MARK Anthony Haines’ mother, father and grandmother went to their graves never knowing how he died.
But now, 30 years to the day that the 17-year-old was found dead on railway tracks in Tamworth, his remaining family hopes a $500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of someone responsible will deliver answers.
The body of Mr Haines was found on railway lines near the Warral silos on the outskirts of Tamworth on January 16, 1988.
He had suffered massive head injuries.
A coronial inquest returned an open finding into the death in 1988 and no charges have ever been laid in relation to the case. His family has since led a relentless charge to bring about justice, suspecting foul play.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Haines’ family and friends, wearing badges bearing the “vibrant and happy” face of Mr Haines, converged on Tamworth Police Station to welcome news of a $500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction on the case.
The family has never lost sight of justice, one day being served upon the person or persons responsible for Mark’s tragic death.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Mr Haines’ uncle Craig Craigie, said the announcement provided them with a renewed sense of hope.
“The family has never lost sight of justice, one day being served upon the person or persons responsible for Mark’s tragic death,” Mr Craigie said.
“It has been a long and arduous journey for the family to lose a loved one and we are hopeful that this reward will encourage anyone who had been living in guilt for the past 30 years to finally coming forward.
“It has been the family’s belief that there were other people involved with Mark at the time of hid death and evidence supports the coroner’s findings indicating Mark had sustained a severe head injury prior to his death.”
The family has maintained Mr Haines did not commit suicide.
In January last year, the cold case death was referred to the state’s homicide squad.
“It was offered to try and push police and the police minister to offer a reward and that’s been done,” Mr Craigie said.
Police Oxley Acting Superintendent Jeff Budd made the announcement of the reward “to assist police and the family in getting a resolution on Mark’s death”.
“There are some issues that have never been explained in terms of Mark’s demise, and today’s all about us finding some resolution for the family,” Acting Superintendent Budd said.
“One can only imagine the trauma of not knowing for 30 years can cause.
“We hope the inquiries we’re conducting now in NSW and southern Queensland will further be enhanced by this announcement.
“This needs to be explained. There’s knowledge out there. Someone knows something. We need those people to come forward.”
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The 30-year anniversary of Mr Haines’ death also marked a special day for the family, who welcomed his organs back to his ancestral lands.
While the remains of Mr Haines’ body have already been buried at Lincoln Grove Memorial Gardens, his organs were only returned to Tamworth on Tuesday.
Greens MLC David Shoebridge said it was a special day for the family, after Mr Haines’ organs had been held in the coroner’s court for forensic investigations “for the better part of three decades”.
“The family have requested that those organs be returned to them so that they can have a respectful ceremony, and have Mark whole on country again,” he said.
“Nobody gives up on justice for their dead son, their dead nephew, their dead brother.
“He was a 17-year-old vibrant, successful, happy young man.
“There was no reason for him to die in those circumstances, there was no reason for him to take his life, and the family, like any family, are demanding answers.”
Another of Mr Haines’ uncles, Don Craigie, who’s been at the centre of public pleas for information, welcomed “the repatriation of Mark’s organs for reburial for cremation back in his ancestral lands where his body lays”.
“No family should have to go through the anguish of not knowing what has happened to their loved one,” Mr Craigie said.
- Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000
- Tamworth police (02) 6768 2999
- Lifeline 13 11 14