Mundubbera's Jeanette Ferguson, mother of murdered man Gary Ryan.
Mundubbera's Jeanette Ferguson, mother of murdered man Gary Ryan. Alex Treacy

My home, my nightmare: Grieving mum sells after son's murder

ON the morning of August 23, 2016, at home in Mundubbera, Jeanette Ferguson found her son in a pool of blood.

He had been stabbed 59 times with a sword outside his shed where he would spend all day tinkering, and next door to the house they lived in together with his 15-year-old daughter.

"I'm dying, mum," Gary Ryan told his mum.

The two women had been inside the house making tea.

A place to call home

The small, highset house in Mundubbera was all Mrs Ferguson ever wanted.

"It was the first house I bought without the help of a man," she says, proudly.

She moved from Hervey Bay in 2012 with Gary, who had taken a job in a piggery, and her beloved granddaughter, who went to the nearby state school.

It was just the three of them, a happy family unit.

The house even had a large, 15m by 9m workshop next door; perfect for Gary, who had a reputation as 'Mr Fixit', and he would use it to base his mobile mechanic business from when he was no longer with the piggery.

They actually lived in that shed for a year while the three of them stripped back the house and had builders in to renovate it.

The house had generous carport space too, where Gary parked his two 'feral' utes, covered in flags and grates and paraphernalia.

A place to call home. But now this home, this nightmare is for sale.

But Mrs Ferguson can't live there anymore, and there's no one for her to live with, anyway.

Her granddaughter is an apprentice chef at Bargara.

And Gary exists only in memories and photographs.

"You come here with a family and next minute you're on your own," she said.

A red and yellow corflute on the front fence lists Mrs Ferguson's dream home for sale.

It has been on the market since late 2016, online and via an agent.

"All the happiness I got out of choosing all this stuff," Mrs Ferguson said, waving her hand around the neat kitchen, "and I'm just giving it away to someone else".

"Could you live here after what happened?"


A photo of Jeanette Ferguson's son will always have a place in her TV cabinet.
A photo of Jeanette Ferguson's son will always have a place in her TV cabinet.


Sticking together

Gary's dad, Mrs Ferguson's ex-husband who she lived with in Kingaroy, told her to get out when she was 40, after she developed an unexpected illness which made her temporarily blind.

"So my 12-year-old son (Gary) looked after his mother," she said.

"I was too much of a burden to his father.

"His father was married to a horse, as long as it had four legs, he was happy as a lark."

Aside from a brief period when Gary lived in Mount Isa in his teenage years, the two lived together the rest of Gary's life.

Their family unit expanded to three with the birth of Gary's daughter.

The girl's mother, Gary's ex-wife Marilyn Anne Ryan - who would later be charged with manslaughter for her part in the killing - left when she was five months old.

Growing up, Mrs Ferguson tried to teach her granddaughter all the important things, especially how to cook.

When the house was renovated, she had a dishwasher installed - Gary didn't like to wash dishes, so it was a way to make her granddaughter's life easier, as the teenager by this stage was doing the lion's share of the cooking.

Mrs Ferguson's granddaughter excelled in home economics class at Mundubbera State School, and completed a school-based traineeship in Year 12.

"Her report card blew me away, having to try and study, work, and knowing what's going on with her life, I don't know how she did it," Mrs Ferguson said.

The enduring image of the three of them in Mundubbera: Gary in the shed with his "grease and grime", her granddaughter tapping away quietly on the computer, doing her homework, and she pottering around the house, "doing what mum's do".


Gary John Ryan was murdered at his Mundubbera property in 2016. Photo: Contributed
Gary John Ryan was murdered at his Mundubbera property in 2016. Photo: Contributed


The trial

Mrs Ferguson spent five weeks at the trial proper and another two at the sentencing.

She read out her victim statement.

"I will never forget as he looked up at me with those beautiful crystal blue eyes, knowing that he was bleeding to death and I was helpless to save him," she told the Brisbane Supreme Court.

Her granddaughter was unable to reads hers.

But together they watched Mark Stephen Crump, 38, and Trevor Spencer, 73, sentenced to life in prison for murdering Gary.

They watched ex-wife Marilyn, 39, and family friend Jessica Lee Roebuck, 22, sentenced to eight and six years respectively for manslaughter.

Stephen Peter Crump, 64, was acquitted of murder.

By then, Mrs Ferguson had earned a reputation in court for her stoicism.

"All the people down at court couldn't get over the way I kept the way I am, normally people break down. I broke down but I kept it in here," she said, pointing at her heart.

"I can hear all those ladies in the court that looked after me saying, 'This is your turn now Jeanette, you've got to have some sort of a life, you've got to be strong here.'"

The other thing Mrs Ferguson earned a reputation for?

Her stylish dress sense.

The ladies at court asked her why she always came dressed to the nines, every single day.

She answered, "Because that's how Gary remembered me".


Murdered Mundubbera man Gary Ryan's mum, Jeanette Ferguson, looking over clippings of the case. Photo: Alex Treacy
Murdered Mundubbera man Gary Ryan's mum, Jeanette Ferguson, looking over clippings of the case. Photo: Alex Treacy


Happiness ahead

Mrs Ferguson is dreaming of Maryborough. Hervey Bay is now too expensive for her.

"I like Maryborough because it's not a humdrum city," she said.

"Looking at myself, I'm 75 now. I need to be in a place where you've got more facilities for your health, entertainment, a bit of social life which there's none here."

She wants to see shows at the Brolga Theatre and join the Senior Citizens.

She's got an RV minibus which Gary built for her, too.

"I take myself to old time dances and music festivals, but I've got to do all the driving, I'm responsible for everything now, at my age," Mrs Ferguson said.

"I do go back to Kingaroy (her town of birth) for the Booie Hall dances run by my sister.

"I've never been into night-life or a clubber.

"My family was my life and it still is."

Mrs Ferguson's granddaughter has both of her dad's 'feral' utes now, and is tinkering with them, just like her father did.

She's expressed an interest in taking on another apprenticeship, as a mechanic.

"She said to me, 'Dad's taught me a lot,'" Mrs Ferguson said.

"They both have a trait. If I was on the road and needed some help, Gary would pick up the phone and say, 'What's up mum?' And she says the same thing, 'What's wrong grandma?'

"She is her father to a T.

Her granddaughter's success makes Mrs Ferguson proud.

"After what she's been through, to hell and back and back again, and she walked out of school and into a job," she said.

"She only got one award from school here and that was for resilience."