BACK in the 1990s, street violence was an escalating problem around late night venues in Albury.
Unprovoked, violent assaults were regular happenings prompting condemnation from the community, council, police and the ultimately the courts.
In most instances, it was young men in extremely intoxicated conditions who were responsible for a plethora of anti-social behaviour which kept police busy and frustrated about what was taking place.
But an incident in early 1996 brought the whole issue to a head, led to anti-violence rallies in QEII square and an outpouring of grief over the senseless killing of a teenage girl.
Kim Meredith was aged 19 years and two months when she was savagely murdered by Graham Edward Mailes in central Albury as she walked to a licensed venue intending to meet friends on March 23, 1996.
Mailes, an itinerant from the Forbes region who was subsequently found to have intellectual disabilities, did not know Ms Meredith.
Her murder was brutal with two deep cuts from a knife to her throat which nearly decapitated her.
Mailes then undressed her except for her white socks.
After dragging her around a car park near a business at the corner of Swift and Macauley streets, he left her on display against an office back door where she was found by a security guard on an evening patrol.
Four days later, Mailes was charged with murder and both the foyer in Albury Court and the court room were packed for his first appearance.
Then followed an on-going saga of court proceedings which had a significant emotional toll on Ms Meredith's family - mother June, father Bob and brother Graeme.
Mailes was eventually found responsible for her death on April 24, 2003, which was seven years and one month after her death.
On August 1 the same year, Mailes was sentenced to a limiting term of 25 years.
Now Bob Meredith, with assistance from June, has written a book about the tragedy and their emotional roller coaster journey through a procession of courts.
The book is titled "Killing Kim" and says: "A family buffeted for decades in the NSW justice system".
Fittingly, the book launch will be held on November 28 at the Albury Club at 6pm.
Both Bob and June are flying from Perth, where they have lived for many years, for the launch and to catch up with friends, police, barristers and many others who have helped on their emotion-charged journey.
It is an insightful, well written book which will have readers questioning how a family was forced to endure so much.
Bob says the book is dedicated to his daughter.
"The terrible and horrible circumstances of her death will never diminish the memories of a vibrant young woman who gave love and friendship to her family and a wide circle of friends," he says.
"Kim gave so much and asked for so little.
"This book is also written on behalf of those friends and the hundreds of citizens of Albury-Wodonga who rose up in anger over Kim's death and the subsequent legal proceedings, and ungrudgingly and spontaneously gave their love and support to the Meredith family in their hours of need.
"As a family, we wish to thank those people and organisations that have supported and helped us through our time of trauma, and continue to do so today, and have assisted in the publication of this book."
The foreword of the book is written by Mike Cahill, a former Border Mail chief-of staff, Walkley award winner and close friend of the Meredith family.
He says: "The shockingly violent death of Kim Meredith stunned the normally easy-going community of Albury-Wodonga.
"At 19 years old, it is fair to say, that Kim was an important part of Australia's future.
"She was highly intelligent, empathetic, loved to laugh and, as an undergraduate university student, she was fully engaged with her rapidly evolving adult life. She was also beautiful."
Mr Cahill says the attack stunned the community because of its savage brutality and randomness.
"A young defenceless student simply making her way home at night after her shift behind the bar at a local hotel," he says.
"Around that time, there had been reasonably regular bashings and brawls among drunken young bucks on Albury's Dean Street.
"These had kept police busy and provided the newspaper with ample material on which to editorialise. Both police and the media were soon to have a critical new focus.
"It's a tribute to great detective work in that they charged the accused perpetrator within days of Kim's death."
Mr Cahill says a throng a local people were outside Albury Courthouse and packed into the foyer waiting for Mailes' first appearance.
"Soon after this, thousands turned up for a 'Say No to Violence' rally in Albury's QEll Square. City councillors, community and religious leaders and police at all levels turned out to show their active support.
"All along, the Meredith family stood-by as silent witnesses.
