Grandmother accused of trying to kill step-grandson, 11, three times


None of this sounds like multiple coincidences does it? Grandmother or not, What sort of person would allegedly and continually try to kill children in their care and not expect to be caught. I shudder to think what may of happened if this woman was not arrested prior to the festivities of tonight! She can’t be named but the dad(s) are outraged as they should be that this has been allowed to fester over several years after suspicions were first raised. More to come

(Please not this is not the same grandmother that is charged with murdering 8 family members recently. This is another tragic crime in QLD.)

 KATE KYRIACOU, THOMAS CHAMBERLIN
courier mail logo
Woman charged over attempted fire murders

BRISBANE’S “house of horrors” grandmother tried three times to kill her 11-year-old step-grandson – once in a fire and twice by suffocating him in his bed, police will allege.

The 58-year-old Caboolture woman will face court today charged with four counts of attempted murder, attempted arson and interfering with a corpse.

Police this month revealed they were investigating the deaths of two boys, one aged three years and the other seven months, at the Morayfield home, as well as the attempted murder of two boys, aged 11 and nine, in a fire.

WARNINGS IGNORED: Children not separated

Police will allege the 11-year-old boy woke on two separate occasions to the grandmother trying to smother him in his bed. They will claim she used a pillow and a tea towel in her attempts to murder the boy.

They said both deaths and the fire occurred when the grandmother was at the house.

It is understood investigators will rely on the boy’s version of events – a version denied by the grandmother.

Eleven year old boy involved in the incident.

Eleven year old boy involved in the incident.

Detectives yesterday confirmed they were continuing their investigations into the suspected murders of the two younger children – one being the woman’s seven-month-old grandson.

“Today is one step, there are still further steps to be taken in the investigation, so today is just one step,” Detective Acting Inspector Ben Fadian said.

The Courier-Mail can reveal police charged the woman with interfering with a corpse under the belief she lied about how and where the youngest boy died.

Police renewed their investigation into the death of the three-year-old boy, who died in July 2013 from a suspected infection, following a fire at the family’s Morayfield home on February 27.

The two older boys claimed to have been trapped inside their bedroom during a fire that broke out when they were being cared for by their grandmother. Police enlisted the help of the fire brigade to recreate the fire in an effort to determine why the boys had been unable to escape from the bedroom.

“Investigations to date show the children’s escape from the bedroom was intentionally impeded,” police said.

The seven-month-old baby who died with his grandmother and his father.

The seven-month-old baby who died with his grandmother and his father.

The father of the two older boys said he was horrified to learn the woman had been charged with attempting to murder one of his sons on three occasions.

“No one has called me,” he said. “I have no contact details for them (the boys). It’s pretty bad.”

The three-year-old boy died on July 27 after suffering flu-like symptoms. He was taken to hospital but went into cardiac arrest.

On September 27, seven months after the fire, the children’s mother found the baby boy dead in his cot.

The baby’s father at the gate to the property yesterday.

The baby’s father at the gate to the property yesterday.

The grandmother is believed to have told police she put the child to bed with a bottle the night before and got up at 2am to check on him after hearing him stir.

She said she woke at 7am to the sounds of the boy’s mother “screaming hysterically”.

The boy’s father said this month that he believed his mother was not capable of killing “anything”.

He said he woke one morning to the news his son was dead.

Yesterday, the man walked out of his house carrying a sign with the words “private property no entry”, saying he would expose “lies” and “corruption” in the case.

Police yesterday questioned the children’s mother about whether she had taken steps to protect the children.

Solicitor Tim Meehan, from Bosscher Lawyers, said the grandmother was “assisting police”.

Additional reporting Chris McMahon and Trenton Akers

Memories of laughter where there are children no more

NESTLED among stands of trees and tropical palms, at the end of a winding drive, is Brisbane’s “house of horrors”.

It’s a place where boys once laughed and played. Where a large block of garden provided endless room to run and chase. But there were no children behind the wire fence of the Morayfield home yesterday – the home where police suspect two children were murdered and another two locked in a fire.

It was once home to the children’s grandmother. Police say she was there when the three-year-old boy died.

She was there when a fire broke out inside the house, threatening two boys in their beds. And she was there when the youngest – an infant of seven months – died at night.

She was the last to see both boys alive and the only adult home when the fire started.

The woman’s son – and the father of the youngest boy – walked the neglected yard to place a sign at the property’s front gate. He said he would expose “lies” and “corruption” in the case.

In a previous interview, the man said his mother was a beautiful kind-hearted person.

“I highly believe my mother would not be capable of killing anything,” he said. “Why would she all of a sudden? She is still the same person from 20 years ago.”

The sign he held yesterday – “private property no entry” – warned media to keep away. It was a repeat of an earlier warning when a visitor threatened to assault journalists waiting in the street.

The home’s four bedrooms are no longer home to those who played and slept there. Two little boys are dead. Two older boys are now in a “safe house”.

The Courier-Mail was once invited inside, viewing the small room where the fire took hold. There was no sign of the flames the family claimed began when someone threw an object through the window.

The grandmother has denied any wrongdoing – both with the fire and the deaths of the two boys


Cops investigating murder of two children and attempted murder of another two children from same Morayfield family

Detective Acting Superintendent Damien Hansen talks to the press on the murder of two chi

Detective Acting Superintendent Damien Hansen talks to the press on the murder of two children and attempted murder of another two children at Morayfield earlier this year.

POLICE are investigating the murder of two children and attempted murder of another two children from the same family at Morayfield, on Brisbane’s northern outskirts.

Acting Detective Superintendent Damien Hansen said nobody has been charged yet.

On July 27, 2013, a three-year-old child was reported dead at the home.

On February 27, 2014, there was a suspicious fire in which another two children, aged 9 and 11, had their escape blocked.

He said the QFES has assisted in a reconstruction of the burning bedroom where the two kids where sleeping.

“Through our investigations with Queensland Fire and Rescue … forensically we are able to say the fire was deliberately lit,” Det Supt Hansen said.

“The children couldn’t open the door at the time.”

“The children were inside the room and could not exit the room.”

One of the children suffered burns to their lower limbs and was treated at the Caboolture Hospital. Both children were treated for smoke inhalation along with other occupants of the house.

Then, on 27 September, 2014, a seven-month-old was found dead.

Det Supt Hansen said the investigation escalated from police “linking all three incidents”.

“It was certainly something more than a coincidence,” he said.

He said the homicide squad was involved and the Coroner had also agreed to re-investigate the deaths as suspicious deaths.

“(They were) initially thought to be SIDS deaths,” he said.

He said the parents had been cooperative.

“I regard murder as one of the most serious offences, if not the most serious offence that can occur. To have it happen to defenceless children is just mind-boggling,” he said.

“They are all from the same family, with all the incidents occurring at the same home.”

“I can’t name the family for legal reasons or give the address but I am making an appeal that anybody who knows this family, anybody who happened to be in the Morayfield area on the evening of February 27, 2014, and saw anything suspicious … if they can contact investigators through crime stoppers.”

Police have released a video as part of the investigation, they say, “in order to bring this investigation to a close”.

Det Supt Hansen said: “We are very confident we have the right line of inquiry with this investigation and will have a conclusion in the near future.”

“The recreation of the burning bedroom is a key focus for our investigation and it is where we have developed strong leads and our main focus.”

Police say the investigation has been comprehensive and protracted and has been led by the Homicide Group with the assistance of the Child Trauma Taskforce and regional and forensic investigators.

Simon Gittany’s girlfriend Rachelle Louise sues


How sad and how desperate is this? if anyone can remember this woman… She is/was Simon Gittany’s new girlfriend up until as far as I know he was sentenced in February to a minimum of 18 years in prison for murdering his fiancee Lisa Harnum by throwing her off the balcony of a Sydney highrise.

(Remember HOW the cash came from the MEDIA and she didn’t go to court so she could have her REACTION to sentence filmed for big dollars)

Well she is now suing someone because it was suggested she was a ex stripper/dancer blah blah and was wildly delusional! (I’m sure she was not delusional)

I’m suggesting her boyfriend was the best cash cow she had ever come across with no pun intended!

Here is all the stuff we have covered so far

So she does not accidentally find this site and see dollar signs, rather than post in FULL her case SO FAR !  here is the link folks. MMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm

http://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/action/PJUDG?jgmtid=174978

Simon Gittany’s girlfriend Rachelle Louise sues Daily Mail over claims she is an ex-stripper and ‘world’s most deluded woman’

Date
October 28, 2014 – 8:19PM
Rachelle Louise with Simon Gittany during his trial. Rachelle Louise with Simon Gittany during his trial. Photo: Janie Barrett

The girlfriend of convicted killer Simon Gittany is suing the Daily Mail for defamation over claims she is the “world’s most deluded woman” and a former stripper.

Rachelle Louise has protested Gittany’s innocence since he was sentenced in February to a minimum of 18 years in prison for murdering his fiancee Lisa Harnum by throwing her off the balcony of a Sydney highrise.

Ms Louise is suing the Daily Mail Australia over two stories published after his sentencing, which refer to her both as his “stripper girlfriend” and a “former stripper” who staged a “bizarre protest” outside Darlinghurst Court.

“A day in the life of world’s ‘most deluded’ woman,” said the second article .”Can she really believe balcony killer is innocent?”

The Daily Mail said it was “at the prison gates” when Ms Louise arrived to visit Gittany in Sydney’s Parklea Prison after he was jailed for a maximum of 26 years with a non-parole period of 18 years.

“Despite overwhelming evidence that 40-year-old Gittany had killed his fiancee, she continues to protest his innocence and has given two TV interviews in which she claimed there is no way he could have murdered Ms Harnum,” the report said.

Ms Louise, who is represented by experienced defamation barrister Roger Rasmussen, is suing the online news site for claiming that she is a stripper and a former stripper, as well as for suggesting she is the “world’s most deluded woman”.

She also says the articles suggest she is a “women [sic] of loose morals” and is deluded “because she believes convicted killer Simon Gittany is innocent”.

District Court judge Judith Gibson said the “stripper” meanings should be pleaded as alternatives rather than arguing both at the same time.

“Is being called a former stripper less defamatory than being called a stripper?” judge Gibson said in a judgment on preliminary issues.

“Should the imputation of being a former stripper be pleaded as a fall-back imputation? There is still utility in having fall-back imputations of lesser severity.”

Mr Rasmussen had argued that the articles also conveyed that Ms Louise was “stupid” because “[a]ny person who believes in the innocence of Gittany in the face of those assertions must be stupid”.

Judge Gibson said Mr Rasmussen had added in his submissions that a person can “wake up” from a delusion, while “stupid is forever”.

“Judging by Mr Rasmussen’s submissions, he considers “stupid” is a more permanent state of being “deluded”,” Judge Gibson said.

Judge Gibson said this was “contrary to the dictionary definition of ‘stupid’, which generally connotes intellectual limitations rather than being deluded on a permanent basis.”

She said the articles did “not convey an imputation that the plaintiff is stupid in the sense of having intellectual limitations”.

Judge Gibson ordered Ms Louise to pay the Daily Mail‘s costs for the preliminary hearing.

The District Court case will be heard by a jury.

Rozelle store owner Adeel Khan arrested over blast that killed three people


More to come, the store owner has been arrested in explosion that killed 3.
September 23, 2014 – 9:57AM

Facing three murder charges: Adeel Khan.

Facing three murder charges: Adeel Khan. Photo: Supplied

The owner of a Rozelle convenience store that was destroyed by fire that killed three people has been arrested at his hospital bed.

Adeel Khan is expected to charged with three counts of murder in relation to the blast and subsequent fire earlier this month, polices sources.

Bianka O’Brien, 31, her baby son Jude and their neighbour Chris Noble, 27, all died in the Darling Street fire.


Mon 8 Sep 2014,

The father and husband of two victims of a shop explosion in Sydney last week says he is devastated by the loss of his wife and their 12-month-old son, who “made everyone smile”.

The NSW Police Arson Squad is leading a criminal investigation into the Rozelle blast and fire on Thursday that killed Bianka O’Brien, 31, and her son, Jude, along with 27-year-old Chris Noble.

John O’Brien described his wife of eight years as “an inspiration to all who knew her”, saying she was a wonderful wife and an even better mother.

He said people gravitated towards her because of her “beautiful and warm personality”.

“Bianka and I were together for eight years, married for two, and to say she was the love of my life is an understatement,” he said in a statement.

“I can’t believe how quickly those eight years have flown by but they have definitely been the best years of my life.

“I know I was truly loved by her and the feeling was entirely mutual.”

Jude O'Brien

Photo: Jude O’Brien, 1, “never stopped smiling”, his father John says. (Supplied)

Mr O’Brien said he loved his son Jude with all his heart, describing him as the perfect baby who “never stopped smiling”.

“By far the proudest moment of my life was becoming a father,” he said.

“Jude had just started to walk and was only just discovering the world around him. Everything was exciting to him and he was just a joy to be around. He made everyone smile.”

He said the events of the past few days had been devastating, but he has been overwhelmed by the support from the community.

“Finally, I would like to extend my sympathy to the family of Chris Noble and everyone else who has been affected by this,” he said.

