Shortly after the murder of Senior Constable Doug Eaton and wounding of Senior Constable Eddie Gill at Kilaben Bay Golf Club on April 30, 1977, homicide squad police arrived from Sydney.
Detective Inspector Angus McDonald led four teams, each of a detective sergeant and detective senior constable. I knew them all. Angus and I would remain close friends until his death in 1999.
They asked me about accommodation - a motel or hotel was not ideal as they may need to catch a bit of sleep at different times of day or night, at least in the early stages of the investigation.
I was good friends with Eric Merrion, who owned Merrions Bakery at Cardiff. Eric owned a large boat shed off Coal Point Road at Kilaben Bay, with several bunk beds, kitchen and bathroom. This would be perfect so I rang Eric and he was only too glad to offer it for the duration.
On Tuesday afternoon, after the Glesics had been put before the court and sent off to jail [for murdering Doug Eaton], we returned to Toronto and I took all the homicide boys down to the Toronto Workers Club for a well-earned drink.
We walked in to a standing ovation, which was moving and gratifying after such an intense but successful investigation into the murder of a popular local policeman.
I left them to it after a couple of drinks and headed home in one of their GT-HO Falcons, with the promise that I would be at their digs at Kilaben Bay early next morning for a BBQ breakfast. I picked up what I needed at the supermarket - bacon, sausages, eggs, bread, orange juice - and next morning I was back on the road by 7am, with all the food on the back seat.
I arrived at Kilaben Bay, drove down the steep driveway to the boat shed and parked on the adjacent grass verge about five metres short of a low stone wall - about a foot high - that edged the lake at that point.
I took the food from the back seat and, with arms full, slammed the door shut with my elbow, at which point the car slowly rolled forward, over the stone wall and continued for another 10 metres or so before stopping with the water up over the hubcaps. I sheepishly alerted the troops, and we all just stood there discussing how we were going to rescue their prized GT-HO Falcon.
One of Eric's old neighbours walked past, bucket in hand and spade over the shoulder - he must have been worming - and without breaking stride said: "I wouldn't leave it there too long if I was you. Eric might want to put the boat in". And he kept on walking.
Eventually, after discussing tow-trucks and heavy-duty salvage vehicles, one of the boys had a brainwave. We found a couple of planks, put them in place, he waded out and got into the car, started it up and reversed out. Job done, congratulations all round and then a hearty breakfast.
A couple of weeks later, I walked into Cardiff Bowling Club for our regular Lions Club meeting. One of the regulars, Lloyd, a keen fisherman, spotted me.
"Hey John, I was fishing off Coal Point the other day and I hooked this beautiful bream," he said. John replied: "Well done."
Lloyd continued: "Yeah, and as I took the hook out of its mouth, it looked me straight in the eye and said: 'Thank god you got me out of there. I bloody near got run over the other day'."
Laughter all round. The word was out. Small place, Newcastle in the '70s.
IN THE NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.