Let’s get one thing sorted right from the start – that is not Ross’s real name! His actual name is Parrish Charles. Why the change? Who knows!
The Ross – he’ll always be Ross to me – I’m about to write about here is not the Ross I knew in Darlinghurst in the 80s and 90s. That Ross was a handsome, funny, sometimes insecure man, with dark hair, and big, dark eyes. That Ross was generous, giving, fun-loving, even after he moved to Melbourne. If you visited there, his home was always open to you, and he looked after you. That Ross I wanted to have wild sex with, yet never did. He had a brief relationship with an ex of mine – who shall remain nameless, and will never forgive Ross for what he did! His anger and disappointment is implacable!
I am not so unforgiving. Even though this Ross is one I did not know – and probably wouldn’t have liked – I know that somewhere inside this lost soul is the Ross I used to know. I guess I sound like I’m making excuses for him, though it is probably more that I want to know that outside this, he is not lost.
I had my own battles in the 90s with ill-health, so lost contact with many. I got such a shock when I found out about the following incident.
So, to April 29, 2008…
The police issued the following Media Release on the morning of the attack:
“Man Arrested After Clifton Hill Stabbing Attack
Release date: Tue 29 April 2008
Last updated: Wed 30 April 2008
A 45-year-old man from Alphington has been arrested and remanded after a stabbing attack in Clifton Hill earlier this morning.
Parish Charles of Bennett Street, Alphington was arrested at his home at 7.30pm and has been charged with attempted murder by Yarra CIU detectives.
Detectives believe the attack on a 23-year-old Indian student, working as a cab driver, occurred sometime around 3.00am, possibly in Hodgkinson Street near Wellington Street.
The taxi driver was located lying on the footpath by two men who were walking along Hodgkinson Street about 5.30am.
He was treated by paramedic’s members at the scene before being conveyed to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he remains in a critical condition.
Mr Charles has appeared before an out of session’s court hearing and has been remanded to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday 30 April.
Senior Constable Leigh Wadeson
No one seems able to pinpoint the reason that saw him drive to the Alfred Hospital about 1.40am on April 29 that year (2008) and walk towards the emergency department without going in.
Charles hailed a taxi an hour later and asked the driver, Jalvinder Singh, to take him to a former address in Clifton Hill. When Jalvinder Singh pulled over at the address, Charles produced a hunting knife from his pants and stabbed him five times in the stomach and chest before driving off in the taxi, which he crashed nearby. “While he was stabbing me he was holding me from behind around the neck. I was in shock. I felt like I was fighting for my life,” Mr Singh said later in a statement.
Mr Singh lay bleeding in the gutter for three hours before a passing truck driver discovered him and called for help. A surgeon later described Mr Singh’s survival as miraculous.
Police later arrested Charles at his home at Alphington, where he was getting ready to go to the Alfred for some tests. Considering the sheer savagery of the attack – described as “random, unprovoked and frenzied” by Justice Curtain at the 2009 trial – it is a pure anomaly that not only does Charles not remember the attack, but cannot even come up with a reason for it! Stranger still are the possible reasons – all health related – that are given as possible causes for the attack.
At his Supreme Court trial in 2009, Justice Curtain said Charles had been diagnosed as HIV positive in 1986 and at the time of the attack he was depressed and unhappy about his treatment at the Alfred Hospital.
He claimed to be suffering from blackouts and said he could remember little of the incident.
But in a series of reports from psychiatrists and psychologists to the Supreme Court there was no evidence Charles was psychotic or suffering from a mental illness that would explain his behaviour.
At the time of his appearance in the Magistrate’s Court, just after his arrest in 2008 “Charles’ lawyer, Rob Melasecca, told the court his client had contracted HIV 20 years ago and had recently begun taking new medication.
Mr Melasecca said Charles had no memory of yesterday morning’s events.
His client had no criminal history and was horrified about what had occurred.
“He’s very much someone who is out of his comfort zone … does not know where he is, does not know why he’s (here).”
Mr Melasecca said Charles had been planning to attend The Alfred hospital for treatment when he was arrested.
He said his client needed help otherwise there would be “two victims”.
“His mental health is a very big question mark,” Mr Melasecca said.
The cab driver injured in the attack was in an induced coma, he said.
“The difficulty is the victim in this matter is in an induced coma, so he’s not able to tell us what happened,” Mr Melasecca told the court.
Charles, who was sitting side on, facing the public gallery, as he sat in the dock, was wearing blue rubber gloves, as was the security guard who sat next to him.
He had a shaved head, a goatee-style beard and appeared hunched over during the hearing.
Charles said he had been suffering severe head pain, which he compared with an “electric shock”.
Mr Melasecca asked that Charles receive blood tests while in custody, as he was due to attend an appointment at The Alfred today to be tested for meningitis.
Mr Martin ordered that Charles be remanded at Melbourne Assessment Prison, where he would be assessed to see whether he should be transferred to St Vincent’s for more intensive treatment.
Police would allege that Charles attacked the taxi driver while they were travelling in the vicinity of Wellington Street, Clifton Hill.
He then dumped Mr Singh in the street and took control of the car before crashing it into a power pole, police would allege.
Mr Melasecca said his client did not dispute the police version of events, but said his client’s state of mind would be key to the case.
“He’s in a terrible condition,” he said. “This is not going to be a case about anything other than about his intent and his state of mind.”Outside court, Mr Melasecca said police would allege that Charles caught a cab outside The Alfred hospital after driving there – but not entering the hospital – in his partner’s car.”
