Presentation to LSCSA 2014 – with SAPOL response

This is the full response I received on May 6 from SAPOL’s acting Commissioner, Grant Stevens, to my presentation to the Legal Services Commission of South Australia’s biannual conference on May 2. It has also been sent to The Advertiser for publication. A full transcript of the presentation follows.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir

Derek Pedley presented a paper last week to the Legal Services Commission (SA) conference and yesterday appeared in edited form in The Advertiser. He was critical of the SA Police Media and Public Engagement Section and I am of the view it is necessary and important to respond to the assertions made. I would like to clarify how – and why – police communicate with the public.

Many of you will be aware that SAPOL runs a news website, Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube account, which it uses to publish a wide range of information.

What some of your readers may not be aware of, is that the traditional media also relies on these platforms for police information. It is our view that the community of South Australia is as entitled as mainstream media outlets, to timely and accurate information regarding crime and public safety issues.

However, on a daily basis SAPOL also supports media outlet by providing additional access to operational police and managers to provide comment. We also respond to requests from a range of traditional media outlets for specific information, statistics and supporting comments.
Our primary role is – and always has been – to protect the public. Police do this by preventing and solving crime, which means engaging with the community – on multiple platforms.
SAPOL’s Media and Public Engagement Section is part of our frontline response and contributes directly to improving public safety, solving crime and reassuring the community. Our use of social media platforms and news website allows us to quickly ask the public, and media, for assistance.

The overwhelming response from the public has saved many hundreds of hours of police work that would otherwise be spent chasing offenders and knocking on doors.
The public like being able to access police information in this way. This week we will reach 200,000 followers on our Facebook page. As those community members share information we routinely reach more than 750,000 people each week just on that social media platform. That is a significant number helping to solve crime, sharing crime prevention information, finding missing people, and becoming aware of serious incidents and accidents.

However, we would also point out that the ‘pressure to publish’ faced by modern media organisations is tempered by other priorities – ensuring police procedures are followed before publishing information online, being aware of privacy concerns and adhering to rules of law and not comprising future court proceedings.
Policing is a highly regulated industry, with oversight and accountability in many forms ranging from courts, Police Ombudsman and ICAC. While this oversight is accepted as part of our normal business what is just as important is how we are seen by the community. To this end, SAPOL monitors the level of satisfaction and confidence the community has in us and we consistently rate highly in these areas.

As was pointed out, we all now operate in a 24-hour news cycle, which places greater demand on police resources to provide the information that reporters rely so heavily on. We have expanded our Section to meet that demand. We also expanded it to meet community expectation that we would use a range of communication platforms to keep them informed.

A good relationship still exists between SAPOL and most media outlets. We still ask media not to report suicides and suicide attempts or bomb hoaxes due to concerns about copycats. We, at times, ask for stories to be held as it may compromise an investigation.

SAPOL recognises the independence and professional news judgement of media. SAPOL also recognises the need to be responsive to the changing times and the community’s expectations. But we also release more information, statistics, quotes, pictures and vision that ever before.

The truth is – we all need one another: the community, the police and the media.

Yours sincerely

Acting SA Police Commissioner
Grant Stevens

This is a full transcript from my speech to The Legal Services Commission’s biannual conference on May 2, 2014 at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

True crime writing in Australia is in trouble. Big trouble. And today I’d like to address the fundamental changes that have affected the genre in Australia over the last 20 years. By extension, I will also address the impact on daily crime reporting because it has been similarly affected by the same changes.

True crime writing in Australia has a proud history since it emerged as a popular genre back in the early nineties, when Melbourne crime reporters John Silvester and Andrew Rule turned Chopper Read’s psychotic ramblings into bestselling books.

The Ned Kelly Awards for crime writing and the excellent work they have recognised are compelling evidence that we have had many journalists, writers and even police officers and criminals who are eminently capable of piecing together and telling the story of Australia’s criminal milieu.
Some of these books have changed the world. Innocent men have been freed. Corruption has been laid bare and important history documented. Stories of loss, redemption and gut-wrenching tragedy have been recounted, mysteries have been solved. And more than a few egregious crimes against grammar, language and good taste have gone unpunished.

Bu I genuinely fear that there will not be another generation like the quarter century we’ve so far had in the modern era of true crime writing in Australia. At best, the next generation of books will be collections of short stories containing only the basic facts, as released and approved by police media.

Because, as every journalist in Adelaide knows, it has now become virtually impossible to extricate information from the SA police media section, unless they decide they have a good reason to do so. And this has happened because somewhere along the way, they have quietly declared themselves to be the gatekeepers and disseminators of news and information, instead of performing their traditional role as a primary source of news and information. Adelaide journalists are seriously concerned that this has set a dangerous precedent.

And it’s at this point that I’d like to make it crystal clear that while I am a News Editor at the Advertiser, I am here today speaking strictly in a personal capacity as a true crime writer. I will however be drawing on my experience as a journalist because that’s how I came to write true crime in the first place.

A generation ago, newspapers and the commercial TV news were the powerful and unchallenged gatekeepers of news. The digital revolution diluted that power, and this democratisation and liberation of information has empowered society in ways that could only be dreamed of in 1990, when I started working in metropolitan daily newspapers.

But these new freedoms have had far-reaching impacts, not all of which can be clearly seen by the public. For all their faults, my experience has been that the so-called “legacy media” of newspapers and TV have for generations delivered to Australians a consistently high standard of impartial journalism.

We now face much greater challenges, are expected to fill what is now a genuine 24-hour news cycle, and we have fewer resources than in the past. But I am fortunate enough to still work in a newsroom where people are well trained, abide by their code of ethics and are held accountable for their actions. Outside of legacy media, in the wild world of internet news and infotainment, you’re unlikely to find any of those qualities, let alone all three.

One thing I was trained to do is gather the facts to the best of my ability and report them without fear or favour. We’re not all Clark Kents and Lois Lanes but I still like to believe that the great majority of us do go to work each day with the interests of the public at heart, rather than our own selfish personal gain. Although when a reporter does a story involving Haigh’s, it’s hard to say no when they come back to the office. We get paid to do this, and we have no hidden agendas or motives, because that’s everyone else’s job. We also learn from day one that being a journalist requires a fully functioning bullshit meter.

But the digital revolution has completely altered the landscapes in which old media now operate. Anyone with a smartphone camera and laptop can – and do – call themselves writers, reporters, journalists and editors. And then there are the armies of spin doctors, both government and corporate, whose sole purpose is to sell their clients’ particular message, both directly to the public and through the huge array of media options now at their fingertips.

News, opinion and analysis – which are clearly defined in newspapers and on TV – are now an amorphous mass of so-called linkbait headlines on news websites and social media.
The new information democracy has also completely changed how journalists and true crime writers gather their facts.

When I was a young police reporter, yes the good old days, in Perth more than 20 years ago, I was allowed to wander at will through the corridors of major police complexes and speak to police officers. On the record and off the record were still two very sacred conventions that allowed police and journalists to have open and honest conversations without the fears of criminal inquiries being compromised. Police media sections were friendly places where journalists were welcome and the officers and reporters generally worked together rather than against each other. That’s not to say that it was some kind of journalists’ utopia where it’s Page 1 stories all round. And I’m not for one moment suggesting that we can go back to the good old days.

But I think it is important to put into context how the processes and culture of the relationship between the police and the media, has changed. Back in the 1990s, police reporters would maintain extensive contact lists of detective and senior uniformed officers, not just in the city, but across the suburbs and through the state. They could pick up the phone to them at any time to discuss virtually anything. Anything considered “operational” was off limits, at the detective’s discretion. Burn a detective by breaching his trust, and you would be instantly frozen out by other officers. But otherwise, if you reported the facts accurately – and often, in a particular way, at a detective’s request to assist their investigation – you could expect to be given more access to facts and be able to write more stories.

