Samson had been drinking for 18 hours when, just after midnight on September 29, 1990, he grabbed his rifle and went for a walk. It was cloudy and still on the streets of Ingleburn, in Sydney's south-west. An almost-full moon cast a cool blue glow on the cars and lawns.
At 22, Samson was already a seasoned criminal: he had stolen cars and couriered drugs. He went out that night after hearing from a neighbour that "a suspicious-looking man was hanging around". But he soon came across an open window at the back of a townhouse, and climbed in.
Three brothers were asleep upstairs. Samson hoped to steal a video player, but, unable to find one, went upstairs to search for cash. He saw a man sleeping, and was reaching under his bed for a wallet when he heard one of the brothers, 30-year-old Peter Jones, ask: "What are you doing here?" Turning around, Samson saw Jones running toward him. Raising his rifle, he shot him in the chest at close range. Hearing the shot, Jones' other brother Steve emerged from his bedroom and chased Samson downstairs. The two men wrestled; Samson hit Steve in the chest with the butt of the rifle before breaking free and fleeing.
By the time an ambulance arrived, 14 minutes later, Peter was dead. "He died in his brother's arms," Samson told me, "lying there with a pierced heart."
Samson (whose name has been changed, at his request, along with others in this story), was arrested three days later at his sister's house in Ingleburn. "I was lying in bed when the cops barged in. The next thing I know this guy is pointing a revolver at my temple." After two years on remand, he was tried for murder at Sydney's Central Criminal Court. A psychiatric assessment found he wasn't by nature an aggressive person. Rather, he had grown up in Papua New Guinea, where guns and murder were commonplace. Samson pleaded not guilty, but the judge demurred and sentenced him to 16 years in jail.
Samson has a broad brown face and anxious eyes; his head, closely shaved and shiny, appears the colour and approximate density of polished mahogany. He swears hugely and is amply muscled: covering his left biceps is a tattoo of crossed spears and a bird of paradise that, as I later learn, he inked himself while inside, using a sharpened guitar wire. He is not particularly tall, but you don't register this at first, because his ambient energy is that of a man who could, with a minimum of fuss, remove your arm from its socket.
When I meet him for the first time, at Sydney's Central Station in December 2015, he is sporting a pair of thongs, dark wraparound sunglasses and a silver beard. "Pleased to meet you," he says, shaking my hand.
Samson walked out of Goulburn jail just 48 hours earlier. He spent the first two nights in the Hillview Motel, near the town's main street. The room was basic, but Samson didn't mind: parole was paying, and more to the point, he was free. He bought a 750ml bottle of Wild Turkey, half of which he drank on the first night, the other half on the second. "It was a celebratory drink, and to calm my nerves. I was worried that when I got to Sydney, no one would be here to meet me."
Also at the station today is Mischa, a caseworker with the Community Restorative Centre (CRC), a charity that helps prisoners make the move out of custody and into the community. Life for ex-prisoners can be daunting, he explains, especially in the first few months, when difficulty finding a job, friends and a roof over their head can lead many to re-offend. Prisoners come out with the belongings they went in with; in Samson's case, a RipCurl backpack containing a pair of jeans, two polo shirts and an out-of-date driver's licence. He has $532 in social security, only $50 of which is in cash; the rest is on a Westpac debit card he'd been given on release. The money has to last two weeks. "Out of that they have to find accommodation, food, and transport," Mischa says. "The system is set up to fail."
Samson is 48, and has spent 19 years in jail: 16 for the Jones murder and, bizarrely, a further two-and-a-half for the kidnap of his sister-in-law, in 2013, a case he describes as "total bullshit". ("Wasn't really kidnap, bro," he says. "I'll explain it all later.") Though initially apprehensive, he has agreed to let me follow him for six months as he goes about remaking his life. We would meet for a meal every week, and he would fill me in on his progress. The lure of a free meal and regular company is considerable – he no longer has family or friends in Sydney – but his motivations run deeper. He wants to show that ex-inmates can "be good people, too". As we drive away from the station in Mischa's Hyundai, he gazes out the window at the people in the street, at the beautiful women and the fancy cafes. We pass a building site, and he turns to me: "I could walk in there and get a job, or I could go around the corner and mug someone. I got a choice."
