Updated: Jul 11, 2021
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FUNERAL SERVICE FOR SENIOR CONSTABLE TONY ARMSTRONG Thursday 11 May 2000 -Eulogy delivered by Commissioner Northern Territory Policy Brian C Bates, AM APM
An endearing feature of the Northern Territory Police is that it attracts characters and develops character. That in a simple way, describes Tony Armstrong and his association with the “Top End”.
Interestingly, Tony wasn’t born in the Territory. He was born in Wagin in West Australia in 1953 and the fact that this is not known to many illustrates Tony’s unquestionable pride in being regarded as a true Territorian.
Tony’s association with the Territory was due to his mother’s dedication to remote area nursing and the reputation that she gained in the nursing profession was always a source of great pride for Tony. It was during his mother’s career that Tony found himself in the Northern Territory living and working in remote areas and so began Tony’s life in the NT.
Because of Tony’s commitment to the Territory and the its lifestyle, he joined the Northern Territory Police Service in 1975. At this time, Darwin had been devastated by Cyclone Tracy and Tony’s induction course was held in Adelaide. It is somehow symbolic that the commencement of Tony’s career was affected by one of the most dramatic and serious events ever to occur in the Territory.
Tony’s early career in the Police was atypical of many Police of the time; by Territory standards anyway. He served in General Duties in Alice Springs and Darwin and relieved in several bush stations. Like all Territory police members, Tony had a vast array of experiences and stories to tell that reflect the humour and danger that can arise in this area of policing.
In 1985 Tony joined the Communications Section, but it was not until 1989 that Tony finally found his real calling in policing when he joined the Forensic Services Section as a Crime Scene Examiner. It is here that Tony gained his true job satisfaction and where he made his greatest contribution to the NT Police Service.
Like all Crime Scene Examiners, Tony commenced duties by attending the scenes of comparatively minor crimes but was soon required to take responsibility for the recording of major crime scenes and the collection of vital evidence. He soon became known to all the police in the Darwin area as a respected and thorough crime scene examiner. He was also known for his unyielding “stropiness” if anyone did not observe all the protocols for crime scene preservation and restricted entry to crime scenes. This applied to police officers of any rank and many officers who outranked Tony will sheepishly remember being the subject of Tony’s wrath at crime scenes.
While Tony was known by all Darwin police for his scene examinations and performances in court, he is, perhaps, best know in the Forensic Services as one of the finest technical photographers ever to work in the Forensic Services. His skill in this area was used by most members of the Forensic Services both inside and outside of the laboratory.
As previously stated, Tony was best described as a “character”. Characters sometimes have a challenging relationship with authority and Tony was no exception in this regard.
However, it was an overwhelming and redeeming feature of Tony Armstrong that any disputes or disagreements were never malicious and never resulted in any resentment. As far as Tony was concerned, when a matter was resolved it had ended. This was due in most part to Tony’s irrepressible sense of humour and mischievous cynicism.
It is tempting to present a series of anecdotes involving Tony, but it is difficult to do justice to many of the most hilarious incidents in this venue.
Tony was a very social individual as can be attested to by his mates at the RSL Darwin North Branch. He had a quick sense of humour and is generally credited as raising the level of exaggeration to where it could only be regarded as an art form. It is significant though that Tony’s sense of humour was never personal and few, if any, ever felt aggrieved that they had become the butt of Tony’s humour.
Tony was an obsessed fisherman and often discussed “the one that got away”. Strangely, the photographs that he produced suggested that very few fish would fit into that category. This obsession was almost matched by his passion for the St George Rugby League club which did the right thing by Tony when they reversed a form slump while Tony was critically ill.
Surely, if the Armstrong family had a coat of arms, it would feature a leaping barramundi, a crime scene examination kit and a dragon, all in the colours of the St George Rugby League club!
The tragedy of Tony’s passing is compounded by the fact that, after working for 11 years in crime scene examination, he will never work in the new forensic science laboratory of which he would have been a most valuable contributor in its set up due to his vast and expert experience. However, while his name appears on many of the documented training programs and methods used in the Crime Scene Examination Section, Tony Armstrong’s contribution to forensic science in the Territory will always be noted and acknowledged by those who follow him.
The NT Police Force extends its deepest sympathy to all of Tony’s family and friends his partner Kaz, his children Lyndell and Dane, also to Cherylee and Sue. It is hoped that you will be comforted at this time to some degree by a pride in Tony’s contribution to the Police Force in particular and the Northern Territory in general.