If the police asked us not to report suicides and suicide attempts or bomb hoaxes because they feared copycats, then we complied. If they asked us to hold back on a story because it would hinder their investigation, then we’d plead with our editors to do it so we could get the exclusive later. It was a give and take relationship which was also often tested by stories that were less than pleasing to the police. But they would almost always be written by other reporters, because editors well knew that their police reporters would lose every last police contact if they were seen to be targeting them.

However, I can honestly say that reporter-detective relationships were genuinely governed by a high level of integrity and ethics. Journalists really do want to get the big stories and get them right and cops really do want to catch bad guys using all the legal resources at their disposal, including the media. It was almost always a win-win situation.
As police reporters, we were also blessed with radio scanners that allowed us to respond as quickly as the police did to major breaking news events. To be plugged in to that level of police communication was a gold mine for breaking news, although I seem to recall many a police duty inspector chiding me that it was an offence under the Communications Act to act upon information obtained via police communications.

SAPOL were certainly happy to shut us down with the introduction of digitally encrypted communications in December 2002. That has put the best source of breaking news beyond the reach of newsrooms and I can’t argue with the fact that this is probably best for everyone. The police were always acutely aware that they had an audience, but there was a constant risk that someone in the media would make a poor decision about something they heard on the scanner and then bumble into the middle of a dangerous situation. And when the police radio channels were still available, you didn’t want to be in the car if a camo or a photographer was driving, because if there was a chance of getting an exclusive shot or vision, a genuine news picture, they would happily sacrifice the life of a young police reporter to get it.

It’s interesting to note that for a large part of the last century, many newspapers actually had their own offices inside police buildings, such was the level of cooperation between journalists and police. Today, police officers in this state are explicitly barred from speaking to journalists. All enquiries must be directed to the media section. And I quote: “Please do not request information directly from any police officer, under any circumstances. All requests are to come through Media Section.”

We are told only what SAPOL chooses to tell us. In the past, police media sections would volunteer information and suggest stories, and even hand out the odd exclusive to a good reporter. Now, every word, every answer, every picture, must be extricated like a stubborn tooth. Often they’ll tell the public via their own social media platforms, and there’s no arguing that with events such as crashes, missing persons, robberies, fugitives and other situations where timely public information is essential, this a good thing. But when SAPOL tweet and post pictures from crime and crash scenes before they allow the media in to do their job, you have to wonder if they’re clear on what their role is.

SAPOL’s Media and Public Engagement Section, as it is now known, has boasted that it reaches a quarter of a million people via social media. When it disagrees with mainstream media coverage of police matters, it does so directly via its website and Facebook page, where its fans unleash vitriol on any reporters who don’t toe the SAPOL line. The page is moderated and anything negative about SAPOL is quickly deleted, but I personally have seen plenty of comments on there that are defamatory, racist and abusive.

One comment I saw on there typifies the dangerous attitudes and beliefs that SAPOL is breeding among its “fans”:
”I don’t even read the Advertiser anymore, apart from the occasional shared link online. i get information i want directly from the source online, such as visiting relevant websites or subscribing to fb pages like this one. You are doing a great job, stop feeding them info and they will realise how important this page is to an increasing society that does not indulge in paying for printed news.”

Yes, that’s it! Let’s shut down the newspaper and send all the journalists home. Nothing to see here, folks. Everyone just listen to the police. They’re never wrong. In fact, we won’t even need lawyers any more. If the police charge people, they must be guilty, right?

Last year, the Media and Public Engagement Section, expanded its SA Police News website to the local service area level, effectively cutting contact between suburban reporters and suburban police. Again, all information must now go via the media section. The section now costs $1.28 million. It has 11 staff, almost double the number it had when it began expanding operations in 2006. This is at a time when the police commissioner is being asked to make budget cuts of $150 million over four years.

In response to an Advertiser article about the section in 2013, it issued a statement detailing the role of the SA Police News website. It “raised awareness of police operations, provided emergency and safety information, called for public help to solve crime, offered crime prevention help and alerted the public to arrests.” Journalists are given their own special section on this website, with a log in and password required. I think this is just to make us feel special though, because aside from that, the information available on it seems no different to the website’s publicly accessible sections.

