Lockyer uncle steps up to raise children of slain woman
HAVING been through a rough childhood himself, Tim Class-Auliff was determined to give his sister-in-law's children a good upbringing after her tragic death.
In 2008, Rachel Thulborn was brutally killed by her husband, in front of their children aged four, two and one.
Tim and his wife immediately raced to their rescue.
The past 12 years have been an "emotional rollercoaster" consisting of battles with the children's father and dealing with the anxiety and horror resulting from what the children witnessed on the Sunshine Coast.
"They still have vivid memories of it, they were there and watched the whole gory thing take place over about an hour," Tim said.
Rachel lived with Tim and his wife at their Lockyer Valley home for 10 years before becoming involved with a man "that wasn't quite the right sort of guy".
"We did the old take her out of the house because we could see coercive controlling going on, but she went back to him after a while," Tim said.
Five years later, Mark Pringle fatally stabbed her, and was sentenced to a nine-year sentence - of which he only served five and a half years.
According to a report by the Courier Mail, Pringle had originally been charged with murder but a Mental Health Court judge found while he was not of unsound mind at the time of the offence, he had a defence to murder of diminished responsibility.
"As soon as we heard, we went up there and grabbed the kids," Tim said.
They spent the next five years fighting for the children's custody, with the father refusing to let go.
"I was going to make sure the kids had a proper upbringing, even though we had two of our own kids," Tim said.
"There's good foster parents in the system, but there are also bad ones - you never know who you are going to get."
Just months before Pringle was released from jail, uncle Tim and his wife won the battle.
After 12 years - the kids have a safe home.
It led Tim to speaking out about the family's tragedy and becoming an ambassador for White Ribbon - a cause that aims to raise awareness around domestic violence.
According to White Ribbon Queensland, about 10 Australian women are hospitalised daily due to assault injuries caused by a spouse or partner.
"If you see anyone who is in this situation, you need to let them know you are there for them and will support them," Tim said.
"It's hardest thing for anyone who is in a coercive relationship - they think the perpetrator is the only one standing beside them."
He said the affects of a family member's death extend far beyond the immediate family.
It effects friends, sporting teams and the local community.
At the time of the incident, Tim's father-in-law asked him to "look after everything" and be a representative of the family.
"Even though he was an Anglican Minister, he fell to pieces," Tim said.
"My father-in-law eventually drank himself to death, because when these things happen it's not just the death of that person."
Tim has been a White Ribbon ambassador for about 10 years and is trying to change laws so people who commit similar offences receive longer jail sentences.
"He was in jail for five and a half years - and you think - is that all her life was worth?" he said.
To spread the message of domestic violence, the White Ribbon team and its ambassadors are calling for people to decorate their mailboxes with something white on Friday, November 20.
In addition, Tim will help organise the sixth Racing to break the cycle of Domestic Violence event in Brisbane.
"We usually have about 300 racers who are registered riders, and up to 3000 people that come around through the day," he said.
If you or anyone you know are struggling with domestic violence, please call the Domestic Violence Hotline - 1800 811 811