The owner of the convenience store on the Darling Street block, Adeel Khan, remained in intensive care at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Asbestos concerns at blast site

Concerns over asbestos contamination and an exclusion zone around the site the explosion and fire were discussed at a town hall meeting on Sunday.

The area around the blast site has been described by investigators as “very dangerous” and shut off to residents and business owners since Thursday.

Inspector Gary Coffey assured the gathering that authorities were addressing concerns over asbestos and the impact of an exclusion zone around the site.

“We understand the very real need to restore this community in a timely manner so that the healing process can begin,” Inspector Coffey said.

“I can assure you that we are all working very hard every minute of the day to try and achieve this.

“The priorities for the police operation are to assess the asbestos management at the site, reducing the exclusion zone to allow unaffected businesses to re-open and to provide pedestrian access to those businesses and crime scene examination.”

Local business owner Steve Isaac said his electrical store on Darling Street had been closed since Thursday and the exclusion zone set up around the blast site had been having a major impact on his business.

“Because it’s a crime scene and the street is closed off, it’s hard to get deliveries in and out and we’ve had a lot of cancellations,” Mr Isaac said.

“Most of us have had to stay shut.”

Inspector Coffey said a demolition order had been issued for the building next to the convenience store on Darling Street.

An accredited company carried out an asbestos inspection on Friday and told police asbestos had been detected on the ground and immediately around the site.

“An asbestos exclusion zone was put in place at the site, and the clean up commenced (on Saturday), and at the same time a hygienist commenced air monitoring at several locations around the site,” Inspector Coffey said.

“The result we received was that there was no airborne asbestos detected.

“Early this morning asbestos clean up at the site recommenced and we will be conducting further testing today and these results will determine how quickly we can reduce the exclusion footprint so that businesses can re-open.

“The site itself is very dangerous and the conditions are constantly changing, and we’ll keep everyone informed of developments.”

A pain too great for young hearts to bear-Friends Unite updates


PLEASE READ BEFORE COMMENTING

The hurtful, spiteful, threatening, race fuelled, pure troublemaking type comments that have slipped by in the past will now be dealt with in an instant with Zero tolerance folks.

Be nice to each other and speak to others as you would expect to be spoken to yourselves. With decency, tact and acceptance of others right to a view opposite to your own. You do not have to agree, just be polite about saying so, it is not too much to ask! Otherwise you will be put into direct moderation until I read and allow EVERY comment you make…is that what we want?

Also if you feel you have been unduly  harassed or singled out or baited by another, try to refrain from replying to that person and sent me off an email with the Subject ALERT.

I will deal with all queries ASAP…Thanks

Previous threads can be found using the links below, One being very first and so on…

One (26/04/12) here Two (14/05/12)  here Three (17/05/12) here Four (20/05/2012) here Five  (23/05/12) here Six (26/05/12) here Seven (28/05/12) here Eight (30/0512) here Nine (02/06/12) here Ten (08/06/12) here Eleven (11/06/12) here  Twelve 13/06/12 here
 
Maybe we take some time to reflect on the children.Who not that long ago, Had 2 pillars of strength in their eyes and lives. Now they have neither, but for the love of their grandparents, Allison’s mum and dad. Please scroll down to read the other story folks.A great idea from another friend of Allison’s, Deanne Hudson
ALSO GET ALONG TO THAT CRICKET GAME  THAT IS ON THIS SATURDAY…I WOULD OF FLOWN UP MYSELF IF NOT FOR MY LITTLE LAD IN HOSPITAL…WOULD LOVE TO MEET YOU GUYS UP THERE.

A pain too great for young hearts to bear

by: Madonna King

June 16, 2012

The girls have lost both the pillars of their entire lives

THIS weekend, three little girls are bunkering down with their grandparents.

Still struggling to accept the death of their mother, they are now grappling with the awful accusation that she died at the hands of their father.

That’s almost too difficult for anyone, let alone a young child, to comprehend and you can understand that they might fight it, or even refuse to believe it.

Either way, the charging of their father this week will irrevocably change their lives.

Their mother’s death was inconceivable. How does a young child who still dances like no one is watching process news like that?

But it is the arrest of their father, who has looked after them since their mother’s death, that has now stolen the remaining pillar of the family life they knew and understood.

Gerard Baden-Clay is innocent, until proven otherwise. He deserves the right to a fair trial and should be given one, and he shouldn’t have to wait years for that.

But whatever the eventual verdict is, his children will remember his arms around them as they said goodbye to their mother at a funeral that broke all our hearts.

They will remember being told that their father had been taken away by police because they believed he had hurt their Mum, a woman everyone describes as an angel on earth.

As time passes, God willing and with the loving and protective support of Allison Baden-Clay’s parents, they will learn to focus on the memories that count: their Mum reading to them, tucking them in at night, holding their hands, and swallowing them up with that smile that has beamed out of newspaper pages since we first heard of Allison.

This story has enveloped our state because Allison looked like she had it all. Perhaps we were even a little bit envious of her life. A lovely house in the suburbs, three gorgeous children, and a good-looking husband who was going places.

That postcard image was shattered the day her lifeless body was pulled from a creek, and it was buried when her husband didn’t react in the way many of us wanted.

Now Allison’s parents Geoff and Priscilla Dickie have the unenviable task of rebuilding a family shell around Allison’s three little girls. That’s what she would have wanted; and that’s what they will bust their guts to do.

That’s going to be hard on them too. We saw the pain etched in their faces during public appeals for help as they told us that their lives would never be the same, and that their precious granddaughters just wanted their mum. Their quiet dignity served as an example for all of us.

So many grandparents now have direct care for their grandchildren, but the challenges ahead for the Dickie clan will be so much harder.

I remember the dress I wore to my father’s funeral. It was blue, with a pretty pink belt. I hid it under shoes in my cupboard after that day until no one mentioned it again. And then, because it was a reminder of a day I never wanted to revisit, I cut it into tiny pieces and threw it away.

My father was stolen from me by cancer, not murder. And I was a few years older than Allison’s girls. But memories are memories, and they can be cruel and unforgiving.

Brisbane will remember Allison Baden-Clay as the mum who was so much better than most of us. A mum who could choose the job she wanted, and chose the one of bringing up her three young daughters.

A woman whose elegant dignity meant she would listen to the heartache in others’ lives, but would not share any that might have been part of her life.

A woman who had enormous pride in her three little girls, who now deserve to look each night into the sky and see their mum as the brightest star, guiding them in creating new memories, but holding dear those she created for them.

Allison Baden-Clay’s friends organise event to pay tribute and support daughters

by: Alison Sandy

June 18, 2012

FRIENDS of slain Brookfield mum Allison Baden-Clay will band together for a day of health and well-being aimed at celebrating womanhood, the 43-year-old’s life and to help raise funds for her three daughters.

Allison’s friend Deanne Hudson was inspired to do something after another friend Kerry Anne Walker (pictured), spoke at the funeral

Former Ipswich Girls’ Grammar schoolmate Deanne Hudson said she was inspired by something Mrs Baden-Clay’s friend Kerry-Anne Walker said at the funeral.

“When all this happened with Allison, I just lost sleep like everybody else and I started to think about how I could bring something positive out of this whole thing,” she said.

“Kerry-Anne said, ‘Don’t wait, do – do something with your life’ and I just thought … many of us in life put things off, we hold back from doing something.”

The event, Wear it Today for Allison, on July 16, encourages supporters to wear something they’ve been saving for a special day that may never come.

“And at the same time, think of Allison and her daughters,” Mrs Hudson said.

“We might have something special that we’ve been given that we’re saving for a special day to wear. Sometimes that day may not come as we since found out.

“It’s really just trying to bring people together in unity by wearing something they may not have worn for a long time, or may have never worn.

Mrs Walker lamented at the funeral that she and Allison were always making plans, but often did not follow through.

“We were going to do this and we were going to do that – life I have learnt is precious, and too short,” she said.

“We must do; not plan to do – take the time to reach out to that friend you have not seen in a while, make that call or write that letter you have been meaning to write. Start that hobby or take that walk that you have been putting off. Spend that extra time in the day to really listen to your children rather than letting the daily stresses and strains take over. Drink the good wine, even have an extra Danish pastry.

“Tomorrow doesn’t always come. I now know that, I know that my darling Allison’s last lesson to me is ‘don’t wait, do’.”

Meanwhile, a cricket day fund-raiser will also be held on Saturday at Brookfield Showgrounds with all proceeds to go towards the trust fund set up for the Baden-Clay children.

Donations can be made to the Late Allison Baden-Clay Children Appeal. Sanction No. CP5609, BSB 084 737, account 133196502

PLEASE READ BEFORE COMMENTING

The hurtful, spiteful, threatening, race fuelled, pure troublemaking type comments that have slipped by in the past will now be dealt with in an instant with Zero tolerance folks.

Be nice to each other and speak to others as you would expect to be spoken to yourselves. With decency, tact and acceptance of others right to a view opposite to your own. You do not have to agree, just be polite about saying so, it is not too much to ask!

Also if you feel you have been unduly  harassed or singled out or baited by another, try to refrain from replying to that person and sent me off an email with the Subject ALERT.I will deal with all queries ASAP…Thanks

A new thread has been started here, to continue the discussion folks.

http://aussiecriminals.com.au/2012/06/20/prosecutor-danny-boyle-appointed-to-baden-clay-murder-case-bail-updates/

How much longer till the police pounce on Baden-Clay killer?


Been a few days since an update and the other thread is getting very slow to load thanks to hundreds upon hundreds of comments and discussion. The stuff I’m hearing around the traps is amazing, and if I were in any way whatsoever involved in this I would be getting my affairs in order, because there is not a lot of time left on freedom street.

The Original extensive coverage here folks, with many more pictures and important videos…It is slow to load with so many comments…http://aussiecriminals.com.au/2012/04/26/what-has-happened-to-missing-mother-allison-baden-clay/

UPDATE 16/05/12 WITNESSES COME FORWARD ON CAR

These are the Baden-Clay cars, any connection to a smaller blue 4 wheel drive I wonder?

A WITNESS has told police of seeing two four-wheel-drives near Kholo Creek crossing early on the day Allison Baden-Clay was reported missing.

It is alleged a white four-wheel-drive didn’t have its headlights on, only parking lights, and was closely tailing a smaller, blue four-wheel-drive at about 4am on April 20.

The witness told of noticing the vehicles at Anstead in Brisbane’s west – within 2km of where the 43-year-old mother of three’s body was found 10 days later. Police said Mrs Baden-Clay was reported missing by her husband Gerard at 7.30am Friday after she failed to return from her usual morning walk.

He told police he had last seen his wife at their Brookfield home about 10pm the previous night.

It is understood several members of the community have come forward with information, triggering a number of new lines of investigation.

Police have established a major incident room with detectives, intelligence analysts and forensic officers to help with the investigation.
A trust fund has been set up for the daughters of Allison Baden-Clay. Donations can be made through the NAB to BSB: 084 737, account: 133 196 502, or via badenclay.appeal@gmail.com

They are believed to be awaiting results from forensic tests including toxicology.

The Baden-Clays’ cars – a white Toyota Prado four-wheel-drive and a silver Holden Captiva – were taken in by police for forensic tests and have since been released.

Mrs Baden-Clay’s funeral, held last Friday, included a guard of honour by students from Ipswich Girls’ Grammar where she was vice-captain.

Talks are under way to establish a memorial plaque for the mother of three as tributes continue to pour in.

Several fundraisers have been held.

Well-wishers wanting to help the Baden-Clay family have been encouraged to donate to the Allison Baden-Clay appeal. Donations can be made via NAB to BSB: 084737, account number: 133196502.

Celebrations at this week’s Brookfield Show, held just 200m from the Baden-Clays’ home, are expected to be somewhat sombre.

The show, which begins tomorrow at Brookfield Showgrounds where police set up a command post while they searched for Mrs Baden-Clay , was sponsored last year by Gerard Baden-Clay’s Century 21 real estate franchise.

The Baden-Clay family have been members of the Brookfield Show Society in the past but it is believed they did not renew their membership this year.

The show is expected to attract about 20,000 people.

Brookfield Show Society president James Booth said the event would be a rallying point for the community affected by the tragic loss of Mrs Baden-Clay.


How long more till the police pounce on Baden-Clay killer?

How long more will the public have to wait for the police to make an arrest over the brutal killing of Allison Baden-Clay?

Time is creeping on and the police have assured the people of Brisbane’s western suburbs there is no crazed killer on the loose ready to attack again.

If that is true, they must have their quarry well and truly within their sights and must be superbly confident the killer will not strike again.

Speculation remains at fever pitch across southeast Queensland as to the identity of the killer.

There is even a suggestion in legal circles that up to 5 people may be arrested over the murder, including accessories after the fact. Presumably, if that is right, the police will make simultaneous arrests over the next few days, which would make a 5-pronged interviewing process incredibly demanding on the police as well as putting intense pressure on those in custody to confess.

Speculation is rife that the killer may have even attended the church service at St Paul’s in Ipswich last Friday which might explain the incredible rumour circulating at the moment that the police had secret microphones planted in the flowers at the service in case someone whispered words which could be construed by a jury as a confession or an admission or indication of guilt.

