(The following story is a work of fiction.)
From the Australian Capital Government Territory and Municipal Services, hereinafter referred to as TAMS, the following is a condensed and preliminary incident report deferred over to law enforcement. The incident took place in the off-hours and off-duty in a private home and between two Parks and Recreation employees. Disciplinary action up to and including termination is reserved until the outcome and resolution of the criminal charges. At the moment the recommended action is leave without pay for both parties involved.
VICTIM – BACKGROUND AND HISTORY WITH THE SERVICE
Marietta “Mattie” Pincher, 39 years old, single, of average height for a woman, around 167cm tall, sporting shoulder length light brown hair with applied blonde highlights, average figure, her weight approximately 68kg. She is of a tan and olive complexion. Originally from Cooma but has lived in Canberra since coming into the Forestry Service. She has worked as a Silviculturist for TAMS for the last 12 years and worked as a Forest Ranger for TAMS in the 3 years preceding that time. She received her M.Sc in Botany, Forestry and Environmental Science in 2001.
In 2007, Ms. Pincher was involved in the scandalous resignation of TAMS Global Sustainability Director, Gordon Kemarre. During the course of Mr. Kemarre’s divorce proceedings, Human Resources became aware of Ms. Pincher’s role as the “other woman” when she was cited in Family Court as the main reason for the contentious divorce. This was disconcerting information for HR at the time because Mr. Kemarre was Ms. Pincher’s direct supervisor and trainer. An internal investigation into the affair was launched. The investigation suspected but could not prove that Ms. Pincher initially pursued Mr. Kemarre romantically even going as far as taking time off from work to obtain the first of her breast augmentation operations. Ms. Pincher vigorously denied these allegations. Her written testimonial states Mr. Kemarre as initiating the romantic pursuit and with her allowing his advancements indifferently but with the fear of losing her job and standing at work if she rebuffed his advancements. She also states that their sexual trysts were few and far between and never took place in the office. This directly contradicts photographic evidence presented in court where a private investigator showed that the affair lasted several months and took place mostly in the workplace and environs.
The result of the investigation was such that Ms. Pincher retained counsel and threatened to sue TAMS for allowing an atmosphere of sexual harassment. The resignation of Mr. Kemarre was prompted by the ensuing office scandal plus the fact that he was being accused of Parental Alienation of a Child in a separate lawsuit where Ms. Pincher was listed as a potential witness. Ms. Pincher, in turn, was reprimanded for breaking the work romance and fraternization policy and, as a consequence, was required to complete 16 hours (2 full days) of unpaid sensitivity training. The following year, 2008, the fraternization and romance policy was changed to be more stringent, as well as the sexual harassment guidelines, and every employee was required to read and initial the new manual and to pass a short online test which indicated their familiarity with the new rules.
A more troubling result of the 2007 investigation was that Ms. Pincher’s predilection for “pinching” was first exposed or, at the very least, rumors in that regard. A running joke in the office, perhaps a riff capitalizing on her surname, is that Ms. Pincher will “pinch” or “tickle” a person, thing, or an animal when they are least aware or when they are not looking or at any given time. A cursory look at her social media pages, such as Facebook and Instagram, will reveal hundreds of pictures showing Ms. Pincher in the process of “pinching” a friend, stranger, animal, or thing. She has pictured herself, or instructed others to picture her, while “pinching” men in the buttocks and even “pinching” some women on the buttocks or the breasts. Most of the people in the pictures seem to be in on the joke but more than one picture looks like she took some people by surprise at the point of the “pinch.” Many of the pictures are taken in pubs and karaoke bars away from the workplace but also many pictures are of Ms. Pincher “pinching” her fellow working colleagues during the discharge of their official duties. She also “pinches” children and babies on the cheeks.
In addition to the pictures of Ms. Pincher “pinching” people, other pictures also display her “pinching” animals and things. Of memorable note is a picture that serves as her current profile on her Facebook page which shows her “pinching” a cow’s udder inside a barn, basically her milking a cow. She also has pictures of her “pinching” a wallaby, a platypus, and an emu, and “pinching” several Peruvian llamas and an alpaca from the Langcliffe Herd Farm close to Christchurch, New Zealand. In some of these pictures, she is wearing her official Parks and Reserves uniform.