The headlines and content of what would once have been police media releases are now faux news stories on SAPOL’s website and Facebook and Twitter feeds. For example, they must have been chuffed to get hundreds of likes for their post on Facebook titled” There’s more than a few screws loose near Snowtown”, a headline which itself provoked a regular laugh riot among the SAPOL fans in the comments section, who declared it to be a “barrel of laughs”.

When The Advertiser queried SAPOL media about this headline, the response was:
“The headline you mention ‘There’s more than few screws loose near Snowtown’ was in reference to the story about a truck losing a large load of screws (100,000 screws) on the highway near Snowtown. At no point does it make any inference to the Snowtown murders. The same headline would have been used if the incident occurred at say Berri, Mt Gambier or Ceduna.”
Not a joke. Seriously? Other great SAPOL media section headlines have included:

BMX bandit robs woman on Hanson Rd
Intruder made to walk the plank
Not quite the kitchen sink found in Moonta

I’m not sure that the victims in all of these crimes would have appreciated such trivial treatment. I know for a fact that The Advertiser would be held up to ridicule and contempt if we trivialised crimes in that way. But if you’re measuring your success in Facebook likes, then I suppose these are all big winners.

I conducted an informal poll of Adelaide journalists about their experiences with SAPOL media and there was a consensus of frustration and anger, with all reporting consistently negative experiences. Several reporters said that when they’d refused SAPOL requests not to run particular stories, direct suggestions were made by SAPOL that information would be withheld from their media organisation. The journalists also reported that the most common phrase that they heard when calling the police media section was: “There’s nothing in it”. And incidentally, those were the exact words of a police media officer when he was asked about a body at a house in Warradale, which turned out to be a paedophile murdered in his own bed. And, disturbingly, when a state MP started lodging Freedom of information requests about the police on behalf of journalists, police actually complained directly to him about it. That is, at the very least, a highly inappropriate response.

My personal experience with SAPOL media is almost daily but usually second hand. As a news editor, I am often the next set of eyes that sees the work of a reporter who has tried, usually without success, to obtain the basic facts from the police, beyond what they have chosen to post on social media. In recent years, the Adelaide media has watched its supply of accurate and timely facts from police dry up. There is a steady flow of media releases, granted, but any kind of query via phone call or email, outside of the regular daily traffic or missing person alerts, can take days or even weeks to be answered, often with a single terse sentence saying that no information is available.

During my research for Australian Outlaw – the true story of Postcard Bandit Brenden Abbott (published in 2006), I had direct access to detectives across the country, without the need for police media to clear everything they said.

But for Dead By Friday, published 2012, I was given a point blank no to police cooperation and there was no reason given by SAPOL police media, despite the fact that I’d made it clear that the book was going to showcase the excellent work of the detectives involved in the case. I later discovered that SAPOL had signed a contract with a production company to do a documentary on the case. That company then approached me for assistance, prompting me to query why they were allowed to cover the story but I wasn’t. SAPOL relented without explanation and I was given access to two detectives, but only under the direct supervision of a SAPOL media staffer.

I should note though that both of those detectives had the flu on the day I interviewed them and both could quite easily cancelled. It is testament to the respect that they had for the victim in this case, Carolyn Matthews, who was an extraordinary woman who suffered a horrific fate. They gave me all the details I required for my book and were happy to cooperate, and that has generally been my experience with police, once they’ve actually been given permission to talk. Most of them understand that the media can be a useful tool in criminal investigations. They are happy to speak to journalists as long as they prove themselves to be fair, accurate and trustworthy.

But SAPOL wants none of that. It is only interested in taking its information and its image directly to its target audience, the public. And in isolation, there is nothing wrong with that. It keeps people in touch with important facts and events. The issue here is that they believe they can build a wall between themselves and the media, and then effectively replace the media. Trust us, we’re cops, right? But it occurs to me that allowing the police to report on themselves makes as much sense as allowing them to investigate themselves. By cutting out the middleman of the media, the police message is untainted by independent assessment and free from critical analysis.

