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26 October 2013

WARRIOR MUM - MARIE GREENING ZIDAN - THE WONDERFUL MOTHER SHE WAS...


Aspergers, Learning Disability, Criminal Psychology and Murder. 


Welcome to our ninth warrior mum. I have to warn you this is a heartbreaking and disturbing story about a wonderful Australian wife, mother, grandmother and teacher, told by her daughter, Janine. Sadly, not all our stories have happy endings and give us the outcome we would all like to read about... But as the warrior mums already featured in this series know, it's YOUR story, to be as long or as short - as happy or as sad - as YOU want it to be. The stories are real and truthful and each one stands alone.

My lovely friend, Janine, lives Down Under - Melbourne, Australia, to be exact, and I had the pleasure of getting to know her on Myspace a good few years ago. When I learnt of the tragedy Janine and her family had suffered, I wondered how she was able to get out of bed in the mornings and carry on; how she was able to remain so graceful and dignified after the terrible events that devastated her life. You see Janine's Mother, Marie Greening Zidan, at the age of 73, was beaten, raped and strangled to death in her own home and Janine has had to find out the hard way that the law is in place to protect the criminals and not the victims or their families. 

I have followed Janine's tireless campaign for the rights of victims and their families and marvelled at her strength and determination. The Australian Press seem to have backed her all the way and I suspect she makes a lasting impression on anybody who's had the privilege to meet her. But, like most people affected by a murder of their loved one there is no time for grieving. Janine has spent the years since her Mother's murder fighting not only for the crime against her mother to be matched with an appropriate prison sentence but the issue of public safety as these criminals walk freely and anonymously through society having served hardly any time in prison. 

What I have found incredibly sad is that the only reference to Janine's Mother is in reference to the 'Granny Bashers' the name given to the two yobs that murdered her. But Janine's mother was much more than a victim. She was a mother of four children, and one with Asperger's Syndrome in an era when words like 'autism' and 'on the spectrum' were not given any clarity. She was also a professional and an educator. 

Today, through Janine, we can celebrate the wonderful woman her mother was, and thank our lucky stars that our children live in a more tolerant and informed society where Asperger's Syndrome would be met with the appropriate therapy, if required, and not psychiatric intervention. 
  
I would like to thank Janine for her willingness to re-visit the days of her childhood and for her patience as we clicked away through Ausie and Brit time zones in the early hours of the morning to re-write her Mother, Marie Greening Zidan's courageous story.  

I have featured this story in two parts for what I hope will be obvious reasons.


"My poor mother would take my brother to specialists and doctors, looking at allergies and side effects of the medications that would cause or exacerbate his obsessive compulsive behaviour. She knew until my brother was properly diagnosed with asperger's that he would be at the mercy of mental institutions."
       

Marie Greening Zidan - Michelle Daly's Warrior Mums
Janine's beautiful Mother


My mother, Eileen Mary Fitzsimons, known as Marie, was born in Melbourne, Australia on the 25th of April 1927. It was known as ANZAC day, (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) a very important day for Australians and New Zealanders.  Her family had migrated to Australia from Tiperrary in Ireland, just before the Great Famine in 1841.
My mother grew up in the time of the Great Depression. She never had toys or dolls and so books and education is what gave her great joy. She always said “You must learn something new each day.”  
In the Catholic school she attended she came top of her class in year 12, despite the fact that the nuns put her in with the preps class to teach her a lesson, telling her she was not as clever as she thought she was. The comment, obviously intended to squash her spirit, had the opposite effect and made my mother more determined than ever to succeed.

Marie Greening Zidan - Michelle Daly's Warrior Mums
Janine's Father
When my mother was 17, she was out one day on a tram when she met my father Frederick Greening. He was a year older and was in the Air Force and it was love at first sight. They were married a year later as soon as  my mother turned 18 and every year on their anniversary he used to sing:
You are my sunshine, 
My only sunshine, 
you make me happy when skies are grey...”
My father’s mother had always warned him not to marry a Catholic so after the wedding took place she did not speak to him for two years.

They lived in St Kilda/Elwood area and Susie was the first to be born, followed by me, and then my beautiful brother, Peter. The fourth and last child was a little boy. Peter and I were so looking forward to his arrival but sadly, he only lived for three days. My parents let me name him John and Peter chose Dominic for his middle name.