Ms. Pincher also has an extensive collection of Beanie Babies, at home and spread out all over her workstation in the office, and pictures can be found of her “pinching” every single Beanie Baby she owns and other assorted stuffed animals. She has also posted online pictures of her pinching Barbie dolls, rugby cards, and a signed headshot of Russell Crowe, amongst other things.
One interesting set of pictures can be found in sequence on her Instagram page. The pictures involve Ms. Pincher frolicking around with her Dingo/Singer mixed breed while wearing her uniform. The former wild dog, named Elvis, is a domesticated pet which lives at home with her, and is one of the few Dingoes registered in accordance with the Companion Animals Act (1998) east of the Dingo fence in New South Wales. As of this moment, Ms. Pincher has not been forthright as to exactly when she acquired the pet and under what circumstances.
All of the pictures which depict “pinching” show Ms. Pincher smiling broadly in the act of “pinching.” In only one picture does she seem to take her “pinching” seriously- the picture of her “pinching” the headshot of Russell Crowe.
SUSPECT / ACCUSED – BACKGROUND AND HISTORY WITH THE SERVICE
Jay Byrd-Edwards, just turned 26, he is 182,88 cm tall and weighs approximately 85 kg. He has close-cropped sandy or ruddy colored hair cut in a militaristic style and blue eyes. He has been described as one of the most fit of our Park Rangers. He grew up in Concord, a working class suburb of Sydney, and earned his associates degree in environmental science from the Australian Catholic University in North Sydney Campus. He moved to Canberra when hired part-time by TAMS about two and a half years ago. He has a five year old daughter who lives with her mother in the Newtown section of Sydney.
By all accounts Mr. Byrd-Edwards was a hard-working and well-sorted young man. Since news of the incident some of his colleagues have stepped forward to report some peculiarities, for example: Ever since arriving in Canberra, he has been requesting to transfer to the Fisheries Department as soon as an opening was available. This may be to facilitate a move back or closer to Sydney since Mr. Byrd-Edwards reportedly tries to visit his daughter every other weekend. His supervisors report a fearlessness and ease around venomous snakes and, at one time, Mr. Byrd-Edwards considered expanding his expertise into herpetology. He has also expressed varied interests such as working with the Sambar Deer population and with tracking the Bogong Moth. At his first annual evaluation, a note in his file indicated that he should be given time to develop a definite interest and to wait for him to submit work into a specific field where ACT Services could then fund part of his continuing education.
Other idiosyncrasies of concern: Some of the other Park Rangers dreaded or otherwise refused to ride or drive with Mr. Byrd-Edwards on tandem excursions into the National Parks in a company vehicle. Mr. Byrd-Edwards tended to always carry a King James Bible on his person and was inclined to preach or proselytize or otherwise engage his colleagues in intense religious and philosophical discussions. His passion displayed in these discussions alienated some of his colleagues. This problem came to a head about a year ago when Mr. Byrd-Edwards distributed a religious tract on the windshield of every personal vehicle parked at the Yarralumba facility. As noted in his personnel file, a supervisor had to step in and admonish Mr. Byrd-Edwards to curtail his religious zeal at work and to keep such matters private. His reaction to the reproach was predictable in that he felt censured for his religious beliefs and persecuted and he wrote and filed a counter-complaint in protest. TAMS wrote Mr. Byrd-Edwards a letter of apology.
At some point in the last two and a half years, Mr. Byrd-Edwards must have met and become acquainted with Ms. Pincher or vice-versa. Some small amazement has been expressed that the two parties were even friends, since they did not work with each other, did not have offices or workstations near each other or in the same building, and their duties in the service rarely overlapped. Obviously they knew one another, perhaps had been dating or dated at one point in time, and some animosity towards Ms. Pincher may have already been brewing inside Mr. Byrd-Edwards. One fellow Park Ranger reports of a day in January when Ms. Pincher was spotted scraping some bark samples at Namadgi National Park and when her propensity for “pinching” was jokingly mentioned, Mr. Byrd-Edwards retorted, “I’d like to see her try to pinch a Brownie on the snout.”
One last curiosity: Mr. Byrd-Edwards hated being called “Jaybird” which is the nickname which Ms. Pincher reportedly always called him whenever they were observed interacting together.