For a former inmate, the first days of freedom are like driving full speed into a bureaucratic sandpit. There are long, tedious visits to Centrelink, to Family and Community Services, to probation officers and NSW Housing, where the most immediate need is met: accommodation. Recently released inmates get 28 nights of "TA", or free temporary accommodation, a year. (They are advised not to use all of them straight away, in case they need some later on.) Samson's TA is in a halfway house nearby called The Tivoli. Mischa and I take him there and check him in. The room is damp and boxy, with a fridge, a desk fan and a broken chair. The door shows signs of having been kicked in, and the carpet looks as if someone recently bled to death on it. Above the bed is a pastel print of a bright blue bay, with sailing boats and seagulls.
"Fuck me gently," says Samson. "My cell was bigger than this."
By the end of his first stretch, Samson had earned a degree of respect from inmates, some of whom called him Uncle.
After buying a toothbrush, toothpaste and a pump-pack of Palmolive Coconut Scrub soap, we drive to Leichhardt to what Samson calls his "freedom guard", or parole officer. On the way, he bounces in his seat, like an excited child, while furiously working his phone, a prepaid Samsung an inmate had given him inside. He hangs up. "Woo-hoo, boys!" he says, punching the air. "I got myself a root!" An old flame had kindly agreed to "give the old bugger a seeing to". After almost three years of "Mrs Palmer and her five daughters", he's fairly jumping out of his skin at the prospect of real sex.
The parole officer is a charmless woman with grey hair and glasses. She quizzes Samson about the company he intends to keep and his accommodation details. She tells him to report to her once a week, and warns him to stay out of trouble, advice he treats with the utmost seriousness. When we leave the parole office, Mischa and I run across the road, dodging traffic, but Samson walks 20 metres to the nearest pedestrian crossing. "If you get an arsehole cop he can book you for jaywalking, and then you're fucked."
As it turns out, there are far greater risks for Samson. I later learn that before his release he'd been offered $45,000 to drive a truck full of ice from Sydney to Darwin. I ask if he was tempted. "You fucking joking?" he says. "Nineteen years not enough for you? Nothing would make me go back in there. I'd put a gun under my chin before that."
Samson was born in 1968, in Rabaul, the capital of New Britain, an island in eastern PNG. His father was half Irish, his mother half Chinese. "That's why I got slightly slanty eyes," he says. His father worked as a ship mechanic, and was frequently at sea. His mother stayed home, caring for Samson and his four older sisters. "It wasPetticoat Junction," he says. "Women everywhere." They lived in a one-storey house with timber floors; at night Samson would use a torch to fish for eels in nearby creeks. His first language was pidgin; he learnt English at the Sacred Heart Primary School, where German nuns caned his knuckles if he misspelt words. "I became really good at spelling," he says. "But the problem was putting the words together into sentences."
Samson didn't like reading and found school boring. He left after year 6, when he was 12, and began working on the waterfront, carrying hessian bags full of copra for 25 cents an hour. He spent his spare time with a family friend called Kevin. "Kevin was six years' older than me. We'd shoot starlings with slingshots and cook them up. Or we'd climb up and steal their eggs."
His mother had a short fuse. She beat him when he was naughty and sometimes when he wasn't; once, when he was five, she tied him to a tree at night. Soon he was mixing with street kids; by 11 he'd started drinking. Beer is expensive in PNG, so he made home brew by boiling methylated spirits in his grandmother's copper washing pot. It could be dangerously potent: according to Samson, some of his friends died from drinking it. "It makes you grind your teeth. But at the same time you feel like Superman, numb, but like you're floating."
Despairing of their son's prospects, Samson's parents decided to send him to Australia. "Dad wanted me to get a trade, then go back to Rabaul. He wanted the best for me. But at the same time I thought, 'Did they have to do that? Was I thatbad?' "
In March 1984, aged 15, Samson flew into Sydney by himself. His aunts, who were living in Brisbane, had refused to take him, so arrangements were made for him to be met at the airport by his childhood friend Kevin, who had since moved to Sydney. Kevin lived in Liverpool, in south-west Sydney, and worked for State Rail. But when Samson got off the plane, Kevin wasn't there. "The customs people pulled me aside and let me sleep in their office until Kevin turned up at 4am."
Kevin worked long shifts, leaving Samson alone. "I was just a jungle bunny, braz," he says. "I had no guidance." He hung around the streets, and in pinball parlours. He found work tending yards for the father of a local boy. But he soon found how difficult it was being a black boy in suburban Sydney. "Someone would do a break-in, and I'd be the first person the cops would come looking for. After a while, I thought, 'Fuck it, I may as well do the shit I'm getting accused of.' " He moved into low-level crime – running errands for Kings Cross night clubs, "sometimes even to the cop station". He spent his money on pot and alcohol and yet he was still just a boy: sometimes, for fun, he stole milk from the back of delivery trucks.
Soon he became impossible to handle. He and Kevin began to fight. After six months, Kevin threw him out. "I was drowning, looking for anyone to throw me a line," Samson says. "The only thing was that the wrong people rescued me."
After Kevin kicked him out, Samson hit the streets. He was 15, with few possessions and no family. He camped under Liverpool Bridge on the banks of the Georges River; he slept in freight cars at Granville train station. At one stage he and a friend set up a tent in the bushes near Holsworthy Barracks. "The base was near Glenfield tip," he explains. "The army would dump out-of-date rations there, in big steel canisters, and we'd break them open. There was corned beef, chocolate bars, tins of tuna."
He began stealing cars. He preferred powerful models – BMWs, Nissan Silvias, limited-edition Fords – as they were good for "drifting" (overcorrecting, at speed, so that the car slides sideways). Others he cannibalised for parts: he would scour the Milperra wrecking yard, dismantling cars to make new ones. Once he took a four-deck CD player from a Jag and put it into his LX Torana.
Samson roamed widely: he dropped in on family in Brisbane, and couch surfed with friends in housing commission flats. In 1986, he caught a train to Corryong in northern Victoria, where he worked for two years in a timber mill, stripping bark from logs with an iron bar, and playing AFL. One night he was driving around, "stoned as a zombie", when he smashed through a boom gate on a railway crossing. He was rushed to the local surgery, where he had a marble-sized chunk of windscreen cut out of his skull.
By September 1990, now 21, he was back in Sydney, living in Ingleburn. One of his sisters had moved to the suburb, and he occasionally stayed with her. But his life was imploding. He stole and got into fights; there were convictions for malicious injury and drink driving. He took to keeping a rifle in his room: a pump action .22, with hollow-tip bullets.
I next catch up with Samson a week after his release. The first thing I notice is that he's shaved off his beard. "Get more smiles from the women now," he says. We have lunch at a wholefoods cafe in Surry Hills, where he appraises the menu with palpable relish. "Can I have that?" he asks, pointing to a biodynamic lamb wrap. Sure, I reply, adding that the newspaper's paying. "Good," he says. "Let's buy the fucken joint."
Three days ago, he moved out of the Tivoli and into Goodlet Lodge, a budget hotel opposite Central Station that NSW Housing found for him. The room has its own toilet, and air-conditioning. Not that he's been there much: he spends most of his time walking around the city, down to the Rocks, out to Bondi, anywhere really. "In jail, the door don't open unless they open it," he says.
He's largely eating for free at The Exodus Foundation, a charity in inner-west Ashfield: yesterday's lunch was meatballs, vegetables and a cup of cordial. Exodus also gave him an "emergency pack" with baked beans, tins of spam and pudding cake. "Beautiful people, braz," he says. "I almost bawled my eyes out."
Goodlet Lodge is part of his TA, so it's effectively free. Still, money is tight. He bought a pair of shoes, some groceries, a six-pack of beer and tobacco and is now down to his last $15. "I was thinking of going down to Central and cutting someone's throat," he says, adding with a smile: "That's a joke, brother."
He's been searching for work, without much joy. Qualifications aren't an issue: Samson is a licensed crane operator, forklift driver, welder and dogman. (A dogman, or rigger, works with a crane operator to ensure the slings and hooks are correctly placed on cargo loads.) He pulls out his wallet and shows me his "tickets", in case I don't believe him. "I earnt 'em in Cessnock jail, in 1998. We built the demountables for the Olympic Village."But before taking him on, employers always ask where he last worked. "What do I say? That my last job was driving a crane in Goulburn jail?"
He's already approached labour hire outfits, but they required a drug test, which was also a problem since he had a "big smoke" the night before his release. "I told the woman at the agency about it, and she said, 'That's cool, come back in January.' "
But Samson isn't one for sitting around. "Not this little black duck. I'm a survivor, braz. That's the difference between me and the other bums who end up back inside." True to his word, within 10 days he's found a job, hauling scaffolding on a worksite in Alexandria. "In the end I told the guy what I done, and he looked me in the eye and said, 'Everyone deserves a second chance.' " The job pays $200 a day, cash in hand, but it's gruelling labour, lugging around 40-kilogram lengths of aluminium. Sometimes he's so tired by the end of the day that he can't eat and goes straight to bed.
His favourite spot to meet is the Royal Exhibition Hotel, a small, sticky-floored pub close to Goodlet Lodge. The pub has a broad window looking over the street, where Samson can assay the passing parade of young women heading home from work. One afternoon, while sitting by the window, he shows me some photos. They are of two young girls with frizzy hair and dark skin. "My daughters," he says. They live in Brisbane, and are by different mothers, neither of whom want anything to do with Samson. "I slapped them up a bit," he says. "That was the putrid dog in me." The plan now is to put together enough money to earn the women's respect, so they'll let him see his daughters. "Then I'll go up to Queensland, spoil my girls. Buy 'em whatever they want."
I ask if he gets lonely. "Fuck yeah, every day," he says, in a tone that suggests it is a remarkably stupid question. He spent New Year's Eve walking around the city by himself, "just following the crowd", and drinking from a Gatorade bottle filled with red wine. "I got so drunk, I got no idea how I got back to the lodge."
The first prison Samson landed in was Lithgow, a maximum-security facility 150 kilometres west of Sydney. He got his six-digit inmate number and "reception tobacco" – a 15-gram packet of White Ox. It was 1992. He was 24 and terrified. As it turned out, the other inmates were terrified of him, because he was in for murder. "Once I realised that, I bluffed," he explains. When some older inmates taught him how to "dance", to fight properly, with agility and lethality, "I didn't have to bluff no more."
For the first six years of his sentence, Samson was classified A2, high risk, and kept in "maxo", where he was locked in from 3pm to 7am. He was also moved often, from prison to prison; Lithgow to Maitland, Parklea, Long Bay, Cessnock. Sometimes this was because of a lack of beds and sometimes because of his behaviour. Once, when a guard declined to let him play touch football, Samson broke his jaw. Another time, a guard called him a "black c...": as the officer approached, Samson grabbed his head and began bashing it against a wall.
The guards could retaliate in kind. "They'd come into your cell with shields and batons and stomp all over you." (A spokesman for Corrective Services was unable to confirm this, but Brett Collins, from the prisoner advocacy group, Justice Action, says such attacks are not uncommon.) In the end, Samson says he was given Tryptanol, an antidepressant medication that is sometimes used to treat hyperactivity. (The Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network, which provides healthcare to inmates in NSW, says all medications are prescribed by registered health practitioners in accordance with medication guidelines.)
Prison was confounding, a paradoxical ecology which accommodated both Darwinian brutality – "If a bloke wants to fuck you, he'll fuck you, unless you're a good fighter" – and lasting fraternal bonds. Inmates smuggled meat out of the servery, and gave it to those who didn't have it; men who had been released might oversee the affairs of friends they left inside. Guards and inmates might also co-operate. "Prison's full of smart people," Samson says. "Accountants, lawyers. If a screw needed his accounts done, he'd get one of the prisoners to do it, then deposit the money into his account." (A spokesman for Corrective Services was unable to confirm this.)
Samson smoked dope and shot heroin, and brewed alcohol from leftover fruit. "It's simple," he says. "You throw rotting pears in an empty detergent container, add water, poke some holes in the lid so it doesn't explode, then leave it for a couple of weeks."
You could add jam, from kitchen packets. "That made it taste like West Coast Cooler." If you wanted it to taste like beer, you added Vegemite. To hasten fermentation, the containers were sometimes stashed near clothes driers. When it was ready, it would be strained through a T-shirt; the leftover pulp could be used to start another brew. Batches were often confiscated. (In 2015, authorities seized more than 8600 litres of homemade alcohol from NSW jails.) Not that it stopped Samson. "We just stole cleaning fluid from the dispensary and drank that."
As the years went by, Samson began to "grow a heart". Lying in his cell, he reflected on his crime. He'd initially been afraid that Jones's "people would come and get me", before realising they weren't like that. "They were just a normal family, braz," he says. "They were good people." Instead, he began dwelling on the grief he'd caused them. In 2000, he wrote to the family, offering them a face-to-face visit "so they could tell me how they felt". (They declined.)
When I first asked Samson about the murder, early in our meetings, he described it as "just one of those things". In fact, it was a source of deep shame for him: for months he couldn't look me in the eye when discussing it. The murder was a tragedy, firstly for Jones's family but also for Samson, whose life disappeared down a deep, dark hole.
One evening at the pub, he turns to me: "I took a man's life, braz," he says. "He's not here anymore. I terminated that. I shoulda got more than 16 years. I shoulda got life."
By 2001, Samson had completed almost 12 years of his sentence, by which time he would be eligible for parole. He was transferred to Glen Innes, a minimum-security "prison camp" in northern NSW. Inmates at Glen Innes can, with permission, leave the centre for brief periods of time: Samson would get picked up by a friend on Friday, and driven to Coffs Harbour for the weekend to visit banana farms and go to the beach. "It was all good," he tells me. "Then I fucked up."
One day security cameras caught him having sex with a drug and alcohol counsellor in the education block. "She'd come in dressed in these three-quarter tights – holy fucken mackerel, she was hot." She lost her job; Samson lost his privileges. The next thing he knew he was back in "maxo" at Lithgow jail. Not long after he was transferred to Sydney's Long Bay, where he served the rest of his sentence.
His release, in 2006, initiated a period of relative normality, during which he landed regular employment: on a long-line tuna boat, at the Cadia Valley gold mine in country NSW, at a shipyard on the Tweed River. He rented an apartment on the Gold Coast, and became a father, first to a stillborn girl, "my little angel, just 18 centimetres long", and then to two daughters, Stella and Patty.
But soon the wheels fell off. One day in 2013, Samson was being driven around the Gold Coast by his sister-in-law. He was "on the gas" (shooting up speed), so he wasn't thinking too clearly. When the cops stopped the car, Samson screamed at his sister-in-law to drive away, which she did, initiating a 20-minute, high-speed pursuit. (According to Samson, the police eventually stopped the car using tyre spikes.) The sister-in-law later said she'd been forced to flee by Samson, who was subsequently found guilty of kidnap and sent back to prison.
By the end of his first stretch, Samson had earned a degree of respect from inmates, some of whom called him Uncle. When he turned up again, they presented him with gifts: a Breville sandwich grill, a rice cooker, a mobile phone. Materially, then, his second stretch was easier. But it was a nightmare psychologically, since he'd left behind a job, not to mention his two little girls. Every night he lay in his cell, fretting about what kind of men his ex-partners were bringing home and whether his daughters were safe.
It is now six weeks since Samson's release. The CRC has found him a room in a boarding house in Summer Hill for $160 a week. When I turn up, he's in the side path, flinging his mattress against the fence. "Full of bedbugs," he says. They were so bad that he slept on the floor for the first three nights.
We walk to a nearby pub. On the way, he turns to me and asks: "You ever been gay?" No, I reply. Why? "Because you look gay." It's my clothes, apparently, and the way I walk. "You gotta walk like this," he says, pimp-rolling down the pavement. "I got nothing against gay people. I killed someone, for fuck's sake. Who am I to judge? I'm just wondering, that's all."
At the pub we buy two schooners, then take a seat in the beer garden. He tells me he's left the scaffolding job. "The other guys were all 19 or 20, Islander boys. Trying to keep up with them was killing me." He stays in touch with them, though: last night they took him to Chinatown and bought him 15 whiskys.
I ask how he's filling his days. He says that this morning he washed his sheets with fabric softener. "Now they're all soft, and smell real good." The nights are more fraught. Sometimes he wanders the streets, saying hello to shopkeepers.
We sip our beers for a while, before I realise that Samson hasn't said anything for five minutes. This is unusual: he's a prodigious talker. Instead, he just sits there, staring ahead, chain-smoking his White Ox roll-ups. I can't see his eyes – he's put sunglasses on – but he seems to have entered a state of despondency so profound he can't speak. After a time, I ask if he'd contacted his kids yet. "Don't fucken talk about them," he snaps.
Ten minutes later he asks why I have so many questions. Because I'm curious, I reply. "It's a wonder you're not dead," he says. Why is that? "The cat died, didn't he."
Samson has been on the outside now for three months. He's changed parole officers, and started a Facebook account, so he can track down old friends and family. He's also moved, together with three other former inmates, into a CRC property in Glebe, a high-ceilinged Victorian terrace that Samson describes as "a real old antique beautiful fucking home". Rent is $150 a week. It has a rambling garden, a TV room, and a formidable mater familia called Gina, whose pithy injunctions ("BOYS: RUBBISH OUT WED" or "HOUSE MEETING THURS") regularly cover the kitchen whiteboard. "She keeps us boys in line," Samson explains.
