In 2009 we had a story about Alice Coath’s journeys in the courts.
We gather she has passed away since then.
Today Beezle’s posted a comment which I thought deserved a story of its own:
12:32 pm, 25 Jan 11
Like most of us have done at some point in our lives, I jumped on Google on Sunday afternoon and typed in the name of an old friend.
I was hoping to find her on facebook so we could catch up on the last 12 or so years since we lost contact.
Instead of finding a facebook page, I found this post.
I met Alice Coath in a Pearl Jam chat room, way back when we were new to being teenagers. She was funny and brave and one of my favourite people to talk to. We’d call each other and laugh and talk for hours about nothing, an ability all teenage girls have, but one that tends to disappear as we get older.
We grew up together for those first couple of years. I was a very shy, self-conscious child, and Alice was this brave girl, not really afraid to try new things. I admired that in her and was always attracted to people just like her, probably hoping to learn how they did it.
Reading this thread has been one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life. I had been told via a mutual friend many years ago, when asking if she’d heard from Alice, that she had gone into rehab. I tried to make contact with her then, but did not know where to begin. I even have a vague recollection of speaking to her, but can’t for the life of me recall what was said.
Never in my wildest imagination did I think the girl I used to laugh and share my most important thoughts with would one day be the centre of a situation like this one.
Reading all the horrible things said about her has been difficult. I understand the anger projected at her, knowing that if I’d been faced with the situation she put Mr Murray and Ms Bajwa in, I would be just as angry. The difference here is that to me, Alice isn’t just another junkie. Alice is the girl I talked to when I was too scared to speak to my parents, or when I had something really important to share that I felt nobody else would understand.
Alice is the girl my family took me to visit when I was 14, and we spent the day taking photos in the park near her house. Those photos from that day were put into the slideshow my sister made for our family this Christmas just past. When they came up on the TV on Christmas morning, amidst the photos of my siblings and I as babies, with our vegemite-covered faces, I was so happy. I hadn’t seen those photos for 14 years.
I don’t want to offend anyone involved in this situation by posting this. Alice made some bad decisions in her life that led her to the moment she encountered Mr Murray and Ms Bajwa, and at the end of the day, the responsibility of her addiction and the subsequent robbery, is hers to bear, but Alice wasn’t an evil person. Alice was a girl. Just a normal girl, with a mother, a father, and a sister who loved her and had to live through the agony of watching someone so precious to them, lose herself in addiction.
You can never tell what life is going to throw in your path, and unfortunately, the nature of addiction is such that you don’t know you’re an addict until you try to stop, until it’s too late to stop. Of course, we all have choices whether or not we put our feet on a path that may lead us down a bad road.
Unfortunately, Alice made that decision when she was too young to truly understand what the lifelong consequences of her decision were. I know the decisions I made as a teenager certainly weren’t made with any kind of long-term consequences in mind. I was immortal as a teenager. We all were. Besides, drug addiction is something that belongs to other people, never to us.
I don’t expect anyone else to feel the sadness that I feel, reading her story. I certainly don’t expect the people she terrified with the syringe to feel any sympathy for a life, wasted.
But Alice could be your sister, your cousin, your daughter, your wife. She was somebody’s daughter. She was my friend. I have no answers, no opinion on the sentence Alice did or should have received. All I know is that a girl I loved is now dead and instead of mourning her death, I am mourning the moments of her life that took her from that bright girl I entered my teenage years with to someone whose mind was so broken that she threatened someone with a syringe to steal $20.
Nothing can be done to redress this situation. No compensation can be given to her victims and nothing will bring Alice back, or change the way her life was lived. But maybe, each of us who has commented here, so obviously affected one way or another by this story, can take this horrible situation with us and talk to the teenagers in our lives about the real consequences of drugs and the way something that seems like a bit of fun with your mates can very quickly and easily destroy your entire life. That is the reality of heroin, not just something in the movies.
Don’t talk down to them, but talk to them like the adults they’re about to become. They still won’t comprehend the lifelong ramifications of drug use, many adults I know still don’t, but if something positive can come from the negative parts of Alice’s life, I hope it would be that somehow, her story reaches someone who is about to start treading the path she lived on, and encourages them to walk away from it.