about the authors

Deb and Janice are cousins, two of eight granddaughters descended from Reg Brown previously of St Lucia, Brisbane. They regret that Grandfather Reg, described to them as a thoroughly decent and devoted family man, was missing from their young lives.

Janice (left) & Deb 
Coolangatta Skate Rink, Christmas 1967
A simple google search, however, paints a very different picture of Reginald Wingfield Spence Brown. Results show most considered him a liar, a lone and obsessive predator, and above all, a murderer; an opinion originally formulated by Brisbane detectives in 1947. At the forefront of the accusations was Sub-Inspector Frank Bischof. This sinister profile was set in stone by a judge and jury. ‘Not guilty’ was all Brown said. This was the terrible family secret kept from Reg's young grandchildren.

Nearly sixty years later Deb and Janice began scratching the surface. What commenced as simple curiosity grew into a crusade to give their grandfather a voice. Years of research, virtually placing their own lives on hold, culminated in the 2013 release of Lingering Doubts – Going inside Brisbane’s Arcade Murder.

Although, collectively, Deb and Janice have a diverse and broad work history, they are the first to admit they are not seasoned authors or legally trained. Nevertheless with the encouragement and guidance of Bob Bottom, revered investigative journalist, and a impressive network of supporters, they have not only rewritten their tragic family history but also a disturbing chapter of Brisbane’s criminal history. Based on the support Deb and Janice have received, truth and justice obviously have no expiry date. 

Their commitment to raise this old crime, literally from the dead, is due in part to their inherited social conscience and strong sense of family. Now as grandmothers themselves their hearts ache for their forebear who was torn from his loved ones, including his first born and eagerly-awaited granddaughter.



Deb (left) & Jan today



DEB’S SPEECH AT THE LAUNCH OF LINGERING DOUBTS  – 6 MARCH, 2014


Good evening and welcome to the launch of Lingering Doubts – Going Inside Brisbane’s Arcade Murder.
Firstly, Bob Bottom our hero and long time supporter and mentor - words can never fully express our appreciation for all you have done - thank you.
This year in 2014 - the days fall just as they did in 1947. Today - 67 years ago right here in Brisbane our grandfather’s trial was in its fourth day. Next Tuesday 11 March he would be found guilty of murder - and receive a life sentence to be served in Boggo Road Gaol. Nine days later he was dead. A statement of innocence, written in his superb handwriting on a piece of coarse gaol issued toilet paper - his final legacy.
It has been said that our book title says it all. And it certainly does! Jan and I commenced this journey with dozens of our own lingering doubts. What would we find?  Should we re-open old wounds?  How do you write a book!!? We had much to learn....
... and learn we did.
We learnt that in Brisbane in 1947 the police and prosecution were one and the same. They could build a watertight case around a suspect without breaking a sweat.  We learnt that while on remand, prisoners’ notes to their defence counsel were confiscated, by prison wardens.  We learnt Frank Bischof from the police department was the figure of authority on such matters.  We learnt that natural justice and the accepted legal system of the day were -poles - apart.
But we also discovered our grandfather, Reg Brown. Instead of a cold and calculating predator we found an honest, hard working, devoted family man. His son Ian, is my Dad and Valerie one of his daughters, Jan’s Mum.  Tragedy struck twice when eldest daughter, Melva, passed away a few years after their father died in jail.
If this exercise has been testing on us - you can only imagine.. the challenge.. for Ian and Val.  It’s taken all the courage they could muster to relive the horror that not only shattered, but left a shadow of shame over their conservative middle-class family. It fell upon this private brother and sister to release their 60 year old secrets, so that their father might finally have the voice he was denied from the moment he found himself in the sights of Brisbane detectives.

We are grateful to the present day Qld Police Service, and in particular Sergeant Richard Batty former manager of the QPS Admin. Branch who granted us ongoing access to files and material held at the State Archives - without which the task of advocating for our grandfather would have been impossible.
The memory of Bronia Armstrong - whose life was taken at a time when she had the world at her feet - must not be diminished. Her family too was devastated.  To our eternal frustration it is unlikely we will ever know the name of the person or persons responsible for her death and the puzzling circumstances surrounding it.
Officially there was one victim –   we say Reg Brown was another – but honestly the ripple effect travels far and leaves in its wake many victims.  Lives were shaped by this tragedy.
John, Lily and Beth McRobert, our publishers: once we put our pencils away you carried the load. You have been truly inspirational. Thank you for everything.. and especially for tonight.
Thank you to the Regatta staff - how perfect that our ancestors’ beloved Regatta be the venue for our launch. To have Dad and Val here at the book launch in the building owned and built by their great grandparents – really is the icing on the cake.
I thank my dear and supportive husband Ray who has lived Lingering Doubts for over 10 years. He has listened endlessly, been neglected for weeks on end, and as he tells everyone who’ll listen, grown old during the process - also thank you to my children Amy and Ian and their families for your love and encouragement. 
Thank you to my mother Sybil who is here tonight she has provided selfless and much needed support to my father and also to me. Thank you also to her sisters and to my sister Faye and Reg Brown’s other four and supportive granddaughters - all here this evening.
 Now my fellow author and cousin - when we were young I was in awe of Jan’s grasp of the Queen’s English and her classy turns of phrase. Jan is a big picture person and refused to take no for an answer when she decided we should team up and write this story - Thank you Jan for not only polishing the rough edges (and scolding me at times for being too.. Enid Blyton) but for making me believe we could do this.
Hardly a day goes by where I’m not thanking somebody. But ‘thank you’ sounds hopelessly inadequate. How can two words ever fully convey the depth of gratitude I feel towards all the people.who have supported us, in our endeavour to re-present our grandfather’s case?   
To our readers –  I invite you to study the evidence - and make your own judgement. Thank you

