‘How in hell were kids allowed on train with a knife?’
Jack Beasley had the whole world ahead of him. He had a tonne of mates, was a talented footy player, a loving brother and son, and a jokester.
That all changed within minutes late last year when the 17-year-old was stabbed to death in the middle of Surfers Paradise. Five teenagers as young as 15 have been charged with his murder and acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm.
For the first time, Jack's dad Brett Beasley speaks publicly about his son, the trail of devastation the death has had on family and friends, the future, and the foundation set up in Jack's name to make sure no other father has to sit with his son's ashes on Christmas morning.
GONE IN 40 SECONDS
BRETT Beasley is sitting at his dining table. In front of him is an urn with his son's ashes. At the other end of the table sit two large frames filled with pictures of his son.
There's a pain in Brett's eyes few will ever know. His eyes well up when he talks about Jack. They search for answers to questions no parent should ever have to ask.
Those eyes drop down with his broad shoulders when it all becomes too much and land on the silver urn - an urn he reaches for several times while talking about what happened that fateful night last December.
Towards the end of his interview with the Bulletin, Brett looks up at the clock, turns towards the front door and says: "It's about this time Jacko should be walking through the door, kicking his boots off after a day of work.''
Then with a heavy sigh he adds: "Jack was a good kid, the life of the party. He was a great young fella.
"He changed our lives, he and (eldest son) Mitch.
"He was a great kid, always happy and cheerful, even when he was young.
"He was a great brother. He's the younger brother, Mitch is his older brother, best mates they were. He idolised him, always looked up to him."
The boys as kids spent the days outside, running and playing footy, growing into fine young men.
"They were outside kids, always playing with the footy. They were never ever Xbox kids, just outdoor boys. We had great holidays, they had their motorbikes and BMXs.
"They were a rowdy pair, never any trouble though.
"He was a good footy player, good on the boot, could kick them from the sidelines. He was a bit of a ball hog when he was younger, you'd give him the ball and he wouldn't let go.
"He scored a lot of tries, he loved his footy, he played with the Helensvale Hornets. He was always there, 10 years with the club. And they've been great to us since this has all happened."
Jack was surrounded by mates. People were drawn to him.
"He was a fun-loving, funny kid, always a bit of a joker. He didn't deserve to get what he got. He didn't deserve it.
"He was well loved, the amount of people that were at his funeral and the amount of public attention we've been getting from Jack, he was a Gold Coast boy, born and bred. They loved him, he was a great kid and he should still be here today.
"Jack had a big heart on him, until old mate found it and broke it."
"IT'S the worst day of our lives."
From the Beasley home, if you listen carefully, you can hear the trams whirr past. The closeness of the light rail line was once a gift for them.
"We don't live far from the tram line," Brett Beasley says. "Jack and his mates used to wander up to the tram, they'd go into Surfers a lot, as kids do. They'd go to the beach, go to McDonald's and Timezone, just to have a hoot.
"It was the Friday. One of the girlfriends had graduated and they were having a gathering for her, so the boys were on their way in there.
"They were going to go out to dinner with them."
It will be alleged a group of teens who had travelled to the Gold Coast on the tram system, confronted Jack and his mates.
Police will allege the group of teens began antagonising them, following them, goading them. It will be further alleged that after attacking Jack's group, a 15-year-old Waterford boy pulled out a large hunting knife and stabbed Jack and another boy.
"Jacko was gone in 40 seconds,'' he says.
"Jack and his mate got stabbed. His mate was lucky to live. He got stabbed twice.
"Unfortunately Jack got a fatal one."
Brett remembers the day like it was yesterday.
"We had been at work that day. (Wife) Belinda was home, I'd finished work. I'd had a couple of beers with the boys after work and come home.
"It was only Belinda and I at home for the night, 'cause we knew Jack was going in there and Mitch was out with his mates.
"We cooked a barbecue and then got a phone call saying there was a problem with Jack, there'd been a stabbing and you need to come to the hospital.
"We hightailed it to the hospital. We sat in a room until they came and told us he died. It was hard. They worked on him and worked on him, but they couldn't stop the bleeding.
"They were really, really good there. The staff and the doctors and the nurses that came and talked to us, they were really good. They kept us informed, they did say it's not looking good and all of sudden they came in and just said, 'I'm sorry'."
Over the years Jack had spent time in hospital with injuries. He had been there before, but he'd always left.
"Hardest part was we didn't get to see him for five days. That was hard,'' his father says.
"Walking out of that hospital and having to leave him there. We walked out of the hospital several times over the years with football injuries and stuff and you always walk out with him. This time, we had to walk out without him."
Christmas for the Beasleys used to mean going away and having a family holiday.
"We got his urn back Christmas Eve. So Christmas Day was no good. We normally go away every year for Christmas. The boys are getting older now, they wanted to do something with Mum and Dad and then do their own thing.
"We had a big thing organised for home. They were going to be in the pool and we were going to have a big lunch with the family, but we had to sit out there with his urn instead. That was our Christmas Day."
Brett says he does not see how the death of his son will ever get easier.
"No way, it will never get easier, never. We can never have a Christmas again. Jack's 18th birthday is coming up on April 2, he didn't even make that. We've got to get through that. How are we supposed to celebrate Christmas again? It will be nothing, ever.
"We have got to learn to live with it I suppose."
He says his wife and son are struggling to deal with the loss.
