On 24 September, 2002, Queensland mother Dianne Brimble was found dead on the floor of a cabin on the cruise ship Pacific Sky, less than 24 hours into what was to be the holiday of a lifetime…
Abandoned by Sydney Morning Herald Crime Editor Geesche Jacobsen is the thorough account of Dianne Brimble’s death, a case that caught the attention of Australia. This book was uncomfortable reading. As well as making me incredibly sad and putting me off ever going on a cruise, the case of Dianne’s very lonely and degrading death posed questions for me about the uncaring nature of some people, especially the drug-using “men of interest” who were predators around women. The cabin Dianne died in belonged to four men from Adelaide who were part of a group of eight whose behaviour on the Pacific Sky was loutish, abhorrent and possibly criminal. Dianne died from a cocktail of alcohol and the drug GHB. Whether she was given the drug unknowingly was the matter.
One of the men, Mark Wilhelm was convicted in 2010 of supplying Ms Brimble the drug GHB (Fantasy) on the Pacific Sky cruise but no punishment was imposed. The case of manslaughter against him was dropped.
As the title suggests Dianne was abandoned and left to die by many people – the men in the cabin, other passengers. The moral of this case, and hopefully what Australians following the story took from it was the issue of moral responsibility. It is very easy to dismiss, as did many people involved, any responsibility because they “didn’t do anything wrong” but the point is none of them did anything.
Dianne’s death prompted safety reforms on cruise ships and P&O improved its procedures for managing the scene of a suspicious death or alleged crime.
This is a very tough book to read because it is disturbing and upsetting but I ripped through it in a few days thanks to Jacobsen’s clear, yet gripping narrative.
*Here’s a link to an article by Jacobsen about the conflict between the coronial and NSW Supreme Court findings in the Brimble case.
Abandoned is published by Allen & Unwin.