Support comes to victims on coast

UNTIL fifteen months ago Bellingen-born Colleen Wood felt herself to be part of a large, close-knit family.

That changed overnight on November 22, 2006, when her 53-year-old brother, Brian McGovern, was killed and her 28-year-old nephew Joseph stabbed and seriously injured by her 21-year-old nephew Daniel, at her brother's Tallebudgera Valley home.

Now living in Valla, Mrs Wood said she wanted to tell her story to warn parents about the dangers of drug use by their children and delays in dealing with it.

“At the time of the attack, Daniel was drug-affected and supposedly 'attacking big green dragons',” Mrs Wood said.

“Brian knew his kids smoked marijuana.

“He had noticed a change in his son and the day before he died had said to Joseph they needed to get some intervention for Daniel.

“He planned to do that the very next day - but his tomorrow never came.”

Arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder at the time, Daniel has since received medical help.

He was diagnosed as being paranoid schizophrenic with one doctor reporting a daily consumption of between 10 to 15 'cones' in the lead-up to the attack.

Found to be unfit for trial, he remains in custody and has been undergoing intensive treatment, including electro-convulsive therapy, ever since.

Ms Wood said her nephew was a good kid, who loved his Dad and would never have done this normally.

For Mrs Wood the support of both the Queensland and NSW Homicide Victim's Support Groups has been invaluable.

“The group ferry people to and from airports, bus terminals and train stations, they get you to and from the court hearings, stay with you during the hearings and are there to provide much-needed counselling sessions. They are wonderful.”

Now Mrs Wood says she is ready to give something back and wants to start a Coffs Harbour-based support group.

There will be an initial informal gathering at the Coffee Club, Park Beach Plaza, on Saturday, March 7, at 11am. Please wear a white flower to identify yourself. Phone 6569 5130.

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