HUSBAND, FATHER, HERO: Oaklands community remember shooting horror

Click or flick across for more photos from the memorial service.

A WIDOW has returned for the first time to the town where her policeman husband was murdered 50 years ago.

Then-Constable Cyril Howe was shot dead in Oaklands by Bill Little, a labourer who had passed cheques stolen from his boss, bridge builder Reg Hunter.

Little fired point blank at the police officer as seven of Little’s children watched on while seated in his car.

Within the next 24 hours, Little would also shoot Mr Hunter dead, sparking a massive manhunt which ended six days later when he took his own life and that of his 14-year-old step-daughter.

June Howe was 29 when she was left to bring up her three children, under the age of five, on her own.

“It hasn’t been easy, no,” Mrs Howe said.

“It was just the way it happened.”

After remaining in Oaklands for a sombre Christmas at a neighbour’s house, Mrs Howe returned to Sydney to be with her family.

Until yesterday, she hadn’t been to Oaklands since. 


- BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY: What happened that fateful night  (includespictures of Sgt Howe and newspaper clippings from the time)

- Witness tells of finding wounded police officer

- EDITORIAL: Tributes to a brave man

Mrs Howe’s daughter Kim Howe convinced her to return for a parade and ceremony marking the 50-year anniversary of her husband’s death.

“I wasn’t going to come to start with,” she said.

“I just knew I was going to be miserable facing it.

“But I’m so glad I came.

“I was so surprised to see so many people here — it’s been lovely.”

Kim Howe, who was five at the time of her father’s death, said her mother had never got over it.

“I’d say it’s affected our lives dramatically,” she said.

“It was a big part of your family gone and I don’t think you ever get over it.”

Mrs Howe described her husband, promoted posthumously to sergeant, as a handsome and generous person, often giving food to his elderly neighbours.

She said he’d always wanted to be in uniform, even wagging school one day to try and join the army.

Mr Hunter’s son Ben, who was 22 and living in Kyneton at the time of the shootings, also attended the ceremony with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“It does affect you — I don’t find Christmas as joyful as others because you always remember that’s when dad died,” he said.

“I just remember him as a great old guy, hard but good.

“He was an attractive old bugger.”

The poignant ceremony held outside the Oaklands Police Station evoked some tears from the crowd of about 250.

The audience included family members, police from the Albury Local Area command, mayors from the Urana and Corowa shires, students from Oaklands Central School students and community members.

Albury police Supt Beth Stirton told the crowd she hoped Sgt Howe’s courage and dedication would always be an inspiration.

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