Misery knocks first at the door of the miserable. It stood in the doorway in the guise of Bill Turner, a ratty man in a greasy shirt and thongs. Turner's arrival invariably meant someone was going to get hurt, yet the door was always opened to him. Misery loves company.
Turner exerted considerable influence within a world of broken-down single mothers in Top End towns, who seemed prepared to ignore the obvious: that he wasn't interested in sleeping in their beds, but in the beds of their daughters.
Turner has left many victims. He took one of them, a remarkable young woman, to hell. Despite being betrayed by those closest to her, including her mother, she is now finding her way back. She knows it is still too early to say for sure, but her head is in the right place. She thinks she can make it.
William Gordon Turner, 52, was a rapist and pedophile for almost 35 years. He was sentenced last week in the Northern Territory Supreme Court for converting the girl, as an 11-year-old, into his plaything. He used her repeatedly over four years up until 2006.
Turner -- sentenced along with his companion in the attacks, Patricia Anne Rayment -- was seen as such a bad rehabilitation prospect that Chief Justice Brian Martin believed he would remain a malevolent sexual force into his late 70s. No parole date was set and Turner will probably never be released.
What the girl, now 17, is confronting most at this time is her belief that her mum knew what was happening. When authorities tried to intervene onthe girl's behalf, the mother lied for Turner, her boyfriend ofsorts.
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``He was only pretending he was in a relationship with my mum,'' the girl tells The Australian. ``I think he was after me.''
Turner's deeds were high-level criminality. The way the mother turned away from her daughter was neglect at a level that, hopefully, defies the comprehension of ordinary people. The girl's story is about surviving a bruising journey made within the confines of her own home. It is a journey no child should have to take.
Asked whether she blamed her mother, the girl says: ``When victims have this sort of thing done, I think we expect something done about it. I think we feel all alone and no one's trying to help us -- and we hold it against the closest people to us.
``It's going to be a long process with mum. I'm trying to forgive her at the moment. After I lost my dad I kind of realised life's too short to hold grudges. I needed some kind of family around me, some kind of support. We are talking.''
Northern Territory police say the girl showed extraordinary courage. Justice Martin found her testimony ``patently honest''. And things were stacked against her. It wasn't just Turner; it was her mother, who declined to intervene on her behalf. And it was the fact that Turner was not alone in the dock last week. He was sentenced along with Rayment, 36.
Playing the role of a lesbian pedophile, presumably to please Turner, to whom she was strangely and desperately attached, Trish Rayment joined Turner in the assaults in 2005, when the girl was 14.
On one occasion, Turner was disgusted with Rayment's rape performance, complaining: ``For a person supposed to be a lesbian, you don't know much about lesbian stuff.''
Rayment was sentenced on five counts to a five-year non-parole term for doing damage the judge felt she did not fully appreciate. Even after her arrest, Rayment expressed envy for the victim. She said the child had a better figure than her and worried Turner found her more attractive.
As for Turner, he seemed to think his victim, at the age of 11, was ``very developed''. He said: ``She knew what she was doing.''
Rayment told authorities that Turner had proposed to her, in writing, after their arrest, and that she could not imagine life without him. Justice Martin called Rayment's need for Turner as a ``dependency''.
When the mother, who had knowledge of Turner's history, was suitably plied with drink, Turner's real adult girlfriend, Rayment, would show up.
Turner was the oldest of four children in a family that wandered the far north while dad, a fierce drinker, searched for work in between smashing the kids. Turner was laughed at for going to school in rags and appeared to be worse off than the neat mission-raised Aboriginal kids, as they were then. He would go to bed hungry.
Turner was seen as white trash. Unable to read or write, he left school at 14 and wandered the Territory as a pet meat shooter, railway labourer and a builder.
On July 1, 1973, at the age of 18, Turner committed his first known rape, in the company of probably the first person he learned to master, a younger brother.
The pair were drinking at the Mataranka Hotel, about 400km south of Darwin, when they saw two young women, 19 and 21, hitching out of town. The brothers offered them a lift and took them to bush off the Roper Road. Bill Turner forced the 21-year-old down. The 19-year-old pleaded with the brother to help her friend but he refused. The brothers punched both girls in the face raped them and dumped them on a bush road at night.
Bill Turner was sentenced to a two-year non-parole period on October 16, 1974, but was inadvertently released from the old Fannie Bay Gaol in Darwin in January 1975, during confusion following Cyclone Tracy. Twelve months later, in Mount Isa, Queensland, Turner was sentenced to 18 months in prison for raping a 13- or 14-year-old close relative. He then made his way back to Mataranka, where he worked in the pub.