This deliberate strategy to stage-manage and control all police information released into the public arena should be a cause for community concern. For a start, don’t expect to see too many new Australian true crime books on the shelves. Writing a true crime book is no small undertaking. My last two books took five years each. Both struck many hurdles along the way. There is also the pressure of ensuring you get the story right, because when you publish a non-fiction crime story, a single defamatory sentence could cost every cent of royalties and maybe your house for good measure if a court should award costs against you as well. Those two books also cost me countless weekends and holidays and it will be several years before I have properly repaid the debt that I owe my family as a result.

Essentially there is a lot of hard work, a great deal of risk, and relatively little reward. Certainly, money is not a great motivator in true crime. It’s a popular genre, but the return on the investment of hundreds if not thousands of hours is minimal at best. If you write true crime, it has to be about wanting to tell a story that demands to be told. For me, those stories have so far been the life of Postcard Bandit Brenden Abbott and the intertwined lives of West Lakes Shore housewife, businesswoman and mother Carolyn Matthews, and her husband’s lover, sexual predator Michelle Burgess.

Publishers are loath to take more risks than they need to in the brave new world of eBooks and true crime has always been a legal minefield. I have reviewed true crime books for 15 years and my personal experience is that there are now fewer Australian new releases than ever before in that timeframe, despite the boom in eBooks. If you withdraw or restrict the informed input of investigating detectives, and, by extension, their crucial assistance in obtaining cooperation from victims and their families, a true crime writer rarely has much else to go on. I’ve personally found that a trial transcript can be a gold mine, but only as a starting point for research, not as the main source. Stories need both facts and characters, and that requires interviews.
At the heart of this problem is the SAPOL media section’s mistaken belief that it is now a media organisation in active competition with other media outlets. It’s not the most level of playing fields when you control all of the information. The media section can interview as many officers as it wants, refuse other media permission to speak to them, and then give the public the police media-sanctioned version of the story, pictures and video. The problem with this is that South Australia Police is a public institution that must be accountable to the public as well as its own managers.
Certainly, it must be acknowledged that in some cases, the police must limit the release of information for genuine reasons such as the Privacy Act – because everyone, even criminals, has privacy rights. And there are also many occasions when media make enquiries about ongoing investigations, and no comment can be given because it would jeopardise inquiry. In spite of these factors, there is still a great deal of leeway for police to co-operate with the media.

I recall when I was a reporter, there were tours of the police academy, a day out with the bomb squad to learn about unexploded ordnance, a night in the police helicopter, a night with plain clothes police patrolling pubs, three nights with a crash investigation team, a night with a traffic sergeant who schooled me in the clues given by drunk and drugged drivers. And one memorable night when I flew to Port Lincoln in the middle of a thunderstorm on a small Police Airwing plane, tagging along with a group of Glenelg police who believed that a convoy of caravans stopped in the town was actually a gang of gypsy con artists.

I agree that SAPOL should be free to pursue its social media strategy and promote itself and the good work its many officers perform. But it must also make itself accountable to the public for its actions, by providing regular, timely information to independent media outlets. The direct line of communication between frontline police and journalists, which worked so effectively for generations, must be at least partly restored. Trust must be re-established and bridges rebuilt. If these things do not occur, there is a very real risk that the public will come to believe that the tightly controlled and highly subjective information released by SAPOL is the same as a fair and accurate news report written by a trained journalist with a critical eye.

And the elephant in the room also needs to be acknowledged. Journalists who seek the truth about issues that SAPOL won’t talk about run the risk of criminal charges if they try to gather information via unauthorised channels. Which, of course, is now every channel until the facts of cases are decided in a court. The irony in all of this is that while we’re banned from speaking to police in SA, the American media routinely interviews killers on death row. There’s nowhere that camera crews aren’t allowed in the American judicial system. Whether it’s on the beat with Cops or America’s Wildest Police Videos, inside supermax prisons, or around-the-clock justice on Court TV, American law enforcement loves the limelight. Meanwhile, at Adelaide crime and crash scenes, frontline police apologise to journalists when they ask them what has happened. “Sorry,” they tell us. “You’ll have to ring police media for details”. From probationary constables to 30-year veterans who are commissioned officers, police have been bullied into silence by the threat of the repercussions if they talk to the media.