On Friday evening, April 19th, 2013, over a dozen TAMS workers met around 8pm at the Canberra Irish Club in Weston to sing karaoke and to celebrate the birthday of Mr. Jay Byrd-Edwards, who was turning 26. The Weston Room was rented out for the birthday occasion. The room has a seating capacity of 25. A single cake was brought and served on individual plates. A selection of wines and beer were provided on the tables but the birthday guests could also purchase mixed drinks from the full bar in the adjoining main room. For a list of all the TAMS employees who attended the birthday party, please refer to the membership list on file at the Canberra Irish Club.
Of special note is the fact that several birthday guests reported that Ms. Mattie Pincher and Mr. Jay Byrd-Edwards seemed to be at the party together. She stayed by his side and he stayed by her side for most of the night at the club, they sat at the same table together, ate together, were drinking together. Ms. Pincher seemed to be in charge of the festivities, she brought the cake, led the birthday song, and cut and served the cake to the guests. The Canberra Irish Club confirmed that Ms. Pincher reserved and paid for the rental of the Weston Room as well as purchased and distributed the wine and beer which was made available on the tables. The wine and beer cost plus room rental and tips total for the night was $436.27 AUD which Ms. Pincher put on her MasterCard. This total does not include drinks purchased at the bar.
At some point during the festivities, Mr. Byrd-Edwards became annoyed with Ms. Pincher. One guest reports as him being “fussy” with her at the birthday table. During the portion of the night when karaoke selections were being sung, Mr. Byrd-Edwards dedicated a version of “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor to “the centipede hands with the lobster fingers found in the room.” After finishing the song, Mr. Byrd-Edwards warned the room to “watch that your asses don’t get pinched by the lobster fingers.” Shortly thereafter, Ms. Pincher got up and sung the song “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks and dedicated her rendition to “the shrilling jaybird from earlier.” Mr. Byrd-Edwards responded by raising his middle finger and asking, “You mean this bird?“ After her song, Ms. Pincher exhorted the crowd to “keep bitching, bitches!” Some guests thought the pair was only being funny with each other. Others became uncomfortable and left.
The Canberra Irish Club closes at 1am on Friday nights and near closing time Ms. Pincher made the announcement that the birthday party would continue in her home. She was seen giving out her address. She then paid the bill and left, followed by Mr. Byrd-Edwards. Ms. Pincher lives in Woden Valley behind the Canberra Hospital and as such only a short jaunt southeast from Weston. Less than ten people accompanied them, all in separate cars, with everybody arriving and settled at Ms. Pincher’s home by a quarter after one. The dog had to be calmed down. Being a Singer/Dingo mix, the dog was not used to company and became hyper and had to be penned up in a section of the kitchen. This was unfortunate because people had to step over the dog containment to get to the refrigerator. At some point during that night, the dog enclosure was broken and would not stay in place.
Ms. Pincher lives in the right-side unit of a narrow two story duplex, with a full bath and two rooms upstairs, and a family room, kitchen, and half bath on the ground floor. The kitchen opens to a garden area in the back. The duplex does not have a garage, visitors have to find parking on the street. Ms. Pincher uses the smaller of the bedrooms upstairs as a makeshift office. The family room contains a flat screen television and a wraparound sofa. Meals are eaten on a small but tall round table equipped with stools in a corner of the kitchen. Her apartment can be described as cozy. She does not own her unit although she does lease to own since 2007.
Guests describe that within an hour of arrival at the duplex, an argument developed between Ms. Pincher and Mr. Byrd-Edwards. The pair went upstairs to the office to hash things out. People were then abandoned downstairs to their own devices. Some left, some were conversing with each other, and some were watching music videos on the television. All were drinking. Somebody, nobody knows whom, then went into the kitchen, probably to get another beer, and somehow the dog got loose. One person reported that they heard a crash in the kitchen but another person reported that the dog tore through the family room as soon as the kitchen door was opened. One of the eyewitnesses was Flip Corneteg, a Park Ranger from Kambah and a friend of Byrd-Edwards, and he records what he saw and heard next, as transcribed despite his thick bogan accent:
“The beast shot through the room with a yip and could not stop on tile and slammed muzzle first into the front door right fair and made me cackle. Poor thing didn’t know if it was Arthur or Martha. Then it snarled a low growl and showed teeth and everyone was like whoa! and the thing shot up the stairs like a flyer. Took maybe a second or two afore we heard the car smash upstairs. See, Jay, he wears these exy steel toed boots, in account of snakebites on the paddock, and I just know he gave that mongrel a swift one, cuz I heard it howl like it’s donger is on fire, after a certain commotion, and then Mattie got to screaming ya bastard! She trumpeted ya bastard a few times, I even think she stuck the word pommy in there, pommy bastard, useless bludgin’ bastard, and the Dingo gone insane this whole time….”
