Allem Halkic was an energetic and happy teenager, an only child from a loving and supportive family. Allem had many friends.
Allem began a friendship with the offender Shane Gerada around October 2008. Towards the end of 2008 the friendship became strained. The tone of their friendship ultimately changed as a result of jealousy and a fallout over a girl. The offender Gerada set out to slander Allem to his friends and school colleagues. During January 2009 the friendship worsened. Allem became aware of salacious comments being made by Gerada, directed towards a female friend, and Allem saw it his responsibility to warn his friend about Gerada. This then escalated the bullying against Allem, spiraling out of control to include hundreds of threatening text messages and messages via MySpace. There were also threats to involve well known violent gangs. Allem attempted to apologise on many occasions, his attempts were rejected by Gerada.
On the evening of 4 February 2009 everything seemed normal. Allem had been at a friend’s house and returned home around 9.30pm. He went to his room to spend time on his computer. Allem went downstairs for a drink and snack as he normally did, then returned to his room. His parents went to bed and set the alarm for 6.30am the next morning. At around 1.10am Allem had a conversation with Gerada, the contents of that conversation will never be known. It was after that conversation that Allem left a suicide note on his bed, left the house and travelled to the Westgate Bridge. At around 4.45am on 5 September 2009 Allem jumped from the Westgate Bridge and later died of his injuries. His death was incomprehensible to his parents, the loss overwhelming to his friends. This should not have happened.
Allem’s parents Ali and Dina Halkic have campaigned to bring awareness of the dangers of cyber-bullying since his death in 2009. They continue to do so. On 20 April 2011 a hearing was conducted at the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT). Schembri & Co Lawyers assisted the family in a successful application for assistance and they were formally recognized as related victims. This was a landmark decision and one that our firm was very proud to have been involved in.
The Tribunal Member deciding this matter made the following findings:
“It then comes to whether you are related victims of this act of violence, of stalking. Section 11 of the Act talks about this and that is why you are here today. A related victim of an act of violence is a person who at the time of the occurrence of the act of violence was a close family member of a primary victim of that act who died as a direct result of that act”. “I think that this is, as Mr Carr-Gregg said, a rare case”.
Later in his judgment Magistrate Capell said “It is a recognition that that was in my view – his death was a direct result of that criminal act of stalking and I am satisfied in this matter it is one of those rare cases where I would have to say the connection is just inevitable”.
The decision to award Allem’s parents under this Act recognises his suicide occurring as a result of an act of violence and will have far reaching consequences for the recognition of other victims and the assistance available to their families. In short, it may allow opportunities for other grieving families to seek assistance from this Tribunal. For the Halkic’s, this decision has allowed them to restore Allem’s dignity and to provide recognition that a crime was committed against their son. To his family and all that knew him, Allem is no longer a suicide statistic. Allem is a victim of crime.
Julia Schembri, Schembri & Co Lawyers