While American true crime is big enough to sustain entire channels on cable TV, I believe that Australian true crime is being quietly assassinated by this new culture of secrecy.
As a young police reporter, I was drawn to true crime writing by David Simon’s 1993 epic novel, Homicide – a year on the killing streets. His contemporary, Clockers author Richard Price, writes that Simon’s Homicide captured the enormity of the little things. The half-closed eyes of the freshly dead; the ineffable poetry of a throwaway line, the physical ballet of aimlessness on the street corners; the unconscious dance of rage and boredom and joy.

It was Simon’s first step on the road to becoming the great American storyteller of his generation. He wrote only one more book – The Corner, also an observational vigil, this time on a drug corner – before succumbing to what he calls “the crack pipe of television”. After earning his stripes on the TV adaptation of Homicide, he went on to fictionalise his beloved, troubled Baltimore in The Wire, an epic five-season urban epoch that encompassed the city’s illegal drug trade, its seaport, city government and bureaucracy, schools and print news media. It is now widely recognised by critics as one of the greatest TV dramas of all time, not least because of its ability to capture the harsh cadence of both the street and the squad-room in a way that Hollywood never could.

Price writes that even with the creative freedom of fiction, Simon’s work (quote) “remains an exaltation of nuance, a continuing exploration of how the smallest external act can create the greatest internal revolution – in the life of a single marginalised person or in the spiritual and political biorhythm of a major American city”.
I understood little of this as a 20-year-old police reporter. I simply knew that Simon’s powerful and genuine voice transfixed me, at a time when I was growing to love the pursuit of a “good yarn”.

This was also my first encounter with “creative non-fiction”, that branch of journalism that sounds like a comical euphemism for outright lies, but is actually the kind of writing every passionate journalist – and true crime writer – should strive for. It is that elusive brand of reportage that is so thorough, so colourful, so damn gripping, that it flies off the pages and grabs you by the throat in the same way that a fictional story can.

Aside from Simon’s prodigious talent as a writer and social commentator, the other key reason the book is so riveting is the intimate, genuine insights he is able to glean because of the unprecedented cooperation he secures. In a moment of utter madness, the Baltimore Police Department agreed to allow Simon to shadow three squads of homicide detectives over a 12 month period.

After initial suspicion from the detectives, they allowed Simon to become part of the furniture and in an enormous leap of faith, they let him to document their warts and all working lives.
The result of that 12 months of research and then 12 months of writing was what is now widely acknowledged as a modern masterpiece of creative non-fiction.

I’m a realist: I know that SAPOL is not going to let any of our reporters go and set up a desk in Major Crime with a digital recorder and camera. (Although I think they would be surprised at the positive results if they did.) But what they could do is reassess the way they are trying to manipulate, intimidate and bypass the mainstream media in this state, and instead try to work with them again. The public has a right to expect that SAPOL conducts itself as a transparent public institution that is willing to hold itself up to public scrutiny, just as it always has in the past, before the wide-reaching policy changes of recent years.

Journalists and writers stand ready and willing to record the many powerful and important stories of SAPOL officers and the people they encounter. We are also ready and willing to critically analyse SAPOL’s policies and conduct, and we will always strive do so in the public interest. On behalf of my peers, I wold ask that SAPOL lowers the ramparts and once again demonstrates genuine public accountability for its actions, by exposing them to media scrutiny. Because otherwise, the community is left to wonder, what is it you’re trying to hide?
Derek Pedley

DEAD BY FRIDAY

Synopsis:
A compelling portrait of murder for hire in the Australian suburbs, it begins with a dangerous sexual predator seducing her husband’s sleazy boss. Their obsessive affair leads to public sex and disturbing fantasies. From the suburbs that spawned the Snowtown killers, enter the hitman. For the first time, the truth about the lovers who wanted their partners dead, but didn’t count on shrewd detectives, a brave husband and a shattered family – all determined to bring three killers to justice.