Bianca Tilbrook, another guest, relates how she was the first to run up the stairs and she witnessed how Mr. Byrd-Edwards had cornered the Dingo against the hallway wall and was repeatedly kicking the dog underneath the haunches. “The dog was trying to protect itself and bite at the same time but could not crawl away.” Revealed later was the fact that the dog had gotten a good bite out of Mr. Byrd-Edwards’ hamstring and the muzzle was matted and bloody. Ms. Pincher had strapped on to Mr. Byrd-Edwards’ back “like a Koola stuck on Euca!” and she was trying to distract his pummeling of the dog by pulling back on his mouth and eyes with her fingernails.
Ms. Tilbrook reports that she yelled at Mr. Byrd-Edwards and, when he looked at her, he appeared rabid and “wild-eyed.”
Mr. Byrd-Edwards then dislodged Ms. Pincher from his back by slamming up against the opposing wall. When Ms. Pincher fell to the floor then Mr. Byrd-Edwards focused his fists on her fallen form. Ms. Tilbrook rushed over and grabbed Mr. Byrd-Edwards by the arm. Mr. Byrd-Edwards then pushed Ms. Tilbrook hard enough where she twisted her ankle and fell halfway back down the stairs.
By the time the rest of the guests arrived at the top of the stairs to stop Mr. Byrd-Edwards’ attack, Ms. Pincher had already sustained all the injuries detailed in the medical report and the dog was moribund. Mr. Byrd-Edwards could only be calmed down by having three grown men subdue him and sit on top of him. Mr. Corneteg reports that he was the first to successfully stop the beating on Ms. Pincher and he could only do this successfully by tackling Mr. Byrd-Edwards “like a flanker lowering a shoulder to knock the bastard in a ruck.”
“Jayboy kept going on and on ‘bout the end of the world. With each punch he screamed ‘don’t immunize the skater’ or some gob, whatever the fuck. Punter’s built like a brick shithouse, took three of us to scrum him down. Then scratched up sitting on a bed, he’s whispering about ‘dispersing accordions’ and some other shit to the ’sleepless mortician.’ I was like huh? Cracked a fruity, that one. Who da fuck‘s the skater and why would you not want immunizations? I think he was saying the damn Dingo was not inoculated, which is crazy talk. I checked the tags myself.”
Mr. Byrd-Edwards was taken into custody when the police arrived. He spent the rest of the weekend in jail and posted bail on the following Monday with the surety deposited by his parents. Ms. Pincher was taken to the nearby Canberra Hospital and treated overnight. She suffered maxillofacial trauma, a fractured orbital bone of her left eye, and an injured neck, details of which can be read in the hospital report, accessed with permission. Ms. Pincher is currently recuperating at home.
Our own department of Animal Control (Domestic Animal Services) took possession of the carcass of the dog for disposal, after the fact. A rabies test was conducted on the animal which turned out negative. As of this moment, the provenance of the dog is still in question and we do not know how Ms. Pincher acquired the pet and at what point the dog was considered bonded and domesticated.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
My recommendation is immediate pay without leave for both parties involved. I further recommend termination of employment for Mr. Byrd-Edwards after consultation with our legal department. I also recommend termination of employment for Ms. Pincher pending further investigation as to what extent her relationship with Mr. Byrd-Edwards violated our fraternization and office romance policy and also pending an investigation as to whether or not Ms. Pincher followed the letter of the law and fulfilled all permit obligations in owning and housing a mixed Dingo breed in her apartment and / or if she abused her position of authority within TAMS in order to acquire and house the animal.
I declare and certify under penalty of law that the foregoing report is accurate and true and as complete as could be investigated under the given time allotment.
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