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7th January by Margaret Wieringa
It happened a long time ago. Or so it seems, to those of us who were kids when it happened, or not even born. But the words ‘Walsh Street’ have great significance to many Melburnians, for it was in Walsh Street that two young policemen were ambushed and killed.
Even now, over twenty years ago, the reports of the events leading up to the crime are conflicted, with differing statements from the people involved.
Taken from a unique perspective, with interviews of the crims and the cops, this book presents information previously overlooked or unknown. Do we have a clearer idea on what happened? Perhaps, although there is just so much information and so many different stories, it was hard for me to wrap my brain around it.
The book starts by painting a picture of what things were like in Victoria in the late eighties. I found this fascinating – I was far too young to be interested in the news, and things like police shootings and bank robberies were off my radar.
Whilst that was Sydney, it wasn’t much better in Melbourne. The cops would stake out one bank and another around the corner would be hit. It got to the point where the papers lost interest, except to say that the police were losing the war against the criminals.
The criminals were bold and so were the police. The cops, especially ‘The Robbers’ (Armed Robbery Squad) were arrogant and bold, seemingly willing to do just about anything to get the job done.
The Walsh Street story has a lot of players, and a lot of very important players. I found it quite difficult to follow all of the names, especially as the book varied from calling them by their full name to their first and then their last. I ended up having to read a whole section again after discovering that Macca was Peter McEvoy, and still got a bit lost later on. Some kind of chart or even a list of the names would have been really beneficial.
Kerr and Mooney have done an excellent job in presenting a whole lot of information about the situation and leaving it to the reader to draw whatever conclusions they choose to. Even the name is ambiguous – ‘A Pack of Bloody Animals’ could refer to the criminals running across the city or the law enforcers trying to take control.