It seems the police are leaving no stone unturned in this case with phone taps, vehicle tracking devices and seizure of medical and computer records no doubt just the tip of the iceberg, as the net closes on the killer who will have more explaining to do than Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson combined.

This is shaping up as the murder trial to end all trials in Queensland with justice for Allison Baden-Clay hopefully only hours away.

via

A SCIENTIST who gave forensic evidence in the defence of Lindy Chamberlain says Allison Baden-Clay’s body would be telling the story of her death to detectives investigating her murder.

As police reveal they are close to an arrest, one of Australia’s best-known biological scientists, professor emeritus Barry Boettcher, said pathology results would be telling police what Mrs Baden-Clay can’t.

The mother-of-three’s body was found on the banks of the Kholo Creek at Mt Crosby on April 30, 11 days after she allegedly left her Brookfield home for a late-night walk.

She was reported missing at 7.30am the following morning by her husband, Gerard.

Her body was discovered by a passing canoeist, who spotted her lying on the bank of the creek under a bridge.

It is not known whether she had been there the entire time, whether she had been moved, or whether heavy rain in the days before the discovery washed her downstream.

Prof Boettcher said in many cases, it could be easily determined.

“When somebody dies, blood will pool to the lowest portions of the body depending on how they are positioned,” he said.

“If the body is then moved, that could be determined from the body being in a different position to where the blood has already settled if the blood is not appropriate to the new position.”

He said the blood would not re-pool if a body had been in a certain position for some days.

“Forensic people would readily be able to determine whether a body had been moved after several days,” Prof Boettcher said.

The professor said it was unusual to get useful information from under someone’s fingernails.

“Material under the fingernails would suffer from being in water but secondly – and I have specifically done a study on this – it is a beautiful spot for bacteria to grow,” Prof Boettcher said.

“Material under the fingernails will get digested from under the fingernails in just a few hours.

“I often scoff at television programs that show people being convicted on vital evidence obtained from under fingernails because it needs to be obtained very rapidly.”

He said it could take weeks for police to receive all the results from forensic tests.

Former lecturer and author of Crucial Errors in Murder Investigations Ted Duhs, who has worked with Prof Boettcher, said it was obvious police were working to eliminate various theories on the killer.

“A murder is about theories, who the perpetrator was, what the motive was and so on,” he said.

“I noticed the investigating detective said he did not believe it was a random killing – and if that is true then they have eliminated at least one theory.”

Detective Superintendent Mark Ainsworth confirmed this weekend that police did not believe Mrs Baden-Clay was killed by a random attacker.

“At this stage we don’t believe it is random,” he said.

“We believe that Allison may have known her attacker.”

Yesterday, Mrs Baden-Clay’s three daughters, aged 10, 8 and 5, had their first Mother’s Day without her.

My Poem dedicated to Allison by Robbo

Silly man, thought you could play
By making the wife just go away…

Weak and cowardly, you lied and lied
Knowing your kids mummy, had already died

You tried to hide and play so sad
Made everyone around you so very mad

Coward Clay, a poor excuse of a man
You are on your way to a prison van.

ALL VIDEO WILL GO HERE AT THE BOTTOM AS I ADD IT , FOR FORMATTING REASONS…THANKS

http://youtu.be/j-MsU_So4M0

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Bracken Bridge mother Noni Zischke found murdered -Husband Trevor Zischke Charged…TOWBALL USED


What a shocking situation for another family, this time in Bracken Ridge  Qld…More details to come, but we do know the husband was taken into custody after his car was intercepted on the Bruce Highway following the discovery of his wife’s body this morning…It is alleged he smashed her head with a towball and then stabbed her…A Despicable, gutless, cowardly act

UPDATE 10/05/12

Trevor Ernie Zischke, 53, of Bracken Ridge stared at the floor during his brief appearance in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today where he was accused of murdering his wife Noni, 55, in the bedroom of their home yesterday.

A MAN has faced court charged with the murder of his wife after he allegedly bludgeoned her about the head with a car towball before stabbing her with a knife.

Trevor Ernie Zischke, 53, of Bracken Ridge stared at the floor during his brief appearance in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today where he was accused of murdering his wife Noni, 55, in the bedroom of their home yesterday.

Zischke was arrested when police intercepted his vehicle a few hours later at Morayfield as he headed north towards the Bruce Highway.

Defence lawyer Adam Magill adjourned the case for a mention in June before his client was remanded in custody.

Zischke must go to the Supreme Court if he wants to seek bail, but outside court, Mr Magill said he had no plans to make that application.

“He’s in a terrible state, he’s both emotionally and physically devastated,” he said.

“It’s a tragic end to a very long relationship unfortunately.”

Police are expected to allege Zischke used the towball of a car to bash his wife in the head before stabbing her.

“The facts are very sketchy at this point in time but it does appear that the intention was for him to end his own life but he just couldn’t get to that stage,” Mr Magill said.

Despite the charge, he said Zischke’s family are still supporting him after engaging Mr Magill on Wednesday night.

He confirmed the 53-year-old would be on suicide watch during his time in custody and was more of a threat to himself than anyone else.

“I think there are definitely some mental health issues there. I think the gravity of the whole thing has just hit him now,” he said.

“He’s not in a good way. He’s really struggling with it.”
NEIGHBOURS are “heartbroken” by discovery of Noni Zischke’s body in a Brisbane home. Their reaction follows dramatic roadside arrest of her husband, Trevor  Zischke.

NEIGHBOURS are “heartbroken” by discovery of Noni Zischke’s body in a Brisbane home. Their reaction follows dramatic roadside arrest of her husband, Trevor Zischke.

Police found the body of Noni Zischke in her Bracken Ridge home shortly after 10am.

Neighbours described the mother of two as a “beautiful lady”.

Mrs Zischke lived at the home with her husband Trevor and adult son Tim. Their adult daughter Nicole had previously moved out.

Mr Zischke was intercepted while driving toward the Bruce Highway this morning.

He was driving a vehicle heading north.

Detectives, scenes of crime officers and forensic experts are at the Tallara St home.

Police cordoned off the street after being called to the double story brick house about 10.20am where they located the body inside.

Lathmahina said he had known the family since 1982.

“My wife and I, we went out shopping (about 9.45am) and when we came back the road was packed with cars and we were just wondering what was happening,” he said.

“We came back from shopping and (Tim Zischke) was already here with his sister Nicole.

“Trevor does the mowing. I help him out sometimes with fixing up the whipper snipper.”

Mr Lathmahina broke down as he described Mrs Zischke.

“I look at them just like my family,” he said.

“They were a very nice family.

“She’s a beautiful lady. She respect me. I respect them.”

Mr Lathmahina said he was “heartbroken”.

“It was just like a surprise,” he said.

“Where I come from (PNG) these is no such thing like this. We just help one another.”

Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

Detectives driving both marked and unmarked cars detained the man at the entry to the northbound exit onto the Bruce Highway off Buchanan Rd at Morayfield at midday.

He was fitted in a blue suit at the scene, likely in an effort to preserve any forensic evidence.

Police have cordoned off the exit and warned motorists to exercise caution.

Police were called to the double story Bracken Ridge home about 10.20am where the body of a woman was located inside.

John Myles Sharpe -Speargun Killer


Updated March 07, 2014 12:00PM

Speargun killer John Sharpe’s elaborate deceit and murder of his pregnant wife and toddler Gracie shocked Melbourne

Anna Marie Kemp with husband John Sharpe and daughter Gracie. This was the last picture t

Anna Marie Kemp with husband John Sharpe and daughter Gracie. This was the last picture taken of Anna and Gracie before they were reported missing. Picture: Ian Currie

JOHN Sharpe’s hands trembled violently.

Ambushed by journalists in the middle of a supermarket carpark, he begged for missing wife Anna and their little Gracie to come home.

The socially-inept Sharpe had been a notable absence from a press conference days earlier. Instead, two of his wife’s best friends had pleaded for information to find her and her 20-month-old daughter.

Sharpe didn’t feel comfortable or able to face the media, Detective Senior-Sergeant Steve Waddell said at the time.

Friend Jenny Young said Anna would never leave her husband and keep something of such magnitude to herself.

“It just doesn’t add up, it’s just so totally unlike Anna to leave and not have any contact whatsoever. I just wish she would get in touch,” Ms Young said.

There was no question police suspected foul play — and John Sharpe’s account of events was under scrutiny.

John Sharpe faces the media with his father Myles at their Mornington home.

John Sharpe faces the media with his father Myles at their Mornington home.

As Sharpe came increasingly under the police microscope, there was no escape from the media.

And those trembling hands — the ones that pulled the trigger on his 20-month-old daughter and pregnant wife — were giving him away.

A tearful Sharpe later faced the media, maintaining his wife had left him for another man and taken daughter Gracie with him.

While police expressed fears of the potential for a “chilling outcome”, Sharpe held a photograph of his daughter and told the world bold-faced lies.

Lie to me

Anna and Gracie were alive and well and living in the Chelsea area, he said.

And in another insult to his dead wife, he said the unborn child she was carrying was not his

“I haven’t harmed my wife or my daughter. I haven’t harmed either of them,” Sharpe said.

“Anna, our marriage may be over but I still love you and you are the mother of our beautiful daughter Gracie, whom we both adore more than anyone else,” he said.

“I know the current circumstances are very stressful for you and everyone concerned, including all our families, and that we are very private people.

“We need to resolve this.

“My biggest fear is being denied a part of Gracie’s future.”

 

Sharpe’s lies were written all over his face.

Sharpe’s lies were written all over his face.

Sharpe’s tears - with his family missing for more than two months at the time - were self

Sharpe’s tears – with his family missing – were self-serving.

His parents later invited the Herald Sun into their Mornington home.

Sharpe’s mother was left to do the talking while he repeatedly left the room.

“He’s now just getting more and more distressed. The anguish you can see in his eyes, just waiting for their return,” mum Valerie Sharpe said.

“We have got him home for that reason, so we can nurture him a bit.

“We love Anna very much, and Gracie, and we are desperately hoping to see them.

“It’s important for Anna to know we would welcome her back, too. We don’t want her to feel she can’t come back to the family.”

Sharpe said he and his wife had been in contact since their separation on March 23, 2004, but it had been several weeks since they last spoke.

“Initially she said she was in the Chelsea area but I don’t know if that’s still right or if it was ever totally right,” he said.

“I’ve got no doubt that they’re still alive.”

Photographer Ian Currie recalls Sharpe constantly going to look out the blinds and being comforted by his father Myles.

This was all part of an elaborate three-month charade Sharpe acted out.

It was a three-month hell for Anna’s family.

A copy of an email John Sharpe sent from Anna Kemp's email address to her family in New Z

A copy of an email John Sharpe sent from Anna Kemp’s email address to her family in New Zealand which was later released by authorities.

Sharpe sent his mother-in-law flowers for her birthday purporting to be from Anna, wrote letters to Anna’s friends, withdrew money from her bank account in the Chelsea area and made calls from her mobile phone to create the impression she was still alive.

Sharpe also created a false email using Anna’s name and email address and sent it to her brother in New Zealand. The email reported that Anna and Gracie were happy and had gone to live with another man.

Authorities released this image of Anna Kemp as family member’s worries increased.

Authorities released this image of Anna Kemp as family member’s worries increased.

Anna's mother Lilia Gebler pleaded with Herald Sun readers to help find her dauthter : Jo

Anna’s mother Lilia Gebler pleaded with Herald Sun readers to help find her daughter Picture: Jon Hargest

Anna’s mother Lilia Gebler became concerned when she tried repeatedly to get in touch with Anna. The pair were very close and spoke daily on the phone. It was not like Anna to cut off contact.

Ms Gebler pleaded with Herald Sun readers to help find her daughter.

“Words cannot do justice to how I feel about her disappearance and to see the pain of my two boys, who have been so brave, breaks my heart,” Lilia said in an open letter.

Days after Anna was murdered, Lilia’s mothers’ intuition told her something was wrong. She had been unable to get in contact with Anna and her phone discussions with Sharpe were only making her more concerned.

She spoke to a priest who put her on to Dunedin police.

Father Tony Harrison from Dunedin in New Zealand urged Ms Gebler to contact police. Pictu

Father Tony Harrison from Dunedin in New Zealand urged Ms Gebler to contact police. Picture: Jon Hargest

Constable John Woodhouse, from Dunedin, prepared a file and it was forwarded to Interpol.

“She (Anna) was not answering phone calls, she had not discussed with friends that she may have had another man in her life. I was running scenarios in my mind when looking at all the facts, what most fitted, and nothing fitted other than foul play.

“Once I put the file through, I did feel a burden really … my biggest fear was it wasn’t going to be handled with the urgency it deserved.”

Victoria Police began their investigation on May 20.

At Mornington, Sharpe deteriorated into a quivering mess and he began to avoid the media.

On June 20, his mother said he was on medication and his doctor had advised him not to make any more public statements.

Two days later, at 6.45am on Tuesday, June 22, police swooped, arresting Sharpe at his parent’s home.

John Sharpe leaves St Kilda Rd police station following his arrest for his wife and daugh

John Sharpe leaves St Kilda Rd police station following his arrest for his wife and daughter’s murders.

