ACT News

Infamous Canberra killing to be made into film

For almost 15 years, Maria Cinque has visited her son's grave two or three times a week.

Joe Cinque's death in 1997 at the hands of his lover, ANU law student Anu Singh, was one of the territory's most infamous murder trials and the sordid tale is now one step closer to becoming a feature film.

Singh, now 39, killed Cinque, who had never touched drugs, by sedating him with Rohypnol, which was laced into his coffee, and then injecting him with heroin in the duplex they shared on Antill Street in Downer.

Mrs Cinque welcomes the film because she wants her son's death remembered, but she is worried about how he will be portrayed.

''I am happy because I don't want it to be forgotten and for the witch that killed him, I want people to remember what she has done,'' she said.

Singh, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years prison but served just four and was released on parole in 2001.

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Speaking to the Canberra Times from the home where Joe was born and raised in Charlestown, near Newcastle, the 64-year-old Mrs Cinque said the pain of losing her son did not lessen as time went by.

''It's like when you get a bad leg. When you get up the pain is there. I look at his friends, they have kids, they are going to school and high school, and I can never forget this.

''He wanted a family. He studied to be a civil engineer.

''What would he be like? He would be 41 in June, he would probably have grey hair already and a couple of children, two or three children. I think about all that.''

Mrs Cinque said the film's director, Sotiris Dounoukos, had visited her in Charlestown about four years ago.

Now Screen Australia has announced the film will share in $400,000 worth of funding with 16 other Australian projects.

''I want to know what type of movie they will make, because if they make some type of rubbish I won't be happy about it.

''But it depends on what they do and they said they would show us the script, but we haven't heard from them for years.''

The script is based on author Helen Garner best-selling book, Joe Cinque's Consolation.

Ms Garner said she was happy to hear the project had received ongoing funding and believes the film would provide a sympathetic and sensitive portrayal of Joe Cinque.

The award-winning author has read an early draft of the screenplay, written by Dounoukos.

''His whole attitude to the story is a sophisticated one and full of human sympathy … for parents who have lost a son under such terrible circumstances, they are understandably anxious about this - they don't want their son's name to suffer any further indignity,'' Ms Garner said.

The Canberra barrister who defended Singh, John Pappas, wants actor Johnny Depp to play him in the film.

''It will be a very significant step in Johnny Depp's career … he's probably about the right height but he'll need to put on bit of weight,'' Mr Pappas said.

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