"Belinda is only just back to work, she's struggling big time, as you can imagine. Her anxiety is really high because she catches the train to Brisbane for work, so she had to get back on the train where those grubs came down from.
"Mitch is not going real good, he had some time off work, but is back at work now and back boxing. He's been doing that every afternoon, which is a good release for him.
"They were best mates and his little brother is gone. Mitch has got to grow up now without Jack, he's devastated."
And him? Brett says he is not sure how he is supposed to move on.
"Above and Beyond Funerals looked after Jack, they've been great. They were amazing with Jack, they picked him (up from the hospital) and we had to go and view him there. That was hard seeing Jack lying there.
"I've been back at work a couple of weeks now and every day is just, I don't know, it's hard
to explain, one day you'll have a good day and you try and have a joke with the guys, but you can't.
"It only takes a phone call or a song that was at his funeral. The pain doesn't go away when you lose a child. You hear and read over the years all that sort of stuff but until it happens to you, you don't realise that those people you heard, you know what they're going through.
"How are you supposed to move on? You hear of people saying that the feeling of losing a child is hard and it is. You can't imagine it, you can't imagine it.
"Losing any children - they should be burying us, we shouldn't be burying them."
DETECT KNIVES, SAVE LIVES
THE Beasleys decided it was impossible to move on, so they took a leaf out of the book the Morcombes - who set up the Daniel Morcombe Foundation in honour of their son Daniel who was abducted and murdered in December 2003 - and have created another foundation in Jack's name.
"We didn't want to let Jack go, we didn't want him to be just another 17-year-old boy who has lost his life," his dad says.
"The way Jack was killed, no parent expects it. If they have a car crash or an unfortunate medical issue and you lose a child that way, it would still be absolutely devastating, of course, but to lose Jack by being stabbed to death, in the middle of Surfers Paradise at 8pm at night?
"There were families walking down there. Imagine the other people that saw it all happen, there were families everywhere. Young children had to witness this and it's just affected so many people.
"We're not going to let Jack go, just like that."
The Jack Beasley Foundation will be officially launched at the Arundel Tavern on March 28. The team at Brett's local have been supportive of the family, helping them through the worst months of their life.
Educating kids before they get to the point of carrying knives will be one of the foundation's main focus points.
"We had to do something. It would break my heart even more to have Jack just gone, to have nobody talking about him. We want Jack Beasley to be known and remembered for who he was, a great young boy who lost his life for nothing, a stupid senseless act.
"We have a great bunch of friends and family that have been helping us get the foundation up and running.
"We need to push the education thing because these kids today, they've got no idea, they're too young. They're stealing cars, breaking into houses, we need to try and make a difference, to stop this violence in kids, especially armed kids.
"These kids have got to learn the consequences of their actions and what life is all about. Jack was 17. He had everything going for him. He had an apprenticeship, he had great mates, he played touch footy and one stupid young grub took his life to be cool, to be a wannabe gangster. It's crazy that some child can take another child's life. They were both kids. How can it happen?
"We want to get into schools, talk to schools, that's our ultimate goal. You got to get them as young as 10 and 11, to cement it in their head, to teach them about crime and the consequences it can have on the family."
He says there needs to be more security in and around public transport hubs.
"We've got a bit of a slogan for Jack, 'detect knives, save lives'.
"If these knives were detected, there's a good possibility Jack would be here today. If they got wanded at whatever train station they got on at, well, Jacko would be just about be finished work by now, walking in here, kicking his boots off. But he's not, because they carried a knife into Surfers Paradise among thousands of people on a Friday night, two weeks out of Christmas.
"And public transport, how in hell were these kids allowed on public transport with a knife? How did it slip by? How many times has this got to happen? Someone could get on with a gun or a bomb, they can just walk on willy nilly and kill people."
Family friend and Jack Beasley Foundation chairman Wayne Court has been instrumental in helping to set up the foundation.
"From the foundation, the whole drive behind it is to keep Jack's legacy alive, but also to go down the path of driving for change around some youth laws, harsher sentencing and things like that, as well as giving police more powers to scan people, to be able to physically check them, to make it safer.
"The other big part is education. We want to do what Bruce and Denise Morcombe have done with their foundation. They've saved countless lives with their foundation.
"And Brett and Belinda are good enough to say they want to do something to make sure no one else has to live through what they're living through.
"By going into schools, sports clubs, wherever, get young kids and teach them that it's not cool and the dangers of what can happen, prior to them getting into a gang or crime. If we can get into their heads early and educate them."
Brett Beasley says kids need to see what happens after they have committed a knife crime, and the effect it has on everyone.
"The snowball effect is just huge. There were 1000 people at his funeral and the community has reached out to us in huge numbers.
"We want Jack to be the next Daniel Morcombe. Everyone knows his story. That family has made a huge difference, they are great parents, they didn't want to let him go.
"And we're the same. We don't want to let him go, we want someone in 10 years time to say Jack Beasley's name and people are going to know him. We do not want to see another family go through this.
"The police and detectives have been awesome. Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler has been a great support and help. He has rung me on a few occasions, he doesn't have to do that, it's really touched him.
"The detectives on the case have been great. We had some officers here this week talking to us about the foundation. You can't fault them."
Brett plans on being in court for the trials of each of the teens charged with his son's murder.
"We will go to court, absolutely. It's going to be real tough seeing these people, but we want to put a face to them, we need to see these kids, but it's going to be tough. We're going to sit there and listen to everything. It's going to be tough.
"I just hope justice is done for Jack. We hope and pray that the court system does their job."