GOODBYE MANNY

04 Oct 2004, 04:49:53 PM

Reporter: Andrea Burns

It has been the hardest three weeks of David Norman's life, after the attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, which very nearly killed his five year old daughter, Manny.

Manny's mother was killed in the blast but the little girl clung to life in a Singapore hospital, unaware of the bizarre tug of love erupting around her.

Two days after the bombing, Manuel Musu, the Italian man married to her mother, rushed to Manny's bedside, claiming he, not Dave was Manny's father and that Manny's home was in Italy, not Australia.

In the Singapore hospital, both men watched over Manny - one the Italian she calls Papa, the other a policeman from Sydney she calls Dada.

The private anguish of both fathers has been played out in front of the world. Dave revealed a DNA test proved he was in fact the biological father, a claim which Manny's Italian father was shocked to hear.

Now, after 27 days in intensive care, Manny is going home - home to Italy with the Musu family. Speaking from Singapore, Dave Norman says letting Manny go is the most painful thing he has ever done. "The decision was very difficult but it was made easier because I could see how much Manuel loved Manny, and Manuel's family. I know she'll be taken care of and I have no concerns about that", he said.

Although times have been tense for both men, Dave and Manuel agree they can both be part of Manny's life. "We don't want a custody battle in the courts, we just wanted to settle it like mature adults. We both just wanted the best for her and we've come to that decision", they said.

Manny's recovery is slow but steady - the terrorist bomb devastating her little body. She'll need constant care for years to come. "she's made great inroads, she's actually in a wheel chair now, talking, eating, but she's not out of the woods yet. She may have to have more operations", David said.

He hopes to see his little girl in Italy, and maybe one day, when she is well enough, here in Australia. "I hope one day she can come to Australia and Manuel's fine with that. He's welcome, he knows he's welcome to my family home with her", Dave said.

In reply to the generous response of the public to assist in the recovery of Manuela Elizabeth Norman, the Police Association of New South Wales has set up a trust account for the collection of donations.

Accounts details are as follows:

Name of Account: Manuela Elizabeth Norman Trust Account

Bank: Police Credit Union

BSB: 802 862

Account Number: 239284

Donations can be made through any of the Police Credit Union branches located in Sydney, Parramatta or Penrith, by transfer from any branch of any bank (this transaction will incur a fee) or through electronic banking.

All donations gratefully received will be administered by the Police Association of New South Wales to ensure Manny receives the best of care and medical treatment.

For any further details, please contact Mr Mick Spring from the Police Association on 9265 6777.