He opened the mail and looked at its contents in disbelief. ‘Surely, this must be some kind of mistake,’ he said aloud. The letter he was holding was a summons to court over what happened with his daughter. And it had been issued by the mother of his own child.
Sitting down, he tried to compose himself. The letter had blindsided him. His mind was frazzled. A moment passed. Then, he realized what he needed to be done.
Casey Victory was like most 16-year-old girls in Australia. She loved the sun and hanging out with friends at the beach. Although she didn’t love school, Casey was smart and thrived in an academic environment. Yet she knew she would have to do one thing to truly be accepted by the cool crowd.
She would need to get inked. And Casey always wanted a tattoo. The problem was that it wasn’t exactly legal.
Casey was from New South Wales, a state on the east coast of Australia. The law there states that minors (people under the age of 18) required written permission from a parent or guardian to get tattooed. This was a barrier. But Casey knew that she might be able to convince her dad with Christmas coming up.
Weighing up which parent to turn to was a straightforward decision. Casey coughed up the courage to ask her dad.
The holidays were approaching fast. Casey knew that she had leverage to ask for a present worthy of her good grades. The consent of her father was all she needed.
And she didn’t fear asking her dad for his consent. They had a good relationship. She could go to him about anything. When Casey made the proposal, he didn’t hesitate to accept it. It was only fair. He trusted her and no questions were asked. The events that were to come may have made him regret that.
Brad Victory had been living with his daughter Casey and his own parents for the last three years. They enjoyed a peaceful life in New South Wales. It was an area of Australia that offered plenty and Brad was there with his favourite people. This group pointedly did not include Casey’s mother, Nicole Rae Rees.
Their divorce had been bitter. Brad should have realized that Nicole was watching his every parenting move closely.
Tattoos are permanent on a person’s skin and thus the subject of a tattoo should be thought over. It’s not uncommon to regret the first tattoo you get.
Brad trusted Casey to make a wise decision. She was mature for her age. One thing he told her not to do was to get a face tattoo.
Casey didn’t get on well with her mother. She hadn’t spoken to her since she moved in with her dad, a whole three years of silence passing.
The two didn’t see eye to eye. Although Nicole insisted she had Casey’s best interests at heart, her daughter didn’t agree. That’s why she decided against telling her about the tattoo. The thing that she didn’t count on? Her mother was already aware and wasn’t going to take this lying down.
Every mother has the right to know what’s happening in the life of her only child. Especially when it’s a big decision like getting a tattoo. Children need parents to look out for their best interests and becoming estranged from Casey had deeply upset Nicole.
She had concerns about Brad’s parenting methods, to begin with. The tattoo was the final straw. She picked up the phone and called her lawyer.
Brad had always been a tattoo enthusiast himself, his body sporting numerous works of art. When Casey came to him about getting inked, Brad didn’t want to be a hypocrite. The way she put it was strange: ‘Dad, I really want a tattoo. I want to put the past behind me.’
He didn’t think much of this phrasing. Then, he checked his mail.
Brad could hardly contain his shock when he saw the letter. Nicole had never communicated her legal intentions in any way. She hadn’t been in touch.
In his eyes, he had allowed his daughter to get a tattoo and followed the letter of the law in doing it. Yet the charges that he was facing could put him behind bars for five years. Although he believed he was in the right, Brad couldn’t help but fear the extremity of the charges.
The idea of five years in prison scared Brad but his fear was slowly turning to anger. The more he read the letter, the angrier he became.
Nicole wanted him charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and wounding a person with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He wondered how someone who once loved him so dearly could be so vindictive. Defiantly, Brad vowed to fight to clear his name.
Relationships with children can be difficult. Nobody knew this better than Nicole. Hardly a discussion could take place with Casey without it descending into an argument. Eventually, Casey cut off contact with her mother and, while she knew they had problems, this hurt Nicole.
Seeing Brad act like he was the world’s greatest dad annoyed Nicole. She wanted to show the world what he was: A criminal.
When local media caught wind of the story of a family being torn apart by a tattoo, they understandably investigated further. Then national and international media picked up the story. How could something so insignificant cause so much trouble?
Everyone was perplexed. What could be so wrong about it? Then Casey stood up to reveal the tattoo.
When Casey pulled up her trouser leg, reporters gasped. The ink that had caused so much controversy and strife depicted a dreamcatcher.
A handmade willow hoop originating in Native American culture, the dreamcatcher is said to catch the bad dreams of the person it protects. One reporter stood scratching his head. He couldn’t understand it’s significance. That was when Casey explained the tattoo.
The dreamcatcher symbolised something specific to Casey: The chance to forget her past.
Dreamcatchers catch bad dreams and bad thoughts, which teenagers are often plagued with. Casey was not dissimilar to her peers in this way. While she had much in common with girls in her age group, Casey had worries that they couldn’t relate to.
One person who had always been in Casey’s corner was her father. When asked if he was a good father, Casey replied that he wasn’t good, he was perfect.
Casey said that her father did everything for her and that he was always someone she could turn to. Yet her mother saw it in a different light.
Casey may have thought that Brad was the perfect father but not everyone agreed. Nicole certainly didn’t. She saw flaws in his parenting.
She found it suspicious and borderline devious to allow her daughter to get a tattoo without her permission. It was her entitlement to be asked. She was still Casey’s mother. This was the impasse that the pair had reached. Then an expert weighed in.
Sam Macedone, a renowned Australian lawyer behind several high-profile cases, told ‘A Current Affair’ that he found the case ‘most unusual’.
In his eyes, this was a domestic dispute between two divorcees. A private matter that could be settled with a conversation. The fact that it could lead to criminal prosecution was ‘ridiculous’. Yet the trial went ahead anyway.
Brad showed up to court in formal attire. He was nervous, his voice croaking when he said his name to the judge. It was a big day.
Ultimately, it was a good day for Brad and Casey as one of the charges, wounding a person with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, was dropped. The other charge still stood though. Brad knew a stint in prison could be right around the corner.
Standing outside the courthouse with a clear look of relief on his face, Brad was asked what he learned from the ordeal.
A wry smile creeping across his face, Brad said: ’If I thought it was going to cause this much drama I would have waited until she was 18, and it would have saved me and her a lot of grief.’ Yet they can at least be happy that they have each other for a battle that continues today.