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23 Homicidal holiday safari


Outback travel has its problems and we always tried to ensure that our hostel guests were properly prepared before setting out.  Our main effort went into seeing that they had enough spare water in case of emergency.  One year we had to warn them not to go at all.  A serial killer was loose and he was murdering tourists.

Bodies were being found in the remote outback and there were disturbing reports of missing persons.  One came from a car hire company that had rented a car to a German tourist.  The young man had failed to return it and the police were concerned that he was yet another victim.

The car was small and red.  An alert went out and a helicopter pilot, mustering cattle, caught a glimpse of a red car in some bushes.  The Special Weapons Squad was called in.  Helicopters landed and a loud hailer was used to order the occupant of the car to come out with raised hands.  He responded with heavy weapons fire and was killed in the shootout that followed.

When the police examined the body they found, to their immense surprise, that the dead man was the missing German tourist.  As their investigations continued, it became evident that he had come to Australia to go on a killing spree.  Not surprisingly, the incident aroused considerable media interest.

An Australian TV team went to the young man's hometown and interviewed his distressed parents who couldn't understand how their dear boy could have done such a terrible thing.

A German TV team went next door and interviewed the neighbours who told a very different story.  Even as a boy he had frightened them.  He had a fascination for guns and went around killed animals.  He had a criminal record at an early age.  To their amazement, he had been employed as an armed security guard at the American Embassy.

The Americans weren't the only ones at fault.  The young man had been able to purchase a veritable arsenal of weapons upon entering Australia.  I hasten to add that our gun laws have since been tightened and are now amongst the strictest in the world.

The incident had a sequel.  Like most people I assumed the Special Weapons Squad was a police unit.  Friends in the army told a different tale.  They had mates who were there when the German was killed.  The police called in the army.  When the boys were shot at with heavy calibre weapons they knew how to respond.