originally published: 28th February 2009
Letty Scott, 1953-2009
Letty Marie Scott, who was to achieve fame as a persistent campaigner for justice for her deaths-in-custody husband, was at the crossroads of Australia’s great cultural conflict.
She was born at Ragetts Well, Glenn Helen Station, Northern Territory, daughter of an Irish-Australian World War I veteran, Bill Gibson, many years older than her mother, Lucy. Lucy was a traditional tribal Aboriginal, from the Anmatyerre pronounced Umatjira tribe, and spoke six local languages, her seventh being English.
Lucy took her children into the bush, taught them her languages and sang with them around the campfire. Out of the bush the family listened to singers such as Connie Francis and Patsy Cline on the radio.
But when Letty was five, Gibson died, and she was taken away from her mother and placed in a Catholic convent in Alice Springs, which she found to be a place of cruelty. She survived that, and when she left school worked in a dress shop.
In 1983 Letty married Douglas Scott. In 1985 he was arrested for using indecent language in a Darwin hotel then failed to obey his bail conditions and was remanded in custody for 60 days. Beginning this on May 31, 1985, he lasted only until July 5, when he was found hanging by a twisted sheet in his cell in Berrimah jail. Darwin. A Northern Territory pathologist, Dr Kevin Lee, found no suspicious circumstances.