Disbelief in Scarsdale community, questions unanswered

UNANSWERED questions lingered over the Scarsdale community yesterday.

Residents wondered, in shock and disbelief, how something like this could happen in their peaceful hamlet.

A 14-year-old killed in a violent attack in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Scarsdale general store owner Belinda Lee said there was plenty of speculation, plenty of gossip but most just wanted to know how exactly this had unfolded.

“So many questions we can’t get answers to and probably never will get answers to,” Ms Lee said.

“It really took a while to sink in and some people were really quite frightened.”

The vast, scattered community woke Saturday morning to a heavy police contingent in main streets, most congregated about the Scarsdale Community Park and nearby crime scene.

They were followed by a hungry media pack.

Ms Lee said most residents, especially those in the immediate area, were unused to such scrutiny and moved away for the day.

None seemed to have returned.

Police tape that had cordoned off the park fluttered on the ground yesterday, the area deserted. The barbecue, perfect for holiday makers and road-trippers, was untouched.

Houses were shut up, the town ghostly.

Police forensics remained working at the crime scene with the odd media crew drifting past.

This was not how Scarsdale wanted attention.

The murder comes three days after Scarsdale featured on front page of The Courier as a town fighting to stay alive under threat of re-classification for too small a population.

Long-time resident Betty Ladgrove, who has lived in the township for 34 years, said she had never known such a shocking incident in town.

Ms Ladgrove, aged in her 80s, took a morning walk along the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail and said police were about before 7am, and greeted her on her journey. 

She was shocked to later learn why they were in town.

Ms Ladgrove said there were a lot of new houses in the region as more commuters sought a rural setting, close to Ballarat. But most faces about the shops were familiar and said hello.

Catwalk Gallery owner and photographer Geoff Beere said he loved the peacefulness of Scarsdale.

Not many knew the families involved in the Scarsdale tragedy that unfolded early Saturday morning.

Most say the girls who are believed to be renting the house where 14-year-old Timmy O’Brien was allegedly bashed to death, were new to the area.

Scarsdale Hidden Treasures manager Wendy Spittle, who lives in the nearby bush town Piggoreet, said her thoughts went out to all their loved ones.

“There’s a real disbelief at what happened.

At the general store, Ms Lee said Scarsdale and its surrounding community, though spread out, made a point to look out for each other.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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