Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme came from different worlds. Pauline’s father managed a fish shop while her moth, Honora Mary Parker, took in lodgers to make ends meet; Juliet’s father was a famous British psysicist and her mother a marriage counsellor. Nevertheless, the two young girl were drawn to each other, perhaps due to their similarities in temperament. Pauline’s education had not been of the highest of standard, but she was a gifted and imaginative writer, and Juliet was deeply sensitive to the point of being psychologically fragile. Over time, what started out as a friendhip became much, much more. The two adolescent girls - Pauline was 15, Juliet 16 - began to explore their sexuality with one another. As Juliet would later say, when they were together it was “better than heaven.” Unfortunately events were conspiring to bring their relationship to an end. Juliet’s mother divorced her father, and the young girl was deeply traumatized when she caught her mother in bed with a new man. Soon after, her father announced that he was returning to Britain to take up a new post, and Juliet would be sent to live with relatives in South Africa where it was hoped her health would improve.

Both girls were devastated at the idea of being separated, but Honora Parker made no secret of her relief. She had grown suspicious of their friendship and the strange hold Juliet ad over her daughter, so when Pauline begged to be allowed to go to South Africa too, she refused. In doing so she became the focus of the girls’ frustration and anger. If Pauline was orphaned, they reasoned, there would be no-one to stop her joining Juliet in South Africa. As Pauline wrote in her diary on February 13, 1954, “Why could mother not die? Dozens of people are dying, thousands are dying every day. So why not mother and father too?” It would be one of the many diary entries that eventually helped convict her. On June 22, not long before Juliet was due to leave, Honora Parker took the girls to Victoria Park for tea and cakes. After the treat, the three strolled in the park and when they reached a secluded spot, Mrs Parker bent over to pick up a stone that had attracted her attention. As she did, a stocking loaded with a brick crashed into her skull. Over and over, the teenage girls took it in turn to beat Pauline’s mother to death. And when they were sure that she was gone, they ran back to the tea kiosk, screaming for help and crying, “Mummy’s been hurt!”

Police found the stocking and brick close by Honora Parker’s body and the two girls were arrested. Both admitted that they had helped in the grisly task of killing Mrs Parker and both were found equally responsible. After a sensational trial unlike any New Zealand had ever seen, th two girls were found guilty of murder on August 29, 1954, and - in view of their ages - sentenced to five years in prison each with the added condition that when they were released they could never see each other again.