Why stepdaughter wants backpacker murderer Long in jail



THE estranged stepdaughter of backpacker murderer Robert Long has pleaded for authorities to never let him out of jail, describing him as her own "Freddy Krueger".

Today marks 20 years since Long killed 15 people when he set the Childers backpackers hostel on fire.

The horrific fire sent shockwaves worldwide with victims from England, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, South Korea, Morocco and Australia.


In an exclusive interview with The Courier-Mail Lauren Campbell, 34, said Long had inflicted hell on her family - including choking her when she was just a six-year-old - when her mother was in a relationship with him in the years before the hostel fire.

She has written a 12-page letter pleading for the parole board to never release him.

"Robert Paul Long is my Freddy Krueger," Ms Campbell told The Courier-Mail. "He is the one who gets me in my sleep and even when I'm not asleep.

"The incidents that I went through … the trauma that he has left behind.

"Lives were lost when I feel they shouldn't have been."


Robert Long’s stepdaughter says “as long as he has got life in him, someone will suffer”.
Robert Long’s stepdaughter says “as long as he has got life in him, someone will suffer”.



Long had a lengthy history of being a violent suicidal pyromaniac who tormented his own family in the years before the Childers fire.

Ms Campbell said she first met Long when she was four after he started dating her mother Christine.

"He was a very quiet man," Ms Campbell said. "He wouldn't speak much. When I first met him I recall him trying to be friendly."

She remembers Long choking her heavily pregnant mother in Lismore on at least one occasion. Her mother gave birth to Long's child Kirra in 1992.

In January 1993, then six-year-old Lauren told police her stepdad Long was strangling her mother again, according to police statements.

When Ms Campbell tried to get Long off her mother, she told police he turned around and put his hands around her throat for 30 seconds. She had finger marks and slight bruising.



Fifteen people died in the inferno.
Fifteen people died in the inferno.


While Ms Campbell doesn't remember the incident she says she remembers when she was taken from her Tugun home months later and choked after Long broke in.

He got into a fight with another man, knocked over her mother and stomped on her and then picked up Ms Campbell, then aged six, and ran outside covering her mouth.

Police arrested him shortly after.

Robert Long
Robert Long

The friend later told police Ms Campbell was bleeding from a wound under her nose and had a large bruise on her shoulder.

The man told police Ms Campbell said of Long: "Daddy tried to kill me".

Ms Campbell said she had been picked up like a football and Long took her close to a nearby church.

"He had me on the lawn there and he just started strangling me," she said. "He never said anything during the attack. I was in a bit of a daze. I don't even know who interrupted us."

She said police managed to find her and take her to hospital.

"I'm ashamed that I once called him dad but he was my mother's partner, my sister's dad."

There were countless other incidents and Ms Campbell said she even saw him slash his wrists in one of his many documented self-harm incidents.

"Quite often we would be doing the washing up and mum would turn the lights off and you would just hit the floor," she said.

"The lights would remain off, the TV off, and you'd go to sleep on the floor because mum has you huddled on the floor because Robert is doing circles and trying to get into the house."




Their mother would later tell police that Long tried to kill her and her children after he set their caravan on fire in 1997 in Darwin.

The last time she spoke to Long was the night they believe he set the caravan on fire. They had argued that night about the Tugun incident.

"I said please just tell me what did I do. He did not respond … he just stared straight through … us girls."

Her mum lost her temper and kicked him out of the caravan and hours later it was set alight. They fled from the caravan but Long wasn't charged.

Ms Campbell says she doesn't speak to a lot of her family and had tried to move on with her life.

"We're a very broken family," she said.





The last time she saw Long was in court before he was sentenced for the Childers tragedy.

He was charged with two of the murders, of twins Kelly and Stacey Slarke, but not over the other 13 deaths.

Families and survivors have demanded further charges over the other deaths but the office of the director of Public Prosecutions has ruled this out.

Ma Campbell has joined survivors and families now pleading with the parole board to never let Long out.


Lauren Campbell, the estranged stepdaughter of Childers Backpacker fire killer Robert Long, says he should never be free. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Lauren Campbell, the estranged stepdaughter of Childers Backpacker fire killer Robert Long, says he should never be free. Picture: Nathan Edwards


"I do know that man is evil you can feel it in his eyes. I've felt his hands around my neck, I don't believe he has changed," she said.

"He could be 80 and as long as he has got life in him, someone will suffer.

"I haven't done anything to deserve to turn my lights off and go by a different name and go into hiding because the justice system can't get their stuff right."

Ms Campbell has completed certificates in community service and has a passion to work with domestic violence victims.

She says she never been given any support over Long's abuse.

Originally published as 'He's my Freddy Krueger': Why stepdaughter wants Long jailed forever