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Remembering Alice Coath

By johnboy - 25 January 2011 19

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:

#95 beezle
(Newbie)
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.

What’s Your opinion?


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19 Responses to
Remembering Alice Coath
Mr Gillespie 2:11 am 18 Feb 11

dvaey said :

It was with sadness that I read this story as I was probably one of the few friends Alice had who understood her but wasnt involved in the same troubles she encountered. I first met Alice in the late 90s and helped her clean up and get off the drugs and out of trouble, but inevitably she’d find old friends who would drag her back down into the same old troubles. She was a great friend, who’d be there any time of the day or night if anyone needed anything.

Her life ended too early, but maybe she’ll finally be able to rest in peace from the hectic life she always led. My thoughts are with her family, who along with a small handful of very close friends, were always there through the good times and the bad.

grunge_hippy, she was often spotted on internet chat rooms from when I knew her until only a couple of years ago.. a lot of people would have known her if they frequented the civic area, also. She was quite a memorable person, and I for one will be sad to never sit down and have a drink and a smoke with her again.

RIP Ali

I knew Disp as well. She was part of a community of Macintosh computer users — she even said she grew up in the Macintosh community — despite only ever owning a PC. One of those strange and intriguing Alice In Wonderland mysteries.

grunge_hippy said :

does someone know if she was online in the IRC canberra channel back around 99/00? i think i knew this girl back then. nice enough but oh so messed up.

That was how I was friends with her, she was good to talk to, loyal, especially back in 1999,……until she got in so deep due to the drugs and she seemed determined to throw away or wreck any friendship she’d have with anyone post-2004.

She is one of the reasons why I hate drug pushers, and believe in enforced drug rehab (even if she didn’t want to be helped). I have heard from a reliable source how she died but not sure if I am at liberty to say on here, but even I don’t know the exact date, all I know is her death notice was published in the Canberra Times classifieds on Saturday, August 28. “Her brave struggle is over”

My thoughts are also with her parents, sister and the friend of hers I chatted with who was close to her.

ummmm_no 11:39 pm 26 Jan 11

A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster said :

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

I’m sorry you learned so little from the experience. There but for the grace of Dog could you have gone.

Empathy is an energy.

Muttsybignuts 11:12 pm 26 Jan 11

A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster said :

Good riddance to bad rubbish. This comment comes from someone who has a sister who was a heroin addict and almost died from an overdose in 1981.

When my mother told me my sister had been in a coma for two weeks in Royal Canberra Hospital, my mother couldn’t understand why I was so uncaring and dismissive of the situation. I replied that I had to put up with everything she did. The miserable years after we moved to Canberra in 1970 – the freezing cold winters, a violent father, the drunken fights at 2AM when my father returned home from work, and the devastation we felt every January when we visited our relatives on the north coast of NSW and saw the way they lived without public servants, politicians and going to the beach every day in the sunshine. I had to put up with all that as well yet I didn’t turn to drugs, alcohol and smoking. I have no sympathy whatsoever for drug addicts – whoever they are – and I am appalled at the misplaced sympathy being evoked for “Alice” on this site.

Feel sorry for yourself much? Get over it.

JustThinking 5:04 pm 26 Jan 11

So so sad.

Can I quote””I replied that I had to put up with everything she did. The miserable years after we moved to Canberra in 1970 – the freezing cold winters, a violent father, the drunken fights at 2AM when my father returned home from work, and the devastation we felt every January when we visited our relatives on the north coast of NSW and saw the way they lived without public servants, politicians and going to the beach every day in the sunshine. I had to put up with all that as well yet I didn’t turn to drugs, alcohol and smoking””
Who gives a ratz???

Each child in a family may go through the same crap but each child is treated and subjected differently. Older children have more pressure to “keep the younger kids amused/ or do more cleaning”etc…You cannot in any way compare your lifes ins/outs or bads/goods to someone elses (even your siblings)

No matter your thoughts about how heroic you think you are….someone has died.
How can you NOT wonder about that.
Maybe:wasn’t a bad life,,,but just looking for more fun..and too young to understand the life long effects.

I know people who have died from drug issues and some had a bad life (way worse than your trifle btw) and some were well-to-do and were just partying.

Either way it is a loss to family and friends,,,as well as a loss to society,, for what those people could have acheived if they had lived..
Just about ALL full on rehab people (workers) are exaddicts.

JustThinking 5:04 pm 26 Jan 11

So so sad.

Can I quote””I replied that I had to put up with everything she did. The miserable years after we moved to Canberra in 1970 – the freezing cold winters, a violent father, the drunken fights at 2AM when my father returned home from work, and the devastation we felt every January when we visited our relatives on the north coast of NSW and saw the way they lived without public servants, politicians and going to the beach every day in the sunshine. I had to put up with all that as well yet I didn’t turn to drugs, alcohol and smoking””
Who gives a ratz???

