After migrating to Australia for a better life, one couple’s dream has been marred by the bad behaviour of one of their neighbours.
Appearing on A Current Affair, Syed and Shilebeth said they were subjected to racial slurs by said neighbour, before their dream home was allegedly firebombed.
“People say it’s just like material things – no, we built there day by day,” Shilebeth told the program.
The couple said they experienced life’s “ups and downs” during their time in their Lalor Park home in Sydney’s west, which they bought after meeting in their “college days”.
“It meant everything to us. This is a home that we worked for … this was our dream home,” Syed said.
Syed and Shilebeth lost everything when their home burnt down in an alleged firebombing after they copped racial abuse from their next-door neighbour. Image: A Current Affair
But, the couple said they began having problems with their next-door neighbour, Trent Constantine, in the past few months.
“One Saturday he was just smashing the fence and I said, ‘Trent’ – his name is Trent – and I said, ‘why are you smashing the fence?’,” Syred recalled.
“He said, ‘this is none of your business’. I said, ‘no, this is our shared fence, you shouldn’t be smashing this fence’ and he didn’t stop it.”
Later, in mid-January, Shilebeth filmed another encounter where Mr Constantine can be heard saying, “Go back to where you belong”.
Tonight on A Current Affair, the ugly face of racism in our suburbs.
— A Current Affair (@ACurrentAffair9) February 8, 2022
After Shilebeth accused him of being racist, Mr Constantine replied, “No I’m not racist, I’m purist. You don’t belong here go back to your country. You illegal f***ing immigrant.”
But Mr Constantine didn’t stop there, arming himself with a knife and then drinking pig’s blood in front of Shilebeth, referring to Syed’s Muslim faith.
“It’s all good, in our country it’s tradition to lick the pork blood,” Mr Constantine said.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.
He went on to say he doesn’t like people who “do not belong in this country”.
“F*** off on your boat and go home to where you belong, because it’s not your country,” he said.
After the incident, Shilebeth called the police and went with officers to make a statement.
While she was at the station, Shilebeth received a devastating call from another neighbour who said: “Shelly your house is on fire.”
Syed, who was at work at the time, raced home to see their house alight.
“I parked my car in the middle of the street and I’ve seen in front of my own eyes, it was burning in front of my eyes – my house,” Syed said.
After their neighbour Gary heard glass breaking and an “explosion”, he went out to the front of his house and saw “flames through the trees” before calling Triple Zero.
“(It’s) really bad you know they’ve lost everything… unfortunately they weren’t insured,” Gary said.
Having stopped paying their home insurance in 2019 because they could no longer afford it, the couple have lost almost all of their belongings – including items for Shilebeth’s photography business – and have been forced to sell the land and move on.
“The only good thing is our pets (were) rescued,” Syed said.
Though police are yet to charge anyone over the suspected firebombing, they have issued an arrest warrant for Mr Constantine for an alleged intimidation offence.
Have you seen 44-year-old Trent Constantine? He is wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant. Known to frequent Lalor Park. Anyone with info please call Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000. pic.twitter.com/HnNh4odMfD
— NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) February 8, 2022
A Current Affair’s Hannah Sinclair spoke to Mr Constantine’s mother, who insisted her son had nothing to do with the fire.
She also said he wasn’t around or on the run from police.
As for Siyed and Shilebeth,
“I’m still very resilient but it’s very hard at my age to get back on my feet, to start again – you know, rebuild the house,” Syed said.
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up by Shilebeth’s cousin, with the aim of raising $10,000 to help them get back on their feet.
As of Thursday, February 8, the fundraiser has received more than $8,000 in donations.
Image: A Current Affair
This article first appeared on OverSixty.