It would be trite to say Christmas is a difficult time for Mark and Faye Leveson and their family. Sadly it is all too true this year, as they come to terms with the not-guilty verdict handed down in their son’s murder case, and their quest to find and put to rest his body.

It has been two years since 20-year-old Matthew Leveson went missing after a night out at Arq on September 23, 2007.
Initially Leveson was thought to be the victim of a gay-hate crime but police later turned their attention to Michael Atkins, Leveson’s older lover.

Following a four-week trial this year, and five days of jury deliberations, Atkins was found not guilty — a verdict Matthew’s mother Faye told Sydney Star Observer she “just can’t come to terms with”.

With Matthew’s body not yet found, the Leveson family have created their own memorial by having tattoos.

In terms of a wider legacy, Mark and Faye have a piece of advice — love your gay sons and daughters. No matter what.

“Christmas gets harder each year for us,” Faye said.

“Out of my boys, he was the one who loved the Christmas lights, he loved the whole concept of Christmas, and that’s all been taken away from him.

“He’s been robbed of his life, and his family and friends have been robbed of someone they loved and loved to have a good time with.

“Matthew was a vibrant, beautiful, fun-loving, would give the shirt off his back to help a friend kind of person. Nothing was too much trouble if his friends were in need.

“He was always there for anybody. He supported us through quite a few hard times, and he was always there for his brothers.

“Every time [the defence] tried to mention the gay scene, they tried to make it seem dirty, and it’s not. It angered us, because it made it seem dirty and sleazy, but there’s no difference between a gay relationship and a straight relationship.”

To Matthew’s father Mark, being gay was irrelevant. “Nothing changes … though his fashion sense changed a bit,” he said with a slight laugh.

Faye advised other parents, “Accept them, accept them no matter who they are.”

Losing their son prompted the Levesons to deliver a heartfelt message to those parents who may struggle when their son or daughter comes out.

“Whether they’re gay, lesbian, bi, straight, they’re who they are, and they’ve still got beautiful hearts and they’re still your children,” Faye said.

“Embrace them. Love them. Don’t shun them.”

According to Mark, the family is looking for legal avenues to resurrect the case. He said the prosecutor is scouring transcripts looking for grounds for appeal.

Their other hope is that someone may come forward with new evidence, which may lead to the discovery of Matthew’s body.

“That would mean everything to have his body,” Mark said.

“We can’t have a memorial for him, because we can’t place something in the ground, so we’ve all had tattoos done to commemorate Matt.

“Somebody has to know something,” Faye continued, appealing to anyone from the community to come forward if they know something.

“We’ll find him. I’ll get the evidence, and we’ll eventually get justice.”

info: If you have any information that may help police with the investigation into Matthew’s disappearance, phone Crime Stoppers on  1800 333 000.

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