In 1978, he was sentenced for assault after brawling with a patron. In June, two weeks after being released from a three-month jail term, Turner and two mates took a drunken part-Aboriginal girl to bush outside Darwin and raped her. Turner was released on parole in June 1984.
Turner began a relationship with a woman who had visited him in prison. They married but, by 1989, he was badly bashing her and was targeting an 11-year-old girl. Turner pleaded guilty to theviolent assaults and to five counts of having sexual intercourse with the girl but those counts were only a representative sample of his abuse.
Turner was found to be a danger to young girls and, in 1992, began an eight-year non-parole period in Darwin's Berrimah jail. Released and on parole, in 2002, Turner met a white alcoholic woman who had recently separated from her husband. She had a young part-Aboriginal daughter -- the one who would later cause Turner to spend his life in prison. Turner, when in a rage, called the girl ``the nigger''.
The five counts of sexual intercourse to which Turner pleaded guilty were once again a mild sample of his offending.
He raped the child incessantly -- first on his own, later with Rayment -- so many times the girl was unable to particularise many specific incidents.
The first assault occurred at the back of a caravan in Coconut Grove, an industrial estate in Darwin. Mum had passed out drunk. Turner woke the girl, aged 11, took her out the back to a caravan, asked her to remove her clothes. When she asked why, hesaid: ``Because I am going to f..k you.''
The details of her suffering do not warrant repetition. Suffice to say that on the periphery of the rapes were threats to the girl with a shotgun (which the mother witnessed) after he accused her of infidelity; pornographic films; and Turner's constant monitoring of the girl's period in case of pregnancy.
Then there was the introduction of Rayment as the lesbian factor/attacker.
Rayment and Turner went back a long way. She was 14 when she began a sexual relationship with Turner's son. After they fell out, she -- at the age of 16 -- began having sex with Turner, for a short time. In 1991, she had a son to another man and a year later had a daughter to Turner, just before he went to jail.
They stayed in touch during Turner's incarceration, though, in 1998, Rayment had a daughter to another man. The judge noted this girl would ``come to the attention of Family and Children's Services because of concerns over her relationship with Turner'' after his release from prison.
Rayment insisted that her youngest daughter had not been exposed to Turner.
Rayment wrote to the judge from remand, saying: ``These actions are out of character for me and will never again be repeated as this is my first offence.'' The judge wasn't impressed, pointing out how Rayment claimed the girl had begged to join in the sex with her and Turner or else she'd tell her mother. (Rayment later retreated from that claim.)
Interviewed after her arrest, and told of the girl's allegations, Rayment broke down, saying: ``I can't believe she could do this to us. She is only thinking of herself. What about us?''
The girl had been caught in a parental custody dispute. The girl's father knew Turner's history and intervened. In May 2003, the child was returned to her father's care, with the mother allowed only supervised access visits with the child. In June 2003, the child's father died and she was briefly placed into a foster care.
The mother then won her daughter back. Turner, says the girl, maintained a relationship with her mother as a front. His real girlfriend was Rayment, whom the girl first met in Mataranka, in 2003.
Police and FACS were alert to Turner, based on the father's concerns -- and possibly that of a family in Katherine. They had the girl dumped on their doorstep by Turner and found they were unable to coax her from her fetal position under a bed.
Asked about it, the girl says she does not recall the incident. But the family took note of her name, and the date, and their calls to police: it all matches.
Turner was receiving counselling for his sexual offending against children as part of his parole conditions the whole time he was raping the girl. Police and FACS became concerned Turner was in breach by being in proximity to the girl, but her mother continually deceived them by claiming Turner was not on the scene. She also persuaded the girl to lie and say she had no contact with Turner.
Police think the girl was overwhelmed by the sexual abuse and, having lost her father, continued to protect her mother, to avoid losing her as well.
Attempts to have Turner sent back to jail for breaches failed before the parole board.
It ended in March last year when police were called for a domestic disturbance at the Darwin residence of the girl's mother. Turner, who had a gun, had been threatening violence. During interviews the girl revealed she had been repeatedly raped by Turner.
``I think he's sick,'' the girl says. ``I think he likes to have control over people, of everything. Now that it's over I'm trying to move on. I'm happy he got the sentence he deserved. It's important I was believed. When we're victims and we have all these people say we should go to the police and tell them what's been happening, and we're too scared, when we are believed it becomes a real shock to us.''
Why are you saying ``us''? Have you been speaking to other victims? ``No. It's because when you read about those others who only get short sentences, you think, `Maybe he'll only get a short period'. It's a shock to be believed. There's a lot of victims out there. I'm talking for victims we don't know about.''