Noelene Cater ‘very nervous’ about prospect of husband Richard’s killer returning to Palmerston | The Canberra Times

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There were no second chances for Richard Cater. The man known as Dick was murdered outside his Palmerston home in March 2019 when he heroically took on a drug-addicted teenager to defend two older friends from a savage and indiscriminate attack. But a second chance for the 82-year-old’s killer is just around the corner, both figuratively and perhaps literally. The killer will be released from prison in September 2023 after just four and a half years behind bars, following a recent decision by the ACT Court of Appeal to nearly halve the time he would spend in custody. This decision has failed the Cater family for many reasons, including that if the killer returns to live with his family, he will soon be just a few hundred yards from Mr Cater’s nearly 60-year-old wife, Noelene. When this came up in conversation with The Canberra Times on Wednesday, it was clear that this had already put Ms Cater on edge. “Very nervous. Very nervous indeed,” she said when asked what she thought of this. “I just can’t imagine” [the killer] coming back to this neighborhood and this community. “I may not see him two blocks away, but I’ll probably run into him in the local stores any time. What should I do? I just don’t like that he’s in this neighborhood again.’ The 19-year-old perpetrator, who cannot be named because he was a minor at the time of the attack, wandered the streets near his home that night in 2019 while “tripping” on LSD. The “raging and violent looter,” as one judge described him, ran into Mr Cater and two of the 82-year-old’s friends as they stopped outside the elderly man’s home after dinner. The attacker screamed death threats and made what has been described as “prehistoric monster noises,” biting Mr. Cater’s attackers, pulling one of their heads forward so hard it broke the woman’s spine. Mr. Cater managed to arm himself with a spade and draw the attacker’s attention to himself. This heroic act cost him his life, with the killer overpowering him before brutally stomping on his head. The horrific nature of the attack has left the close-knit Cater family stunned that the attacker will now be released from prison so soon. When the ACT Court of Appeal reduced the custodial portion of the original sentence by four years, three judges spoke of the importance of “individualized justice” and promoting rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. The Caters don’t want to deny the killer a second chance. But one of Mr Cater’s sons, Michael, told The Canberra Times that he believed people should be held accountable for their actions. He expressed concern about the precedent that just four and a half years behind bars could be set in this case, saying it was unlikely that such a term would deter others from taking mind-altering drugs and potentially committing a deadly disaster. . Michael Cater also didn’t think this time in prison was enough as the price for a murderer, who had assaulted three elderly people, to pay to earn a chance at redemption. ‘My father is dead. He never got a second chance,’ he said. “You’ve got to expect to be able to pull out of your driveway . . . and get into your house without being attacked by some drug-addicted kid from down the road.” The lingering consequences of the incident are innumerable. Richard Cater has left behind a life partner, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, some of whom he has not been able to meet. These people feel like they’ve been handed a life sentence much heavier than what was imposed on the killer because of the hole the loss of the water ski lawyer has left in them. MORE NEWS COURT AND CRIME: Part of what Michael Cater now has to live with, after being raced to his parents’ house on that fateful night, is the impossible image of his badly beaten father in a gutter. “To see my father lying there in the state he was in is pretty shocking, I can tell you,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. It’s something that will stick in my head for the rest of my life.” Another son, Mark Cater, described the scene as “complete carnage”, saying it haunted him and wished the killer could be identified to warn others about him. He was especially displeased with the possibility that the killer would return to live near his mother. Grandson Stuart Cater said the lack of clarity about whether the killer would indeed be allowed to return to Palmerston was very frustrating. He believed, like the other members of the family who spoke to The Canberra Times, that the laws surrounding juvenile delinquents served admirable purposes, but may not have been designed to tackle such heinous crimes as murder. They also felt that the legal system placed too much emphasis on perpetrators and too little on victims. For example, Stuart Cater pointed out that they could have read victim statements during the original sentencing hearing. But when the killer won his appeal, there was no opportunity for them to address the court charged with resenting and detailing the lingering fallout from the incident. Making sure his grandfather still has a voice is important to Stuart Cater, who said the 82-year-old was always the first to stand up for his family. All that family can do is hope that no one else has to endure what they have. Our journalists work hard to provide local, current news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:



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