He was grilled for 11 hours, confessing to the murders of his wife and child.

The remains of Anna Marie Kemp, 42, and 20-month-old Gracie Louise Sharpe were found at a Mornington tip. The pair had been shot repeatedly with a spear gun.

And it was not long before the trembling husband earned the dubious nickname of the Mornington Monster.

Sharpe later told police he murdered his bubbly and strong-willed wife to end their loveless marriage.

He had been thinking about it for several months, complaining that his wife was controlling and moody.

Sharpe says he killed Anna to end a “loveless marriage”. Picture: Supplied

Sharpe says he killed Anna to end a “loveless marriage”. Picture: Supplied

He claimed Anna came between him and his large family, preventing him from seeing them as often as he would have liked.

But, as a judge said, Anna could not deny the claims and they provided no excuse anyway.

Sharpe even reported feeling threatened by his daughter.

Gracie — a gorgeous cherub of a child with her whole life ahead of her — became collateral damage in Sharpe’s callous plan.

“From the moment he killed (Anna), the accused began to have thoughts that he would have to kill Gracie in order to support his account,” a police summary tendered to Melbourne Magistrates’ Court said.

“The child belongs with the mother,” he later told police.

The case was so horrific that even 10 years later detectives don’t want to talk about it.

John Myles Sharpe, now 47, was one of six children.

Forensic clinical psychologist Ian Joblin told the Supreme Court that his childhood was marked by social problems.

The eldest boy in the family, Sharpe was very dependant on his parents and Mr Joblin believed he lacked the psychological resources to cope with the stressors in his life. He was withdrawn and had few appropriate social skills.

The family’s Mornington house was attractive and comfortable.

The family’s Mornington house was attractive and comfortable.

He was not happy at school and had few friends, a feature also of his adult life.

When he was 27, Sharpe met Anna, a New Zealander, at Commonwealth Bank, where they both worked. She was about 31 at the time.

Anna Marie Kemp on her wedding day.

Anna Marie Kemp on her wedding day.

Born in Dunedin on September 27, 1962, Anna was like a little doll. The middle child of three children, she was a deep, thoughtful and affectionate child.

At school she did well at sport, studying hard to achieve academic success.

Eternally generous, Anna sponsored two children in Africa When she left work “John Sharpe made her give them up”, according to Ms Gebler.

“She would give you the shirt off her back,” Ms Gebler said. “She would take people out if there was any sadness in their life.”

Anna moved to Australia when she was 26.

Sharpe and Anna were married in front of about 40 family and friends at St Thomas More Church in Mt Eliza on October 30, 1994, celebrating afterwards at Sutton Grange in Mornington.

Anna was every bit the beautiful bride.

Anna Marie Kemp and John Sharpe on their wedding day.

Anna Marie Kemp and John Sharpe on their wedding day.

But it was the start of a marriage utterly lacking in passion.

“She had Gracie right on the eve of her 40th birthday. I was so proud of her — that she had this little girl,” Gerald told the Herald Sun in 2004.

“She carried Gracie to term and it was like a miracle.

“We were all happy. I’m going, `My daughter has got a cousin. I’m an uncle’.”

Gracie was born in August 2002. She had a congenital hip displacement, requiring a harness for the first three months of her life.

“She cried often and had difficulty sleeping, which situation appeared to place some strain on your relationship with your wife,” Justice Bernard Bongiorno said.

Anna had three admissions to Peninsula Health for respite with Gracie to try to establish regular sleeping and eating patterns and to allay her own anxiety.

But Anna was a doting mum and little Gracie had everything a little girl could want for, and more.

Gracie had a doting mother.

Gracie had a doting mother.

Anna and a young Gracie.

Anna and a young Gracie.

When Anna discovered she was pregnant for a second time, Sharpe was not an enthusiastic father-to-be, considering that she had got pregnant without his permission.

When Anna had an ultrasound in February, 2004, and discovered she was carrying a baby boy, Sharpe did not go with her or even ask her what the result was, Anna’s brother Gerald told the Herald Sun.

“She came home and she wanted him to say, `What’s happened?’ and he didn’t,” Gerald said.

“He was indifferent. He didn’t bat an eyelid about what the results were. She got annoyed. He said, `You are going to tell me anyway’.

“It was then that she told him if he was going to be indifferent to this second child like he was with Gracie, she was going to leave him because she was fed up with his indifference.”

John Sharpe had always been cold, according to Ms Gebler.

“There was no affection. I have never seen him cuddle Gracie and I never saw him put his arms around Anna,” Ms Gebler told the Herald Sun at the time.

Forensic officers during the grim search for the bodies of Anna Kemp and Gracie Sharpe at

Forensic officers during the grim search for the bodies of Anna Kemp and Gracie Sharpe at the Mornington tip. Picture: Craig Hughes

Ms Gebler said after Gracie was born Sharpe became indifferent “and when he carried Gracie it was like he carried a log”.

“It was as if he resented that Gracie was around.

“She had a gorgeous personality, Gracie. It’s very strange really, quite strange.”

More than six weeks before Anna was murdered, Sharpe bought a high-powered speargun from a sports shop in Mornington. It was usually only sold with one spear, but Sharpe bought two, paying with cash.

He test-fired the weapon in his backyard at least once.

“You had never been interested in spear fishing and had no apparent use for this powerful weapon,” Justice Bongiorno said in sentencing Sharpe.

“You later told investigators that you were having thoughts of killing your wife at the time you purchased it, and that that was why you had done so.”

Two days before Anna was murdered, the family gathered to celebrate a nephew’s fourth birthday at a Moorooduc park.

Little Gracie laughed, played and posed for photos with her mum and dad.

“She had a marvellous day with her cousins,” Valerie Sharpe said. “We had a picnic lunch there.”

Sharpe said that on he night of March 23, he and his wife argued before going to bed.

He told police that Anna said she’d had a gut full and their marriage was a sham.

As Anna drifted off into sleep, Sharpe lay brooding.

“You had thoughts of killing her. After entertaining these thoughts for some indeterminate time you went to the garage, retrieved the spear gun which you had earlier bought and loaded it with one of the spears you bought with it,” Justice Bongiorno said.

Sharpe shot his wife twice while she slept before covering her body with towels so he would not have to look at her. He then went downstairs to sleep on a fold-out sofa.

“During this whole dreadful episode Gracie was asleep in another room.”

He later buried Anna’s body in a shallow grave in the backyard.

Forensic police at the Mornington home following Sharpe’s arrest. Picture: Trevor Pinder

Forensic police at the Mornington home following Sharpe’s arrest. Picture: Trevor Pinder

Four days later he killed Gracie in what he says was an act of “irrational bloody madness”.

After murdering his wife, Sharpe took the little girl with him to Sport Phillip Marine to buy another spear.

“There could have been only one reason for that purchase, which was carried out in circumstances of unspeakable callousness,” Justice Bongiorno said.

On March 26 he told the childcare centre where Gracie went that she would not be back.

The little girl was last seen alive by the owner walking away holding her dad’s hand.

“On the evening of 27 March 2004, according to your own account, you put Gracie to sleep in her cot and then drank a number of glasses of whisky and Coke to numb your senses to enable you to carry out your intention of killing your own baby daughter,” Justice Bongiorno said.

The manner of Gracie’s death is still hard for most to fathom.Picture: Ian Currie

The manner of Gracie’s death is still hard for most to fathom.Picture: Ian Currie

Sharpe later told police: “The child belongs with the mother.”

He shot Gracie four times with the speargun. The next day he wrapped her body in garbage bags and a tarpaulin and bound her with black duct tape.

“You then disposed of her body at the Mornington refuse transfer station, discarding at the same time the spear gun, the spears and some of her clothes and toys.

“Over the following week you systematically disposed of various items of property associated with Gracie by taking them to the transfer station.

“Thus you continued the deception you had already begun and which you maintained over succeeding weeks to create and maintain the impression that your wife had left and had subsequently taken Gracie with her.”

Sharpe also used a chainsaw to dismember Ms Kemp’s exhumed body and dumped her body at the Mornington refuse station.

The search of the Mornington tip was a huge undertaking. Picture: Craig Hughes

The search of the Mornington tip was a huge undertaking. Picture: Craig Hughes

When police later searched the Sharpes’ home, almost all of Anna’s clothes were missing and some of Gracie’s clothes.

But there were things that Anna and Gracie would have needed on a daily basis which were left behind at the house, from a baby seat to a high chair.

Police trailing Sharpe saw him retrieving a credit card from a plastic bag hidden in bushes near a Mornington toilet block.

The remains of mother and daughter were later found at a landfill site.

Anna’s brother Gerald Kemp says the murder of his sister and niece remains incomprehensib

Anna’s brother Gerald Kemp says the murder of his sister and niece remains incomprehensible. Picture: Jon Hargest

“When they were pulling her out of the tip, every morning I was crying into my coffee,” brother Gerald Kemp said.

“What he has done has hurt me to the very marrow of my bone. We would never have picked he would do what he’s done. How could you?”

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Lester Walton later told the Supreme Court that Sharpe was a dependant and passive person who was unable to confront problems.

Dr Walton believed that Sharpe reached the conclusion that killing Anna and Gracie was the only way to solve what he perceived were irresolvable difficulties in his family situation.

Sharpe gently rocked back and forward and was on the verge of breaking down when he pleaded guilty to the murders.

“Your killing your wife was no impulsive act of desperation,” Justice Bongiorno said.

“Secondly, there was the method of carrying out this crime. It was singular in its barbarity.

“Thirdly, there was the fact that your wife was pregnant. Your act effectively destroyed two lives, not one.

“Fourthly, there was the desecration of your wife’s body in the manner of its disposal as already described.

“Fifthly, there was the extensive charade in which you engaged to try to conceal your involvement in this crime. “

Sixthly, there is the effect that Anna’s death and the method of its occurrence has had on those closest to her.

“Finally, there was the enormous cost to the state of the investigation of the circumstances of Anna’s disappearance and the ultimate search for her remains.

“Gracie was a defenceless child for whom you had a legal and, more importantly, a moral responsibility and whatever your motive for killing Anna might have been, in Gracie’s case it was simply so that your first crime would not be discovered.”

Sharpe was sentenced to two life sentences with a minimum of 33 years.

shelley.hadfield@news.com.au

The cross marking the grave of Anna Kemp and daughter Gracie in Dunedin, New Zealand, omi

The cross marking the grave of Anna Kemp and daughter Gracie in Dunedin, New Zealand, omits Gracie’s original surname. Picture: Jon Hargest

MORE TRUE CRIME REPORTS:

IN FOR LIFE: VICTORIA’S DIRTY DOZEN

SUBURBAN PSYCHOS: LOVE ENDS IN A BARREL

HOLIDAY HORRORS: GREEK HOLIDAY’S BLOODING ENDING

HOLIDAY HORRORS: AUSSIES ‘JAILED FOR CRIMES THEY DIDN’T COMMIT’


 

A.K.A.: “The Speargun Killer” – “The Mornington Monster”

 Classification: Murderer

Characteristics: Parricide – Dismemberment

Number of victims: 2

Date of murders: March 23/27, 2004

Date of arrest: June 22, 2004

Date of birth: February 28, 1967

Victims profile: His pregnant wife, Anna Kemp Sharpe, 41, and their daughter Gracie, 20 months old

Method of murder: Spear gun

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 33 years on August 5, 2005

 

Sharpe Collage

 

John Myles Sharpe

WHAT do you say about John Myles Sharpe?

How do you reconcile the actions of a man who coldly and heinously speargunned his pregnant wife twice as she slept … and then four days later, killed his toddler daughter using the same speargun?

You can’t. And while the manipulative Sharpe serves out his 33-year sentence in protective isolation, he remains a figure of scorn and derision.

In early August 2005, Sharpe, 38, was sentenced to a minimum 33 years for the two chilling murders.

During the Supreme Court sentencing he sobbed uncontrollably, rocking back and forth.

But his outpouring of emotion was generally viewed as being more in self-pity than an expression of remorse for his victims.

Sharpe had planned his actions for some time, despite claims he’d been overtaken by madness.

After murdering his family in late March, 2004 Sharpe began his public ruse. Tearfully, he told of how Anna, his wife had left him and taken 19-month-old Gracie Louise.

His made emotion-charged pleas for them to come home, and to fill the empty void in his life created by their absence.

Using his unsuspecting parents as a backdrop, Sharpe also said he had nothing to do with their disappearances.

Little did the world know that two months earlier – on March 23 – he had taken a speargun from his garage, knelt next to Anna as she slept in the marital bed and fired a spear into her head, and then repeated it.

“Anna was asleep in bed and I used – used the spear and fired it – fired it into Anna’s head on two occasions,” he told police.

His simple explanation was that he’d been overcome by a sort of madness.

Sharpe said he left his dead wife in the bed, and then buried her in the backyard the next day.

She was five months’ pregnant.

Sharpe continued to care for little Gracie, but the child was clearly on borrowed time as her father mentally debated with himself if he should kill her.

Four days later, while Gracie lay in her cot he fired the speargun into her head. The shot did not kill her, and he recalled his wounded daughter looking at him in shock.