"That first anti-violence rally spawned what was to become an annual event in Albury and, to this day, it has become part of the community psyche.
"Community hearts continue to go out to Bob and June and Kim's brother Graeme. Their loss was a life-changing trauma almost too tragic to contemplate.
"It's unimaginable to rank human brutality, but Kim's death was right up there."
Both Bob and June were born and raised in Perth, met in 1971 and married two years later.
This is a story that I should not be writing. A child should always survive you. He or she should be talking about your life to their children and grandchildren.June Meredith
Each reflects on the early years of their family, the birth of Kim and two years later Graeme.
The family lived in Melbourne from 1982 with Kim auditioning and being selected in the Victorian Children's Choir.
In 1989, the family moved to Albury where Bob was a partner in an agricultural machinery business which later folded.
He became general manager of Australian Defence Industries training systems division.
Kim attended the Scots School, Xavier High and later Albury High School.
She was a talented pianist and after completing Year 12 had a gap year, went overseas and briefly obtained employment in a London hotel.
After returning to Albury, she got part time employment doing bar work at Albury's Commercial Hotel and was doing a hospitality and business management course at La Trobe University's Wodonga campus.
Kim was establishing herself in the world and her parents were extremely proud of her.
June says when recalling her daughter's early years: "This is a story that I should not be writing. A child should always survive you. He or she should be talking about your life to their children and grandchildren."
A chapter in the book titled "The Nightmare Begins" tells about Bob and June being informed of their daughter's death.
It was about 8am on March 23 and Bob was leaving home with his brief case for a short stay at work before going to the Albury Golf Club for his weekly game.
He was met just outside by three men, who appeared to be police, asked his name and whether they could come inside.
Det-Sgt Rod Kennedy checked whether Bob had a daughter named Kim, advised a woman had been murdered during the night and asked if they could see a photograph of Kim.
Bob says: "I went into a state of semi shock and disbelief. There were many photos of Kim on an oval table in the lounge room, but I ran to her bedroom and found what I believed to be the latest photo of her.
"On presenting this to the detectives my worst fears were realized. As they passed the photo between them, they gave a slight nod to Rod Kennedy."
Sgt Kennedy asked Bob to get June, who broke down uncontrollably when told.
Bob says the events that followed were emotional and frenetic, indicating the police were magnificent in their support of both of them.
Many friends from the community rallied to support Bob and June in their traumatic state.
It was about 3pm when police took Bob and June, accompanied by two friends, to the Albury morgue to identify Kim.
June describes everything as "being a haze" after the trip to the hospital.
There are heart-wrenching details of the family attending to say their farewells before Kim's funeral and the subsequent service at St. Patrick's church.
More than 800 people attended the funeral and police manned all major intersections so the cortege could travel unhindered with officers saluting as it went past.
IN OTHER NEWS:
A rally in QEII square the following week against violence in the city was attended by an estimated 2500 people.
A couple of weeks later, Albury Mayor Amanda Duncan-Strelec, along with chief executive Ray Stubbs, attended the Meredith home and suggested a plaque in Kim's memory.
A simple granite stone with a plaque was erected near a tree at the western end of the court house.
Kim and her friends often sat on a bench near the tree.
One evening Bob and June went to visit the monument and Bob relates what happened.
"Nearby was what we could describe as a couple of homeless men.
"One of them, John, called to us and asked if we knew the girl. I turned away, not wanting that discussion, but June said, "Yes, I'm her mother and this is Bob, her father."
"John explained to us that he and his mate regularly dossed down in the property next to where Kim had been murdered, primarily because it had an outside, functional toilet.
"It was in that property that a number of Kim's possessions were found. On the night of her murder the men were elsewhere and John expressed his guilt that this was so.
"He matter-of-factly informed us that we did not have to worry because if Kim's killer was ever set free, his life expectancy would be very limited.