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JANICE'S SPEECH AT THE LAUNCH OF LINGERING DOUBTS  – 6 MARCH, 2014


Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and children,
  There is a quote which depicts the heart of why this book was written. 
Famous Anglo- Irish writer of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’,  wrote his own epitaph -  ‘ Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift, where savage indignation can no longer  lacerate his heart.  Go, traveler, and imitate, if you can, this man who was an undaunted champion of liberty.’
  I love this quote – it is a clarion call to fight injustice – and appropriate that our grandfather, even though born in Australia, was Irish too. 
It all began with a’ cousins’ lunch’ in October 2004, at Deb’s house.  My sisters, Kerry and Wendy, Deb’s sister Faye, and our cousins Glenyss and Marli were there.   You might read there are 8 Brown granddaughters.  My sister Glenda, whose girls are here tonight, died in 1998, but she would have championed this book.    
After lunch, out of the blue, Deb threw a newspaper copy of a picture onto her dining table – ‘have you ever seen a photo of our grandfather?’ she asked.   It was a stunning revelation.  She had gathered pictures and photocopies of newspaper reports from 1947.  With disbelief we saw the evidence of a shocking crime. 
 As I read everything that day, I was overwhelmed by a sense of injustice.  Here lay revealed a man who was our grandfather.  As yet, I could not say for sure that he was innocent, but there were bizarre aspects to the case and glaring anomalies which needed some answering or interpretation. 
A fierce need to know (that savage indignation) sprang into instant, full grown, militant life.  I promised Deb that day I would help her research with the degree of expertise I had.’   
‘Lingering Doubts’ was never about us – although during these last 9 years, Deb and I have become good friends, and I have nothing but admiration and a deep love for my cousin who embodies tenacity, integrity, honesty and empathy.  No.   It was about my mother, Valerie, and Uncle Ian, Auntie Melva,  their mother, Eva Cocks Brown, and the pain they endured for a lifetime.  It was about building a factual picture behind those few newspaper reports. It was about putting flesh upon the bones of a story hidden in the memory of a few -   and hidden in the State Archives and libraries. It was about giving a man, our grandfather, Reginald Wingfield Spence Brown, a voice he was denied for over 60 years. 
The publication of our manuscript was almost incidental.  What drove us was the savage indignation as we pieced together the anomalies; the lies; the furtive sequestering of possibly relevant material; the play acting in the theatre of the courtroom which might have impressed the jury but didn’t fool us as we tore apart the prosecution’s double-speak line by line.  We just wanted our family to understand what had happened to them in 1947 and to liberate them with undisguised truth.   Mum and Ian were teenagers when their father was convicted, Melva a young wife and mother.  Until we began our research, they knew very little of the events that had stolen their father.   
What had it been like for them?  What had it been like for them?   

 Bob Bottom, to whom we will always be grateful, and a couple of other inspirational people encouraged us to think about writing a book.  They believed the embryonic story of police corruption which muddied an investigation of murder and killed an ordinary middleclass family man, needed to be part of the written history of Brisbane and Queensland.    Most of you will know that quote about the victor writing the history… it’s true of course.  And for too long this story – mentioned in many books as Brisbane’s Arcade Murder – has been subjected to the constant reiteration of the accepted State and Crown theory – and a guilty verdict. 

We probably rewrote each chapter 20 times or more as we painstakingly unpicked the story and tried to put it back together in some semblance that made sense.  We were acutely aware we could be accused of bias, so we labored for a meticulously researched and objective truth. We agonized over choice of words, and even now I can find a million things I’d tweak – we worried that we wouldn’t be able to convert a fascinating story into something other people would find compelling too.  The most rewarding words I can read or hear now are ‘I couldn’t put it down.’ 
When Copyright Publishing offered to publish our manuscript we were amazed and thrilled. So a huge thank you to John, Lily and Beth McRobert who believed we’d written something worthwhile. 

Thanks to my family who loved me through many years of our disappearances to write unfettered by day to day issues.  Thanks for the support of my wonderful kids – Nick and Sally, Richard and Fiona, Eden and Lauren, David and Kym, Simon and Amanda, Kyrin and my 14 ½  beautiful grandchildren.  Thank you John Teunis, my long suffering husband, for taking up the slack. For your encouragement always.  Who even now has to go home and keep the garden and dog alive while I promote the book.  To Mum and Ian who displayed enormous courage throughout this process - with much love I salute you all.    










3 comments:

  1. You girls have done an amazing job and what a journey it's been from the beginning of your research to finally seeing your book in print. I wish you the very best success with it all and I look forward to watching the story over popcorn one day :-)

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  2. Thanks Emma, Deb's tenacity is awe inspiring!

    Janice Teunis

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  3. Hmm Geoffrey Rush you think? Sincere thanks Emma, for your ongoing encouragement and support. And more recently, for our fantastic website!!

    And tenacity I might have but ever since our teens, I've envied Jan's dizzyingly extensive vocab.







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We look forward to your comments and feedback or any information you may wish to share about our grandfather's case.