So he quickly gathered the two spears he’d used to kill Anna, and ended Gracie’s life.

He then dismembered her body, put the remains in garbage bags and took them to a landfill site on the Mornington Peninsula.

Later, Sharpe exhumed his wife’s body, dismembered it with a chainsaw, and returned to the same tip with the body parts.

The $99 electric chainsaw had been bought from a Bunnings Warehouse and the receipt would be a key piece of evidence.

Sharpe also kept up the pretence of wife still being alive by using her credit cards to purchase items, such as flowers.

He had also concocted various stories and accounts to cover his tracks. These handwritten notes or prompts were found dumped in bins outside a Mornington shopping centre.

While the evidence continued to mount against Sharpe, he maintained his innocence right through the investigation.

But on June 22, homicide detectives moved on Sharpe, convinced they had enough to prosecute him.

They charged him with two murders, even though the bodies had yet to be found.

After being arrested and taken to St Kilda Rd police complex, Sharpe eventually broke down and sobbed while he confessed his guilt.

Based on his admission, police then went to the Mornington tip where they recovered his family’s remains.

Sentencing Sharpe, Justice Bernard Bongiorno told him: “No doubt in the coming years the gravity of your actions will weigh more heavily on you.

“You may reach a state of genuine remorse: it is to be hoped that you do.

“A positive finding that you have done so yet, however, cannot be made.”

John Myles Sharpe is not due for release until 2038.

John Myles Sharpe (b. February 28, 1967), is an Australian currently serving life imprisonment for the murders of his wife and only child. The nature and events of the crime were in the words of the sentencing judge “too awful to contemplate“.

Early life

Sharpe met his wife, Anna Kemp, when they worked together at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Anna was four years his senior. They married in October 1994 and lived together in various locations around the Melbourne suburb of Mornington. Their daughter Gracie Louise Sharp was born August, 2002.

In 2003 Sharpe purchased a spear gun from a local dealer, plus a second spear. He had not previously been interested in spear fishing, and was known to have test fired the gun in his backyard only once.

On March 21, 2004, Sharpe and his family attended a birthday function for a nephew. Family members reported no arguments of any kind on this day.

Murder of Anna Sharpe

On March 23, 2004, Sharpe and his wife argued before retiring to bed about 10pm. He later left the bed and proceeded to his backyard garage to retrieve the spear gun. Returning to the bedroom, Sharpe fired the spear into his wife’s head at point blank range. Noticing his wife was still breathing, Sharpe fired a second spear into her head, killing her. He then covered the body in towels and went downstairs to sleep on a sofa. Next day, Sharpe attempted to remove the spears from his wife’s head but failed, removing only the shafts. He then buried his wife in a shallow grave in their backyard.

Murder of Gracie Sharpe

On March 27, 2004 Sharpe put Gracie to bed in her cot and then drank several glasses of whisky. He retrieved the spear gun from the garage, loaded it with a newly acquired spear which he fired at her head, penetrating her skull. With his child screaming loudly after suffering horrendous injury, Sharpe retrieved the two spear shafts which he had earlier removed from his wife’s head and returned to Gracie’s bedroom. He fired both into Gracie’s head, but realising she was still alive, he withdrew one spear from his child’s head and fired again, killing her.

Disposal of evidence

On March 29, 2004, Sharpe purchased a roll of duct tape, two tarpaulins and a chainsaw from a local Bunnings Warehouse store. The following day he exhumed the body of his wife and cut it into three pieces. He wrapped the remains in a tarpaulin and disposed of them in a nearby waste disposal site.

Missing persons

On March 29, 2004, Sharpe sent a forged e-mail to Anna’s family in New Zealand to create the impression Anna was alive and well. Rather than comfort the family, his e-mail raised further concerns, and Anna’s mother reported her disappearance to police in Dunedin.

Sharpe later told police that Anna had moved to nearby Chelsea with their daughter, and denied any knowledge or involvement in her disappearance. He also arranged for flowers in the name of his wife to be delivered to his mother-in-law on her birthday.

During May 2004, Sharpe gave several media interviews, and appeared on national television speaking of his wife and child’s disappearance. Sharpe said he had spoken to his wife a week earlier and he appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Arrest

On June 22, 2004 police arrested Sharpe. During his first interview he continued to deny any knowledge of their whereabouts, but in a subsequent interview admitted to both murders. Police undertook a massive search of the Mornington landfill site over three weeks, and both bodies were found.

Sentencing

On August 5, 2005 the Supreme Court of Victoria sentenced Sharpe to life imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 33 years, for the murders.

 

The Sharpe family murders was a March 2004 Australian double murder, in which John Sharpe killed his pregnant wife, Anna, and his nineteen-month old daughter Gracie, in the Melbourne suburb of Mornington. For his part in the crime, he became generally known as the ‘Speargun killer’ or the ‘Mornington Monster’.

Sharpe repeatedly fired a spear gun into the heads of his victims, and would later exhume the body of his wife, dismember her, then disposed of her body in a landfill. Claiming his innocence, he would later appear on national television in emotional interviews seeking information on his family’s whereabouts.

Sharpe eventually confessed to the murders and was sentenced in 2005 to life imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 33 years. He will be eligible for parole in 2037.

Background

John Myles Sharpe was born 28 February 1967 in Mornington and grew up in that area. Sharpe met his New Zealand born wife, Anna Kemp, when they worked together at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. They married in October 1994 – Anna was four years his senior. They then lived together in various locations around the Mornington Peninsula area south of Melbourne.

Their daughter, Gracie Louise Sharpe was born in August 2002. She was born with a condition called hip dysplacia – a congenital abnormality in her hips which required orthopaedic treatment by a corrective harness for the first three months of her life. She cried often and had difficulty sleeping, a situation which appeared to place some strain on the marriage. Even after the harness was no longer required, Gracie still had difficulties in feeding and sleeping for which Anna sought professional assistance.

In 2003 Sharpe purchased a high powered spear gun, along with a second spear, from a sports shop known as Sport Phillip Marine in Mornington. He had not previously shown an interest in spear fishing, but was known to have test fired the gun, in order to become familiar with its operation, in the backyard of their then Spinnaker Rise, Mornington home. Soon after, in September 2003, the Sharpes purchased the house at 116 Prince Street, Mornington.

In about November of that year, when Gracie was about 15 months old, Anna became pregnant again. Sharpe later told police investigators that this pregnancy came as a surprise to him. Sharpe apparently decided that he did not want another child – in his mind, one was enough of a burden – and he began to resent Anna and the unborn child.

Murders

Anna Kemp

On 21 March 2004, Sharpe and his family attended a birthday function for a nephew. Family members reported no tension or arguments of any kind on this day. On 23 March however, Sharpe and his wife argued before retiring to bed about 10pm. He later left the bed and retrieved the spear gun from the backyard garage. Returning to the bedroom, Sharpe fired the spear from a distance of a few centimetres into his pregnant wife’s left temple. Noticing his wife was still breathing, Sharpe fired a second spear into her head, killing her. He then covered the body in towels and went downstairs to sleep on a foldout sofa bed.

The next day, Sharpe attempted to remove the spears from his wife’s head but failed, removing only the shafts by unscrewing them from the heads. That same day Sharpe also took Gracie to and collected her from her childcare centre. He also lied to a TV serviceman who came to the house to prevent him finding his wife’s body which, at that stage, was still in the bedroom. He later buried his wife in a shallow grave in their backyard.

At some time between his wife’s death and the time he killed his daughter, Sharpe again went to Sport Phillip Marine (accompanied by his daughter) where he purchased another spear for the spear gun.

Gracie Sharpe

On 27 March 2004 Sharpe put his daughter Gracie to bed in her cot and then drank several glasses of whiskey and Coke in order to “to numb his senses”. He retrieved the spear gun from the garage, loaded it with a newly acquired spear and fired at her head, penetrating her skull. With his child alive and screaming loudly, Sharpe retrieved the two spear shafts which he had earlier removed from his wife’s head and returned to the bedroom. He fired both into Gracie’s head, but realising she was still alive, he withdrew one spear from his child’s head and fired again, finally killing her.

He returned to Gracie’s bedroom the next morning and pulled the spears from her head whilst holding a towel in front of his face, as he could not bear to look upon her. He wrapped her body in garbage bags and a tarpaulin and bound her with black duct tape. He then disposed of her body at the Mornington refuse transfer station, discarding at the same time the spear gun, the spears and some of her clothes and toys.

Aftermath and deception

On 29 March 2004, Sharpe visited a local Bunnings Warehouse hardware store in Frankston where he purchased a roll of duct tape, two tarpaulins and an electric chainsaw. The following day he exhumed the body of his wife and cut it into three pieces. He then wrapped the remains in a tarpaulin and disposed of them, along with the chainsaw, in waste collection bins at the Mornington Transfer Station.

On the same day he sent a forged e-mail to Anna’s family in New Zealand to create the impression Anna was alive and well. Rather than comfort the family, his e-mail raised further concerns, and Anna’s mother reported her disappearance to police in Dunedin New Zealand. Sharpe later told police that Anna had moved to nearby Melbourne suburb of Chelsea with their daughter, and denied any knowledge or involvement in her disappearance. He also arranged for flowers in the name of his wife to be delivered to his mother-in-law on her birthday.

During May 2004, Sharpe gave several media interviews, and appeared on national television speaking of his wife and child’s disappearance. In part of his appeal he said: “Anna, our marriage may be over but I still love you and you are the mother of our beautiful daughter Gracie, whom we both adore more than anyone else”. Sharpe then said he had spoken to his wife a week earlier and he asked for anyone with information to come forward. He however also maintained that she had run off with another man.

Arrest and conviction

On 20 May 2004, New Zealand police requested Victoria Police to conduct enquiries into the apparent disappearance of Anna Kemp and her daughter, Gracie. The same day police from Mornington attended the Sharpe home and spoke with him. On 10 June, he was again interviewed by police at Mornington but he maintained the story that Anna had left voluntarily on 23 March.

On 22 June 2004 police arrested Sharpe. During his first interview, this time at the Homicide Squad at St Kilda Road, he continued to deny any knowledge of their whereabouts, but in a subsequent interview, after speaking to his family, he admitted to both murders. He told police he killed his wife because she was “controlling and moody” and their marriage was unhappy. He told police “I was thinking of taking care or Gracie by myself and just amongst all this madness … that’s when I lost the plot”.

According to family members Sharpe may have also killed his wife because she discovered him abusing their daughter Gracie, some of his relatives believe. The claim comes as family letters reveal Sharpe had a history of abusing children.

Police undertook a massive search lasting three weeks of the Mornington landfill site, finally locating both bodies. Sharpe appeared in the Supreme Court of Victoria where he was arraigned and pleaded guilty to the murders of Anna and Grace Sharpe. On 5 August 2005 the Court sentenced Sharpe to life imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 33 years. Sharpe resides in protective custody while imprisoned due to threats on his life from fellow prisoners.

Media coverage

The Sharpe “disappearance”, appeals, confession, search, body recovery, and trial were all major news items in the Australian print and television media of the time. The murder also received general media attention in New Zealand, as well as by the New Zealand Police Force.

Sharpe’s murder spree was the focus of the 2005 Crime Investigation Australia Season 1 episode “The Mornington Monster”, in which the crime and Sharpes actions were reenacted.

The murders also appear in the 2005 book “12 True Crime Stories that Shocked Australia” by Paul Anderson, which “deconstructs twelve of Australia’s most intriguing and hideous crime cases”. Sharpe’s police confession is also highlighted in the 2008 book “Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis” 3rd ed. by Brent E. Turvey.

In August 2009, the case was again reviewed on the 60 Minutes programme “Unmasking the Truth” about human lie detectors who can unmask killers “tearfully pleading for help in finding a missing loved one. And all the time, they know their husband, wife, even their own child, is already dead.”

 

Speargun killer jailed for life

August 5, 2005

A Melbourne man who used a speargun to murder his pregnant wife and 20-month-old daughter has been jailed for life.

John Myles Sharpe, 38, breathing heavily, bowed his head and wiped his eyes as Victorian Supreme Court judge Bernard Bongiorno handed down two life terms with a non-parole period of 33 years.

The former bank worker turned conveyancer appeared unsteady on his feet throughout the judge’s sentencing remarks.

Sharpe pleaded guilty in February this year to the murders of Anna Kemp 41, and 20-month-old Gracie Sharpe at their home in Mornington on March 23 last year.

He killed Ms Kemp with two speargun shots to the head as she slept.

Four days later he murdered his daughter with four speargun shots.

Justice Bongiorno said Sharpe’s killing of his wife was “singular in its barbarity”.

Sharpe had murdered his daughter “simply so that your first crime would not be discovered”, the judge said.

The court was told Sharpe dismembered his wife’s body with a chainsaw and placed the remains and his daughter’s body in waste collection bins at the Morning Transfer Station.

Sharpe pretended his wife had left him for another man and taken their daughter, and appeared on television expressing his concern.

Justice Bongiorno, who imposed two life sentences, said Sharpe had been fully aware of what he was doing.

His crimes were “egregiously wicked”, he said.

He said Sharpe had told police he had been brooding about his unhappy marriage.

