George Halvagis has a kind and honest smile, but there’s a lingering, deep sadness in his eyes.
A retiree from Melbourne’s Bayside suburbs, George has become a face for Victorian victims of crime.
As Crime Stoppers Victoria’s dedicated ambassador George has spent more than a decade tirelessly supporting the not-for-profit crime-fighting organisation.
This is not how the 76 year-old ever imagined his life to be.
On November 1, 1997, George’s daughter, Mersina, was taken from her loved ones in the most heinous and unimaginable of circumstances.
Mersina, the second eldest of four siblings, was 25 years-old when she was brutally murdered by convicted killer Peter Norris Dupas as she tended her grandmother’s grave at Fawkner Cemetery.
George describes the pain of losing his daughter in such horrific circumstances.
“When he stabbed my daughter he stabbed me at the same time,” he said.
“I’m walking every day as a dead person, my mind never goes away from my daughter. Everybody reckons, it’s been so many years but I just can’t get it off my mind not only because she was my daughter, my child, but because she was such a wonderful person.
“Every time people say they feel my pain I just tell them that all my life for the rest of my life I pray that you’ll never feel my pain because the only way you can feel my pain is through what I’m going through, but hundreds of thousands of people care about what happened to my daughter.”
The Halvagis family campaigned for 15 long years to have Mersina’s murderer brought to justice.
In Mersina’s memory George has dedicated his life to supporting other families to secure justice for their lost loved ones, including more than a decade as Crime Stoppers Victoria’s dedicated ambassador.
This Crime Stoppers Day, Monday 16 May 2016, George explains why he is so committed to supporting the cause in its 29th year.
“Crime Stoppers provided so much help to me throughout my campaign to find my daughter’s killer,” he said.
“Hundreds of calls were received by Crime Stoppers in relation to my daughter’s tragedy. People knew things before but were too afraid to come forward. It was because of Crime Stoppers that people came forward to try to help us.
“Ever since then I have dedicated myself to helping Crime Stoppers because I experienced for myself how it can help people.
“It is up to us, the community, to keep this state safe for our children to grow up into and for our elderly to live their lives without fear. All of us have a responsibility, a duty, to keep our state safe from criminals, and we can do it, if we all stand together and try.
“I urge you, whoever knows anything, please pick up the phone and call Crime Stoppers – you may save someone’s life.”
In his role as Crime Stoppers Victoria’s ambassador George campaigns tirelessly to raise the profile of the not-for-profit organisation in the community and raise vital funds.
November 2017 will mark 20 years since Mersina’s death and almost two decades of George campaigning for justice for his daughter and for all victims of crime.
George dedicates his work to his daughter Mersina.
“Mersina was such a loving, gentle, kind and hardworking person,” he said, “she had time for everybody and everything.
“She loved people and hated tragedy. She was even sad if she saw someone hurt an ant.
“I do the work I do for my daughter; to try my best to protect other young people, everyone, from criminals.
“I know there’s murderers out there and I know there’s families screaming for justice.
“I want to make sure that no other family is going to suffer going through the tragedy that we’ve been going through.
“I want to do whatever I can to ensure what happened to my child doesn’t happen to anyone else’s child.
“I’m sure somebody knows something and that’s what I continue saying. If you know something or if you see something don’t worry about picking up the phone because nothing is going to happen to you.
“People should save the Crime Stoppers number into their phone and no matter where you are if you see anything suspicious call the number and tell Crime Stoppers. You’re helping your neighbourhood and you’re probably saving somebody’s life and that’s what I’ll be saying until I die.”
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