Crime scene clean-up: a victim’s family wants Queenslanders to be spared the trauma | Crime – Australia

Shelley Allison will never forget the look on her dad’s face after he left the house where her daughter Haley was murdered. “Before the crime scene clean-up, my father had to do a walk-through of the house, and I never understood why,” Allison says. “This big man, he went white … It was heartbreaking.”

The family was still coming to terms with Haley’s death when they learned, amid their grief, that they were responsible for organizing the cleaning of the gruesome crime scene.

Now they’re advocating for change, so other families are spared the unsettling task of organizing such cleaning as they mourn the death of a loved one.

Haley Allison was 26 when she was strangled, stabbed ten times, and set on fire by her ex-partner, Jason Michael Spina, in her family home in Caboolture, north of Brisbane, in December 2009.

Spina was sentenced to life in prison for the murder, with a postmortem finding Haley’s wounds were so deep they penetrated her chest and exited her back.

After Haley’s death, police told the family to hire a forensic cleaning service. The officer said they could send an invoice and paperwork to Victim Assist Queensland and be reimbursed.

The grieving family was busy planning a funeral, so other relatives spared them the task of organizing the cleaning.

“I was only 16 at the time, and it was a traumatic experience,” says Haley’s cousin Josie Spicer.

“[The cleaning service] neglected to clean upstairs, and we found the murderer’s burnt skin in the shower … and my cousin’s blood on some photo frames.


The government is not going to be able to protect us from the emotions that come from losing someone, but they can mitigate adding to the harmJosie Spicer.

“I can’t imagine how you can look at that and think that that’s at all acceptable. It just compounded the trauma that we experienced.”

Haley’s family was on holiday at the time of her murder. They’ve since sold the home where she grew up.

“We moved into my husband’s parent’s place for six months before we bought another house … We’d wake up, we still do now, in the middle of the night screaming,” Allison says. “It’s affected the whole family.”

The family wants Queensland to follow South Australia’s lead, where police engage companies to clean homicide crime scenes, and the commissioner for victims’ rights is invoiced directly for the costs. There are similar processes in place in Western Australia.

“There’s so much going on after a tragedy,” Spicer says. “Having to call someone and ask them for, their pricing and availability to clean up your loved one’s remnants shouldn’t be in the equation at all.”

Prof Grant Devilly, a clinical psychologist at Griffith University, says he was surprised to learn victims of crime need to organize forensic cleaning in Queensland.

“I would have expected more support with the forensic clean-up service, whether the coroner’s court or police do that,” Devilly says.

“As long as the family is involved, that seems to be a much more preferable circumstance.”

Queensland’s attorney general, Shannon Fentiman, says funding of up to $50,000 is available to family members of homicide victims that can be used to cover the cost of forensic cleaning.

Fentiman did not comment on whether the state would consider changes to the system to follow South Australia’s model.

“We understand that organizing forensic cleaning can be a difficult and incredibly distressing,” Fentiman says.

“That’s why we provide financial assistance to help victims to recover from the physical and psychological impacts of violent crime through Victims Assist Queensland.”

Fentiman says families can also access support through the Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group, which may assist in the cleaning process, as well as other expert emotional support.

A Queensland police spokesperson says authorities “may recommend forensic cleaning occurs following an act of violence in a residential or commercial setting”.

“As victims may feel overwhelmed and vulnerable … officers may suggest they speak with a support service or Queensland police around how to engage a forensic cleaner,” the spokesperson says.

“A victim may also decide to nominate another family member to manage this process at this time.”

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Spicer says the family is speaking out because they remember Haley as someone who was “infuriated by injustice” and would raise her voice “no matter the cost to her”.

“The way I remember her and try to keep her alive is even when I’m scared or if someone else is being treated poorly, I try to speak up. This is an extension of it,” she says.

“The government will not be able to protect us from the emotions that come from losing someone, but they can mitigate adding to the harm.”

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14, and the national family violence counseling service is on 1800 737 732. In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, and the domestic abuse helpline is 0808 2000 247. In the US, the suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, and the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines can be found via

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.