Debi Marshall’s Walkley Award Acceptance Speech
November 27, 2017
I can’t begin to tell you how honoured I am.
In late July, when I heard the news that Leonard Warwick, the prime suspect in the Family Court murders had been arrested after 33 years, I was at the hospital with my beautiful 86 year old mother, Monnie who had suffered a stroke just an hour before. Monnie was my roadie through many of the eight books I’ve written, my partner in crime. ‘That’s wonderful news darling,’ she said, before she slipped into the quiet darkness of a coma. Monnie understood that regardless of how long it takes, victim’s families never stop wanting justice for the loss of their loved ones. I understand that, too.
My interest in true crime and justice was sparked by the murder of my own partner in 1992 and my search for his killer, from whom I received death threats. Last year, justice was finally served when he was given a 48-year sentence for the murder of my partner and another man he murdered, ten years later.
My chosen career as an investigative crime journalist and true-crime author is not an easy gig. It’s full of temptations to turn a blind eye, and it is hard to consistently challenge police and judiciary, to confront serial killers and wade deep into the darkest recesses of humanity to bring harrowing stories to light for the public interest. It’s often dangerous but always rewarding. The greatest reward of all is to gain and maintain the trust of those who have long given up on the police or judicial system. In the case of the Family Court killings, not one of the victim’s families had heard from NSW police for more than three decades. It often falls to us, as journalists to resurrect the coldest of cold cases.
I am blessed to have done what I love over a 30 year career and to work with the best in the business for the last four years at Sunday Night, 7. I would like to thank my sponsor, Hedley Thomas and the Walkley’s Advisory Board for honouring me with this award. I would like, too to honour all the victims and their families who have placed their trust in me over the years and who have found the courage to speak out despite their fears.
To my lovely husband, William, who stands by me through thick and thin – thank you. To my lovely daughter, Louise who wanted me to get an office job when she was young – thanks for understanding I would have been hopeless at that. I’m much happier chasing serial killers.
Finally, I would like to dedicate this Leadership award to the woman who was my greatest mentor – my mother, Monnie. Monnie died in early August, a week after her stroke. She understood just how important it is for journalists to fight – for the underdog, for truth, for transparency and for justice. May we always, always have the freedom to do this.