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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
National
Narelle Towie

Grieving family pays tribute to pregnant woman who died in Perth after being hit by concrete block

Diane Miller and her son Lloyde
Diane Miller and son Lloyde. The pregnant Noongar woman died three days after being struck in the head with a concrete missile in a Perth car park Photograph: Supplied

Instead of planning a baby shower, Diane Miller’s family is preparing for her funeral.

The pregnant 30-year-old Noongar woman’s life support was switched off at 2am on Friday, three days after she was struck in the head with a concrete missile that was launched into her open passenger-side window at a Karawara shopping centre in Perth’s south-east.

Police said Miller went into cardiac arrest when she was hit by the rock and that police and those nearby tried to resuscitate her for 20 minutes as they waited for ambulance crews to arrive.

The unborn baby she was carrying at five months was too young to be saved.

On Friday, around 25 of her relatives gathered near the scene at Waterford Plaza shopping centre. Comforting each other, they described overwhelming pain at the loss of a beautiful, happy, loving mum and witty person with a “wicked attitude”.

Philip Edmonds and family with Diane Miller’s son Lloyde
‘I loved her with all my life. I will still love her until the day I die’: Philip Edmonds and family with Diane Miller’s son Lloyde. Photograph: Angela Ryder

At times lost for words to describe his grief, Miller’s partner, Philip Edmonds, said he was struggling to cope but that his focus now was on caring for their eight-month-old baby Lloyde.

“She was one good girl. I loved her with all my life. I will still love her until the day I die,” Edmonds said.

“We’re all one mob and I can’t say anything more. It’s too hard.”

On Tuesday, the couple, their two nieces and Lloyde had been at a public swimming pool and then went to dinner at the shopping centre before the violence erupted in the car park about 7pm.

Police allege there was an argument involving a group of about 15 youths and Edmonds, who was the car driver.

Stolen Generation survivor, prominent Aboriginal advocate and Edmonds’ aunty Angela Ryder said the horrific incident was impacting the entire community.

She said the family’s wishes were that police were left deal to deal the situation from here. “There should be no retaliation,” she said.

“Phil is traumatised, overwhelmed,” Ryder said. “They had only just moved into their house in Karawara a few days before the incident.”

A fundraising page started by Ryder had so far raised almost $15,000.

“We are supporting Phil to furnish the house because he wants to stay there.”

As Miller’s family grieved outside Royal Perth hospital this week, a 17-year-old youth faced court charged with causing grievous bodily harm. He was on bail at the time of the alleged offence.

The accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, fled the scene of the incident, but hours later handed himself in to police, the court heard. He has yet to make a plea, and police declined to comment on whether the charges would be upgraded in the wake of Miller’s subsequent death.

The Cannington district police inspector Brett Baddock said the “melee” started at about 7pm and described the incident as “senseless violence”.

The 17-year-old was remanded in custody until 9 December.

The WA premier, Mark McGowan, called the situation “very, very tragic”.

“I pass on my sympathies and condolences from all West Australians to the family of Diane Miller on the loss of her and her unborn child in a terrible, terrible and shocking event,” McGowan said.

As the sun went down on Thursday night, family members held a vigil outside the hospital. They would soon say their final goodbyes.

Miller’s brother Malcolm Clifton told reporters outside the hospital that their close-knit family was destroyed.

Edmonds told the West Australian newspaper that he was angry and heartbroken.

“I went through a lot of trauma through life and this is going to be heart-breaking for everyone to go through. In the long run it won’t be anger, it’ll be sadness,” he said.

“It’s not a hit-for-hit – justice will get them.”

The death of Miller came just weeks after 15-year-old Cassius Turvey was bashed with a metal pole as he walked home from school in Middle Swan in Perth’s north-east.

A man has been charged with murder and is due in the Stirling Gardens magistrates court next week. A memorial has been erected in Middle Swan.

Ryder said the family would hold a peaceful public memorial for Miller on Sunday at Waterford Plaza at 5pm.

Homicide detectives were still investigating the incident and urged anyone who witnessed the event or with mobile phone or dash-cam vision taken in the car park at that time to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at www.crimestopperswa.com.au.

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