Police and Victims

In an interview by Andrew Denton, Ingrid Poulson recounted the details that led to the murder of her father and two children by her estranged husband, as well as how the Australian police had been unable to properly address the issues surrounding the reported domestic violence. In the late 1990s, Ingrid was an English teacher in Thailand where she met and fell in love with Neung, a Thai national. They got married, moved to Ingrid’s native country of Australia and had two children – daughter, Marlee, and son, Bas.

Neung, as Ingrid recalled, was a loving and gentle father and husband. Sadly, their marriage began falling apart shortly after their son was born and soon Neung became a violent and emotionally volatile man. Ingrid soon decided to take her children and leave Neung, moving in with her father. The estrangement was not taken very well by her husband. He had begun threatening and intimidating her into reconciling with him. His behavior was erratic as time went by, but he had somehow convinced her to allow him to spend time with their children.

One night, he was able to trick her into going to the house they used to share, saying he had prepared dinner for her and their children, only to start crying and begging for her to return to him for good. When she did not heed his request, he suddenly went to the kitchen and, in front of their children, tried to slit his throat. Ingrid wrestled with him for the knife and was able to pacify him, but when she tried taking their children to leave, she told her that he would kill himself if she took their daughter.

Ingrid took their son, ran off and called the police to report the incident. When the police arrived, they dismissed Ingrid’s claims of domestic violence and regarded the case as more of her husband simply trying to harm himself. They took it more as a welfare issue, rather than that of a domestic violence case, despite seeing the distraught faces of the children and Ingrid’s account of what had transpired. They had meant to attend to Neung’s needs instead of addressing the distress caused by the incident on Ingrid and her children.

The police did not even ask about their safety or if they needed protection. Ingrid had then decided to get an AVO (Apprehended Violence Order) in order to protect herself and her children from Neung. She recalled feeling responsible for Neung, being as it was that he had no other family in Australia, but she needed to protect herself and her children first. However, within merely an hour after the AVO was issued by the court, Neung began calling her, and even went to her father’s house where she and her children were staying.

She had her father report the breach of the AVO to the police and even pointed out that the telephone operator had a record of her father calling and reporting the incident. The police who went to their house, however, claimed that no report of AVO breach was made. The police had even told her to simply talk to Neung about the AVO issuance and warn him that he could go to jail if he breaks it again. Ingrid recalled how she would have wanted the police to step in further into the situation, but they did not even take a statement or listen to her and her father.

Two weeks after the AVO was issued, Neung broke into their house, tied up and raped Ingrid, and then begged her to kill him. She was able to talk him down and pacify him, and then she left and called the Rape Crisis Center. The Rape Crisis Center suggested that she call the Domestic Violence Office, and told her that there should be a domestic violence officer at the police station that she could talk to. She called the police station but the domestic violence officer was not in so she spoke to another police officer.

She explained to this officer what had happened – the breach of the AVO and the rape – and asked what she had to do. She had told him that she was unsure whether or not to pursue the rape case and that she was worried about where her husband had gone to. Ingrid recalled how relieved she felt when the police officer told her, “With all due, with all due respect, ma’am, I don’t care about him, I care about you and what I can do for you right now. ”