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HomeU.S.AHistorical past of violence: how a murder-suicide ended a bloody chapter in...

Historical past of violence: how a murder-suicide ended a bloody chapter in a small Victorian city

Death was by no means far behind Kevin Knowles. It was there when he and his companion, Amanda Bourke, spent the day ingesting with Stephen Johnston in 2016. Johnston was savagely crushed at his dwelling in Victoria’s south-west and left with 101 separate accidents; he died in hospital. Knowles was the primary suspect.

Demise was shut once more when Bourke drowned whereas swimming with Knowles at a rugged and remoted seashore two years later. Together with her died nearly any probability of Knowles being prosecuted for Johnston’s dying.

However dying caught up with Knowles on 22 July, when he was shot and run over on a single-lane nation street close to Kirkstall, north-west of Warrnambool. The suspected gunman, who can be thought to have killed one other man discovered lifeless with Knowles, drove dwelling and turned the gun on himself.

Whereas native residents expressed shock on the carnage that unfolded in such a peaceable a part of the state, nobody with even a passing information of Knowles was stunned he’d met such an finish.

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Johnston described Knowles in his diary as “the satan”. Regardless of these reservations, Johnston spent the ultimate hours of his life ingesting with Knowles and Bourke on 7 December 2016.

In 2020, a coroner, Simon McGregor, discovered that Knowles and Johnston had argued about Bourke and that Knowles induced Johnston’s accidents by assaulting him whereas affected by medication.

Bourke was routinely brutalised by Knowles, McGregor discovered. Johnston had even written in his diary that he had twice pushed Bourke to the police station so she might report Knowles for assaulting her.

Knowles would later be jailed for giving Bourke a black eye, threatening to kill her with a knife and bury her, and grabbing her across the throat whereas protecting her mouth to attempt to cease her from respiration.

Handwritten letters despatched by the couple whereas Knowles was in jail had been revealed through the inquest.

The letters confirmed Knowles repeatedly urged Bourke to not be a “canine” by talking to the “jacks” about his involvement in Johnston’s dying.

McGregor famous on the inquest that although the case in opposition to Knowles was circumstantial, and Knowles had a proper to not give proof through the proceedings to keep away from incriminating himself, he could be referring the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions to contemplate prices in opposition to Knowles.

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The inquest additionally uncovered one other letter that Bourke had written to her mom. She instructed her Knowles had “acquired actual nasty many instances” in direction of her and that she had made a criticism to police.

Officers had needed her in “witness safety”, she wrote, as they feared Knowles would kill her, however she refused as she wouldn’t be capable to see her daughter.

Inside months, Bourke, 44, died on a lonely stretch of seashore. And Knowles was by her facet.

The Reducing is a wild stretch of coast nearly straight midway between Warrnambool and Port Fairy that’s hardly ever frequented by swimmers.

In accordance with coronial findings, on 18 January 2018, with the temperature climbing in direction of 40 levels, Knowles and Bourke determined to go swimming. Knowles stated Bourke steered the Reducing fairly than different seashores in order that the pair wouldn’t stumble upon individuals they didn’t need to see.

They went into the water within the late afternoon, and Knowles stated Bourke jumped on his again. A witness on the time who was strolling on the seashore together with his spouse stated he had seen a pair cuddling within the water they usually “gave the impression to be all proper”.

However Knowles stated that he quickly misplaced his footing, after which realised he might now not contact the seafloor. He went beneath the water, and Bourke slipped from his again.

He stated she known as for him to assist, he grabbed her, however the movement of the waves broke his grip and he momentarily overlooked her.

When he noticed her once more, she was 20 metres away and gave the impression to be floating.

Knowles then yelled for assist. The identical witness who had seen the couple earlier got here to his support, crossing a big channel that contained a harmful rip, earlier than finding Bourke. She couldn’t be revived.

Bourke and Knowles had been engaged, and lived collectively in Kirkstall. However her household had been so involved about his historical past of violence in direction of her, and the truth that she was the one witness to Johnston’s dying, that they urged a coroner to carry an inquest into Bourke’s dying.

They later withdrew the request, and a coroner, Caitlin English, made findings into the dying – with out holding an inquest – that cleared Knowles of any involvement regardless of there being various “uncommon points” to the drowning on “first examination”.

She was happy Knowles had been violent to Bourke, and that as the one witness to Johnston’s assault she might implicate Knowles within the dying, however discovered no proof the drowning was something aside from an accident “attributable to treacherous sea situations”.

Regardless of being linked to 2 suspicious deaths in as a few years, Knowles stored on a lot as he had earlier than. On the time of the Johnston inquest he had a greater than 50-page prison report, and had been because of face courtroom once more three days after he died.

However in some unspecified time in the future on 22 July, it seems he had an altercation with one other Kirkstall man, Travis Cashmore.

Knowles, 49, would stroll greater than an hour from Kirkstall to the bigger city of Koroit most days, typically together with his mate Benjamin Ray, native residents instructed Guardian Australia.

Cashmore discovered them on the street between the cities that morning, and ended their lives. It might by no means be clear why, however police are getting ready a report for the coroner.

In some unspecified time in the future within the days after the deaths, an indication was screwed on to Cashmore’s gate.

“Free,” it learn in massive black block letters, “Trav! You and the Kirkstall group at the moment are free from Kevin Knowles. RIP.”


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