Constance Puruntatameri wants the remains of her 15-year-old son returned to the Tiwi Islands so his spirit can be at peace. Picture: Katrina Bridgeford
Constance Puruntatameri wants the remains of her 15-year-old son returned to the Tiwi Islands so his spirit can be at peace. Picture: Katrina Bridgeford

Slain teen’s mum speaks of pain as ‘spirit unable to rest’

THE mother of a teenage boy allegedly stabbed to death at the Bagot Community in May has spoken of her anguish as her son's body remains in limbo amid a court battle over his final resting place.

Constance Puruntatameri said she'd been "crying day and night" since her son - who cannot be named for cultural reasons - passed away on May 19.

The boy had been living in Darwin with another woman, Rosemary Baird, who had raised him from the age of five months and the dispute between the women over his remains continues to be hashed out in the Supreme Court.

 

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In a ruling handed down in October, Justice Peter Barr ruled in Ms Baird's favour, saying the teenager had voluntarily returned to live with her in Darwin after visiting Ms Puruntatameri and her family on Melville Island shortly before his death.

But Ms Puruntatameri is now appealing Justice Barr's ruling and says if her son is buried away from his traditional homeland, his spirit will never be able to rest.

"He can't be buried here (in Darwin) because his spirit won't be settled here because it's not his country," she said.

"He's Munupi clan, that boy, and he's got country and that's where his spirit's got to go, that's why I want him back home with his grandparents. All I ask is to have a service here and take him home for rest."

Constance Puruntatameri's 15-year-old son, who cannot be named for cultural reasons, was allegedly murdered in a stabbing at the Bagot Community in May. Picture: Supplied
Constance Puruntatameri's 15-year-old son, who cannot be named for cultural reasons, was allegedly murdered in a stabbing at the Bagot Community in May. Picture: Supplied

Ms Puruntatameri's partner, Gerry Heenan, said the boy had enjoyed his time on Melville Island hunting and connecting with his culture and was excited about coming back before he was killed.

"He could have been a tree lopper, he could have been a mechanic, he could have been anything but he didn't get a chance," he said.

"He has to come back home and get buried with his grandfather and grandmother and all the ancestors."

In giving evidence in court in August, Mr Heenan's sister, Elisabeth, said if the boy's body was not returned to the Tiwis, his family would not be able to perform the "pukumani" ceremony that would allow him to cross over into the spirit world.

"If the ceremony is not completed the family will continue to suffer trauma and this can be passed down through the generations," she said.

"It is even more important to have pukumani if the death was sudden, tragic or traumatic."

 

 

 

jason.walls1@news.com.au

 

 

 

Originally published as Slain Darwin teen's mum speaks of pain as 'spirit unable to rest'


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