Friends shocked at officer's death
STEVE Bates remembers Brett Meredith as a friend who stepped in and stopped an older student beating him up in year 8.
The Biloela barber was shocked to hear his old schoolmate, a Northern Territory police officer, died after an alleged assault in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
The Northern Territory News reported that Michael Simon Martyn, 38, appeared in Darwin Magistrates Court on Tuesday charged with the manslaughter of Sergeant Meredith.
Police allege that Mr Martyn assaulted Sergeant Meredith at Club 23 at Katherine in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
Father-of-five Meredith was knocked unconscious and suffered major head injuries while off duty and died on January 2 at Royal Darwin Hospital.
Mr Bates remembered Brett Meredith, who grew up with him in Moura, as a friendly kid who loved his rugby league and loved to joke around.
“In high school, Brett was a prankster,” Bates said.
“(He was) constantly laughing and having a joke with whoever would listen.
“He was quite a smart young fella and was very popular with everyone, including the girls,” the barber said.
Bates played rugby league with his friend Brett, who captained the under-12 Moura Tigers.
“We went through undefeated, to the best of my recollection.
“He was a fair and friendly kid – he had time for everybody.
“When I was in year 8, he stopped an older boy from beating me up.
“When I heard the news I couldn’t believe it; what a terrible way to go.
“My thoughts are with his wife and young children.
“I’m proud to have known him and mortified at the senseless act that took his life,” Bates said.
Another former Moura school mate of Brett’s, Sergio Venturi, said his friend left Moura after high school.
“We graduated in 1986. He was with the dog squad in the NSW Police and he was also a keen rugby league referee during his time in NSW,” said Mr Venturi, who resides in Brisbane.
“He was a normal kid growing up in a small country town; we played rugby league together in senior high.
“I remember Brett was a studious student, working very hard to do well in his subjects.
“We went our separate ways after high school and did not communicate again until only recently, through Facebook.
“We had a good time recounting our high school days, and the mischief we got up to.
“I am glad I got to communicate with him before he passed away as he was a good friend whom I will never forget.
“I was horrified to hear about what had happened, along with many of our circle of friends,” Mr Venturi said.
Brett Meredith left Moura in 1988 and joined the Navy before spending 18 years in the NSW police force.
The officer’s widow, Amee Meredith, told of her heartbreak at switching off her husband’s life support.
“What if he was asking me to hold out another day?
“The doctors told me Brett had a 1% chance of survival and that the best-case scenario for him was that he would not be aware of his surroundings.
“I knew Brett would hate that; hate for the kids to see that.
“My head was on his chest when they switched it off.
“I don’t remember how long I stayed there until my dad and brother came to get me.
“After the machines were removed, I climbed into his bed, put his arm around me and the blanket over us and fell asleep.
“It was the first time that I slept and it was a really beautiful moment.”
Mrs Meredith said the couple both graduated into the Northern Territory Police in 2008 after meeting in the NSW Police in 2002.
“Brett fell in love with the place.
“He wanted to be a leader, to supervise the troops,” she said.
Sergeant Meredith will be farewelled at a police funeral today.