Karen Lang
Karen Lang

The mother of a 15-year-old schoolgirl murdered by a teenage love rival has called for compassion for prisoners and their families.

In an emotional address to an ecumenical service in St Mary's Cathedral for Anti-Poverty Week, Karen Lang described how the brutal murder of her only daughter devastated the close-knit family.

Ms Lang's daughter Jessica died in 1998 in the family's Bicton home after being stabbed 47 times by 18-year-old Kelly Fuller.

She described how she could no longer cook in the kitchen where her daughter bled to death and how her husband, who found her body, was so traumatised he had difficulty entering the home again.

The family had to sell and move from what had been their dream home.

Ms Lang said her son spent years in a "dark spot" as a result of the murder but had managed to recover with the support of family and friends.

Her story brought members of the 150-strong congregation to tears.

Despite her grief, Ms Lang has found the strength and courage to visit prisoners in jail and help them change their lives.

She is part of the Sycamore Tree Project, a program that takes the victims of serious crimes into jails and puts them in touch with prisoners in a bid to help both parties recover from the impact of crime.

Ms Lang said she felt compassion for Kelly Fuller and for Fuller's family.

"They have lost their daughter too," she said.

"I don't know if I can say I forgive her but most of the time I wish her well."

Ms Lang said investment in programs designed to prevent crime, particularly among young people, was vital. "We have got to do something to stop the poverty and despair and the anger if we want to tackle crime," she said.

"The gap is getting bigger between the haves and the have nots and we have got to do something to stop young people feeling isolated."

The ecumenical service, attended by leaders of the major church groups in Perth, had as its theme the "forgotten families" - the families of offenders and the victims of crime.

The West Australian

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