In what context did you first meet Luke Preece?
He introduced himself to me. I got to know him when he arrived in Jakarta to conduct an investigation into Chris Needham. This had been prompted by a letter which Chris Needham had written to Ning Amhar, demanding that the TBI Director Mariam Kartikatresni be fired.
I recall you saying that Preece was a nice guy in the early days. What made you say so?
He is a very clever manipulator. He is easily the most accomplished manipulator I have ever met. He is really an expert at winning the trust of people. He must have been sharpening his skills of manipulation for many years. He fooled me for a very long time.
How did he fool you into thinking he was a nice guy?
He listened to me. That was a nice change after a year or more dealing with Chris Needham I tell you. He asked about every detail of what Chris had been like as a boss, how the school worked, what each teacher was like and so on. He asked about my values and what I thought was wrong with TBI. He picked my brain I suppose and found out what my motivations and thoughts were. He then told me how much he shared my values and how he thought we could be friends and work well together.
What values did he claim to share with you?
He said he didn’t like how nepotistic the company he was. That was a real joke considering what he pulled with Scott and Lilies, but I didn’t know any of that then. I told him I didn’t like how poorly the Indonesian staff were paid and wanted their pay scale based on performance, not just official qualifications. He told me that as an Australian, he also believed in ‘a fair go’ for everyone and said he wanted to make life better for Indonesian staff. I was amazed that as soon as I left Ashley and Luke came up with a plan to force out every Indonesian student assistant without a degree. What he had told me about his values was 100% bullshit from the start.
I was very interested to read that sociopaths often swear that understand people and share their beleifs to win their trust.
It was a kind of ‘grooming’ process. He was grooming me as a victim from the start. It’s pretty scary stuff when you think about it.
How else did Luke create the appearance of friendship?
He was very calculating and meticulous about all of it. He knows how normal people behave and is able to mimic their behavior very effectively. He played a lot off our ‘shared values’ as Australians. He often asked me out for drinks. Like a lot of expats, we ended up in Aphrodite, having a few beers. Luke is a heavy drinker and can really put away the Bintang. He would always push me to match him and it was hard to keep up with him. He often asked me out for meals as well.
What was his favorite kind of food?
He loves Indian food. We ended up at the Indian restaurant in Pasar Festival a few times. There were also a couple of places we ate in Epicentrum. Overall, he liked a place which served alcohol. I got the impression he drank most nights.
So Luke mimicked the normal ‘bonding’ period which goes on in any friendship whereby you share information about your beliefs and interests?
That’s right. He also talked quite a lot about his marital problems. He often remarked that Batak women were known for their ferocious tempers, and his wife, a Batak Christian, was no exception. He said she was prone to outbursts of temper and cruelty which could reduce him to tears. He told this story a few times.
Did you ever see his wife make him cry?
No I didn’t. It’s hard to imagine.
Did he seem to invite your pity when telling these stories? Were you meant to believe that Luke Preece was the victim of his cruel wife?
That seemed to be the case. He was always going on about how she belittled and ridiculed him.
In retrospect do you believe that Luke was the victim of an abusive wife?
I never saw her lose her temper. I don’t believe he was her victim.
What do you think the real story was?
He had led her on. She was desperate to become an Australian citizen and get out of Indonesia. He had lead her to believe that marriage was a way out of Indonesia and he had then reneged on that promise, leaving her sad and disappointed.
They say sociopaths invite pity as a way of ‘disarming’ people. Did Preece invite you to pity him in other ways?
Certainly. He said he was a victim of TBI and the capriciousness of Ibu Mariam in particular. He often told the story of when an expat teacher had died at his school in Bandung. Luke said that the man had been a close friend of his and TBI had shown no empathy at all when Luke was in mourning. He said he had even been left to organize the funeral arrangements all by himself.
Were there any other ways in which Luke Preece portrayed himself as ‘a good Aussie bloke’?
In April 2010 or thereabouts he went to Thailand with Scott Martin and Luke’s wife. He gave me the keys to his house above Bandung and said I was free to use his house while they were in Thailand on holidays. He even organized a driver to pick me up at Bandung Railway Station and said I was free to help myself to the wine from his cellar.
The keys to his house, a driver and a bottle of wine. Quite the impression he was trying to make!
It was all a ruse to win my trust. He was grooming me as his next victim.