In a victim impact statement, Mr Singh, 24, said he tried to return to taxi driving in a bid to overcome his fears following the attack, but found he was too anxious to continue. He said he had trouble with memory and concentration, and was considering dropping out of his hospitality course as a result. Mr Singh also said he stopped playing cricket because he had trouble breathing.
Prosecutor Susan Borg said the defence had not established any direct link between Charles’ depression and the stabbing.
Justice Elizabeth Curtain extended Charles’ bail but warned she was likely to jail him at a sentencing hearing on September 30.
Throughout all this, never has the obvious question been asked – or answered – in any of the reports on this case – why did Charles leave home with a hunting knife secreted in his trousers! Doesn’t that sort of imply intent?
At his Supreme Court trial, Charles pleaded guilty to intentionally causing serious injury and theft. He was sentenced to nine-and-a-half-years jail, and will be eligible for parole in six-and-a-half-years.
The attack on Jalvinder Singh in April2008 prompted a mass blockade of city streets by taxi drivers and led the State Government to introduce better safety measures.
And, of course, one cannot ignore the terrible implications of all this on 23-year-old student, Jalvinder Singh, who was driving the cab as a way to earn money, and was an unfortunate innocent victim to this very savage attack. A fortnight ago he made what his doctor describes as a “miraculous” recovery after his heart stopped on the operating table for more than 10 minutes.
Royal Melbourne Hospital cardiothoracic surgeon, Alistair Royse, said he was amazed Mr Singh survived the attack, in which he received four major stab wounds to the chest.
“A knife wound to the front of the chest went through his breast bone and luckily missed his heart by a centimetre,” Mr Royse said. “Another went through his rib – his lung was penetrated causing five litres of blood to bleed into his chest but also an inability to breathe causing a loss of consciousness.”
When doctors opened up Mr Singh’s chest to assess his injuries, his heart stopped, forcing them to perform open heart massage for about 15 minutes. He required 25 units of blood and the medical team treating him debated whether to continue trying to save him, fearing he had been left unconscious for several hours so his brain injuries would be too severe.
He was kept in an induced coma for nearly a week.
“On Sunday we reversed the sedation and he woke up normal. It’s remarkable, so therein, I think, lies the miracle of what’s happened,” Mr Royse said.
“On paper he had no prospects of survival but not only has he survived, I believe he will make a full and complete recovery once his wounds have healed, and (he will) have a normal life expectancy.”
Mr Royse said Mr Singh’s youth, fitness and resilience helped save him.
The part-time taxi driver and hospitality student yesterday thanked the medical team who treated him before he was discharged from hospital.
“I am very glad I was treated here by the doctors and staff who have given me a new life,” he said.
He said he was looking forward to resuming his studies and had not ruled out driving taxis again. Mr Singh said he had spoken to his mother in India only once since the attack but told her he was fine.
“She doesn’t know the reality, she only knows a little bit about the injuries,” he said, adding he had no plans to tell her.
“She’ll be worried and I do not want to make her worry.”
Mr Singh said he was happy new taxi safety measures would be introduced.
But he admitted not knowing that Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky was introducing safety screens for drivers, pre-paid night-time fares and other measures.
“The leaders know what should be done, but after this and all kinds of accidents I think improvements should be done,” he told reporters today.
“I am very glad I was treated here by the doctors and staff who have given me a new life.
“Most Australians are very good and have sent me cards. Staff from Carrick (the Melbourne institute where Mr Singh studies hospitality) have visited me daily.”
Mr Singh remembers being stabbed and collapsing but little else.
He said he would stay in Australia and continue his studies but was undecided about resuming work as a taxi driver.
So what of Ross/Parrish? If he served his time, and received parole, he would have been discharged from jail sometime in 2015. I wonder if his partner stayed the course, or was so horrified by the events that he went his own way! I have no idea where he is, no any means to contact him. I do want him to know that despite the horrifying details surrounding this event, and by no means condoning it, that as an old friend, I have not deserted him. He has admitted to the crime, has done his time, and I hope that in some way he has managed to resume his life. If we are all condemned for our past actions, then there is little hope for any of us! Be kind to yourself, my friend, and take care!
Tim Alderman (2017)
- Herald Sun, November 13, 2009 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/parrish-charles-jailed-over-knife-attack-on-taxi-driver-jalvinder-singh/news-story/25bcf1f3953ddca4c9bb869c9be47a0f?sv=4c30e3d48710c08b15680b250a01ff38
- Sydney Morning Herald, September 17, 2009 http://www.smh.com.au/national/guilty-plea-in-taxi-driver-stabbing-20090916-froh.html
- ABC Net 10 May 2011 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-04-29/jalvinder-singh-was-driving-this-taxi-when-he-was/2433442
- The Age, May 13, 2008 http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/drivers-miraculous-recovery/2008/05/12/1210444339492.html
- The Age, May 12, 2008 http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/stabbed-cabbies-miracle-recovery/2008/05/12/1210444329075.html
- Sydney Morning Herald December 8, 2008 http://www.smh.com.au/national/stabbed-cabbie-feared-he-would-die-20081208-6twy.html
- ABC Net 13 December, 2009 http://www.smh.com.au/national/stabbed-cabbie-feared-he-would-die-20081208-6twy.html
- The Age, April 30, 2008 http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/accused-has-no-memory-of-taxi-stabbing/2008/04/30/1209234918624.html
- Victoria Police Media Release, April 29, 2008 http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?Document_ID=15269
- India Voice, April 30, 2008 http://www.india-voice.com/joomla/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=204