|L-R: Jezz, Gary, Kai Purhonen, Richard Moulton|
Epitomising the urgency of UK punk, Blurred Vision existed for barely 12 months before tragedy drew the band to a grinding halt.
First formed by former TBK, Tank o’ Piss and Rukus guitarist Azzie, bassist Kai Purhonen, drummer Jez and vocalist Gary 'Gaz' McDonald in October 1998, the band played hard n' fast punk, influenced by the likes of The Business, Cock Sparrer, Cockney Rejects and The Exploited.
After playing a few local shows with Frontside, Zero Tolerance, Naval Graveyard, and Psychotic Numbskulls, Azzie left to focus again on Rukus, and was replaced by Richard Moulton (Psychotic Numbskulls, Burning Bridges).
Momentum was building, and the band hit the road for a tour to Adelaide playing the Adelaide Arts Festival, stopping over at Melbourne’s Arthouse, before returning to Canberra’s Punk in the Park, Sydney’s Iron Duke and then home to support Dropkick Murphy’s at Wollongong Youth Centre in November. Not too scrappy for a band only a few months old.The band was doing well and Moulton, Purhonen and Gary began sharing a house in West Wollongong.
The year 1999 saw Blurred Vision record a 7-track EP, and though they contributed a couple of these tracks to various compilations, the EP never saw the light of day as the band split in early 2000. Following the split, Moulton moved out of the flat with his remaining flatmates evicted soon after.
|Moulton, Purhonen, Gary, Jezz|
On the night of November 15, a group including Tully-Salter, Purhonen, Farrell and Ezold attended The Oxford Tavern after consuming a cocktail of alcohol and LSD. After leaving the Oxford, the group then headed towards South Beach before proceeding towards Port Kembla.
In the early hours of November 16, 2000 Tully-Salter was killed on the banks of Tom Thumb Lagoon. Here Tully-Salter’s body lay undetected until a witness came forward a couple of days later. Ezold and Farrell was arrested and charged with Tully-Salter’s murder soon after. On 21 November Kai Purhonen was also arrested and charged.
Seven days after Tully-Salter's death Mercury reporter Cydonee Mardon ran a piece citing Gaz as saying that Blurred Vision was one of this country's biggest punk bands, having released four albums, and that plans were underway for a US and European tour. Gaz denies ever saying these things, stating that he was reluctant to do any interview and refused a photo.
On September 11, 2001 the charges against Purhonen were dropped due to lack of evidence. On 20 February 2002 Ezold was handed a 16-year sentence for his role in Tully-Salter’s murder. Farrell was named as the prime offender and on 2 May 2002 was sentenced to 18 years.
Purhonen left the area, travelling to the UK before returning home in 2002. In July 2003 following an altercation with his father in Tomerong, Purhonen was arrested and the murder charge against him was re-enlivened. Though cleared of assault he was granted bail for the murder charge.
In January 2004 however, Purhonen got himself into an altercation at The Oxford following jeers and taunts from punters labelling him a killer. Purhonen was again taken into custody and held until the murder trial commenced.
In May 2004 a Supreme Court jury took only half an hour to reach a ‘not guilty’ verdict for Purhonen’s role in Tully-Salter’s murder. Despite this verdict, Purhonen was to languish in prison for another month before being released on bail for the Oxford assault charges.
On 18 October 2004, eleven days before he was scheduled to return to court to face the Oxford assault charges, Purhonen took his own life in an apparent suicide pact with a 15 year old girl he’d met only weeks before.
In a Mercury feature article it was reported that Purhonen’s death was no surprise to those close to him, though no less devastating. His state of mind was precarious following witnessing Tully-Salter’s death and his treatment in prison. His close friend Corinne Smith is reported as saying “He’d seen a lot of things in jail but he’d never tell me about them. He just said he didn’t want to go back.”
Prior to the band splitting Gaz formed Coastal Records in North Wollongong, pressing vinyl for the likes of The Living End, Resin Dogs and Hilltop Hoods. Coastal Records existed for about two years before Gaz relocated to Melbourne. These days Gaz divides his time between Darwin and Adelaide running a herbal business.
Richard Moulton continues to play with the Psychotic Numbskulls, whilst Jez relocated to Melbourne and is currently behind the kit for Bastard Squad.
2000 - Unreleased EP (download)
2000 – The New Breed Pay Tribute to Bastard Squad compilation (‘Defective’ & ‘Tell It Like It Is’) (Noise Pollution)
2000 - Time To Pay Up compilation (‘Spoon Feed’ & ‘Tell It Like It Is’) (Snapshot Records)
Who’s Liam? Illawarra Mercury (20 November 2000)
Three men in court over Liam slaying mystery Illawarra Mercury (21 November 2000)
Third man, 19, charged with murder Illawarra Mercury (21 November 2000))
Punk rocker charged with Liam’s murder Illawarra Mercury (22 November 2000)
Tragedy followed drifter Illawarra Mercury (23 November 2000)
Death shocks punk band Illawarra Mercury (23 November 2000)
Teenagers plead not guilty to Liam murder Illawarra Mercury (7 July 2001)
Punk rocker cleared over murder Illawarra Mercury (13 September 2001)
Accused killer was ‘off his face’ Illawarra Mercury (20 February 2002)
Jury shown video of bashing confession Illawarra Mercury (23 February 2002)
Punk rocker charged with teen murder Illawarra Mercury (12 July 2003)
Trio formed pact to ‘get rid of teen’ Illawarra Mercury (4 May 2004)
Witness assault charges Illawarra Mercury (27 May 2004)
How the system failed Kai Illawarra Mercury (30 October 2004)
The tragedy of Kai Purhonen Illawarra Mercury (feature: 30 October 2004)
Supreme Court of New South Wales decisions:
Thanks to Richard Moulton, Maris Depers and Gaz for their help and support on this piece.