The judge said psychiatrist Dr Lester Walton had described Sharpe as “socially inept, dependent, passive and a retiring individual who was unable or reluctant to confront problems”.

Sharpe believed the only way of solving his marriage difficulties was to kill his wife.

Anna Kemp’s mother broke down as she watched the sentencing with other family members via a video link from the southern New Zealand city of Dunedin.

Sharpe’s elderly parents today described his crimes as “horrific”.

Valerie Sharpe read from a prepared statement outside the court as husband Myles placed an arm around her.

She cried as they walked from the court.

“John’s crimes were horrific, and he will serve the sentence given,” Mrs Sharpe said.

“He has given himself a life sentence for what he has done, and he will live with this for the rest of his life.”

Mrs Sharpe also described the months following the double murder as a very stressful and traumatic time for both families.

One of Mr Sharpe’s nieces, naming herself only as Amanda, issued a statement today saying it was on behalf of “non-supportive family members of John Sharpe”.

“(We) would like to say that John’s crimes have stolen three beautiful and precious lives,” Amanda said.

“We also send our heartfelt condolences to Anna’s family in New Zealand, whose pain and suffering is tremendous.”

Amanda also thanked police in Victoria and New Zealand for pursuing the case.

Victoria Police homicide squad detective inspector Steve Francis said today it had been a “long and sometimes physically and emotionally difficult investigation”.


Mother’s remains uncovered

By Jamie Berry, Andrea Petrie – TheAge.com.au

July 7, 2004

Human remains believed to be those of Anna Marie Kemp, the pregnant Melbourne mother at the centre of a double murder investigation, have been found at a Mornington rubbish tip.

A police team scouring massive mounds of garbage at the Rockleigh Stone tip made the discovery about two metres below the surface at 11.30am yesterday.

The find came three months after the disappearance of Ms Kemp, 41, and her 20-month-old daughter, Gracie Louise Sharpe. A search for the remains of the child is expected to resume today.

Police in white jumpsuits and face masks were seen gathered around what appeared to be a blue zipped body bag at the tip in Balnarring Road yesterday afternoon.

Homicide squad detectives believe the bodies Ms Kemp and her daughter were wrapped in blue tarpaulins and taken to a rubbish transfer station on the Mornington Peninsula before they were dumped at the tip.

Police confirmed last night that “items of interest” found at the tip were human remains, but declined to say if they were those of Ms Kemp or her daughter.

A police statement said further testing was required to identify the remains.

However, The Age believes the remains were those of Ms Kemp.

The discovery came after a week-long search of the rubbish tip.

Ms Kemp’s husband and Gracie’s father, John Myles Sharpe, has been charged with their murders.

An out-of-sessions court hearing last month was told that Sharpe, of Prince Street, Mornington, had made “full and frank admissions” to the murders after earlier stating in public that he did not kill the pair.

Detective Inspector Steven Francis of the homicide squad said Ms Kemp’s relatives in New Zealand had been notified after the discovery of an “item of interest” at the tip.

A police chaplain, Reverend Jim Pilmer, visited the scene and Inspector Francis said a forensic pathologist also gone to the tip to analyse the findings.

Police began searching through massive mounds of rubbish at the tip, also known as Devilbend Landfill, at Tuerong, 60 kilometres south of Melbourne, on Tuesday of last week.

With the aid of heavy machinery, officers used shovels, rakes and other tools to sift through a narrowed-down area of 2500 square metres.

While bad weather forced the search to be called off several times, police said they remained confident they would find the pair’s remains.

“It’s been quite a difficult search in these conditions. They are most unpleasant,” Inspector Francis said. “The search will continue here at the landfill until investigators are satisfied that there’s no further benefit to the investigation.”

The police officers are also searching for other evidence that may be linked to their murder, including a speargun and a chainsaw.

Ms Kemp was five months pregnant when she was reported missing in March.

Police believe Ms Kemp was murdered on March 23 and Gracie was killed four days later at their Prince Street home.

John Woodhouse, the New Zealand policeman who helped uncover the murder, said last night he felt incredibly sad for Ms Kemp’s family, with whom he had become close.

Though he had not been officially told of the find, Constable Woodhouse said he hoped it was Ms Kemp for the sake of her family.


R v Sharpe [2005] VSC 276 (5 August 2005)

In the Supreme Court of Victoria

At Melbourne Criminal Division

THE QUEEN v JOHN MYLES SHARPE

HIS HONOUR:

1 John Myles Sharpe, you have pleaded guilty to two counts of murder. It is now the duty of this Court to sentence you according to law.

2 The purpose of these sentencing remarks is essentially twofold. Their first purpose is so that you will fully understand the reasons for the sentence the Court is about to impose upon you. Their second purpose is so that the community which you have grievously injured and in whose name you will be imprisoned may be informed of the full extent of your offending and of the details of the sentence imposed upon you according to the law of this State. As your plea of guilty has obviated the necessity for a trial, it is important that the details of these crimes be placed on the public record even though, as your counsel has properly conceded, they are perhaps, for many, too awful to contemplate.

3 You were born on 28 February 1967 in Mornington and grew up in that area. When you were 27, you met Anna Marie Kemp, a New Zealander, who was then aged about 31. You both worked at the Commonwealth Bank. You married Anna Kemp in October 1994 and between then and the time of the dreadful events which have brought you before this Court you lived with her at various addresses in the Mornington Peninsula area.

4 In August 2002 a baby girl, Gracie Louise Sharpe, was born. Unfortunately, shortly after her birth, she was found to be suffering from a congenital abnormality in her hips which required orthopaedic treatment by way of a corrective harness for the first three months of her life. Although it was expected that she would experience no long term problems associated with her abnormality, she was, in her first few months at least, somewhat unsettled. She cried often and had difficulty sleeping, which situation appeared to place some strain on your relationship with your wife. Even after Gracie’s orthopaedic harness was no longer required she still had difficulties in feeding and sleeping for which Anna sought professional assistance. In November 2002, she attended Hillview Maternity Unit of Peninsula Health complaining of being unable to cope and of feeling anxious. Subsequently she had three in-patient admissions for respite with Gracie to try to establish regular sleeping and eating patterns and to allay her own anxiety.

5 In September 2003, you and Anna purchased a house at 116 Prince Street, Mornington, and in about November of that year, she became pregnant again. You later told police investigators that this pregnancy came as a surprise to you.

6 Some time before you moved to Prince Street with Anna and Gracie you purchased a high powered spear gun from a sports shop known as Sport Phillip Marine in Mornington. Although the actual date of this purchase is unknown, it is clear that it was in your possession prior to 6 February 2004, that is to say some 61/2 weeks before it was used to murder your wife and daughter. Although the spear gun was usually sold with one spear, you bought a second spear at the same time as you purchased the gun. You paid cash for this transaction, leaving no trace of its having occurred.

7 After you bought the spear gun, you kept it at your then home at Spinnaker Rise, Mornington, where, on at least one occasion, you test fired it in the backyard in order to become familiar with its operation. You had never been interested in spear fishing and had no apparent use for this powerful weapon. You later told investigators that you were having thoughts of killing your wife at the time you purchased it, and that that was why you had done so. Shortly after purchasing the spear gun you moved to your new home in Prince Street.

8 On the evening of 19 March 2004, a female friend of your wife stayed the night in your new home. She noticed nothing untoward in your relationship with your wife and subsequently described her as having appeared happy.

9 On Sunday, 21 March 2004, you, Anna and Gracie went on the Mornington to Moorooduc steam train with other members of your family for a picnic to celebrate a nephew’s birthday. Again, nothing untoward in your behaviour or that of your wife was noticed by any of the many people present.

10 On Monday, 22 March 2004, Anna took Gracie to her childcare centre in Mornington and returned for her at noon. On the same morning she telephoned her mother in New Zealand. Anna gave no indication at the childcare centre nor to her mother that anything was wrong. Again, during the same afternoon, she arranged to meet a friend on the following Friday, 26 March. She noted this appointment on a calendar she kept for such purposes at your home.

11 At 8.24pm on the evening of 22 March 2004, another friend of your wife telephoned her at home and had a long, and apparently normal, conversation with her. The following day, at about 2.00pm, Anna phoned her private health insurance fund and enquired as to adding her unborn baby to her health cover. That mundane matter of personal business was the last known interaction between your wife and another adult human being, apart from you, before her death.

12 The only account of the events immediately surrounding your wife’s death and that of Gracie comes from what you eventually told police investigators. That the most important parts of your account are true may be confidently accepted even if there may be some doubt about matters of detail. It is with some concern that I recount these events but, for the reasons already advanced, it is important that they be placed on the public record.

13 You told police that it is probable that on the evening of Tuesday, 23 March you and Anna argued, although you could not recall any specific subject of such argument. You both went to bed at about the same time, between about 9 and 10 o’clock. Anna went to sleep but you did not. You lay awake next to her, brooding on what you regarded as your unhappy marriage. You had thoughts of killing her. After entertaining these thoughts for some indeterminate time you went to the garage, retrieved the spear gun which you had earlier bought and loaded it with one of the spears you bought with it. You returned to your bedroom and shot your wife in the left temple with the spear gun from a distance of but a few centimetres. She did not stop breathing so you fired a second spear into her head, in the same area as the first. This action killed her. You immediately covered your wife’s body with towels so that you would not have to look at her, closed the bedroom door and went downstairs to sleep on a foldout sofa bed. During this whole dreadful episode Gracie was asleep in another room.

14 The next day, you attempted to remove the spears from your wife’s head. Being unable to do so, you unscrewed their shafts leaving the spear heads embedded where they were. You later buried your wife’s body in a shallow grave in the backyard and commenced to act out an increasingly elaborate charade to cover your participation in this crime. This deception lasted for three months until you finally confessed to police on 22 June.

15 The story you invented to explain Anna’s disappearance involved a pretence that she had left you for another man. To add verisimilitude to it you engaged in activities, many of which were extremely callous, to mislead others, particularly your wife’s family, as to the truth.

16 The day after your wife’s death, you took Gracie to and collected her from her childcare centre. You lied to a TV serviceman who came to your house to prevent him finding your wife’s body which, at that stage, was still in the bedroom.

17 On the following day, 25 March 2004, you told two of your wife’s friends that she had left you but could be contacted on her mobile phone. You did not take Gracie to childcare that day, but on the following day, the Friday, you did and told the staff there that as you and your wife had separated, she would not be attending again. You telephoned your mother-in-law in New Zealand in response to messages she had left for your wife on your answering machine. You told her that Anna had left you for another man on the previous Tuesday and that you did not know where she was. You said that you expected her to return to collect Gracie on the following Sunday.

18 In fact, as you later told police, from the moment you killed your wife you began to have thoughts that you would have to kill Gracie to maintain your façade of innocence with respect to Anna’s murder. Indeed, at some time between your wife’s death and the time you actually killed your daughter, you took her with you to Sport Phillip Marine whilst you purchased another spear for the spear gun. There could have been only one reason for that purchase, which was carried out in circumstances of unspeakable callousness.

19 On the evening of 27 March 2004, according to your own account, you put Gracie to sleep in her cot and then drank a number of glasses of whisky and Coke to numb your senses to enable you to carry out your intention of killing your own baby daughter. At about 9.00 or 10.00pm, you retrieved the spear gun from the garage and loaded it with the newly acquired spear. You went to Gracie’s bedroom where she slept in her cot and fired the spear gun at her head. You may have closed your eyes before you did so. The spear struck her head on the left side and penetrated her skull. But Gracie did not die. She screamed loudly with the spear still embedded in her skull. You told police that you then went downstairs and retrieved the two spear shafts which you had removed from your wife’s head earlier that week. You returned to Gracie’s bedroom and, using the spear gun, fired these two steel rods into her head; but even these further assaults did not achieve your purpose, so you pulled the first spear from your daughter’s head and fired it again. Only then did this defenceless child die.

20 You returned to Gracie’s bedroom the next morning and pulled the spears from her head whilst holding a towel in front of your face, as you could not bear to look upon the child you had so cruelly killed. You wrapped her body in garbage bags and a tarpaulin and bound her with black duct tape. You then disposed of her body at the Mornington refuse transfer station, discarding at the same time the spear gun, the spears and some of her clothes and toys.

21 Over the following week you systematically disposed of various items of property associated with Gracie by taking them to the transfer station. Thus you continued the deception you had already begun and which you maintained over succeeding weeks to create and maintain the impression that your wife had left and had subsequently taken Gracie with her.

22 On the day you disposed of Gracie’s body you phoned your mother-in-law and told her that Gracie was now with Anna in a “bigger and better place.” You also made a call using Anna’s mobile phone and made the first of several withdrawals from her bank account at an ATM in Chelsea using her card. Between then and 15 May 2004 you made a number of calls using Anna’s mobile phone to maintain the impression that she was still alive.

23 On 29 March 2004, you created a false email using Anna’s name and email address and sent it to her brother in New Zealand. This email set out the scenario you invented to explain her failure to contact her family. It sought to create the impression that she had ended her marriage to you to be with another man to whom she was pregnant, and that she was well and happy, as was Gracie. Far from allaying the Kemp family’s fears, this email heightened them. Anna’s mother reported her daughter as a missing person to police in Dunedin. Subsequently you assured a New Zealand police officer in a phone call that Anna had left with Gracie and was living in the Chelsea area. You gave the police officer Anna’s mobile phone number.

24 On Monday, 29 March 2004, you went to Bunnings hardware store in Frankston and bought a roll of duct tape, two poly tarps and an 1800w Homelite electric chain saw. A day or so later you exhumed your wife’s body from its burial place in your backyard and, using the chain saw, cut the body into three pieces, wrapped those pieces and disposed of them, the chain saw and everything else you had used, by depositing them at the Mornington transfer station. From there they were taken, in the course of the transfer station’s operations, to a landfill site elsewhere on the Mornington Peninsula.

25 Over the succeeding days and weeks you disposed of the blood stained mattress from your bedroom, wrote letters to Anna’s friends and sent false emails to family members. You arranged for flowers to be sent to your mother-in-law as if from your wife, with greetings for her birthday and Mother’s Day.

26 Meanwhile, Anna’s family became very concerned for her welfare and on 20 May 2004, New Zealand police requested Victoria Police to conduct enquiries into the apparent disappearance of Anna Kemp and her daughter, Gracie. The same day police from Mornington attended at your home and spoke to you. You told them that your wife had left on 23 March and that she had returned and collected Gracie the following weekend. You said you believed they were living in the Chelsea area but did not know the actual address. She had returned to Mornington a number of times, you said, to collect clothing and personal belongings. You made a written statement to police denying any involvement in Anna’s disappearance or that of Gracie.

27 In your statement you said that you and your wife had experienced marital disharmony for some time before she left and that eventually she told you that she wanted to separate and that there was another man to whom she was pregnant. You said this conversation occurred on the Tuesday after you, Anna and Gracie had been on the steam train family outing. This day was, of course, as you later confessed, the day you killed your wife.

28 You said that on the same night Anna left your home she took various personal items with her and that she left in a car with someone else. You said she did not take Gracie but said she would come back for her. Your statement went on to detail how she returned the following weekend and took Gracie away with her and that you had only seen them on about three occasions since.

29 Covert surveillance of your activities by police over subsequent days led to their observing you retrieving a credit card from a plastic bag hidden in bushes near a toilet block in Mornington. You were also observed discarding possibly incriminating material in a garbage bin at Mount Martha, a bayside beach not far away.

30 In late May you allowed yourself to be interviewed on television more than once. These interviews were widely broadcast and reported in newspapers. You spoke about the disappearance of your wife and daughter, expressed concern for Gracie and said that you had spoken to Anna about a week earlier. You denied to journalists that you had harmed either of them. Thus you extended the fraud you had already perpetrated on Anna’s family and friends to the wider Victorian community.

31 On 10 June, you were again interviewed by police at Mornington by way of a long recorded interview. You maintained your story that Anna had left voluntarily on 23 March.

32 On 22 June, you were arrested by police and again interviewed, this time at the Homicide Squad at St Kilda Road. Two interviews were conducted. In the first, you continued to deny your involvement in your wife and daughter’s disappearance. However, after speaking to your family after this interview, you were interviewed again and admitted to both murders.

33 In the second of your interviews on 22 June, you said that your marriage was unhappy, and that your wife was controlling and moody. You claimed she came between you and your family and siblings and prevented you from seeing them as often as you would have liked. Whether such claims have any truth or not now matters not at all. Anna cannot deny them. They provide neither justification nor excuse for anything that you have done.

34 Over a period of three weeks late in June and July 2004, an extensive search of a landfill site on the Mornington Peninsula where refuse from the Mornington transfer station was dumped was undertaken by a large number of police and other searchers. The remains of both Anna and Gracie were found and subsequent pathology examination at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine largely corroborated your confession as to how they died and how you disposed of their bodies.

35 Your family background, which can be gleaned both from various witness statements and from what you told Mr Ian Joblin, a forensic clinical psychologist who examined you for the purpose of giving evidence before this Court, was unremarkable. Your parents are alive as are your four older sisters and a younger brother. None have any criminal or anti-social histories. Your parents, now retired, were shopkeepers in Mornington.

36 You acknowledged to Mr Joblin that your childhood and early adult years were marked by social problems. You were not particularly happy at school and had few friends. You completed Year 12, although you did not pass the examinations.

37 Upon leaving school, you were employed by the State Bank and subsequently by the Commonwealth Bank. You remained in that employment until 2002, when you resigned to go into a conveyancing business with a somewhat older friend with a view to taking over the business upon his retirement. Coincidentally, your leaving the bank coincided with the day of Gracie’s birth, 13 August 2002.

38 You had not apparently suffered any serious health problems at the time of the events giving rise to this case, although you consulted a general practitioner, Dr Andrew Kotsimbos, in the weeks immediately before 23 March 2004 complaining of disturbed sleep patterns. You were prescribed sleeping tablets of two different types with little effect and the doctor discussed with you the possibility of your having an underlying depressive illness. Eventually, Dr Kotsimbos did diagnose depression but that was only after a consultation on 1 June 2004, when your history to him included the false story of Anna’s having left you. He found that you were then agitated and were suffering from poor memory and concentration. These findings are not surprising having regard to the stress you must have been under as a consequence of having persisted, for over two months, in a public falsehood concerning the fate of your wife and daughter.

39 Dr Lester Walton, a forensic psychiatrist, examined you on two occasions whilst you were on remand. He described you in much the same way as your counsel did, as being socially inept, dependant, passive and a retiring individual who was unable or reluctant to confront problems. His view was that you perceived irresolvable difficulties in your family situation and that you reached the conclusion that the only solution to these difficulties was to kill Anna, and subsequently, Gracie. He thought that although many of your actions since committing these crimes suggested the opposite, you have made some expressions of remorse within the limits imposed by your underlying personality.

40 Dr Walton offered the opinion that these killings were “irrational” although he could find no evidence that you were suffering from any frank psychiatric illness. I presume that by “irrational” he meant that you considered the killing of your wife and, later, your child were the only options you could see to relieve a state of desperation you considered yourself to be in. As evidence of this irrationality, Dr Walton recounts your speaking of feeling “threatened” by your daughter – a situation which is, of course, objectively absurd.

41 Although you described to police a feeling of being “another person” when you were committing these murders, Dr Walton considered that this was not a description of hallucinations indicative of psychosis, but a degree of what he termed “dissociation of personality.” He thought that you were “afflicted by a clinically significant depressive disorder prior to the killings, although seemingly not of very major proportions”.

42 When Dr Walton saw you on the second occasion, in April this year, he noted that you were then being held in a special unit at Barwon Prison and periodically required close observation and special treatment because of suicidal tendencies consequent upon the depression you were suffering.

43 As far as your risk of re-offending is concerned, Dr Walton considered that the fact that you have no prior convictions, let alone any for violence, was probably the most reliable of a number of unreliable predictors for future violence. He considered that violent behaviour in people of your personality generally arises out of a set of particular circumstances which are unlikely to be repeated. Accordingly, he thought it unlikely you would re-offend. In this respect you are not unlike the vast majority of murderers who never repeat their crimes.

44 Mr Ian Joblin, to whom reference has already been made, has also examined you on two occasions. Based on the history you gave him, information he obtained from members of your family and a perusal of the documentation in this case, he formed the opinion that leading up to the birth of Gracie you were in a somewhat fragile psychological state. He considered you to be an inadequate, isolated and withdrawn individual. You had few appropriate social skills and few friends. He thought you were very dependant on your parents and lacked the psychological resources to cope with the stressors in your life, your marriage, the arrival of a child and your change of career from employed bank officer to being self-employed in your conveyancing business.

45 Mr Joblin considered that by late 2003 or early 2004 the matters referred to, the difficulties Gracie experienced in her early months and Anna’s announcement that she was pregnant again caused you to attribute your difficulties to her. You told Mr Joblin that Anna was “killing you” and he interpreted this as having two possible meanings; that you thought she was killing you psychologically or that your depression was causing you to be sometimes suicidal. It was in this psychological turmoil that you bought the spear gun and began contemplating, if not deciding upon, killing your wife.

46 Mr Joblin agreed with Dr Walton that you were not psychotic at the time you committed these offences, nor should you be diagnosed as having an anti-social personality disorder. However, he considered that the offences did not occur in a psychological vacuum but that at the time of their occurrence you were in a state of considerable psychological abnormality. In his oral evidence, Mr Joblin agreed with the proposition that his conclusion as to your having a significant abnormality is no more than appropriate acceptance that anyone who could do what you did must have been abnormal.

47 Mr Joblin’s view as to your behaviour in attempting to divert suspicion from yourself in respect of your wife’s death was that that behaviour became virtually an intellectual exercise for you. He said you found discussion of the issue of remorse too difficult to engage in although by the time of his second consultation with you he thought that you were very aware of what you had done.

48 The purpose of psychological and psychiatric assessment of people in your position is not to seek to excuse criminal behaviour although, in some cases, where psychosis or similar conditions are diagnosed, it may lead to that result. It is rather to provide a sentencing court with as much relevant information as possible to carry out its task of imposing an appropriate sentence. If such assessment enables a court to reach a firm conclusion as to why a particular offence has been committed it is in a better position to impose a just sentence. In your case, the assessments of Dr Walton and Mr Joblin lead to a conclusion that you were not suffering from any psychiatric illness or any identifiable psychological abnormality at the time you committed these offences but that you were the subject of psychological stressors to which you reacted in an abnormal manner. As Mr Joblin said, to have chosen the behaviour you did itself indicates abnormality. Such a conclusion neither justifies nor excuses your conduct. It throws but little light on the question of why an otherwise law abiding member of society would do what you did when legal mechanisms, however imperfect, exist to settle matrimonial disharmony without recourse to violence. That what you did was egregiously wicked cannot be gainsaid even if it is more difficult to reach the same conclusion as to your subjective moral culpability beyond reasonable doubt. However that may be, your preparations for these crimes and your attempts to hide their perpetration, as well as the method you chose for carrying them out, strongly support a conclusion, for sentencing purposes, that you were at all times fully aware of what you were doing and that what you were doing was objectively wrong.

49 The Court has before it a number of victim impact statements including statements filed by Anna Kemp’s mother and her two brothers. These statements attest to Anna’s family’s love for her and her daughter and their shattered expectation of the birth of her second child. The effect of Anna and Gracie’s deaths, the manner of their occurrence and the lengths to which you went to disguise your involvement in them, including the slurs you cast on your wife’s character in the course of doing so, have all had a devastating effect on her family and some members, at least, of yours. These victim impact statements, insofar as they contain relevant and admissible information, have been taken into account in fixing your sentence.

50 The fixing of an appropriate sentence requires the Court to have regard to a number of statutory and common law principles. First, it must take into account the maximum sentence prescribed by law; in this case life imprisonment. Having done so, it must consider the need to punish you to an extent and in a manner which is just in all the circumstances. The sentence fixed must have regard to the principles of general and specific deterrence, your possible rehabilitation, denunciation by the Court of the type of conduct in which you engaged and protection of the community. The Court must have regard to any matters which aggravate the commission of the offence in respect of which sentence is to be passed and of any facts which might mitigate the requirement for condign punishment in any given case. A separate sentence must be fixed in respect of each offence being considered.

51 With respect to the murder of your wife, Anna Kemp, there are significant matters of aggravation. First, there is the question of premeditation. Whether you formed an intention to kill her when you bought the spear gun or when you tested it in your backyard some time before 23 March as the Crown submitted, you had certainly formed that intention when you went to your garage on the evening of that day, retrieved it, loaded it and returned to your bedroom. Your killing your wife was no impulsive act of desperation.

52 Secondly, there was the method of carrying out this crime. It was singular in its barbarity. Thirdly, there was the fact that your wife was pregnant. Your act effectively destroyed two lives, not one. Fourthly, there was the desecration of your wife’s body in the manner of its disposal as already described. Fifthly, there was the extensive charade in which you engaged to try to conceal your involvement in this crime. Sixthly, there is the effect that Anna’s death and the method of its occurrence has had on those closest to her. Finally, there was the enormous cost to the State of the investigation of the circumstances of Anna’s disappearance and the ultimate search for her remains.

53 Against these aggravating factors you are entitled to have taken into account your previous good character, including your lack of prior convictions and your ultimate confession to this crime, including your plea of guilty which obviated the necessity for a perhaps lengthy trial which would have significantly increased the anguish of Anna’s family and those others affected by her death. You are entitled to have consideration given to the matters deposed to by Dr Walton and Mr Joblin as to your psychological state immediately prior to the commission of the offence and any effect that that might have had on your subjective moral culpability.

54 Your counsel urged the Court that remorse should be found in your ultimate confession to the investigators followed by your plea of guilty. She pointed to the comments of Dr Walton and Mr Joblin on this topic, qualified as they were.

55 Remorse is an elusive concept. A confession and a plea of guilty will not always denote its existence. They may be as consistent with the existence of a strong Crown case as with repentance. In your case, although your actions during and after the commission of these crimes would tend to suggest a lack of any concern for what you had done, at least until 22 June last year, Mr Joblin’s assessment that you were well aware of the gravity of your actions indicate the commencement of a contrition process. No doubt in the coming years the gravity of your actions will weigh more heavily on you. You may reach a state of genuine remorse; it is to be hoped that you do. A positive finding that you have done so yet, however, cannot be made.

