Thirty-four years ago, today, I remember the weather was sunny, and I was in the family room when I opened the Sunday Sun to see the headline, “Goodbye, My Son.” The son to whom the article referred was Kevin Barlow. Barlow may have been many things, but he was not an evil man. Brian Geoffrey (known as Geoffrey) Shergold Chambers, was his co-accused and the more experienced drug runner of the two.
I remember on the news that night, the newsreader said, “As the countdown begins for Barlow and Chambers,” and I thought, despite the news showing a sign, “Death is the mandatory sentence for drug traffickers,” that the King, or even the Prime Minister, might, at the eleventh hour, show some clemency and order a stay of execution. It was not to be.
I remember, the next morning at school, we had a relief teacher, whom I knew well, who asked us to write down three things in the news, and we proceeded to discuss Barlow and Chambers. He said, “They knew what the penalty was, if they were caught.” And, looking back, I say, Chambers knew, but did Barlow? After all, Chambers had been caught in Singapore and he was able to convince a customs officer that the two vials he had in his jacket pocket were for personal use and after a bribe was exchanged, he was released. Chambers may have told Barlow that was all he had to do to if he was caught.
I don’t think, for the level they were, that they deserved to hang, and I agree with Bob Hawke that it was barbaric (unless, of course, they had a long drop and died instantaneously, but it’s still a terrible way to die).
EDITORS NOTE: BOB HAWKE THEN PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA