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Kristine and Richard Johnston's son, Shannon was murdered in a brutal attack in Christchurch by two thugs who have shown no remorse for their crime. This occurred while he was homeless as a result of an arson attack more of which below...
On July 30th 2005 a thirty three year old arsonist named Alec Kenneth LANGLEY, also known as Billy Collar, walked into a Wellington Police Station and admitted to torching a Fitzgerald Ave building in Christchurch on 30th October 2000.
On December the 16th 2005 the arsonist was sentenced to five years in prison.
There were two victims of that fire:
In that fire a young man tried desperately to save his best friends life but was unable too and received fourth degree burns to his hands for his efforts. His face was burnt and his skin was never normal again. The young man was trapped in an upstairs flat where he lived next door to his friend.
His hands were on fire and he tried to get outside by going through the window in his room to get down the fire escape. He put his leg over the windowsill and his shoe and beanie fell off – but he was unable to get out the window because his hands were unable to hold his weight to push himself up and out.
He had to run through the fire to get out and when rescuers found him he was running with burning hands and blackened face and had to be wrestled to the floor on stairs to put the fire out. The rescuers said the burning flesh was not a pretty sight.
The Police took him from the hospital and gave him a hard time trying to make him responsible for the fire. His spirit was broken, he had lost his best friend who protected and looked after him. He was blamed unfairly for a fire that stole his life from him and believed the finger or blame stopped with him. Judgment of guilty even though he knew he was innocent.
On his release from hospital friends of his deceased best friend beat him up consistently because they blamed him for starting the fire. He was beaten for this often and being crippled from the fire unable to use his hands he could no longer defend himself. Not forgetting he was in constant pain with his hands and teeth, which had rotted fast because of the fire damage.
His existence was lost and he was unable to live normally or inside again. He became homeless and hit the drugs hard aimlessly wandering around and when some realised he was living in a shed in the outskirts of the city they burnt it down. This exacerbated his problem of living inside and so he isolated himself further from society trying to keep him safe.
He took refuge in avoiding people because he had lost his power to defend himself his power to prove his innocence and his power to want to continue to live.
He was unable to play his beloved guitar again, unable to live in a house, unable to trust and had no ability to have his wounds looked after through the hospital system now being a helpless addict with no ability to organise his time. There was no system that would care for him and he was totally and utterly alone.
Now back to the arsonist:
In 2005, five years and three months after the fire he said he watched a television documentary of one of the casualties of the fire as he spoke of the huge affects and suffering as a result of being burnt in this building and trying to save his best friends life. He heard the young man say he could no longer live inside because of the fire and was living under a tree in a bush area in a built up area of town. He heard this young man talking of faith and grace and his belief in Jesus.
Then he heard that this young man had been violently murdered a couple of weeks later and it was described as an execution because he was unable to defend himself. It was a hate crime because this young man was homeless.
Homeless because of the actions of the arsonist – Alec Kenneth Langley or Billy Collar- himself.
Why am I telling you this.
On February the 8th I spent the day with my murdered son who had been murdered on that day two years previously. It was a tough day and the pain I felt immense. Murder is different to a natural death – it permeates and hangs around.
I asked my son Shannon what he was going to do that day to let me know he had spent the day with me.
At nine thirty that night on Shannon's second anniversary of the murder two days ago our telephone rings. It was Mark Reid a detective on the murder case of Shannon and he told me that the arsonist had seen Shannon’s documentary and was haunted by his conscience and had to give himself in to the Police which he did five months later. He was ringing to tell me the story and what had happened.
Shannon’s name had been cleared from those who wanted to blame him except it was never publicised because by the time they told us it was all over including the appeal time.
They did not want me involved because (my guess) they knew I would go all out to get a proper sentence for what happened to my son Shannon who in affect lost his life in that fire.
My beautiful beautiful boy …
have no doubt Shannon's spirit gifted me his innocence on that day and no doubt Shannon is bringing retribution to all those who hurt and abused him in his life time. This is the first time I have been able to write about the fire and I was told this two days ago
Karma is a beautiful thing
Kristine Johnston did a brilliant interview with National Radio's Kathryn Ryan on the Nine to Noon shows on the 17th May 2007 on the subject of Victim's Rights which may be found here 28 mins 48 sec, Windows Media Audio
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