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On the afternoon of Tuesday 23 December 1958, all work in the remote South Australian coastal towns of Thevenard and Ceduna came to a halt for the funeral of nine-year-old Mary Olive Hattam, who on the previous Saturday afternoon had been violently raped and then bashed to death in a little cave on the beach between the two towns. On the morning of her funeral, a 27-year-old Arrernte man called Rupert Max Stuart had been formally charged with her murder: he had arrived in Ceduna with a small travelling funfair on the night before her death. He spent Christmas Day in Adelaide Gaol, penniless, illiterate and terrified. How the Hattam family spent Christmas Day can scarcely be imagined.

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