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:
”He’d beat me every day,” she said at the time. “I thought he would kill me. Every day I lived in fear, I thought I was dead, he’d end up killing me. He was a sadist, I believe. He got off on what he did and it wasn’t going to stop.”
She also went to say she still “loves” her brother.
“It doesn’t bother me what other people think. I know my brother and I know he’s a good person.”
Relatives and friends of the family denied Belinda and Mark’s accounts of abuse at the time and in the years to come.
In December 2000, Mark Valera was found guilty of the murders of David O’Hearn and Frank Arkell. He was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment without parole. He was just 21.
In the August before Mark was sentenced, his best friend Keith Schreiber – who also happened to be the boyfriend of Belinda – snuck into their father’s home through an open window, killing Jack Van Krevel with an axe as he sat in his lounge room.
Belinda Van Krevel was just one room away as her father was murdered.
Although she initially denied any involvement, police soon found Belinda had ordered her father’s murder. In fact, her mother, upon re-entering their lives in the wake of Mark’s crimes, testified at trial that Belinda had told her she had offered Schreiber $2000 to kill her father. On top of this, she knew she and her brother were the sole beneficiaries of her father’s substantial estate.
Belinda said her father was molesting her young daughter, and also blamed him for the fact her brother was in jail.
Keith Schreiber was sentenced to 16 years jail and Belinda was sentenced to six years for orchestrating the murder of her father. She lost her daughter, and her freedom, but she is resolute she made the right choice.
“Without a doubt it was worth it,” she told 60 Minutes in 2015.
Though she spent time in jail for the murder, Belinda Van Krevel wasn’t any less violent upon release.
In July 2013, she stabbed her partner Marshall Gould six times in a frenzied, psychotic state, intoxicated by a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. She very nearly killed him.
“I just remember her eyes, they just went black,” he told 60 Minutes in that same 2015 interview.
“Just went like that. The colour of her eyes just disappear, just like that. It was just black.”
He later said Belinda was calling him ‘Jack’, thinking he was her father. She was sentenced to three years in jail.
In 2015, after one murder and another attempted in her criminal record, reporter Alison Langdon asked Belinda Van Krevel if the people could feel safe with her in the community again.
“Absolutely. Yeah. Yep.”
A year later, she was charged with pawning a stolen mobile phone and methylamphetamine possession.
And a year after that, Belinda was sentenced to 15 months for stealing an elderly woman’s handbag, proving that perhaps in the case of Belinda Van Krevel, some people have deep inability to stay on the right side of the law.