M. Please tell us about Peter?
Peter and Janine
My brother Peter’s is a tragic story in itself. As a child he was always picked on. The bullying was horrific because Peter was slightly different from his peers. I was always fighting his corner and would have to put up with the taunts and insults from all the other kids. Every day was pure hell for both of us. I had to protect my brother, not knowing at the time that he had Asperger’s Syndrome.
He was a beautiful boy and I simply adored him. Many times if he did something wrong, like throw all the shoes down the fire place, or accidentally break a window, I would take the blame. 
We lived in flats and did not have a play area but the biggest and best play area of all was one street away – the entire beach, which we virtually lived on. It was magical! 
Then on Saturdays we went to the pictures and got in for free because my mother worked at the Palais theatre in St Kilda. One of Peter's hobbies was making home movies and he absolutely loved going to the cinema. 
He was such fun to be with, always cracking jokes and making me laugh. We spent most of our time together.
When Peter and I attended the same school I could protect him to a certain extent but when he left primary school he went to the Christian Brothers College and I could no longer look out for him. My mother worried about him even more. Then, he was assaulted by a student and was warned not to tell anyone. He was petrified to return to school and his problems began to escalate.  

M. What kind of professional support and guidance did your mother get for Peter?
Mothers know their children, don't they, and my mother was convinced Peter had a form of autism. It was 1966, autism or being on the spectrum were unfamiliar terms to most of society and even professionals. One day she decided to take matters into her own hands. She gathered neighbours and strangers alike as well as a local MP to attend a forum at the St Kilda Town Hall. She wanted support and more information so she could help Peter and others like him. 

Peter went into hospital for an operation and again his sometimes quirky behaviour was misdiagnosed as a mental illness and he was put in an adult psychiatric ward. He was given Insulin treatment, (which was a common treatment in those days) that put him in a coma, and we nearly lost him. When he came out of his coma he was given shock treatment for a while. The psychiatrist was a law unto himself and did not consider Peter’s autism or how to deal with it. My mother had no rights at the time, nor did my brother, but she wanted him out of there.  

M. It must have been frightening for your mother having to stand by and watch your brother suffer at the hands of people she should have been able to trust. How long did Peter stay in the psychiatric hospital? 
He was there for 6 months and was 13 when he came home but after what they had done to him, for a while he seemed a different person. I felt like my brother had died and someone else had come back home in his place. Over-medicated, months in a coma and then ECT? It's a wonder he survived at all, but we adored him and back in the hub of his family he began to feel more secure though he never fully recovered from his experience..

My mother worked as a bus driver for the Spastic Society, delighted to be looking after young children. The job was a healthy outlet and for a short time took her mind off the struggles she had over Peter's welfare. 
It was an awful ordeal over the years for my mother, watching the injustices done to her son and not having the power to do anything. She made it her mission to find the right help and medication - she was going to do whatever it took. 
The Mental Health Services controlled his life. His medication over the years had lots of devastating effects on all of us. I could never invite anyone home because of my brother’s behaviour. If only the powers that be had recognised his autism instead of putting him through the trauma of needless psychiatric treatment and almost destroying his mental health and personality.
Whenever his medication was changed Peter would be put in a psychiatric hospital to be monitored and whilst in there he would be assaulted by other patients or staff. My poor mother would take him to specialists and doctors, looking at allergies and side effects of the medications that would cause or exacerbate his obsessive compulsive behaviour. She knew until her son was properly diagnosed with asperger's that he would be at the mercy of mental institutions.

M. And then you lost your father and she became a single parent. How on earth did she cope?
In 1976 my father died of cancer of the liver; he was 49 years old. Peter, Mum and I were with him when he died. My mother was so lost. They had been married 30 years. 
Marie Greening Zidan - Michelle Daly's Warrior Mums
Janine's clever Mum
However, she continued on her mission for the correct treatment and medication for my brother. She went to college with all the young ones, got high marks, then went on to university  to do her degree. She became a clinical psychologist, always hoping she could find out more information to help Peter and others like him.
My mother was a registered psychologist with victims of crime, which is ironic when I think of the way her life ended - so violently - so abruptly. 
Most of the time she  offered her services for free. She was not out to make money. She cared for people and would often say to me “Share what you have. If you have a dollar and someone has nothing, give them half.”
My mother later became a CO-Coordinator of the foster grandparent scheme at Moira Hospital in Sandringham.
She remarried a family friend called Miro Zidan, who'd known my mum and dad since I was 5 years old. He was a man of conviction and honour. Peter and I loved him very much and was glad to see Mum happy again.
And then as if Peter hadn't had enough trauma in his young life, in 1981 he went to visit our sister out in the country. He went to the local swimming pool and being a poor swimmer had almost drowned. He was pulled out of the water, revived and taken to hospital. We were stunned when we were told the lack of oxygen had left him with brain damage. 
Marie Greening Zidan - Michelle Daly's Warrior Mums
Janine with her Mum
So that was another terrible blow for my mother but
she was strong, then,12 years later she had more demons to fight when she was diagnosed with cancer. She was such a kind and caring person she threw a party to tell us how much she loved and cared for each of us. She wanted to celebrate her life because she was told she may not survive the surgery. I suppose we could say she threw her own wake but survive she did and continued to fight for my brother’s right to a dignified life and fair and appropriate treatment. She found out about a new drug she thought would help and she fought to have Peter on it. It made a difference, not a cure, but the best that could be done at that time.
Then Miro, our step-father died suddenly from a heart attack and once again my mother showed her courage.
Peter had grown very close to him and was in shock. Everything seemed to be taken away from him. We lived in the same street; I was at one end, Mum and Peter at the other. My brother would visit me every day and I regularly spoke to mum. She was my best friend.

The years passed and Mum eventually retired. She and Peter enjoyed a relatively care-free life together. 

M. Please tell us what led up to your mother's murder?
On October 14th 2000, Mum was asleep when two youths broke into her property. They took her handbag, which was later found, but $400.00 and some personal items were missing. By this time my mum had trouble standing and walking so she could not go to the police. I was away from home when we spoke on the phone and she said the police could not go to investigate the crime for two days. During that phone call she told me she loved me. If only I’d known it was the last time I would speak to her. Now it seems she was saying goodbye because the next day Peter spotted the same two youths entering the house and told Mum. They knew my mother was on her own with a disabled son and she was easy prey. My mother immediately rang me leaving a message to tell me the thugs had returned but I was still away from home and didn’t get that message until the next day when it was too late. 

My mother was found by one of Peter’s carers. She came to my house telling me she could not wake her up. I hurried to my mother's hoping against hope that nothing was seriously wrong, only to find police everywhere. 
There is no way anybody can prepare themselves for what I was about to see. I ran into the house and into a blood soaked room. My mother was dead. She'd been battered, raped and strangled. Her lifeless body had then been wrapped up in a quilt with items placed on top. My poor dead Mum wrapped up like a present. The policeman led me out of the room.

Peter had been threatened with a knife. They cut his face and told him to go to his room. After they left he walked around the house looking for Mum and couldn’t find her. I thank God he didn't come across the horrific sight of our dead mother and it was the carer that had found her. It's hard to believe that the two monsters who murdered my mother were 15 and 17 years-old.

M. How did you cope with such a vile and devastating end to your poor mother's life? 
 I was so traumatised I had a heart attack the next day. I’d never had heart trouble before. The cardiologist said I had what was called broken heart syndrome. The shock had killed one of the valves in my heart. Peter was taken into care that night and through no fault of his own has since been shunted from pillar to post. I remained in hospital for 10 days preparing mums funeral from my hospital bed. 

That day our lives changed forever but we struggled on as best we could.....

Marie Greening Zidan - Michelle Daly's Warrior Mums
After all Peter's been through he still manages to smile
I have had to fight many battles - some I won - some I am still fighting. Peter is now 60 years old. I have been trying so hard to get him moved nearer me as I don’t drive. I have said to the Government, my mother did not relinquish her son, she was murdered, so the duty of care should be that he is near me so we can spend quality time together whenever we like. We are both getting old and we need to live near each other.
It was ironic that the DHS (Department of Human Services) were buying up houses in my mother’s area to accommodate troubled youths. There was an outcry from residents about DHS buying up local properties but when they (DHS) discovered that a murder had occurred at my mum’s address they quickly sold off the property at a loss of $60,000. When interviewed by the Herald Sun I said if the DHS had asked my opinion, I would have been okay with them helping young people who had not committed serious crime. The DHS could have gone ahead with their plan to use the house and donated the $60.00 to my brother instead of throwing it away.

To the public and the justice system, he is forgotten. But he will never be forgotten to me. He still has that sense of humour and cracks me up laughing. Still loves films and buys a DVD each week. The Peter I knew as a young boy is alive today more than ever and he talks about Mum a lot.


We both have so many wonderful memories of our dear mother. She read a book a day and was always quoting poetry to me and sang to my brother especially,
Blue skies, 
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies 
Do I see
She was a great storyteller and no matter what tragedy came her way she was not a person to feel sorry for herself and was always helping others.
I thank her for the journey she took me on in life and for the person I am today.

