Jack Beasley killing leads to fight for change
Jack Beasley and his friends were soaring high without a care in the world.
They just graduated high school, were relishing the milestone and excited for the next chapter of their lives.
But tragically on Friday, December 13, 2019, 17-year-old Jack was killed in a senseless act of violence.
Ever since, friends and family have been living a never ending nightmare.
"Eight of us made a last minute decision to go to a party in Surfers," Jack's friend told the Bulletin.
"We got off the tram a stop early (at Cypress Ave) and didn't think much of it. A group of teens asked us to come for a walk down an alleyway. We weren't there for any problems. We asked them to leave us alone. Within minutes, a fight broke out and someone stabbed two mates. It all happened so quickly and we can't get that night out of our heads."
In front of shocked diners on Surfers Paradise Boulevard at 8pm, police allege five teens - aged 18, 17, 15 and two 16-year-olds - had a brief melee with Jack and his seven friends near the IGA.
It is alleged a 15-year-old pulled out a hunting-style knife and stabbed Jack in the heart and his best friend Ariki Waiariki-Katuke, 17, in the chest and back.
His friends dazed and confused, Nicolinis' head chef Zac Saimoun raced across to a bloodied and slumping Beasley, cradling him as he slipped in and out of consciousness and attempted CPR.
A young couple with their 10-year-old daughter watched on in horror, while two off-duty New South Wales police officers raced over to cordon off the street.
Jack and Ariki were transported to the Gold Coast University Hospital.
Ariki survived but Jack tragically passed away in hospital a couple of hours later.
Jack's parents Brett and Belinda Beasley said that the 8:30pm phone call from emergency services changed their lives forever.
"Waiting at the Gold Coast University Hospital that night was the worst pain in the world," Brett Beasley says wiping away tears.
"I remember the cardiac surgeon walking in, not saying anything but sorry.
"Instantly, our world fell apart and our worst nightmare came true. We are still shattered beyond belief."
The image of Jack lying on a bed at the funeral home, dressed in his favourite red shirt, pants and Vans will be imprinted in their minds forever.
"You can only imagine how it was for his brother Mitch, my wife Belinda and myself to deal with."
Ariki doesn't remember being stabbed, only waking up in the hospital in pain and hearing a muffle of tears.
"I can't describe how I felt when I heard Jack died - it wasn't real. I felt guilty that I was still here and Jack wasn't," he said.
"The worst part of that night was seeing the face of Brett and Belinda - that's something I don't want to remember. It was heartbreaking.
"After a few weeks of recovery, I was OK. My mental health has been the challenge."
One thousand shattered friends, family and loved ones said goodbye to "Jacko" on December 23 at Southport Church of Christ.
His friends told the Bulletin it was the hardest day of their life.
The five defendants remain before the Magistrates Court and their matters have been adjourned to a date yet to be decided.
NINE MONTHS ON
Sitting in his Pacific Pines home, next to his loving dad Dean and mum Emma, Ariki, now 18, tells the Bulletin he is constantly reliving Friday 13 in his head.
"I knew it would be hard but I didn't think it would be this hard," Ariki says.
"Jack's death was terrible, I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. One minute, I am happy and the next minute I see something that reminds me of him, it pulls me into a dark hole."
Ariki has been brave enough to get back on public transport but admits it's a nerve-racking experience.
When asked if he had been past the IGA, the scene where the incident occurred, he said "I have gone twice and that is enough - it was really hard."
Ariki is really reserved; his eyes, bloodshot and teary. He is a broken 18-year-old that would do anything in the world to get his best friend back.
"Jack and I were close and I will never be able to see him again," Ariki says.
"I think of him everyday and only want to look forward, it's the only way I can cope. This is the new normal. I don't want to go back to the old me, because Jack isn't there to share that life with me.
"He had such a bright future ahead of him. We will never get to see him finish his apprenticeship, travel, get married, have kids and so much more.
"When I am feeling sad, I just look at Brett and Belinda. They are amazing people and despite everything, they have always been there for me."
His mum Emma says it wasn't until Belinda sat down with Ariki and told him that it wasn't his fault, he started to cope with his new reality. With a tear in his eye, Ariki's father said his son is half the boy he used to be.
"He was a happy, go-lucky boy and would crack a joke and laugh. Now, it's really hard to make him smile and he is really within himself and reserved.
"It's heartbreaking to watch and I wish I could make it better, but I can't.
"I would love him to go back to footy but he is not well enough."
His mum Emma says she is scared every time Ariki leaves the house.
"I always tell him that I love him one more time before he goes out because I don't know if that will be the last time.
"When I see Belinda and Brett, I never like to ask how they are, because I know how they are going. They are strong people but they are still broken."
Belinda Beasley admits she lives behind a fake smile.
"We're trying to be brave but behind closed doors, I often sit and cry.
"I find it hard to do life without him because it wasn't supposed to be like this.
Jack's older brother Mitch, 22, looks at photos of Jack everyday and misses him more than ever.
Brett says every time he hears about another death in Surfers Paradise, it sickens him to the core.
