Courier Mail
Edition 1 - First with the news
SAT 04 NOV 2000, Page 017


Killer butcher corrupted my daughter, says mum
By Mark Oberhardt, Justine Nolan

`If you hadn't been here to see it, you wouldn't have believed it could happen.' Defence barrister Greg McGuire

`The discovery of her body gave us the chance to say for her: You can't do this to me.' Prosecutor Paul Rutledge

NEWBORN baby Chahleen Blackwell was silenced before her cries were ever heard. She was alive for only minutes before being brutally killed by the people charged with loving and protecting her, her parents. So the responsibility for avenging her death fell to police, prosecutors and a 12-member jury who never knew her. Prosecutor Paul Rutledge said: ``She never had a voice in her short life. But the discovery of her body gave us the chance to say for her -- you can't do this to me.''

The circumstances leading to the death of baby Chahleen can only be described as evil in the true sense of the word.

Her death formed the basis of one of the most horrific trials in the history of the Queensland courts.
During the past five weeks, a Brisbane Supreme Court jury heard evidence which could easily have formed the script for a B grade horror movie.

As defence barrister Greg McGuire told the jury: ``If you hadn't been here to see it, you wouldn't have believed it could happen.''

The trial heard that within minutes of being born on the evening of September 8, 1998 -- her lungs had not had time to expand properly -- Chahleen's head sustained severe fractures after being crashed against a hard surface. Nine of her ribs were fractured as was her collarbone.

But worse was to follow for the little girl in death as she was then cut in half, a leg was severed and her uterus cut out.

The final insult came when she was buried in a shallow grave on a neighbour's property only to be dug up by dogs.

Chahleen's parents Raymond Aktar Ali, 47, and Amanda Leanne Blackwell, 22, pleaded not guilty to murdering her on an unknown date between September 2 and September 9, 1998.

The jury took only three hours to find Ali guilty of murder and Blackwell of manslaughter.

Ali was sentenced to life in jail while Blackwell was remanded in custody for sentence.

After the verdict was handed down, Blackwell's distraught mother Helen, who was present during the trial, told The Courier-Mail that Ali corrupted her teenage daughter when she went to work at his butcher shop in 1996.
The former Corinda State High School student had been working in a supermarket and struggling to make ends meet when she took a job with Ali after his previous employee spurned his unwanted advances and quit.
Blackwell, a baby-faced 17-year-old, was not as strong, and succumbed to Ali's overtures soon after she started work.

``She was too caring, too trusting, far too trusting,'' Mrs Blackwell said.

``He got into her mind. It's the only way to describe it.''

Mrs Blackwell likened Ali's influence over her daughter as similar to that of a cult leader.

She said Amanda, a then ``naive'' teenager, was defenceless in the face of his domineering personality.

``She was working for him for two weeks and he's inviting her into the house to live, `for convenience' he said, `cut down on your expenses','' she said.

``The pay packets stopped so she still wasn't getting any money and then the work turned into babysitting, being on call all the time, never having any time to herself. She was his slave, not his lover.

``He arranged for her to be engaged, supposedly to marry his nephew in Fiji.

``They even sent her over there to bloody meet him.''

Ali, a self-taught butcher who owned shops at Moorooka and Logan, was described by his barrister Rod Clifford as a ``womaniser, who liked a drink and a smoke . . . a man who liked to speak his mind''.

Ali may have been a ``womaniser'' but he was married to a loyal wife and had a young son.

It was clear during the trial that witnesses who knew of the affair believed Ali wanted to keep his wife but at the same time maintain Blackwell.

Ali moved his business to a property at Logan Village, south of Brisbane, in 1997 where he continued mainly butchering goats for the Muslim market.

The affair with Blackwell also continued with various witnesses telling of seeing the pair having sex in such diverse areas as a pool and a prayer room.

Blackwell fell pregnant in 1997 but had a miscarriage before Ali could force her to have an abortion. She again fell pregnant to Ali in 1998, and by the time Blackwell had visited a doctor it was well past the time for an abortion.

Caption:  Defence barrister Greg McGuire, Prosecutor Paul Rutledge, DEADLY couple . . . convicted killers Amanda Blackwell and Raymond Aktar Ali together, above, before they faced court charged with killing their newborn baby, and a distraught Helen Blackwell, left, leaves the Supreme Court in tears on Thursday.