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The pain that never goes away

Seven years ago today, Toolamba sisters Colleen and Laura Irwin were killed by a convicted rapist. Today their parents talk about the tragic impact the killing had on their lives.

RIAHN SMITH January 28, 2013 4:30am

Laura and Colleen Irwin.


Allan and Shirley Irwin don’t live anymore, they just exist.

They stopped living the moment they learned of the death of their two daughters.

Toolamba sisters Colleen and Laura Irwin were raped and murdered at their home in Melbourne in 2006.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of their passing.

‘‘We relive it every day,’’ Mrs Irwin said.

‘‘The minute you open your eyes until you close your eyes it’s just there.

‘‘Some weeks we don’t even talk, we’re going through the motions. Life is passing us by.’’

Mrs Irwin hasn’t worked since their death. Mr Irwin only works three days a week and even that’s sometimes more than he can cope with.

The pair rise each morning without purpose and spend the nights tossing and turning, wishing for sleep to come.

Sometimes during the night, when the pain is most unbearable, Mrs Irwin will sneak into the lounge room and watch old footage of her girls.

‘‘When we put the DVDs on, we close our eyes and they’re in the room,’’ Mrs Irwin said.

‘‘We just live in the past when they were here. That’s our existence. That’s all we have.’’

And there’s no light at the end of this tunnel; Mr Irwin said the past 12 months have been the worst yet.

‘‘At the moment we’re both as low as we can get,’’ he said.

‘‘The first ‘x’ amount of years you really are in shock, you’re doing things, but you don’t know (what you’re doing), but now coming up to this period of seven years, we haven’t got the shock to protect us.’’

‘‘Reality is moving in front of us but we’re not keeping up with it and the gap’s getting bigger.’’

Stepping inside the Irwin’s home is like entering a shrine.

The smiling faces of Colleen and Laura cover the walls, the fridge, the computer and every other surface you could stick a picture to.

The photos are a constant reminder of their loss, but also of the good times that came before.

With a spark of light in her eyes, Mrs Irwin jumped at the chance to talk about her daughters.

‘‘We were close. Colleen, Laura and I were just so close,’’ she said.

‘‘They’d come home and we’d just sit and talk ... even when they were little we’d just talk and talk.’’

‘‘They just loved life. You only have to look at their photos to know how much they loved life.’’

But the sparkle in her eyes doesn’t last long.

‘‘Too much has gone with the girls,’’ Mrs Irwin said.

‘‘We’re empty. We’ll never be the same.’’

‘‘You just can’t be a mum and dad one day and not the next.’’

Today Allan and Shirley throw their support behind a campaign to tighten Victoria’s parole laws. Read more inside today’s News.

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