Michael Duffy, a crime journalist ( Sydney Morning Herald and Sun Herald ) wrote an interesting and somewhat politically incorrect book. The outline of the plot as on the back cover:
“John Habib is the mechanic son of a Muslim Lebanese Australian crime family in Sydney’s Western suburbs. His oldest brother is in a maximum security prison, his middle brother is becoming increasingly fundamentalist, and his younger brother Rafi is on trial for a murder he swears he didn’t commit. John has no reason to disbelieve Rafi but there are things going on in the family that he just doesn’t understand. Why has his brother Farid taken control of the family away from their father? Are the police really trying to set up Rafi?”
There are also sisters; Jamila married to a Muslim Lebanese lawyer, and a not yet married, problematic Shada.
Beside the corrupt and the Lebanese-hating police officers, not necessarily the identical group, there is a female detective Ms Bec Ralston with her own, what is today euphemistically called, ‘issues’ and a part Aborigine to boot. Thus certain developments are predictable, just as are the additional corpses.
The prosecutor in the murder trial is married to the New South Wales Attorney-General, who came up with “a controversial proposal that would see the users of drugs punished far more heavily. He’d realised, he declared in many speeches, that the traditional way of fighting the war on drugs had failed because it regarded drugs as either a crime or a health issue. But it was also a financial one, a market, and until you suppressed demand you could never stamp out supply. For decades the state had gone soft on users under the rubric of harm minimisation, out of sympathy for heroin addicts. But the time had come to rewrite the drug narrative. In fact, most users were recreational – most did not use heroin – and until they stopped buying, the market would flourish. So users would be the new targets.”
Did I mention that Drive By is a fiction? I suspect that Mr Duffy used a literary subterfuge to bring the idea to the knowledge of general public. I heard similar proposals from lawyers, police officers and nurses. They are not discussed in a polite, politically correct and sentimentalist society, but whatever their potential merits, they ought to be.
It seems that Mr Duffy is confused about voire dire, or perhaps deliberately simplifies matters for laymen. The voire dire is, or at least used to be, a preliminary examination of a witness by the judge in which he is required to “speak the truth” with respect to the questions put to him; if his incompetency appears, e.g. on the ground that he is not of sound mind, he is rejected”. The admissibility of evidence, most often the voluntariness or otherwise of confessions, was tested by this procedure – a trial within a trial. A legal argument in the absence of a jury was something else altogether. Maybe American practices and nomenclature crept in while I was not looking.
For a reader not too interested in the real crimes in his city the book provides some insight into the raising Middle East migrant and the second generation migrant crime in very entertaining and suspenseful way. It is not an optimistic, feel-good, multiculturalist book.
/Michael Duffy – Drive By – Inside a Western suburbs crime family / Allen & Unwin 2013/