Reviews:
“A shocking story with truly gross players. This account of premeditated murder in the Adelaide suburbs – which occurred despite the ineptitude of the participants – is absolutely compelling, the characters so awful and pathetic… A book of quotes and perplexities, written with humour. (It was) hard to put down as the characters and scenario journeyed from bad to worse.”
– 2013 Ned Kelly Award judges (Best True Crime)

“A masterpiece of true crime … this unputdownable book has galvanised me into sleepless, haunted nights.”
– Peter Goers (Sunday Mail, Adelaide)

“Shakespeare it certainly ain’t. In fact, much of Dead By Friday is crass and distasteful, yet it’s also strangely compelling and before you know it, you will be drawn into the grubby, debaucherous and barely believable lives of a group of ordinary Australians mixed up in murder in the Adelaide suburbs.”
– Andrea Appleton (Queensland Police Union Journal)

“The fine detail of the lives and actions of the main and supporting characters in this book greatly enhances the reading experience. You really feel like you know these people as Pedley provides exceptional backgrounding of their lives. He is able to draw out of the reader a genuine emotional response, whether that is anger and disgust at the bad characters or empathy for the others, especially the victim Carolyn Matthews.”
– Ted Bassingthwaighte (NSW Police News)

“Pedley looks behind the headlines and tells a disturbing but unfortunately all-too-true story… compelling and all too real.”
– Chris Herde (Daily Telegraph, Sydney and Courier Mail, Brisbane)

“Unprecedented insight into a case that captivated Adelaide.”
– Sean Fewster, (Author of City of Evil)

“An amazing read, a phenomenal story.”
– Ali Clarke (Triple M Hot Breakfast, Adelaide)

“A gripping bogan nightmare.”
– Andrew Rule (Co-author of Underbelly series)

Deady By Friday – media

March 2014: The Nine network’s Inside Story current affairs series screened Fatal Females at 8.40pm on Wednesday, March 5.

December 2013: Major promotion of Dead By Friday by book marketer BookBub, which helped lift the eBook to #1 True Crime bestseller status on Amazon for a second time, and #128 in the Kindle store.

November 2013: Dead By Friday wins Best Investigative Coverage at the 2013 South Australian Press Club Awards. Full details here

August, 2013: Dead By Friday is shortlisted for Best True Crime book in the 2013 Ned Kelly Crime Writing Awards. Full details here

South Australian publisher Wakefield Press is now publisher and distributor of Dead By Friday and its new edition is available for $27.95. Book stores across Australia now stock it, or can order it in. Details here at the Wakefield Press website.

The Kindle edition of Dead By Friday is available for sale at Amazon.com. Click here to buy it from the Kindle store for $7.99. Visit Amazon here to buy my other books.

Foxtel’s Crime & Investigation channel regularly re-screens the documentary Contract Killers – Who Killed Carolyn Matthews?. Click here for details. It’s an accurate, thorough documentary, which serves as a perfect introduction to Dead By Friday’s in-depth narrative and analysis of the case.

One of my earlier books, Australian Outlaw – the True Story of Postcard Bandit Brenden Abbott (Sly Ink, 2006) has also reappeared on the shelves. It’s available here or can be ordered through book stores. The Kindle edition ($7.99) is now available here eBooks include full picture sections from original paperbacks.

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9 thoughts on “Presentation to LSCSA 2014 – with SAPOL response

  1. Is there anywhere you can find the interview between Jessica Adamson and Kevin Matthews? The one in the back yard of his house.

    • Hi Adam, I tried to track down a copy of that interview when I was researching the book, but was only able to obtain a transcript. It would make very interesting viewing. I’m sure.

      • Congratulations on writing such a brilliant book. As soon as I bought it I went and drove past the address in West shore and have been obsessed with it ever since, you’ve done a really great job with it. I’m just disappointed to have missed the signing for it, that would have been great.

  2. Derek, I love all of your work, your books are easily the best written true crime books on the market. I was wondering if you would be doing any more books signings in the near future and if you are where will they be?

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