Home / World News / Don’t free my killer father: Alen Perich’s desperate plea over his dad Mate Perich’s release

Don’t free my killer father: Alen Perich’s desperate plea over his dad Mate Perich’s release

On a September night in 1993, on a remote banana plantation on the outskirts of Carnarvon, 16-year-old Alen Perich stood terrified in the doorway of his bedroom.

He had woken to the screams of his mother, Danica, who was again being bashed senseless at the hands of Alen’s drunken, abusive father, Mate Perich.

His parents’ bedroom in their modest fibro home on North River Road was about 10 paces down the hallway.

“He was assaulting her really badly and Mum was just screaming out my name, for help, and that was the moment where everything happened in slow motion,” Alen, now 42, says quietly.

“I just got up and went to the door frame of my bedroom and stood there and my heart was beating through my chest.

Danica and Mate Perich with their son Alen.Danica and Mate Perich with their son Alen.
Camera IconDanica and Mate Perich with their son Alen.Picture: SUPPLIED

“She kept screaming out my name. It was like I was about to step off a cliff, and I thought once I step out of this doorway and into that hall, there’s no going back.

“I went to knock on their door just to ask if everything was OK, which I knew it wasn’t, and then the old man just yelled at me to go back to my room.

“I tried to open the door, but he had all his weight against the door, and then I just remembered with all my might, I grabbed the door knob and just shoved into that door so hard, enough for him to be flung across the room.

“I grabbed him in bear hug from behind and that was enough for Mum. I just yelled at her to run.

“Because of adrenalin, I was just holding on to him with all the strength I had, and I was counting in my head the seconds so Mum could run out of the house.”

Danica and Mate Perich.Danica and Mate Perich.
Camera IconDanica and Mate Perich.

Eventually Mate Perich overpowered his son, dragged the youngster back to his room and threw him on the bed.

Pinning him down and raising a clenched fist, the heavily built Yugoslavia-born migrant told his eldest, who recently had braces removed: “I paid for your teeth to be straightened, one punch I knock them all out.”

By this stage Alen knew he had diverted the attention of his father long enough for his mum to flee into the 10 acres of banana plants that circled the house “where she could hide under the cover of darkness”.

“It was huge banana field where you could run and hide, but then he’s run out after her.”

Alen then grabbed a baseball bat he had made in woodwork class in high school for protection and “then I went around the farm trying to find Mum”.

There were two rifles in the house and Alen did not know if they were in the hands of his vengeful father.

Eventually the youngster found his hysterical mother, battered and bruised, hiding among the banana trees.

“I remember saying to her, ‘This ends tonight. This is the last night you put up with this’. She was scared, we both were, but she was petrified, as you could imagine.

“Mum ended up sleeping in the banana field that night, I can’t remember where I slept, maybe in the packing shed. It was pretty traumatic.”

Alen Perich is now a gentle and quietly spoken single man living in suburban Perth.

He struggles with his emotions as he recalls the appalling horrors of his childhood and the endless violence dished out to his beloved mother, often in front of him and his two younger brothers in Carnarvon.

“We were all terrified of him,” Alen said.

Masking the violence: Danica Perich, left, and above and below, with her husband Mate, who killed her. Far left: The couple with son Alen. Inset below: Last week’s report in The Sunday Times on Mate Perich’s fortune.Masking the violence: Danica Perich, left, and above and below, with her husband Mate, who killed her. Far left: The couple with son Alen. Inset below: Last week’s report in The Sunday Times on Mate Perich’s fortune.
Camera IconMasking the violence: Danica Perich, left, and above and below, with her husband Mate, who killed her. Far left: The couple with son Alen. Inset below: Last week’s report in The Sunday Times on Mate Perich’s fortune.Picture: SUPPLIED

“He was bully, and he’d always thrash the living daylights out of Mum with a huge leather belt, and he’d then leave the belt laying around just to scare the rest of us.

“One day Mum finally got the courage to hide the belt, and then the old man demanded where the belt was, and she wouldn’t tell him.

“She tried to stand up to him, and that just enraged him even more, and then he just pulverised her with his fists.

“We’re talking about someone who wouldn’t let his wife get a driving licence until I was 14, so for 16 or 17 years she couldn’t leave the farm, she wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without his permission.”

But it didn’t stop there. In fact, Mate Perich has never stopped traumatising his family. When he eventually found his estranged wife months after she had fled Carnarvon with her sons, he shot her four times as she sat in the front seat of her car, not far from her Dianella house.

He was eventually arrested on the Nullarbor Plain after a four-hour armed stand-off in which he threatened to kill himself and police officers.

For all intents and purposes, the three boys practically became orphans overnight.

It was hard for a 17-year-old and his younger brothers to adapt to their new world.

“I was in school and I remember I had two weeks off to grieve, I had only been there for one year, I was in Year 12 and the second I walked in, every single person, a school of about 1000, just turned around and looked; it was like Moses parting the Red Sea.”

After he was convicted of murder in 1995, Perich spent five years through various courts trying to make sure his three sons had no access to their mother’s estate.

And every year on August 19, Perich places an ad in the classified pages on The West Australian declaring his love for his dead wife and that some day they “will meet in heaven”.

Alen is not opening up for any other reason than to hopefully shape Attorney-General John Quigley’s pending decision about whether to release his father for the murder of his mother 24 years ago.

The Prisoner Review Board has recommended Perich, now in his early 70s, be released. If Mr Quigley agrees, Perich will be immediately deported to his native Croatia.

Alen doesn’t want pity. “I don’t want people to look at me like a victim. I want people to look at me as someone who has been able to rise above it.”

Two weeks ago The Sunday Times revealed that the killer had amassed $1 million in property investments while in maximum security.

“He abused our mother for 20 years, killed her, then took us to court for five years and constantly backflipped on property issues because he couldn’t let it go,” Alen said.

“Even though he was inside prison, he was still wanting to be the puppet master, the one in control, not being remorseful. He could have done the right thing by his family, but he chose to go the other way around.”

Alen did try years ago to attempt to get some sense out of his father.

“Twice I visited him in prison, once when I was 19 and I was still an angry young man, and I wanted to ask him why he did it,” he said.

“It was a bad mistake, but I was so enraged and angry, and then saw him two weeks before I turned 21, it was very painful, and I asked him, ‘Can’t you just let go, so we can all get on with our lives, can’t you tell the lawyers to back off?’.

“He turned around and angrily looked me in the eye and said, ‘No, never, if I’m going down everyone’s going down, and I’m going to bankrupt you’.

“My 21st was supposed to be a rite of passage moving forward to a new chapter of my life. He wouldn’t allow it, but he always wanted control wherever he could seek it.”

Alen understands that the day may come when his father is released from prison and deported.

But not now.

“My mother was just an amazing lady, she was very beautiful, and for all that she had been through, she was so loving and caring and simply a great mum.” he said.

“He’s never showed one bit of remorse for what he did, for the trauma he has caused me and my brothers, for the damage he has done to so many lives.

“He has been pulling rent from those properties for 25 years, and they are now worth $1 million which he will be able to access at any time from Croatia.”

He also believes his dad may pose “serious safety concerns” for his extended Croatian family “because I don’t think for one minute he’s rehabilitated”.

“Releasing him now is just not right.”

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