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Prayers for accused hijacker at his parish church

The congregation at St Peter's in the Melbourne suburb of East Bentleigh yesterday bowed their heads in prayer for a fellow parishioner who stands accused of attempting to hijack Qantas flight 1737.

Fr Michael Sierakowski also asked the congregation to pray for the stewards who helped avert what could have been a major disaster.

David Mark Robinson, 40, had been a regular at the 10.30am mass.

As more than 100 of the faithful filtered into the church yesterday morning, thoughts of Mr Robinson and the gravity of his alleged crimes were never far from mind.

"That young man Robinson, he used to sit here sometimes," Fr Michael said. "We are quite shocked that we knew him. He is a guy who lived just down the street and walked to church."

He said the front-page photograph of Mr Robinson in Saturday's Herald Sun was a graphic revelation to everyone who knew him.

"Our prayers are with him today," Fr Michael said.

St Peter's, employing a change from the more traditional of Sunday services, also featured a "hot seat" segment in which Maria, a lay employee of the parish, was interviewed by Father Michael about her pending overseas trip to pursue theological studies.

Maria also spoke about Mr Robinson, and said while some were trying to "dig up the dirt" on him, others were willing to defend him as a caring man.

Mr Robinson often sat in the front pews, usually beside an older, Italian woman he had befriended and affectionately called "mum".


Mr Nice Guy, the would-be hijacker (Sydney Morning Herald 1/6/03)
Heroes foil Qantas hijack attack (The Age 30/5/03)
Archdiocese of Melbourne | St Peter's Parish, East Bengleigh

2 Jun 2003