"How many stabbings and how many deaths in Surfers Paradise is it going to take for something to change," he tells the Bulletin.
"Every incident brings back so many bad memories of what happened to Jack and it's devastating."
Shae Graham, 18, says nine months on she can't get the picture of Jack, lying in a pool of blood, out of her mind.
"That night hangs in my mind and I can't escape it," she says with tears in her eyes.
"It's taken a long time for it all to sink in, it's hard all hanging out together and he is not here."
Kayden Lukken, 18, is too scared to catch public transport.
"You go to sleep and dream about it," he says.
"Every time I see a big group of people, I think they could have a knife.
"Now, it is so much more scary and you walk around anxious."
Tyler Knight, 18, says hearing Jack's favourite song, Hey Baby (Uhh, Ahh) by DJ Otzi, and seeing Hawaiian shirts, Jack's signature piece of clothing, feels like a punch in the stomach.
Kyah Hope, 19, met Jack in Year 9 and they had an inseparable bond. Thankfully he didn't witness Jack's stabbing, but it's taken him a long time to come to terms with what has happened.
"My mates and I lived a carefree life and walked around and thought nothing bad would ever happen to us until the day Jack got stabbed," he says.
"We are too scared to go anywhere without each other.
"Even though it feels like yesterday, life will never feel the same without our boy Jack.
"As a close group of friends, some of us have been affected by anxiety and depression.
"Jack's death always plays on our minds and nine months on, it isn't getting easier and I don't think it ever will.
"Ariki and I went to the Surfers Paradise McDonald's one night and we saw a group of boys. "They didn't do anything but as soon as they walked past, we both were thinking the same thing.
"It's always in the back of our heads. To cope, we are all trying to stick together.
"Jack was the life of the party and the glue in our friendship group. We all have made a pact to stay together because it feels like Jack is still with us."
More than 20 teens meet on the thirteenth of every month, for dinner to commemorate Jack, their kind, funny and mischievous friend.
Not long after Jack's death, Mitch purchased a puppy. Henry is a blue staffy, a dog Jack always wanted.
Belinda says with a glimmer in her eye that Henry is Jack reincarnated - full of life, super cheeky and noisy.
DETECT KNIVES, SAVE LIVES
The heartbroken family and friends of Gold Coast teen Jack Beasley have established a not-for-profit charity - The Jack Beasley Foundation.
Brett Beasley said the foundation, established weeks after Jack's death, was dedicated to campaign for changes to youth laws and safety. They are starting an education program to teach the country's youth about the dangers, repercussions and the snowball effect of a single act of violence.
COVID-19 has delayed their plans but everyday the foundation is actively spreading the "detect knives, save lives" message.
"Jack, unfortunately doesn't have a voice anymore but there is one thing that Jack does have, his name and I need to keep it alive.
Jack's friend and former next-door neighbour Darren Ryan is driving his semi-trailer, wrapped with Jack Beasley Foundation signage, around the country to raise awareness.
Belinda hopes the teens, who allegedly killed her baby boy, see Jack's face everywhere.
His friends, who all wear black Jack Beasley Foundation hoodies and have decals on their cars, are now the face of the campaign.
After a surge in crime on the Gold Coast, LNP Leader Deb Frecklington announced today that, if elected, she planned to work with the Beasley Foundation and other victims groups in drafting terms of reference for a Queensland Law Reform Commission referral.
"Families will grieve the death of a loved one for a lifetime because a decision was
made by someone to attack someone with a knife," she said.
"I will ask the law reform commission to look at new laws, including empowering police
in crime hot spots with greater search powers to detect knives being carried in the
community as weapons.
"Combined with these tougher laws, targeted education campaigns will be launched to
stop youths from carrying knives."
On December 13, 2020, the anniversary of Jack's death, the Coast community will "Walk for Jack".
For more information or to donate head to https://www.jackbeasleyfoundation.org/
To sign petition for a security checkpoint at Helensvale Tram Station - click here
MESSAGE FOR GOLD COAST YOUTH
Stabbing victim Ariki Waiariki-Katuke, 18: "Don't do it. One stupid mistake will wreck your life and thousands of others. Just think before you act and encourage your friends to do the same. It isn't worth it."
Jack's friend Chloe Thompson, 18: "You don't destroy one life, you destroy the hearts of family, friends, emergency services, witnesses and the wider community."
Jack's friend Kyah Hope, 19: "Knives tear people's lives apart. We now don't have our best mate, we miss him everyday and we don't get him back because of an act of youth violence."
Jack's friend Tyler Knight, 18: "It's only going to get worse and worse until youth are educated."
Jack's friend Joshua Morrison, 18: "They think it's cool but it's not"
Ariki's father Dean Waiariki-Katuke: "When we were at the hospital, the hospital staff said this was just a typical night for them, which scared me. Kids think it's cool to carry around a knife, making them more manly. Something has to stop. I hope the Jack Beasley Foundation can play a vital role in educating kids to detect knives and save lives."
Originally published as How a last-minute decision turned to tragedy