The Last Days of Nigel (the Darwin Shooter’s second victim)

Yesterday I was chatting online about Wednesday evening’s dreadful shooting massacre in Darwin (like many shocked people here). I posted a comment listing the various murder scenes, saying: “A fourth was murdered at 18 Gardens Hill Crescent (or Gardens Rd, not sure which).”

A fellow Darwin tweep (son of an old colleague) with whom I talk quite often, replied: “Crescent. His name was Nigel.” Actually we were talking about the second victim in time, a person so far only identified as a 75 year old man. M_ obviously knew something, so I sent him a Direct Message.

KP: Hi M_. I guess from your comment that you were close to Nigel. I’m so sorry. All this stuff is so close, it reminds you that Darwin really is still just a small town.

M_ : Cheers Ken. Wasn’t close but he is my neighbour. I was first on the scene and tried to perform first aid but it was a mess and he lost too much blood. Ambo didn’t arrive for an hour. Police were at a road block 100m down the road at the time but just stayed where they were. Ben drove straight past them after unloading at 2 apartments. Bit upset about that to be honest.* They even id’d the right ute to me after I ran down the road. Appreciate your story though. We also know the Hoffman’s but have to say I didn’t recognise him as I watched him exit. Bloody small town mate. Bloody being the operative word today.

Nigel was always whinging about the trees. He liked to cut down trees and had a win with the council over a tree last week. He was pretty happy about that. He was a good sort and I reckon he was shot through the door coz he liked to keep an eye on the comings and goings. His uneaten dinner was still on the kitchen counter in his flat.

*M_’s reaction here is more than understandable, but I don’t necessarily agree. Assuming the police staffing the Gardens Hill Crescent road block were just general duties uniformed officers, if they had set off solo in pursuit of the gunman they would almost certainly have caught up with him at the Buffs Club at the top of the hill only a minute or so later. Would they have captured the shooter alone and unaided?  It’s more likely that one or both of them would also have been slaughtered, just adding to the horrific death toll.

It’s essential that all relevant issues are explored, to ensure as far as possible that the best possible procedures are in place and followed in such events.  But we shouldn’t start with a presumption that it was anyone’s fault other than the Shooter himself.  There were four separate murder scenes and all four murders occurred within the space of only a few minutes. In the absence of NT Police acquiring extraordinary clairvoyant powers, it looks to me that they did as good a job as one could reasonably expect in such an extraordinary and confused situation.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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