In Memory of Lalita Horsman.
Today <14th December, 1999> several of my work mates left early to attend a funeral. It was the funeral of Lalita Horsman, a 27-year-old girl who was murdered over the weekend. Earlier this week they had gone to a memorial on the beach where her body was found. Her boyfriend, parents, twin sister and friends gathered round to bid farewell to her memory.
All I knew of Lalita was a smiling face behind the desk at my local bank. But I do remember that. Her smile. It was always there. A smile for everyone. Her sister said "Throughout her life Lalita's sunny disposition and smile made a difference to all who had contact with her - that will always be cherished and never be forgotten."
On Sunday the fifth of December Lalita, her boyfriend and a mate went to the Greenough Rivermouth. There the boys surfed, and Lalita told them she was going for a walk.
It wasn't until the guys went home that they realized she had not rejoined them. They searched for her until midnight, then the police were called in.
People searched on foot, by horseback, a plane and helicopter scanned the sand dunes. Boats swept the river and ocean. Hampered by the howling wind, search and rescue still sought to find her.
Lalita's sister, who had been on holiday overseas, came directly home, and joined her family's vigil on the beach.
Lalita's sun hat and glasses had been found, then her singlet. Rumors held that binding tape had been found with them.
On Tuesday, a police officer riding a motorbike found her body at the foot of a steep sand dune, partially buried. The wind that had so hampered the search had uncovered her shallow grave.
Lalita, I have been told, loved the beach, she liked to surf, and have fun with her friends. Many of them are grieving now. They grieve with her family, with eachother, and on their own. The man who took this young woman's life had no idea how important this one girl was to so many people.
As the police said, all he saw was an opportunity, and he took it.
Robin David MacArtney, 46, was taken into custody on Thursday. He has been charged with aggravated indecent assault and murder. It is alleged that he bound Lalita's hands with binder tape and wire, sexually assaulted, then killed her. Her family was advised not to view her body, and identification was by dental record.
The community in general has gone into mourning, everybody seems to know someone who was close to her. They are shocked, angry, saddened. The memorial on the beach was covered in flowers, the grave yard tonight had cars parked all the way round. I didn't go in, as I don't know the family, but my heart, and the hearts of many Geraldton residents goes out to them this night.
In Memory of Lalita Horsman.
Fellow Geraldtanite, and greatly missed human being.
The Geraldton Guardian, a local news paper, has published a special memorial issue in Lalita's memory. The following is taken from it's pages.
The fresh, young face of Lalita Horsman was matched only by her vibrant and endearing personality. She was loved by many, admired by all, and will be missed beyond words.
Ode to Lalita.
When we think of Lal, the warmth of the sun, spirit of adventure and fun tied in with the ocean all comes to mind.
The forces of the universe and the elements of space conjure up your being, your size, your time, your shape.
Lal, you were created with all the beauty they could call on earth, you surely are the measure of us all.
We know we haven't lost you, for our souls are forever entwined.
We will still share the waves, love and laughter.
Till we meet again.
Eli and Nic.
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After her funeral more than fifty people braved rough seas to join in a paddle out at Geraldton's Back Beach. While the surfers formed a circle friends and family comforted one another on the shore.
"Lal was an extremely keen surfer. She never competed but was more of a soul surfer." Her friend Skylar said.
She said Lalita was a down-to-earth person who was always willing to help others, despite how well she knew them. During the first three months of Skyla's pregnancy Lalita willingly carried her surf board and washed out her wet suit when she suffered morning sickness.
"It is awful that someone so young and beautiful can be taken away from us so unfairly." she said.
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Lalita has passed her love for the ocean on to her friends. Lisa D said: "I always loved the ocean but with Lal as my friend she taught me to love it even more. She gave me her old surf board and with that we had plenty of fun times - her riding the waves and me still on my L-plates. We are honored to have called Lal our friend and when we think about all our fond memories it will always be with a smile."
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7th August 2001. The Trial of Lalita's killer has ended. During the trial, which was ruled on by a judge only, Mr. MacArtney claimed to have been set up. He claimed evidence was planted and that he was not a murderer.
Evidence shown during the eight day trial proved that he was guilty, although the judge found MacArtney not guilty of willful murder but guilty of the lesser crime of murder. The judge said he was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that MacArtney put a plastic bag over Ms Horsman's head or intended to kill her as claimed by prosecutors. It was possible MacArtney taped shut Ms Horsman's mouth so that she could not scream and was so drunk that he did not realise she could not breathe.
Evidence against MacArtney included DNA found on Lalita's singlet and body, and on the tape used to bind her, plus reports of the green LandRover MacArtney drove being in the area, his tires being recently changed and the old ones, when recovered, being matched with tread marks found at the scene.
MacArtney will get mandatory life imprisonment. He will spend between seven and 14 years in jail before being eligible for parole.
Outside court, Lalita's father, Roger, said the verdict would help his family get on with their lives. But he believed MacArtney intended to kill his daughter and was guilty of willful murder.
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The beach memorials will go on, every year, as they have for the last two years, and the people who knew her will keep Lalita's memory alive.
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