New hope road rage killing will finally be solved
More than a decade after she learned of her father's violent road rage death, Tylah Day hopes justice is just around the corner.
They took her to the park, where she played on the playground equipment and ate an ice cream from the corner store across the road.
Then Tylah Day's mother sat her down on a bench, her own mother beside her for support, and tried to explain in words a seven-year-old would understand, why she would never see her father again.
"Something very bad has happened," Billie told her little girl.
"You're not going to be able to see your dad anymore."
Tylah didn't understand much about it, but she understood her mum was hurting.
"I can't even imagine how hard it would be for someone's mum to tell them that their father has died," Tylah said of that day 12 years ago.
"And me being a very optimistic seven-year-old, I was trying to comfort my mum, because she was really upset."
Omega Ruston was a young dad - just 32 - with a passion for the outdoors and a dream of one day running his own restaurant, who became the random victim of a horror road rage attack.
On Australia Day, 2009, Omega was driving with two friends along the Gold Coast Highway at Burleigh Heads when he made the decision to pull over after a car cut him off.
He'd spent the day at a park, celebrating with friends and family. Nearby, at the beach at Burleigh Heads, a riot had broken out, believed to have involved up to 1000 teens.
That night, at 10.40pm, Omega, behind the wheel of his Holden Rodeo ute with its Australian flags, was cut off by a small maroon sedan.
The occupants of both cars yelled and gestured at each other before Omega pulled over.
The sedan followed, stopping about 15m behind Omega's ute, both cars just shy of the intersection of 5th Ave.
Omega and a friend got out of their car. The sedan moved forward, pulling level with them. Inside were three men of Middle Eastern appearance. A man in the back seat held up a black semi-automatic pistol and fired two shots.
One hit Omega in the stomach. Friends and bystanders tried desperately to stop the bleeding, but Omega died on the side of the Gold Coast Hwy, next to his car.
The investigation into Omega's murder eventually hit a dead end - but recent developments suggest police are now getting closer.
This week, police divers went into Sydney's Parramatta River where they believe the gun used to kill Omega was dumped. They came up with "items of interest".
Police have also revealed they conducted an extensive forensic review, making use of improvements in DNA, fingerprint and ballistics evidence.
The prime suspects in Omega's murder are "high-profile" crime figures with Middle Eastern backgrounds from Sydney and a former member of the Nomads outlaw motorcycle gang.
"Police can now confirm that the firearm used in the shooting murder of Mr Ruston on the Gold Coast is an identical ballistic match to a firearm used in the West Sydney Ink Tattoo Parlour drive-by shooting," Detective Inspector Chris Ahearn said this week.
"It can also be shown that this firearm used in the 2008 drive-by shooting can be linked to known persons of interest in the murder of Mr Ruston.
"This is a significant development in the case and has confirmed links between Mr Ruston's murder and Sydney-based outlaw motorcycle gangs and organised crime syndicates."
Omega met Courtney Kete when Tylah was only little. They would stay together for nearly five years and have one child together - a boy they named Tommy.
Tylah would come to stay on weekends and Courtney was such a perfect stepmother, Billie would often call her instead of Omega to chat about the children.
"He was funny, he was just really approachable. He was a person who enjoyed life. His aura was really infectious," Courtney said.
The phone call came from a friend - the partner of one of Omega's friends who had been in the car with him when the shots were fired.
She told Courtney that Omega had been hurt. She hadn't known he was dead.
Courtney was frantic. She called hospitals. A friend suggested they start driving around to look for him - but drive where?
She called the police and asked so many questions they relented and told her. Police never want to give that sort of news over the phone.
"After hearing from the police that Omega had died, I rang my mum and dad. And I don't really remember much after that," Courtney said.
"I had to not think about myself and think about the kids. That's what got me through I think. Making sure they were OK."
It had been such a public shooting - in front of Australia Day revellers - that she'd expected the killers to be caught.
"At the time it was just so emotional and I just felt like I needed to pull away from that for my own mental health, pull away from the … from everything," Courtney said.
"It was just driving me crazy not knowing, not having anyone accountable for what they had done.
"I was just so angry that our kids had to grow up without their dad."
A couple of years later, she made the decision to move back to New Zealand.
"It was really hard leaving Australia and kind of break that bond between Tylah and Tommy. It was kind of like the ripple effect of what happened," Courtney said.
Today, Tommy is 13. He has photographs of his dad in his room. He knows he was killed. But he doesn't like to talk about it, the dad who was taken from him when he was just a baby.
Tylah too has had to grow up without the father she loved. She has memories of Omega taking her to the beach, to the Currumbin rock pools and to the beach at Burleigh. He taught her to swim, to love the water.
"I reckon I have a very similar attitude to dad and I always like to say that I pride myself on that and I feel like that's very special," the 19-year-old said.
"I am very proud to say I am part of who my dad was and I am very happy that I can be a reminder for everyone, a reflection of who he was."
Tylah said anyone who knows anything about the circumstances of her father's murder should come forward now.
"You are doing more than the right thing in coming forward," she said.
"You are bringing justice to a whole family, a whole tribe.
"It's not just my dad's family that have been a part of this, my dad had so many friends, so many people that would speak a good, good word about him,
"You are not just serving a family here. You are serving yourself, knowing that you have played a part in bringing closure to many, many people's lives."
If you have information phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Originally published as 'You won't see dad anymore': New hope Australia Day road rage killing will finally be solved