The West

I have never seen my dad in that much pain
I have never seen my dad in that much pain

The Police Commissioner's son Russell O'Callaghan has spoken about his descent into drug addiction, his involvement in a drug laboratory explosion and life behind bars in WA's toughest jail in the hope his story will deter others from a similar life of substance abuse.

He opened up in an extraordinary interview this week. He does not have any visible scars from the explosion, continues to take part in drug counselling and has started an apprenticeship as a motorcycle mechanic.

He knew he had to change his life when he saw TV news reports in which his father Karl O'Callaghan appeared with is voice trembling with emotion to reveal the son had been burnt in the explosion.

"Watching that bulletin was heartbreaking for me because I had never seen my Dad in that much pain," Mr O'Callaghan, 31, said.

"His voice changed. I know my Dad, I know his voice, and it was that day I realised he wanted to be my father, he wanted to help me and it was me, not him, who was defiant of that.

"It was about time I changed, regardless of what was going to happen over the next 12 months, whether it be jail, rehab, whatever, I was going to make an effort to rebuild my relationship with my father."

Mr O'Callaghan was one of five people injured when an explosion ripped through a State housing property in Carlisle on March 20 last year.

He was jailed for 16 months in September and was released on parole in May. He hopes to reconnect with his three-year-old son, spend time with his family, stay away from drugs and finish his apprenticeship.

"It's never too late," Mr O'Callaghan said when asked if he had a message for drug users.

"There's more to life than destroying yourself. The one message that springs to mind is never quit quitting.

"No one ever says it's easy, it's going to be hard but if you fall down, get back up when you can.

"Make that second effort, or third, or fourth, or however many it takes."

Mr O'Callaghan told of his drug use, which started with smoking cannabis because of peer pressure when he was 15.

He severed all ties with his family as he started using harder drugs when he was about 18, which among other milestones meant he missed out on family celebrations after his father was appointed Police Commissioner in 2004.

He said his father was never angry, only compassionate and emotional, when he first saw him at Royal Perth Hospital after the explosion.

"I burst into tears and I just apologised," the son said. "I said sorry, then I said 'I need to go to rehab, I need professional help'.

"He looked at me and said, 'We're going to get it'."

'No one ever says it's easy, it's going to be hard but if you fall down, get back up when you can.'" *Russell O'Callaghan *

The West Australian

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