Australian Story: Oct 19

In Part 2 of an Australian Story report, on stalking, Di McDonald contacts Victorian MP Ed Donahue who connects her with a specialist family violence unit inside Victoria Police.

In 2014 Di McDonald was recently divorced and a new romance was the last thing on her mind. But a chance encounter with a customer at the store where she worked changed her life.

After dating for a few months things soured as Max Gardiner became increasingly controlling.

When Di ended the relationship, Gardiner stalked her relentlessly for three years.

Numerous requests for police help were unsuccessful.

In part two of Di’s quest for justice she contacts Victorian MP Ed Donahue who connects her with a specialist family violence unit inside Victoria Police.

“Di clearly was compelling, she was truthful, she was afraid,” says Donahue. “I thought she was in potential danger.”

And when Di meets young detective Beck Norris her luck finally changes.

“Suddenly they’re taking it seriously,” she says. “Beck changed my life.”

Norris unearths other women who were targeted by Gardiner and enlists the FBI profiler who cracked the linguistic code behind the Unabomber’s campaign of terror in the US.

Can a link finally be drawn that will satisfy a court linking Gardiner and the defamatory posters appearing around Di’s favourite haunts? Will profiler James R. Fitzgerald’s skills finally bring Di’s nightmare to an end?

This exclusive two-part program highlights the little-known subject of stalking and coercive control, revealing how difficult it is for victims like Di McDonald to have their stories taken seriously.

Producers: Cheryl Hall and Belinda Hawkins.

8pm Monday on ABC.

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