This is an interview with Elisabeth Sharman, senior solicitor with the Australian Capital Territory Legal Aid Service.
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Elisabeth, it’s lovely to finally meet you. I’ve been wanting to talk to you ever since the revelations that came out during Russell Montgomery’s trial. I thought we could tackle it by starting at the beginning and working our way from there.
Elisabeth: Sounds good to me.
What prompted you to move from Sydney to Canberra?
Elisabeth: I love Sydney but not to put too fine a point on it I felt I had to leave. Work and life there were no longer tenable.
You were with Legal Aid and you moved to the Canberra Legal Aid office. So it wasn’t Legal Aid as such that you wanted to move away from?
Elisabeth: No. It was more that I kept running into someone I wanted nothing to do with.
Would that be Thierry Richards QC?
Elisabeth: Look … regardless of how I feel about that person I don’t want to … would you mind if we moved on.
Okay, let’s talk about when you arrived in Canberra. You jumped in at the deep end with the Russell Montgomery case.
Elisabeth: I’m really sorry… but do you mind if we don’t talk about that either. It’s still very raw.
Not a problem. I understand. Let’s take a step back. Describe yourself to me. How do you see yourself?
Elisabeth: Okay. Let me attempt a bit of objectivity. Short spiky red hair. I used to be able to sit on it but had it cut before coming to Canberra. Typical redhead’s colouring … white, no freckles because I’ve never been a sunlover, size 10, 5’7” in bare feet, and I’m 34. How’s that? Oh, and shall I tell you what Robert said about my eyes? Green as deep ocean on a sunbright day. I was speechless when he said it. No-one’s ever described them quite like that before. So now you’d know me in a crowd, yes?
Yes, I believe I would. Next question: What do you hope to achieve in life?
Elisabeth: That a big question. Many things I suppose, but happiness has to be at the top. Nothing’s worth it if you’re not happy.
And are you? Happy, that is.
Elisabeth: I’m working on it.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Elisabeth: I’m a walker. For the exercise but also because I love it. Getting out and exploring and letting my mind wander. Never fails to refresh and re-invigorate.
Your friend Honey Milton was often a walking companion I believe. What is she to you?
Elisabeth: My best friend. Always will be. She’s gorgeous. I adore her. I miss her like crazy now that I’m in Canberra. We used to see each other all the time because her man travels a lot. He’s an actor and tours with his company. And as you say, we both liked walking. Not so often together nowadays, given we now live in different cities.
What about Robert Murphy?
Elisabeth: Robert? I liked him the moment I met him. He’s straightforward, sincere, good at his job. What’s not to like? The fact that he’s very attractive is a plus … . He stuck with me from the start despite the fact I couldn’t have been very likeable. I had my reasons, but he didn’t know that. But I count him among my good friends now. I hope he feels the same way about me.
As much as I’d like to explore that further I know you don’t want to, so let’s turn to the trial. What was it about the Stavros family that irked you so much?
Elisabeth: Every single one of them was lying and I knew it. But proving it was almost impossible because of Russell’s amnesia. Thank God for Robert and Joe Gaudry. In spite of me being no help they kept pushing. It was entirely because of them we got to the truth.
Let’s finish with what’s made you the woman you are today?
Elisabeth: Mmm. That may be a question better put to others. But I’ll have a go at it. On a personal level I was very young when I made the decision that altered my life. At the time I felt it was the only choice I could make, I believed I was too young to do anything else. I still believe that. But I feel the weight of condemnation from some people. I try not to let it bother me. On a professional level, law was something that always interested me. When I started university I began a Bachelor of Arts, but the law components really gripped me so I changed and ended up doing a combined Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Economics. I still like law. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t be happy doing something else … if something else came along.
Elisabeth, thanks, I know you weren’t looking forward to this and what I might have been planning to ask you. How about we go for a drink. My shout.
Elisabeth: It’s Friday night so why not. Great idea. Just so you know though. Anything I say under the influence is not for public consumption.
Fair enough. Grab your bag then. There’s a new bar opened up in Garema Place. I thought we could see if it’s any good.
You can find Elisabeth and get to know her story in AUTOMATON
@mgeorgeofficial on Twitter
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