Ceremony will honour the memory of Anita Cobby

Keeping Anita’s memory alive: Olivia Szyszka, 14, (right) pictured with mum Kathryn, and brother Cameron never got to meet their late aunt Anita Cobby. Picture: Gary Warrick

The late Anita Cobby “We can’t ever forgive these five [convicted of murder] for what they did,” Anita’s mother Grace Lynch once told reporters. “but we must stop hating them or that hatred will destroy us.”

February 2, 1986 is a day Kathryn Szyszka (nee Lynch) will never forget.

Her life turned upside after older sister and ‘‘best friend’’ Anita Cobby was abducted, raped and killed by while walking home from Blacktown station in a crime that shocked Australia.

Until now, Kathryn and parents Garry and Grace (Peg) Lynch have commemorated the anniversary of Anita’s death quietly.

Mrs Szyszka welcomed retired chief inspector Gary Raymond’s idea of an inaugural community memorial to be held at Pinegrove Memorial Park next Monday, following the deaths of both parents in the last seven years.

She was also eager to help police spread the No Violence Against Women message.

‘‘I was keen to get on board as it seemed the right thing to do,’’ she told the Star.

‘‘It’s a way to remember my sister for the person she was and what she offered to the community as a nurse in her short life. It’s good for the younger generations to be made aware of the crime so it’s never forgotten. I’m pleased to be on board if it can bring something positive.’’

Mrs Szyszka was 20 at the time, five years younger than Anita.

‘‘When I got the call the following day that she hadn’t come to work, I knew instantly that something was terribly wrong because it was out of character for her to not turn up,’’ she said.

‘‘We were waiting for news a few days later when we heard a body had been found in Prospect. When we saw two detectives walking up to the door with solemn looks on their faces, we knew what news was coming.’’

Mrs Szyszka has been overwhelmed by the community response, including more 750 comments on the Blacktown Sun Facebook page in the last fortnight.

‘‘The anger in the community still there after 29 years is surprising,’’ she said.

‘‘We as a family moved beyond that. We learned to let go of the anger and deal with the grief. Mum and Dad found the strength to turn a negative situation into something positive. So many good things have come out of Anita’s death. But’s it’s lovely to know the support is still there and that people haven’t forgotten. I think it’s what a community it’s all about.’’

But she has never forgiven Anita’s five killers, who were sentenced to life, never to be released.

‘‘I was robbed of my sister and best friend,’’ Mrs Szyszka said.

‘Our bond progressed as we got older and became very close, where we would spend as much time together. It never gets easy telling the story. People are shocked when they hear what happened and it normally brings them to tears.’’

The memorial service for the 29th anniversary of Anita Cobby’s death will be held on February 2, 10am-11.30am at the Guardian Funerals Chapel at Pinegrove Memorial Park in Kington Street, Minchinbury.

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