Sydney Morning Herald

Freeway attack: Ex-wife charged with murder

By Peter Munro and AAP September 5 2002
Sydney Morning Herald

The ex-wife of a 50-year-old-man, fatally stabbed beside a Sydney motorway in peak-hour traffic, was charged with murder last night.

The 39-year-old woman will face Hornsby Local Court this morning charged with killing her ex-husband, Michael Reis, on the Gore Hill Freeway at Artarmon on Wednesday morning.

The couple's 12-year-old daughter, who had lived with her father in Lane Cove, is now being cared for by her extended family.

The attack caused a crisis in blood supplies after the blood collection mobile unit - which helped the victim - was forced to cancel its service.

Sydney's largest mobile collection unit was travelling directly behind the car in which the stabbing took place. The 15 Red Cross trained staff, some of whom performed CPR on the 50-year-old victim at the scene for 20 minutes before the arrival of ambulances, were traumatised and the unit was taken off the road on Wednesday and yesterday, said a Red Cross spokesman.

There was "every chance" that the unit, which can collect more than 1000 litres of blood per day, would also be off the road today, he said.

The loss of 3000 litres had reduced blood supplies to critical lows, forcing a reassessment of requests from Sydney hospitals on a needs basis and possibly threatening both elective and emergency surgery.

"All the requests from the hospitals will have to be reviewed and the most urgent patients supplied first. Obviously the critical situations where it is life or death will receive priority. The first step would be elective surgery which can be postponed," he said.

"We will do everything in our power to ensure that emergency surgery is not jeopardised. Today will be a critical day for us. It will take at least a week of a high number of donations to get us anywhere near back to where we would have been."

Staff members, who were on route to take donations at Macquarie University at the time of the stabbing, were traumatised and receiving counselling, he said.

The victim was stabbed repeatedly in the chest and back.

Police said it is believed he was stabbed once while driving, which forced him to bring his car to a crashing halt on a median strip about 8.45am.

He struggled from the car and staggered into peak-hour traffic where the attack continued in front of dozens of motorists.

Police said the man was chased and knifed several more times in the chest and the back before he collapsed. He died in hospital.

His 39-year-old de facto wife had the knife knocked out of her hand by a truck driver wielding an iron bar, breaking her wrist in the process, according to police.

She had surgery at Royal North Shore Hospital.

The Red Cross made an urgent appeal for people in New South Wales to donate blood.

"Even though the number of donations of blood has been above target during August, demand has been outstripping supply," the spokesman said.

"There has certainly been an increase in surgery in transplant operations and accident victims and we are feeling very vulnerable.

"With the cancellation of the blood service's main mobile unit the blood supply is at crisis levels.

"Without more donations immediately, people could well die for want of an urgent blood transfusion."

Some Red Cross centres will open on Saturday to take donations. Information on blood service hours and mobile donation locations can be obtained from the Australian Red Cross on 13 14 95.

Copyright © 2002. The Sydney Morning Herald