She was given a 15-month jail term – not the first time she’d been sent to prison, in fact – for stealing an elderly woman’s handbag.
Magistrate Michael Stoddart called her actions “pathetic”.
In the long list of ways Belinda Van Krevel has bluntly ignored the law, a handbag snatch sits on the lower end of a crime spree that includes murder. More than once.
But if last month’s petty theft is anything to go by, Australians can be sure of one thing: Over the course of two decades, Belinda Van Krevel has a perpetual inability, perhaps even a deliberate inability, to stay on the right side of the law.
To understand Belinda, you must first understand Belinda’s family.
Born to Jack Van Krevel and Elizabeth Carroll, Belinda and her brother Mark were raised by their father after their mother left the family when she was just a toddler.
In a 2001 profile about her family, journalist Greg Bearup wrote for The Good Weekend the Van Krevel’s is “a story about a world without compassion”.
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“A story where people are murdered and mutilated because someone ‘felt like killing someone’. A place where the normal bounds of morality have no meaning.”
In June 1998, Mark Valera – who changed his name as an adult out of a deep dislike for his father – approached a shopkeeper by the name of David O’Heard, who he had seen pottering in his garden earlier that day.
He asked him if there was any accommodation around, perhaps a boarding house?
“I had it in my mind that I just wanted to kill someone that day,” he later told police.
He entered O’Hearn’s home, waited until he was facing away, grabbed a wine decanter and hit him across the back of the head. What ensued from there was a horrifying murder. The Illawarra Mercury have since described the scene as one that “haunted many seasoned police officers” for years to come.
That same month, he made contact with Frank Arkell, a former Wollongong Mayor and former member of the New South Wales State Parliament. Arkell – who had been subject to child pornography and paedophilia investigations prior to his death – asked Mark over, for reasons unknown. He was murdered in a similarly callous, violent and calculated fashion.
Three months after both murders, Mark Valera arrived at the Wollongong Police Station and confessed to the crimes. He was just 19 years old.
At his trial in 2000, he claimed his father had abused him as a child and, as a result, his anger led him to kill.
“You could just see it comin’,” says Belinda Van Krevel told Greg Bearup for the Good Weekend in 2001 of her brother’s killings.
“Mark was that angry, it had been building up for years and it was like he was gunna explode [sic]. We suffered years of abuse from that bastard, my father. I mean, he held a gun to Mark’s head one day and said that he was going to blow his brains out and Mark peed his pants. He would always say to Mark that he had dark skin and that he wasn’t his boy and that he didn’t want him.”
In a 2015 interview with 60 Minutes, she elaborated on her accounts of her father’s abuse: