Phil Cleary is well known, especially in Victoria, as a footballer, coach, and media personality, as well as the man who won Bob Hawke’s seat in Federal Parliament. His new book, however, is about none of these things. It is about Cleary’s quest for justice and understanding in the wake of an event which rocked his family.
In August 1987, as she got out of her car to go to work, Vicki Cleary was brutally stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend, Peter Raymond Keogh. While this was earth-shattering enough for her family, the ensuing trial offered no sense of closure. Instead the family listened in disbelief as the court found that Keogh was not guilty of murder, on the grounds that he had been provoked by his victim. Instead, he would serve less than four years in jail for the lesser crime of manslaughter.
When Cleary began a search for understanding of how this could have happened, he learned that Keogh had a long history of vilence and sex crimes against women and children. He also found evidence of what, to him, was a legal system which had worked to protect Cleary and had let down not only his sister, but also countless other women, victims of Keogh and of other men like him.
Just Another Little Murder is not an easy book to read. The reality of the crime it explores and the justice system it exposes, serve to make the reader uncomfortable. This is what Cleary wants – to remove his readers from their comfort zone and to make them feel his rage. In this way, the book is highly effective.
Just Another Little Murder is a challenging but important book.
Just Another Little Murder, by Phil Cleary
Allen & Unwin, 2002