 
Marie Greening Zidan - Michelle Daly's Warrior Mums
I went on to become involved with a charity that myself and a group of other people set up. It's called THE FORGETMENOT 
FOUNDATION Forget Me Not a registered charity, which is affiliated to Victoria Homicide Victims Support Group. My mother’s legacy drives me to fight for other victims of crime and for the physically and mentally disabled.



Marie Greening Zidan - Michelle Daly's Warrior Mums
Forget-me-nots are what my mother gave me, they represent the memories of those we love. My mother will never be forgotten, she was indeed a warrior mum fighting all of her adult life for my brother Peter's rights and for his asperger's to be recognised. 



PART TWO
Marie Greening Zidan - Michelle Daly's Warrior MumsIt has been 13 years since my mother Marie Greening Zidan was murdered by two youths. They were aged 15 and 17 and it happened in front of my disabled brother. The two youths had suppression orders put on their names to protect them, and to give them a chance at rehabilitation. Both have been in trouble since.
Appeals that would end up in the High Court in Canberra over the last 13 years have taken me on a journey of fighting the legal system.
I have long fought to have the suppression orders lifted from the two killers of my mother to give her dignity, but most of all, for public safety.
The crime was so sickening and evil. After their arrest the two youths, unsupervised, rang me from the youth detention centre, leaving an obscene song on my answering machine besides other messages. I could hear people laughing in the background.
While in custody one threatened staff at the youth centre. One of the offenders assaulted a young girl who was on a work placement, and the same offender has broken his parole twice since being released.
The last time, back in 2010, he was not put back in jail. 


How naive was I to think that the law was about justice?

What I learnt is that it was never about my mother. It was about the law regarding youth offenders, and my mother never came into the equation and neither did public safety.
Back in 2007 the Herald Sun took the case to the Supreme Court to name the two killers of my mother.
The Supreme Court would not give permission for the case to go to the Children’s Court, which has the power to lift the suppression order.
In 2010 when the offender broke his parole, there was outrage in a country town when it was revealed one of the 'Granny killers' lived there. Victoria’s top judge Marilyn Warren stated that there should be a national review of laws protecting the identities of child criminals.
I haven’t heard anything about it since.
When the Herald Sun did a poll about naming and shaming the two offenders, over a thousand readers agreed they should be named.
Last year the Director of Public Prosecutions went back into the Supreme Court on my behalf, asking that the Children’s Court be allowed to hear an application to lift suppression of the names of my mother’s killers.
Justice Bernard Bongiorno, who put the original order on their names when they were sentenced, said no.
The lawyers for the offenders had argued that there was no public interest in revealing their names and it would not assist them in their rehabilitation.
The DPP did not take a stance and I felt they just went through the motions. I was told it was not about my mother, or public safety.
Marie Greening Zidan, killed by two teenagers who are now out of jail
These offenders throughout the years have had the best lawyers, that the tax payers had paid for.
I was told I could appeal the suppression order, but no one would take up the case.
After asking lawyers about pro bono representation, I was told if I was the offender, the murderer, they would take on the case. But not as a victim.
In America a lawyer would take on my case, as there are as many lawyers supporting victims of violent crime committed by juveniles as there are for the juvenile offenders.
I have met with the Attorney General Robert Clark in recent times. For victims, he is the best Attorney General that Victoria has had, but he is one man with a hell of a job.
The suppression orders have become a life sentence for my family, as we always fear that someone else will suffer as we have at the hands of one of these killers whose names will never be known. It is still all about the offenders, and their welfare. Even when they re offend.
There is no thought for how we feel or the suffering of my family. And there are many young people in our family.
There has been no help or support for them, none for my disabled brother, but plenty of support for the offenders.
Shame on our justice system for being so one-sided.
For victims, the scales of justice will never be balanced.





Marie Greening Zidan - Michelle Daly's Warrior MumsI AM THE VOICE OF A VICTIM

I DID NOT DIE, BUT WAS MURDERED
 

MY BODY VIOLATED, MOLESTED, BROKEN.
 

I HAD NO RIGHTS, LIKE MANY BEFORE ME AND MORE TO COME.