"He, John, had nothing much to live for and his life expectancy was also limited, so what the hell.
"This illustrates the depth of feeling in the Albury community over Kim's murder."
A massive police investigation was launched into the murder with huge police resources involved and officers soon identified a suspect.
Police travelled to Forbes and brought Mailes back to Albury for interview.
He was charged with the murder on March 28 and thus began a slow procession through the courts.
Mailes made a bail application in the Supreme Court on July 23, but it was rejected.
A committal hearing began on December 2 with magistrate Langdon Gould presiding.
It was a tense time for the family with no previous court experience.
The prosecution brief consisted of 1800 pages with 130 statements with the case against Mailes being overwhelming.
He had possession of Kim's watch, DNA forensic information revealed blood compatible with Kim on Mailes' clothing, Mailes repeatedly lied thereby showing a consciousness of guilt and his shoeprint was obtained at the scene of the crime with the irresistible inference that he was the attacker.
Mailes was seen using a Hume Building Society ATM card which all evidence pointed to it being Kim's and he bought a knife on the Thursday before the murder.
Mailes was seen in the Terminus Hotel at the same time that Kim was believed to have been there on the Saturday morning and he was identified as running from the Hotel in the direction of the murder scene.
Later he was seen at his place of lodging that night with blood on his clothes and he gave implausible versions of his alibi saying that he changed clothes with the 'real murderer'.
A staggering 48 witnesses were called at the committal in what the prosecution said was "a fishing expedition", but Mailes was committed for trial.
His representatives went through a number of further legal moves and petitioned that he should be found "Unfit to stand trial".
That issue was to be decided by a Supreme Court jury, but there were continual delays.
Bob wrote a letter to NSW Attorney-General Jeff Shaw in June, 1998, expressing his concern with delays in the case more than two years after Kim's murder.
The delay was raised in the NSW Parliament.
NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr. Nicholas Cowdery QC, had a couple of months earlier said the delays were entirely due to the Legal Aid Commission's "inaction and indecision".
"Unless the Government provides more money for additional courts and judges - particularly in the Supreme Court - and associated agencies, such delays will only get longer, to the disadvantage of all concerned," he foreshadowed.
It turned out to be a telling prediction.
The book succinctly outlines the continual delays over the next five years.
But in brief, a Supreme Court jury in Sydney after a five-day hearing found in February, 1999, that Mailes was not unfit to stand trial.
His trial was held in Wagga starting on April 29, but before it began his barrister sought to have a fitness hearing which was rejected by Justice Peter Newman.
After a 16-day trial, Mailes was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years' jail with a minimum of 18 which the family was disappointed about.
An appeal was lodged in October with Mailes' legal team arguing another fitness hearing should have been held at the start of the trial.
The appeal was heard on April 24, 2001, lasted two hours and the appeal judges reserved their finding.
The appeal was granted in October and in April, 2002, a Sydney Supreme Court jury found that Mailes was unfit to stand trial.
A special hearing under the Mental Health Criminal Procedures Act began in Sydney on March 24, 2003 - seven years and one day after Kim's death.
After a four week trial, a jury found Mailes guilty on April 21.
Justice James Wood sentenced him on August 1 and said: "I have no doubt as to the correctness of the jury verdict".
He described Mailes' crime as a "heinous offence" and imposed a limiting term of 25 years.
"He will continue to present as a danger to the community, unless he maintains his medication and continues to be under close supervision. I also find that he possesses a degree of cunning which in this instance saw him manufacture a false defence by which he assigned responsibility for the killing to another young man."
Mailes' legal representatives lodged an appeal against the 25-year term.
The NSW Court of Appeal granted leave for the appeal, but dismissed it.
The book includes some family photographs and acknowledges the efforts by many helping with it.
Bob and June are looking forward to catching up with many old friends at the launch and anyone interested is welcome to attend.
Copies of the book will be available for sale on the night at $29.95.