Each child in a family may go through the same crap but each child is treated and subjected differently. Older children have more pressure to “keep the younger kids amused/ or do more cleaning”etc…You cannot in any way compare your lifes ins/outs or bads/goods to someone elses (even your siblings)

No matter your thoughts about how heroic you think you are….someone has died.
How can you NOT wonder about that.
Maybe:wasn’t a bad life,,,but just looking for more fun..and too young to understand the life long effects.

I know people who have died from drug issues and some had a bad life (way worse than your trifle btw) and some were well-to-do and were just partying.

Either way it is a loss to family and friends,,,as well as a loss to society,, for what those people could have acheived if they had lived..
Just about ALL full on rehab people are exaddicts.

gospeedygo 4:09 pm 26 Jan 11

A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster said :

Looks like you have a lump of coal where your heart is. My condolences.

Captain RAAF 1:54 pm 26 Jan 11

A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster said :

Good riddance to bad rubbish. This comment comes from someone who has a sister who was a heroin addict and almost died from an overdose in 1981.

When my mother told me my sister had been in a coma for two weeks in Royal Canberra Hospital, my mother couldn’t understand why I was so uncaring and dismissive of the situation. I replied that I had to put up with everything she did. The miserable years after we moved to Canberra in 1970 – the freezing cold winters, a violent father, the drunken fights at 2AM when my father returned home from work, and the devastation we felt every January when we visited our relatives on the north coast of NSW and saw the way they lived without public servants, politicians and going to the beach every day in the sunshine. I had to put up with all that as well yet I didn’t turn to drugs, alcohol and smoking. I have no sympathy whatsoever for drug addicts – whoever they are – and I am appalled at the misplaced sympathy being evoked for “Alice” on this site.

+1

Next!

A Noisy Noise Annoys 11:54 am 26 Jan 11

Good riddance to bad rubbish. This comment comes from someone who has a sister who was a heroin addict and almost died from an overdose in 1981.

When my mother told me my sister had been in a coma for two weeks in Royal Canberra Hospital, my mother couldn’t understand why I was so uncaring and dismissive of the situation. I replied that I had to put up with everything she did. The miserable years after we moved to Canberra in 1970 – the freezing cold winters, a violent father, the drunken fights at 2AM when my father returned home from work, and the devastation we felt every January when we visited our relatives on the north coast of NSW and saw the way they lived without public servants, politicians and going to the beach every day in the sunshine. I had to put up with all that as well yet I didn’t turn to drugs, alcohol and smoking. I have no sympathy whatsoever for drug addicts – whoever they are – and I am appalled at the misplaced sympathy being evoked for “Alice” on this site.

dvaey 1:23 am 26 Jan 11

It was with sadness that I read this story as I was probably one of the few friends Alice had who understood her but wasnt involved in the same troubles she encountered. I first met Alice in the late 90s and helped her clean up and get off the drugs and out of trouble, but inevitably she’d find old friends who would drag her back down into the same old troubles. She was a great friend, who’d be there any time of the day or night if anyone needed anything.

Her life ended too early, but maybe she’ll finally be able to rest in peace from the hectic life she always led. My thoughts are with her family, who along with a small handful of very close friends, were always there through the good times and the bad.

grunge_hippy, she was often spotted on internet chat rooms from when I knew her until only a couple of years ago.. a lot of people would have known her if they frequented the civic area, also. She was quite a memorable person, and I for one will be sad to never sit down and have a drink and a smoke with her again.

RIP Ali

grunge_hippy 9:32 pm 25 Jan 11

does someone know if she was online in the IRC canberra channel back around 99/00? i think i knew this girl back then. nice enough but oh so messed up.

LSWCHP 4:13 pm 25 Jan 11

A colleague and friend died of an OD of smack about 15 years ago. The night before he was going to go into rehab he decided to have one last shot, and that was the end of his story. It finished him and nearly destroyed his family. The repercussions are still being felt today.

AS the OP says, if you have kids, talk to them about this. If you feel tempted to try this stuff yourself, please don’t. It will ruin you, and may kill you.

colourful sydney rac 2:50 pm 25 Jan 11

As commented in the other post. Thank you for taking the time to write that. It is a very moving tribute and a remider that everyone of us is a couple of bad decisions from disaster.

This really says it all:

‘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.’

D2 2:43 pm 25 Jan 11

Beautiful and moving post, Beezle. Thank you.

I’ve seen the things that heroin does to good people – Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done” sums it up nicely, and this post brings it home on a very personal level. It should be required reading for anyone commenting on the drug situation.

Tooks 2:02 pm 25 Jan 11

Well written post. It’s a shame she turned out to be such an unpleasant person and a shame you found out about her the way you did.

Gantz 1:59 pm 25 Jan 11

How did she pass away? For those of us that are new.

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