Phyllis Harrison’s children disappointed they didn’t get the chance to look her alleged murderer in the eyes.
Phyllis Harrison’s children disappointed they didn’t get the chance to look her alleged murderer in the eyes.

After 22 years, 'this is a step towards justice for our mum’

The adult children of cold case murder victim Phyllis Harrison said it was "bittersweet" to watch on as the man accused of killing their mother faced court this morning.

Siblings Julie Lane, Dianne Smoker and Dean Harrison had hoped the 45-year-old who allegedly killed their mother in her Elizabeth South home in 1998 would appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court in person so they could see him face-to-face.

But instead, the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, appeared via video link, after being charged with murder on Thursday.

Phyllis Harrison’s family has spent 22 years waiting for justice.
Phyllis Harrison’s family has spent 22 years waiting for justice.

Detectives arrested the man following a DNA breakthrough in the case - one of the highest-profile cold cases in the state.

Mrs Harrison, who had lived alone in her northern suburbs home of 40 years following the death of her husband, was stabbed multiple times and found dead in her kitchen in March, 1998.

The accused man was clean-shaven and wore a blue jumper during the court hearing, in which his identity was suppressed.

He was remanded in custody to appear in court again next month.

Outside court, Mrs Harrison's brave children spoke of how they never gave up hope that police would make an arrest over their mother's murder.

"Today was a step further for justice for the family and our mum," daughter Julie Lane said.

"She was a beautiful lady. We miss her terribly and finally, finally thank you to SAPOL for such hard work and effort.

"They've been just wonderful to us and hopefully justice will prevail in the end."

Julie Lane and Dianne Smoker with a favourite photo of their mother, Phyllis Harrison, in 2015. Picture: Mark Brake
Julie Lane and Dianne Smoker with a favourite photo of their mother, Phyllis Harrison, in 2015. Picture: Mark Brake

Mrs Lane said it has been a "very long 22 years" and it was "bittersweet" to be at court for the first hearing.

"It was a bit of a disappointment he wasn't (in court) in real life," he said.

Mrs Harrison's son Dean Harrison said the family "really wanted to see him in person".

"It's just the start of a long process," he said.

Mrs Lane also spoke of the moment the family found out police had made an arrest.

"We just thought it was a meet and greet - we just thought they were keeping us in the loop … and then they told us," she said.

"It was such a shock and it was like a big weight was lifted off our shoulders."

Mrs Lane said her mum's legacy "lives on in us".

"She was just such a strong person," she said.

"I think she's handed that strength down to everybody here."

In revealing the arrest, police appealed for information from the public about property that may have been stolen during the murder.

A reward of $200,000 is on offer for anyone with information that could help.

 

Originally published as After 22 years, 'a step towards justice for our mum'


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