He has a job, too, driving a Manitou crane for Zenith construction ("$2500 a week, bro, all on the books!") Riding the bus home the day before, he looked down at his steel-cap boots and high-vis vest, and told himself, "I'm back in the game!" He's still smoking bongs, "just to calm me down". It's not a good habit, he admits, but "what would you be more worried about, me killing someone in the street or smoking a little pot?" If he gets wind of an upcoming drug test, he prepares in his signature fashion, by drinking litres of black tea with lemon juice. "Full of antioxidants, braz."
Becoming socialised is one of the biggest challenges for former inmates. According to Samson, "one month inside, and you're institutionalised". Now, he's learning to live "normal" again, to co-exist with others in a world where violence is no longer an option. One night I find him in his room, prowling from end to end. A housemate stole a pushbike the night before last, he explains, and brought it inside the house. The next night, after losing his keys, the same man stole a ladder so he could climb in the second-storey window. Now Samson is worried the police will show up. "Stupid cocksucker," he hisses. "I want to drop the c... and throw him out the window. But I can't, bra. I just gotta walk away."
Numerous studies show a strong association between impulsivity and crime, particularly violent crime. Samson is a case in point. He is rampantly moody, careening between despair and elation, often in a single sentence. Surrounding him always is a static of anxiety, a certain hair-raising randomness. He'll tell his boss to fuck off or throw a cigarette lighter at the TV, cracking the screen. Another time he takes ice, then spends the weekend locked in his room. He is conscious of his failings and sees it as his daily labour to overcome them, to win the armwrestle between his temper and his dreams. "I'm a good person," he tells me. "I just got a little fucked up."
It's amazing how much of the world he has inside him. He can put a car back together from scratch. He knows the tensile strength of different steel cablings, and can name a dozen species of gum tree by sight. Once he used a methane welder to smelt gold from a chunk of quartz he stole from Cadia Valley gold mine.
I've come to see him as a kind of truth machine. He has anger, but no self-pity. I stand beside him, and see myself as I truly am, naked in my good fortune.
One day, he asks me where I work. Is it like Superman, with Clark Kent, a shiny skyscraper full of busy people in suits? I say it's not quite like that, but I'm not sure he really believes me.
Late one night in June, Samson says he wants to show me something. We walk back to his room, where he pulls out a guitar, and starts strumming a slow, sweetly melancholic tune he's written, called Lost in the Clouds. The effect is mesmerising. Suddenly, as if by magic, he is a different person, more tender, more gentle, at peace. He finishes, and we sit for a moment in silence. "That's incredible," I say. "You weren't you, you were like… someone else."
"Yeah braz!" he says. "That's the person I want to be all the time! That's the real me, the real Samson. I don't want to be who I was before, the crazy c..., running around robbing shit. I don't want that anymore."
"You should keep playing music then," I say.
"That's the truth."
It is now six months since Samson's release. At the house in Glebe, he has befriended a fellow tenant called Mahfuz, or, as Samson calls him, for reasons that aren't clear, Barry. Mahfuz/Barry recently got out after four-and-a-half years for possession. He speaks very slowly, and appears to be in a permanent state of confusion. Perhaps for this reason, Samson has taken him under his wing. Apparently it's hard for Barry to leave the house, because Glebe is crawling with "gronks" – no-hopers just out of jail – who badger him to score drugs. "I don't want him getting drawn back into that," Samson says. So when they go out, Samson dresses Barry up in a cap and sunnies, like Brad Pitt dodging the paparazzi.
Samson thinks about Peter Jones every day. He thinks about how old he would be, whether he would have married or had kids. He's devised a mental game as a way of staying straight. "I pretend that [Jones] is still around. I need to feel like his family are watching me, up there, on CCTV, in order to do good by them."
At his parole officer's suggestion, he's started seeing a psychologist. Apparently when he walked into her office, the first thing she said to him was: "You know what I see, Samson? I see a scared little boy."
His life has been a tornado, he tells me. It's torn great holes in his life, and in the lives of those around him. Now he's going back "to figure out why it all happened. I'm gonna be yelling out and seeing if there's an echo."
There is one thing he wants me to do. Can I drive him to the townhouse in Ingleburn where he shot Peter Jones? "I want to leave a flower there." Of course, I say. He says he'll call me when he is ready to go, when he's sorted himself out, when he's travelled back to meet who he should have been, before it all went wrong.
It's been more than a month now, and I haven't heard a word.