Grief as killer evades justice

Allison Nicholls takes a walk on the windswept Marrawah beach where she used to go with her partner Simon Crisp. Picture: GEOFF ROBSON

Allison Nicholls takes a walk on the windswept Marrawah beach where she used to go with her partner Simon Crisp. Picture: GEOFF ROBSON

ALLISON Nicholls, 48, and her partner Simon Crisp would walk the windswept Marrawah beach together, talking, collecting cowrie shells and laughing. 

She will never be able to do these things with Mr Crisp again.

Last July, the 44-year-old father from Smithton was gunned down at close range outside the Marrawah Tavern where Ms Nicholls worked.

His killer or killers waited for him in the early morning darkness on July 13 and shot him three times while he was taking out rubbish.

Police have not yet charged anyone with the murder.

``He was the nicest, kindest, biggest gentle giant that I have ever met . . . I want people to remember that he was a good man,'' Ms Nicholls said.

``We miss him very, very much.''

The pair had known each other since they were children, dated for a brief time as teenagers, and had been in a new relationship for 10 months when he was shot.

``It wasn't long enough,'' Ms Nicholls said.

``We would spend hours talking, never running out of things to say. Now it is just quiet and lonely . . . I don't know if I will stay here.  I might move on, but not until someone gets caught.''

Ms Nicholls lives within minutes of the pub, but no longer works there.

She said she now rarely leaves the house, chooses to shop outside the Circular Head region for fear of recognition and is now nervous in crowds.

Her 10-year-old daughter, who was at the pub at the time of the shooting, is struggling in the aftermath as is her 24-year-old son, who arrived at the pub before police and found Mr Crisp's body.

Ms Nicholls said after she heard gunshots she locked the doors and ran to her daughter, who had woken from the noise.

``I rang triple-0. They said not to go outside and to try and find somewhere to hide until the police came . . . I was hysterical,'' she said.

Initial police investigations focused on a group of persons within the Circular Head area and searches were conducted in a number of premises including a Rebels Motorcycle Club building at Smithton, the general store at Edith Creek, a house at Roger River and one more at Marrawah.

Detective Inspector Rob Gunton said two detectives were still working on the case, but could not discuss anything further.

He would not confirm if drugs were in any way involved with the crime.

``I hope the police solve this case, I really, really hope so,'' Ms Nicholls said.

``It just needs that one person to come forward and say something, even anonymously.

``It makes me really really angry . . . I want them to face justice.''

Circular Head Mayor Daryl Quilliam said the close-knit community had still not recovered from the crime.

``We are known as a community that cares for each other, we just don't shoot people, there is no sense it,'' Mr Quilliam said.

``It is just an eerie sort of feeling in our community that we could do without.  I think the older people especially feel a bit insecure and struggle at night time, so it does have that social impact.'' 

 Anybody with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Tasmania Police on 131 444.

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