Murder, Deborah Balbi, Michael Johnson, Adelaide news

I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a true story. A love story with a tragic ending. It’s the story of Dianne who was found dead in her home and that of her partner of more than twenty years, Jack, who was arrested for allegedly murdering her.

RELATED: Escaping Domestic Violence

Now, you may ask yourselves why this story? Well, I knew Jack and Dianne before that fateful moment when cupid decided to strike his arrow in their direction. Way, way back when we were just kids and decades before Dianne was found laying lifeless in her home – and well, before Jack ended up in a pair of handcuffs.

So let me start by telling you a bit about Dianne. She was exceptionally intelligent and one of the most gentle, peace-loving souls who ever walked the planet. She had that hippy vibe going on with her serene, loving, caring nature. For work, she cared for the elderly – including my dearly departed grandmother – and she loved kids but never wanted to have any of her own.

Jack, on the other hand, was a lovable larrikin. In his late teens he’d fathered a son and you couldn’t really call him an angel. However, he did have charming good looks and a wicked sense of humor, and looking back I can understand why Dianne couldn’t help but be interested.

He was also like forbidden candy, seeing as he was a friend of Dianne’s brother. Hell bent on looking out for his little sister’s welfare, her brother tried relentlessly to separate her from his mates. Yet the minute these two crossed paths there was nothing anyone could say or do to keep them apart. That caused a few problems – quite a few problems, but the heart wants what the heart wants. So they became completely inseparable.

Over the years, Jack and Dianne kept pretty much to themselves. I’d bump into her on the odd occasion and through our conversations I sensed her entire world revolved around Jack. He was her best friend, her lover and her everything. She loved him with her entire being and if there were problems between them, she never revealed them. Dianne was a very private person.

Upon news of Dianne’s passing, it came as a shock. Rumour had it she’d died of a suspected drug overdose, yet I’d seen her 6 months prior and she looked great, everything seemed normal. Something was amiss and the fact that the coroner took almost two months to release her body was highly unusual.

There were suspicions that Dianne’s death wasn’t what it seemed. There was some speculation that Jack could have had something to do with it; he’d suffered a string of tragedies with the passing of his mother and son, and understandably people can only take so much heartache.

So when I received a text stating that Jack had been arrested for Dianne’s murder it came as a surprise, but not a total shock. The police believed something wasn’t quite right about her death so they’d been investigating for three long years. They came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a drug overdose, but a strangulation and their prime suspect was Jack.

So how did over twenty years of love and devotion end in murder? It goes to show that no-one ever really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Even though a couple remains together for decades, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is rosy.

The saddest fact of this whole scenario is that this story isn’t remarkable. There are thousands of stories just like this one. Every single day hundreds of people around Australia are in court facing some type of domestic violence charge, while thousands of others are in their own homes enduring it.

Now, there’s no doubt that these two loved each other – and that’s partly why domestic violence continues to be an endless battle. If we all thought with our heads instead of our hearts, no-one would endure being abused. Yet, was Dianne being abused? Nobody knows. Perhaps if she had spoken out she’d be alive and maybe, just maybe, Jack could have asked for help. Nothing good ever comes of silence, so please remember if you need help that you need to speak.

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