MY LAST MOMENTS WHERE LOOKING AT 


MY KILLERS EYES,
NOBODY KNOWS THE VULNERABILITY, OR 


THE PAIN AND SENSE
OF LONELINESS I FELT AT MY KILLERS 

HANDS
 

NOW I WATCH MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS ATTEND THE COURTS
 

CONSOLE EACH OTHER AND FIGHT FOR THE RIGHTS OF
VICTIMS OF CRIME
 

THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IS A COLD PLACE, HAS NO TIME FOR VICTIMS,
ESPECIALLY HOMICIDE
 

WE ARE DEAD, HAVE NO RIGHTS

ONLY THE LIVING WHO LOVED US, AND THOSE OF YOU
 

WHO HAVE THE PASSION TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT
 

TAKE UP OUR CASES AND FIGHT TO GIVE US DIGNITY
 

LIFE IS CHEAP, YOU GET LESS TIME IN PRISON
 

LIFE IS THE MOST VALUABLE THING WE HAVE  

DO NOT LET US DIE IN VAIN  

WE HAD LIVES, FAMILIES, FRIENDS,  

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE TO SOMEONES LIFE
 
AS YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, DON'T SIT ON THE FENCE,

AS NOTHING WILL CHANGE  

NONE OF US CHOSE TO BE VICTIMS, ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM

I HOPE BY THE GRACE OF GOD

IT DOESN'T HAPPEN TO YOU

FOR I AM THE VOICE OF A VICTIM 
Marie Greening Zidan - Michelle Daly's Warrior Mums
 




I HAVE NO FACE


 




NO NAME






 





I AM THE DECEASED



Poem @copyright Janine Greening


Links to:

Victoria Homicide Victims Support Group


Forget Me Not Foundation








8 comments:

  1. So sorry for your loss Janine. What a truly inspiring Mum. You're an exceptional woman too not everybody would have been so strong and would not have been so courageous sharing this story with others. Thank you. Justine

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  2. h God! Heartbreaking story - tears where pouring down my face as I read.
    What a wonderful inspiration your mum was Janine and Peter a lucky lad to have had such a mum. I am shocked and saddened to read how Peter was treated by the mental health services and equally shocked/saddened to read about the appalling end to your lovely mum's life'
    God bless you and your brother Janine - Thank you for sharing your story.

    Kimmie x

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  3. Janine so very sad, you as a family have suffered so much loss and injustice it's just a travesty. Your beautiful mum :( these sick individuals why should they be allowed too hide behind the law, they were old enough too know exactly what they were doing and right from wrong it's disgusting, rehabilitation what about your mum and brother what about the them :( this is so damn wrong and the way you have too fight for justice, it should be your right why should they have anonymity after what they did to your mum and your dear brother? Where was the protection for your mum and brother? like you say it's all about protecting the criminals victims have no rights, where is the justice in that! Your mum was one amazing lady the way she fought so hard for your brother and you for the way you look after him. Must of been so frightening for Peter the way they treated him in the psyh ward, thank God he had your mum and you too fight his corner. This is so very very sad and I hope that one day justice will be yours!

    Hugs to you and Peter. Sophie xxx

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  4. Thanks for sharing your story. Your mother was an incredible lady and the definition of warrior mum. I am in awe of some people - life just keeps throwing stuff at them and they just stand up. I wish you peace and justice x

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  5. Anonymous00:44

    As a Melbourne resident, we all know the hellish story of your mothers death, a case that still attracts attention today, for all the wrong reasons, as detailed in your fight above. And as proven by the murders of Jill, Sarah and other women we sadly now know by their first names and beautiful smiles now gone, the laws governing suppression orders in Victoria must be changed, a fact the greater majority of the public overwhelmingly support. I pray that it will happen some day, in their names and your mothers name.

    What i did not know was the lesser known side of your mum and everything she did for your family and for the wider community. What a remarkable, noble, courageous, heroic woman she was. Talk about only the good die young. Thank god for her and thank god for you, carrying on her fight for your brother, as well as your fight for justice and a better society.

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  6. Oh my, there are no words to convey the depth of feelings. What a strong woman you are to tell your story and what an amazing mother you had.
    A dear friend of mine lost her brother to 2 thugs on the street one night and we know only too well how the law doesn't protect us the way we think it should. Those men are still free and she too fights on.

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  7. julia.15:03

    Hi Janine, just want to say i was awestruck after reading your heartbreaking story and the terrible injustice that you and your brother Peter have had to endure from some of the mindless, evil, so called human beings. I do admire you so very much for your constant fight for justice for your beautiful mother and i wish you well in all you do.

    I will always remember you in my prayers. God Bless You. Julia. xx

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  8. On behalf of Janine I would like to thank you all for the heartfelt comments. Janine says she's so appreciative of all the support and is proud for her poor Mum to be featured in warrior mums. Janine is not that computer literate so has asked me to pass on the message and thank you all.
    Michelle xx

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