Queensland Origin coach Mal Meninga says his family is determined to help his brother build a new life after spending more than 20 years in jail for the brutal murder of a young woman.
Bevan Meninga was 20 years old when he was sentenced to life for the 1991 murder of Cheree Richardson.
The 19-year-old’s battered body was found in an Alexandra Headland park on the Sunshine Coast. She had suffered massive head injuries after being bashed with a tree branch.
At the time of the attack, Mr Meninga had been on parole for bashing a woman with a stake in her home.
He will live with his mother after walking out of jail early on Wednesday under strict parole conditions, including undergoing regular drug and alcohol tests.
His league legend brother says it’s a good day for his family, but he’s also acknowledged the enduring grief Ms Richardson’s family faces.
“We’re very pleased this day’s come,” the Origin coach told reporters.
“Obviously we don’t condone his actions but we understand that he’s very remorseful towards the family of the victim.
“As a family, all we can do is support him. All we can do is be around and make sure he’s well looked after and make sure he’s doing all the right things. We’ll stick by him.”
He said his brother was still coming to terms with his release.
“He’s very disorientated at the moment. It’s a surreal experience for him.”
Meninga said his mother was excited to have her son back.
“But she’s also very mindful of the fact that he has committed an awful crime, mindful of the fact that he’s under strict guidelines from a parole point of view and mindful of the fact that we’ve got to make sure that Bevan’s in a position to make a worthwhile contribution to society.”
Asked if he was confident his brother could turn his life around, Meninga said: “Absolutely, but at the end of the day it’s up to him.”
He said he’d catch up with his brother in the next few days.
“It’s a difficult time for everybody. Not only us but the victim’s family as well.
“I know that there’s an element out there in society probably wishes Bevan would stay in jail for the rest of his life.”
He said he hopes his statement will end media interest in the case, and give his brother the space and privacy he needs to find his way in the world.
Premier Campbell Newman says he hopes Bevan Meninga’s family and friends will support him in his rehabilitation.
“He certainly has done the crime and done the time,” he said.