Family tragedy finally receives closure: Opinion

THE WORLD quietly became a far better place last Wednesday; not many people would have noticed.

I did, as did my family and friends.

At noon on February 21 I received a phone call informing me the man who slaughtered three members of my family 40 years ago had died in the Goulburn Correctional Centre at the age of 67.

John Ernest Cribb was a psychopath; a man with no principles, devoid of decency or empathy. After my sister-in-law Val Connell came upon him ransacking her home, the one built by my brother Paul with his own hands to house his beloved wife and six children, Cribb kidnapped her at gunpoint, along with Sally, 10, and Damian, four, the youngest of my brother's kids. He took them to avoid detection of his petty crime; he was on parole - released 15 months too early for committing armed robbery with violence. He'd previously been incarcerated for being AWOL from the army.

He held them overnight before raping Val in front of her two terrified children, then he stabbed them and stuffed their bodies in the boot of their car. More violent crimes were committed when he escaped gaol in late 1978 before being recaptured.

The damage done to my family over the ensuing years cannot be measured. Not only did we have to deal with their loss, and the knowledge of the way in which they died, but Cribb lied about the circumstances in an effort to lessen his sentence. He claimed he had been in a relationship with my sister-in-law, and that Sally was his daughter. He said Val had agreed to leave my brother and run off with him and he'd killed them all in a jealous rage when she'd decided to go home to her family. In reality, they had never met until that terrible day, August 11, 1978. The time of Sally's conception he was in gaol for the AWOL offence. The very competent prosecuting authority proved this in court; however, Cribb never retracted his ugly lies publicly. He had (conveniently) "found God" somewhere along the way after his triple murder convictions and married, he appeared on tabloid current affairs programs saying how often he thought of us and what he'd done, yet wrote more than once to the parole board asking for leniency based on his dreadful falsehoods

I am uncharitable enough to hope that he died badly, begging for his life, looking for the mercy he hadn't shown my family. Instead he died suddenly of natural causes. Because he was behind bars there will be a coroner's report, as is required by law. We may never know the cause. It won't matter anyway.

One of my best friends summed it up perfectly.

Lived too long, suffered too little.