A genuine Australian hero, and true friend of Schapelle, has tragically passed away today. As the initial architect of The Expendable Project, the honour to pay tribute to him, and explain his importance to this Facebook Group, falls upon me.
Roy was a long term friend of Schapelle's family. He watched her grow up. He was close enough to KNOW that she was innocent from the very first day. From that day, 8th October 2004, he was there for her, supporting every campaign, arguing every corner. Whatever was needed, nothing was too much effort
I first encountered Roy online, on the last Schapelle supporting forum to exist, shortly before it fell too. This was a truly distressing period. The media was in overdrive, smearing and lying at every opportunity: turning her own people against her via the most despicable and dishonest reporting imaginable. The government was deliberately ignoring her and dismissing her. The AFP was thieving her book royalties: the funds needed for medicine and a possible special appeal. The entire establishment was endorsing the abuse of her human rights through its deafening silence.
Schapelle herself was sliding into oblivion. She was suffering terribly under the strain, and was cracking. It mattered not: the tide of abuse built into a tidal wave, as she was scorned as comedy fodder on TV, and dismissed as a bogan criminal in the press. The public were being trained to despise her.
In terms of organised resistance and co-ordinated help for Schapelle, we were down to single figures. There was just a handful, who had learned painfully, through the betrayal of others, who we could count on: meaning, who was truly in this for Schapelle, and not for some other motive. There were many of the latter, some of whom are known infamously by members of this Facebook group.
This trust mattered, and was going to be vital. But where could we go? What could we do? Against such overwhelming forces everything had failed. We had tried begging, pleading, and asking for rationality. We had been quiet and had not kicked up a fuss: we just tried to persuade those that mattered to have some compassion. To help her.
It was all futile. They used our silence as a free run: they filled the void with abuse and propaganda. There was nowhere to go, legally or anywhere else. Schapelle had been re-defined as worthless, as expendable, and that was to be the end of her. These really were desperate days.
A formal project was created because it was the only way back. There was no other game in town. There was no cavalry coming over the hill.
THE EXPENDABLE PROJECT
Specifically, the plan was to investigate EVERYTHING, gather the evidence, identify the real facts, and then document them formally. The idea was to create something that would never go away, and would be a thorn in the side of the corrupt cowards who were burying her. It was to be a thorn of truth: which by its very existence would become a form of enduring pressure.
But there was even more behind it than this. With Schapelle in such a terrible state, it was obvious that she was going to need something she could point to, both now and in the future: something she would have whenever she was abused and confronted by the vicious, the ignorant and the brainwashed. It would be there for her, to back her up, to support her, and to use. It would also be there for her now, in prison: she would know that it existed and that there were genuine people 100% behind her who would never give up.
Finally, it would also, of course, show her exactly who had done what to her whilst she was suffering so much in her squalid cell.
It was a massive commitment by all of us. The gathering of the evidence alone was a monumental task:
That was just the start. This huge cache then had to be analysed and logged, so that it could be presented in chronological order. It all had to be documented.
But even this wasn't enough. Because the volume of written material was so enormous, a film had to be produced to overview it. This had to show anyone who watched it exactly what had gone on, in those dark shadows where the self-centric cowards lurked. It had to guide people to the evidence, so they could see for themselves.
However, throughout this endeavour, we always maintained anonymity. Why? Because this wasn’t a platform for us: it was a vehicle to save and help Schapelle. We were not central here: the information was... the information which proved her innocence. Personalities couldn’t be allowed to get in the way.
I am going to break with this convention though, because Roy must go down in Australian history as the hero he was. Eventually, when history looks back on this period, it will see the truth, and it will see that he was a central figure. He was a rock.
I wrote most of the Expendable reports, dossiers, and pages on the website. Every single word was proof read by Roy. I would hand him a new report, for example, and he would immediately absorb himself into it. He would read it again and again, seeking out the tiniest of errors. He was up all night sometimes.
I knew that when it came back he would have identified every typo and every grammatical glitch, and marked them in red on the Word file. Further, he knew the subject matter so well that if anything was ambiguous he would also spot it.
I have written much in my life, but never have I found anyone on the same level as he was, or even close. He was absolutely brilliant.
This was vital: if the material on the website was anything other than of the highest quality, it would have been used to undermine the information itself. This could not happen, and with Roy, it didn't.
There was more. There was the film.
Roy was one of its stars, reading out the script in parts, and finding others who could also do some voice-overs. He is in there in various places if you listen carefully.
That was just the start. Films are never perfect first time around the block. Someone has to watch them over and over and spot problems, or even identify areas that need to be re-done. Roy had the unfortunate task, with Diane, of viewing and then telling me that I wasn't perfect! They used to joke that this wasn't the easiest job in the world. Cheek! But they did it, because it had to be done, for Schapelle. They were always right.
ON THE GROUND
He worked tirelessly in the offline world too, and not just in confronting the abusers and the wicked. I recall him going to Sydney with Diane, to physically pick up some leaks from the underworld. I recall him going to Bali, and working there, as well as visiting Schapelle and offering encouragement. I remember he went to Kevin Rudd's office, again with Diane, and tried to have his staff accept the Transit Report: they were terrified of it and locked down.
During this period there were so many of examples like this. We were all fighting for a life, and Roy was an absolute warrior.
He was also a wonderful bridge to Schapelle's family. This enabled us to gauge the sensitivity of every situation, releasing materials at the right time, for example, and not doing anything that might cause harm. The film is a case in point: this was released much earlier than planned largely because of the pressing situation with Schapelle's health. He was a wonderful friend to Ros, and always put the family first. That's what heroes do.
After Michael Corby's death, I know that he always thought of Schapelle almost like a daughter of his own. In some ways, he sought to fill a void, and did a lot of what Mick may have done. He was tireless.
A PERMANENT LEGACY
In the end, after almost 10 years of hell, the Expendable Project did help to get her out: behind the scenes it was in the face of politicians all the time, often daily, and many of them have read the reports and seen the transcripts and more. It created the pressure it was designed for. It kept the flame of support and integrity alive. Whilst being maligned and censored by the media, it became the beacon of resistance. There is no longer a handful who know with certainty that she is innocent and who support her, there are countless thousands, and we won’t be quiet.
Roy’s work was therefore not in vain. He did what was right, and he fought like a lion. His Internet name, Simba, was absolutely spot on. His legacy will live forever through the sword of truth.
Roy was looking forward so much to welcoming Schapelle home, and had huge plans to show her how much she had been missed, and demonstrate to her that those that mattered knew the truth.
He knew something too: that unless that truth was put before the public, Schapelle would always have to carry the burden of the filth that the media had thrown at her. This mattered to him a great deal, which is why he was determined to do everything he could to make it happen.
At the airport he envisaged yellow ribbons and balloons, with Expendable Project banners everywhere. He was planning how he could make Schapelle's life better, by breaking through the censorship, to his last day.
Roy wasn't just one in a million, he was totally unique; a beautiful soul who put someone who had nowhere to turn before himself, and worked like a Trojan to help her.
I am grateful he touched my life.
When this story finally does break, and the whole truth is known, Roy Reeves will be recognised as the great man he was.
To Simba: When we first met in Bali, you told me that it was an honour to meet me. You were wrong. The honour was mine. Rest in peace my friend.