark in recent times. For victims, he is the best Attorney General that Victoria has had, but he is one man with a hell of a job.
The suppression orders have become a life sentence for my family, as we always fear that someone else will suffer as we have at the hands of one of these killers whose names will never be known. It is still all about the offenders, and their welfare. Even when they re offend.
There is no thought for how we feel or the suffering of my family. And there are many young people in our family.
There has been no help or support for them, none for my disabled brother, but plenty of support for the offenders.
Shame on our justice system for being so one-sided.
For victims, the scales of justice will never be balanced.
I DID NOT DIE, BUT WAS MURDERED
MY BODY VIOLATED, MOLESTED, BROKEN.
I HAD NO RIGHTS, LIKE MANY BEFORE ME AND MORE TO COME.
MY LAST MOMENTS WHERE LOOKING AT
MY KILLERS EYES,
NOBODY KNOWS THE VULNERABILITY, OR
THE PAIN AND SENSE
OF LONELINESS I FELT AT MY KILLERS
NOW I WATCH MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS ATTEND THE COURTS
CONSOLE EACH OTHER AND FIGHT FOR THE RIGHTS OF
VICTIMS OF CRIME
THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IS A COLD PLACE, HAS NO TIME FOR VICTIMS,
WE ARE DEAD, HAVE NO RIGHTS
ONLY THE LIVING WHO LOVED US, AND THOSE OF YOU
WHO HAVE THE PASSION TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT
TAKE UP OUR CASES AND FIGHT TO GIVE US DIGNITY
LIFE IS CHEAP, YOU GET LESS TIME IN PRISON
LIFE IS THE MOST VALUABLE THING WE HAVE
DO NOT LET US DIE IN VAIN
WE HAD LIVES, FAMILIES, FRIENDS,
WE MADE A DIFFERENCE TO SOMEONES LIFE
AS YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, DON'T SIT ON THE FENCE,
AS NOTHING WILL CHANGE
NONE OF US CHOSE TO BE VICTIMS, ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM
I HOPE BY THE GRACE OF GOD
IT DOESN'T HAPPEN TO YOU
FOR I AM THE VOICE OF A VICTIM
I AM THE DECEASED
Poem @copyright Janine Greening
Victoria Homicide Victims Support Group
Forget Me Not Foundation