Heidi Lemon shows Tara Costigan as more than a murder victim in debut book

NEW RELEASE: Author Heidi Lemon said she wanted to present Tara Costigan as a person rather than a murder victim in her book 'The First Time He Hit Her'.

NEW RELEASE: Author Heidi Lemon said she wanted to present Tara Costigan as a person rather than a murder victim in her book 'The First Time He Hit Her'.

The horrific murder of Tara Costigan shocked people across the country in 2015, including Heidi Lemon who followed the proceedings closely after seeing a connection with a previous relationship where she was the target of verbal violence.

Mrs Lemon was known as Heidi Alchin when she grew up in the central west, and she has just released her first published book,The First Time He Hit Her.

The book is about Ms Costigan, her relationship, and how her ex-boyfriend Marcus Rappel murdered her with an axe when she fleeing from him as she held their one-week-old daughter, one day after she applied for a domestic violence order.

The First Time He Hit Her also examines the relationship between verbal abuse and homicide committed by current or former partners.

"What came out of my research was this relationship between the verbal abuse and the intimate partner homicide," Mrs Lemon said.

"For almost a quarter of women murdered by their current or former partner there had never been [physical] domestic violence before that.

"Marcus Rappel never hit her until the day he killed her."

Mrs Lemon said she started writing the book after her sister Dr Skye Saunders introduced her to Ms Costigan's uncle Michael Costigan in 2016, and he expressed a wish for his niece's story to be told.

"I found out she had been in a verbally abusive relationship that was what struck a chord with me too because I had been in a similar situation with somebody in a verbally abusive relationship," she said.

Mrs Lemon attended Orange Christian School where her mother Sandy Alchin was an English teacher and fostered her love of writing. In 2004 Ms Lemon moved to Canberra to study creative writing, she now lives in NSW with her husband Matty Lemon.

"I wanted to [show] her not as a murder victim but as a vibrant loved woman, she was a real woman who scratched her nose and stretched and did up her shoe laces," Mrs Lemon said.

"We often forget that these are real people and I just wanted to bring her to life."

The research included interviews with Ms Costigan's family members, making notes from recordings of court proceedings, and she was present when Rappel was sentenced to a minimum of 26-years jail for the murder. His sentence has since been extended for other assaults committed in jail against other inmates and a guard.

"It was harrowing, it was intense, it affected me personally," Mrs Lemon said.

"Meeting her family and hearing their memories, it was extremely moving and I won't ever forget it."

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This story 'The First Time He Hit Her': Author shines light on the murder of Tara Costigan first appeared on Daily Liberal.