Mother recounts Ebony Simpson tragedy in new crime series

Ebony Simpson, whose young, trusting life was cut tragically short in Bargo when she was just nine years old.

Ebony Simpson, whose young, trusting life was cut tragically short in Bargo when she was just nine years old.

'I was Ebony's father': Pete Simpson's story

On an August afternoon in Bargo in 1992, nine-year-old Ebony Simpson got off her school bus and began to walk home.

Her mother, who usually met her at the bus stop, was busy so asked Ebony’s older brother to meet her after he got off his bus.

But his bus was late and so Ebony started to walk the kilometre to her home.

But she never made it.

With the house in sight, she approached a car that appeared to have broken down.

As she passed, the car’s owner, Andrew Garforth, grabbed her, threw her in the boot and drove off to a remote dam.

'They also tend to be crimes that sadly made a big impact on the nation and worldwide.'

Once there, he bound her with wire, raped her and then threw her into the dam.

The crime would devastate the Simpson family and the small town of Bargo. Garforth would be sentenced to life for his heinous crime, his file marked ‘‘never to be released’’.

Ebony’s parents, Christine and Peter, would join forces with Grace and Garry Lynch, the mother and father of murder victim Anita Cobby to create the Homicide Victims Support Group.

The Ebony Simpson case was the first episode of the new series Crimes That Shook Australia, which premiered on Wednesday.

The six-part series also features the Port Arthur tragedy, Jason Downie, who killed his girlfriend and her family, and Katherine Knight, the first Australian woman to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

The series is a local version of the UK format Crimes That Shook Britain and is made by the same company, Title Role Productions.

Andrew Garforth was sentenced to life in jail, ‘‘never to be released’’.

Andrew Garforth was sentenced to life in jail, ‘‘never to be released’’.

Helen Tonge is co-owner and managing director.

‘‘We have to be sure that legally we are at a time when we are OK to cover the cases,’’ Tonge said.

‘‘They also tend to be crimes that sadly made a big impact on the nation and worldwide.

‘‘We also place a lot of emphasis on working with families of the victims and the police, so sometimes they come up through those contacts.’’

The Ebony Simpson case was discovered during research for the Australian series and Tonge said it caught her attention.

‘‘It was such a tragic crime that resonated with us because sadly, we have covered cases involving children in our British series.

‘‘So it struck a chord and I wanted to get the family’s story across.’’

Ebony’s mother, Christine, featured in the episode on Wednesday night.

Tonge said Christine was willing to recount what was the worst thing a parent could experience.

‘‘It was very tough but Christine is a remarkable woman,’’ Tonge said.

‘‘A person who went on to dedicate her life into changing the justice system so other people hopefully wouldn’t have to go through what her family endured. It is always very hard to talk about what happened but also very humbling.

‘‘We hope through doing these programs we give the families a voice too.’’

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