Arthur Haines was a 13-year-old boy on school holidays, looking forward to a day at the Easter Show, when he stayed at a friend’s house in Walker Street, Waterloo.
“It was Good Friday,” says Arthur’s mother Julianne Szabo, ten years on from the tennager’s tragic death. “The boys were going to the Easter Show the next day. They wanted to get an early start.”
Arthur was sleeping in a room in a three-storey terrace, when a molotov cocktail crashed through a kitchen back door. Within minutes the whole house was ablaze and Arthur was trapped in a top bedroom.
Arthur eventually got out of the home but died in hospital from his injuries 11 weeks later. “He would have woken in a daze and then made his way down. He came out with no protection, wearing only his favourite blue denim jeans”, says Ms Szabo.
Arthur’s young life was cut short senselessly, murdered in a feud between neighbours that spread until it divided the entire street.
The Coroner’s Court inquest in 2001 into Arthur’s death heard that the feud in Walker Street began between Janine Masuda, the owner of the house Arthur was staying at, and her neighbour Fay Dwyer. It allegedly spread to Mrs Dwyer’s sons and daughter Sharon and her de facto husband Greg Walker, who lived down the road and a raft of others who lived on or regularly visited the street.
But when residents and visitors to Walker Street were summonsed to explain the firebomb at the inquest, most chose not to name names.
A $100,000 reward has been offered since 2000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction for those responsible for deliberately starting the fire in Walker Street.
Police re-examined the Walker Street case four years ago in a bid to identify new witnesses, without any new outcomes.
Detective Acting Inspector Steven Trevitt said then that investigations had been unsuccessful, with “several members of the local community reluctant to provide information”. Homicide detectives and Redfern Police reinterviewed several residents of Walker Street and calls were renewed for anyone with information to come forward.
Ms Szabo renews those calls today. “We haven’t found the people responsible. I will never give up hope that we do,” she says. “So my son and I can have peace.”
A ten-year memorial was held for Arthur Haines, at the site of his memorial tree, an Illawarra Flame Tree, and plaque in Tobruk Reserve in Waterloo on June 29.
“Arthur was my ray of sunshine,” says Ms Szabo of her only child.
Arthur’s murder remains unsolved. Anyone with information is urged to come forward. All information will be treated as confidential and can be given at any police station or by phoning Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
– First published in South Sydney Herald, July 2008