56 Finally, your time in prison, especially in the early years of your sentence, is likely to be marked by hostility and even violence from fellow prisoners which, in turn, is likely to lead to your having to be isolated, thereby making the ordeal of incarceration particularly onerous.

57 With respect to the murder of Gracie, all of the aggravating and mitigating factors referred to are equally applicable except, of course, the fact of your wife’s pregnancy. However, there are further significant aggravating factors in Gracie’s case which are not present in the case of your wife. Gracie was a defenceless child for whom you had a legal and, more importantly, a moral responsibility and whatever your motive for killing Anna might have been, in Gracie’s case it was simply so that your first crime would not be discovered. Having regard to these additional factors, it would have been logically possible to impose different sentences for each of these offences. However, distinctions at this level of heinousness invite unseemly comparisons which are, in the circumstances, unnecessary.

58 The most significant principles in the sentencing process in this case are punishment and the condemnation of the community of these offences. Fortunately, crimes of this nature are rare so that general deterrence has little role to play in sentencing and specific deterrence and the protection of the community would be relevant, on the evidence, only if your former domestic circumstances were to be replicated. Having regard to the sentence which is to be imposed this is so unlikely as to render those principles of little significance in this case.

59 Having regard to all the considerations in the sentencing process the aims of sentencing in this case can only be appropriately met by the imposition of sentences of life imprisonment on each of the two counts of murder to which you have pleaded guilty.

60 The law of this State requires a court sentencing an offender to fix a non-parole period as part of the sentencing process unless it considers that the nature of the offence or the past history of the offender makes the fixing of such a period inappropriate. The Crown Prosecutor submitted that no non-parole period should be fixed in this case. He based this submission on what he said were the overwhelming aggravating factors to which reference has already been made. His argument was that, in effect, where the aggravating factors are as significant as they undoubtedly are in this case any mitigating circumstances, normally required by law to be taken into account, are completely obliterated and have no effect on the sentencing process. He referred to cases in which Courts of Appeal have adverted to the possibility that even sentences of life imprisonment without parole might be appropriate in some cases. He submitted that this was one such case.

61 Whilst the prosecutor acknowledged the usual mitigating effect of a plea of guilty he said that it should not have that effect in this case. Even had the case required a trial the secondary victims of these crimes, that is to say your wife’s family, would not have needed to be involved in any such trial so that they have been spared nothing by your guilty plea. Nor he said should the saving to the State be considered having regard to the enormous cost of the investigation bought about by your perfidy. Further, in the circumstances your prior unblemished record should not carry sufficient weight to support the fixing of a non-parole period. He argued that you should never be released from prison.

62 To give effect to the prosecutor’s submission the Court would have to reach a firm conclusion that it was inappropriate in your case to fix a non-parole period in this case. Such is the effect of statute law.

63 The prospect of imprisonment without the possibility of release removes one of the most significant incentives to rehabilitation. It removes any basis for hope of ultimate release. In your case, having regard to your age, such a sentence could well involve your serving 40 to 50 years in prison without any prospect of regaining your liberty no matter how much you change, whether as a result of the ageing process caused by the effluxion of time, or the inevitable effects of being institutionalised over a long period. In the circumstances, when these matters are taken into account together with your prior good character and the fact that you pleaded guilty, albeit after a long period of deception, the Court is not satisfied that despite your horrendous crimes all hope of ultimate release should be denied to you.

64 It must be remembered that the fixing of a non-parole period does not mean that you will be released upon its expiration. It does mean however that you will serve every day of it without the possibility of any remission. Upon its expiration you will be entitled to have your case considered by the Parole Board or such other executive body as is by then concerned with such matters. It will determine whether you should then be released, no doubt informed by reports of your conduct whilst in prison. It is more appropriate that the question of whether you should ever be released is determined then in that manner rather than by this Court today. The imposition of life sentences for each of these murders will be ameliorated in your case by the fixing of a non-parole period.

65 It is the sentence of the Court that on the count of having murdered Anna Marie Kemp you be imprisoned for the term of your natural life and on the count of having murdered Gracie Louise Sharpe you be imprisoned for the term of your natural life. It is further ordered that you serve a minimum of 33 years in prison before being eligible for parole. It is declared that a period of 409 days has been served by you as pre-sentence detention in respect of this sentence and it is directed that this declaration and its effect be entered in the records of the Court.

 

 

Ex CFA trainee Brendan Sokaluk guilty of Black Saturday arson deaths-DPP APPEALS SENTENCE


DPP appeals sentence handed to Black Saturday arsonist Brendan Sokaluk

AND SO THEY SHOULD, HE SHOULD GET THAT FOR EACH DEATH, NEVER TO LEAVE JAIL.WHAT SORT OF MESSAGE DOES IT SEND? An arsonist would get the same for burning down a Bunnings store  in the middle of the night with no deaths….Extremely inadequate…

UPDATE 30/05/12

THE Director of Public Prosecutions has appealed the 17-years and nine-month maximum – with 14-year-minimum – sentence imposed on one of Victoria’s worst killers, Black Saturday arsonist Brendan James Sokaluk, arguing the jail term was “manifestly inadequate”.

The Churchill fire which Sokaluk started, by deliberately throwing burning paper out his car window on the 46.3C day, killed 10 people, destroyed 156 homes and burnt 36,000ha.

Sokaluk, 42, was found guilty by a jury of ten counts of arson causing death over the February 7, 2009 blaze and was sentenced in April by Supreme Court judge Justice Paul Coghlan.

With almost three years already spent on remand, Sokaluk, a one-time CFA volunteer, would have been eligible for parole in just over 11 years.

Each count of arson causing death carries a maximum 25 years jail.

In delivering his sentence, Justice Coghlan cited Sokaluk’s autism spectrum disorder, but said in the jury’s verdict they had dismissed his claims the fire was started by accident after Sokaluk said he used a napkin to dispose of a burning ember from his cigarette.

 

Brendan Sokaluk is taken into the Supreme Court in custody before his sentence.

Read the Royal Commission report into the Churchill blaze

Expert evidence during the trial showed the paper could only have ignited the blaze if already burning when thrown from the vehicle.

Justice Coghlan said Sokaluk also tried to divert attention by making an insurance claim on his car the day after the fire and sending an email to Crime Stoppers claiming to have seen a DSE firefighter starting the blaze.

At the time of sentencing, the judge said the law did not seek to place a value, in terms of sentence length, on each life lost.

Listen to Justice Coghlan sentence Sokaluk

“For the victims, these were and are life-changing events and no sentence that I impose can in any way compensate for their loss,” Justice Coghlan said.

“The law, through me, does not intend to put a value on a life in those terms. Each life is precious . . . not just to the victim but to the community as a whole.”

Listen to Sokaluk’s Triple-0 phone call

 

Killed were brothers David and Colin Gibson, who died defending their parents’ property at Glendonald Rd; Annette Leatham, at her daughter’s property on Cooks Rd, Callignee; Alfred Frendo and his son Scott, caught in or near their vehicles near the family home in Old Callignee Rd, Callignee; Martin Schultz, as he sought refuge in his ute in a creek bed while trying to drive from his home at Factory Rd, Callignee; and Allan and Miros Jacobs, their son Luke and Luke’s friend Nathan Charles at the Jacobs’ property at Traralgon Creek Rd, Koornalla.

The DPP appeal for a longer sentence will be heard in the Court of Appeal on a date to be fixed.

Patrick Carlyon: The boy who played with fire

 
View Sokaluk’s path of destruction in a larger map

 

Watch Brendan Sokaluk’s explosive police interview where he admits to starting the fatal Churchill blaze that killed ten people and returns…

Arsonist’s confession

A jury today found Brendan Sokaluk guilty of starting the devastating Churchill bushfire that took the lives of 10 people on Black Saturday.

It is believed no one else in the state’s criminal history has killed more people.

Sokaluk, 42, looked confused but showed little emotion when the jury foreperson announced “guilty” as each of the 10 counts of arson causing death were read out in the Supreme Court today.

Sokaluk looked round the court, chewed his lip and twitched nervously.

Victims who lost family members and friends in the inferno were in court to hear the verdict and they smiled and hugged each other.

Sokaluk will face a pre-sentence plea hearing on a date to be fixed but his lawyer announced as she left court that it was likely he would appeal the verdicts.

Asked how Sokaluk was feeling Jane Dixon SC said “Shattered, of course”.

“I think he’s a bit lost at the moment,” she said.

During the trial Ms Dixon painted a picture of a harmless individual, a “simpleton” whose autism set him apart from others in the community.

“He’s a bit of a misfit really, but nevertheless he muddled along in his own way muddled along OK with a bit of help from his mum and dad, comfortable enough with his own company, his dog, his hobbies, his obsessions,” she told the jury in her summing up.

But the Crown painted a different picture.

A man who deliberately drove to bushland and started a fire on a day that had temperatures that reached nearly 45C and ended with a 70km/h wind change that blasted the fire front across the homes of his victims.

A man who was calculating enough to lie about his reasons for being in the area, to try to cover his tracks and to point the finger at others.

The trial before Justice Paul Coghlan was told people in the Churchill area thought Sokaluk was a weirdo and called him” beanie boy” and other names and as soon as locals learned he was in the area where the bushfire erupted he became the prime suspect.

And he knew it.

Listen to Sokaluk’s 000 call

Sokaluk was questioned by police five days after Black Saturday and took part in a reconstruction of his movements on the day and in a later four-hour record of interview told detectives he had “done it accidentally”.

He gave an explanation that a piece of ash dropped from a cigarette as he was driving along a dirt road and he scooped it up in a napkin and threw it out of his car window.

This led him to believe he had started the inferno that consumed 36,000ha and destroyed 156 homes.

The case against Sokaluk was circumstantial. No one saw him light the two fires at the junction of Glendonald Rd and Jelleffs Outlet, about 3km from Churchill fire station.

Prosecutor Ray Elston SC told the jury it was the Crown case that Sokaluk tried to disguise his crime by claiming to police that it was an accident, lying about his reasons for being in the area and trying to point the finger at others.

Police managed to piece together Sokaluk’s movements on Black Saturday almost to the minute from phone records, witness accounts, shop receipts and CCTV footage.

In the morning of Sokaluk picked up his father Kazimir in his distinctive sky blue Holden HJ and the pair drove to Morwell and Traralgon, visited auto and hardware stores, had lunch at KFC and bought lottery tickets.

Kazimir Sokaluk said Brendan’s car was playing up and “running rough” but against his advice his son said he was “going up into the trees” because it was cooler there.

Sokaluk also said he wanted to get a chisel set back from a friend named Dave who lived in that area.

At 1.16 pm Sokaluk was in the IGA store in Churchill where he bought cigarettes before heading off into the Jeeralang Hills.

Within 15 minutes a fire erupted in the hills and witnesses said that in tinder dry conditions the inferno tore through the bush seawards towards Yarram.

Later in the day a devastating wind change forced the fire to burn back on itself and in the hours following 10 people died.

Sokaluk pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of arson causing death and two counts of causing a bushfire, over the blaze in Gippsland on February 7, 2009.

The Crown called 80 witnesses and its case was a mosaic of evidence that pointed to the guilt of Sokaluk.

Mr Elston told the jury the accused had no reason to be in the area that day and if he was going to see Dave, who was home, he never got there.

“Why did he travel on a dirt road to get out there?” Mr Elston said to the jury in his summing up. “Why did he drive off that dirt road on to a graded track on the south side of Glendonald Road?

“That is obviously the wrong side of the road for someone going east. He he chooses (a track) one on the right-hand side closest to the eucalypts.”

Read the Royal Commission report on the Churchill blaze

Sokaluk admitted to police he was the only person in the area just before the fire started and the jury heard a 000 call he made to report the fire and in which he told an operator “it’s getting big”.

A short distance from where the fire started Sokaluk’s car broke down and he was spotted at the side of the road by a Churchill CFA truck and then later picked up by a couple who drove him back to town.

Neighbours saw Sokaluk on his roof watching the progress of the fire and for some never explained reason he later walked back into the fire area.

A resident found him in his back yard and told him to shelter in his house a few minutes before the returning fire storm passed.

The jury saw a pathetic picture of Sokaluk with a garden hose in his hand taken by the resident.

Mr Elston said Sokaluk told a number of differing stories about his reasons for going to the hills and performed several incriminating acts, including making a false anonymous report to Crime Stoppers from his home computer blaming a DSE worker.

Ms Dixon told the jury it was a “finely balanced circumstantial case” against her client and Crown case was not “bullet proof”.

Ms Dixon said people who knew her client described him as a “lights out and no-one home” type of personality.

But the technical term was that he had autism spectrum disorder, a neuro developmental disorder which affects his communication, executive processing and his sensory perceptions.

In her summing up Ms Dixon told the jury to reject the prosecution case that Sokaluk was a calculating and cunning liar.

“Frankly Brendan Sokaluk would not be capable of calculating his way even out of a paper bag unless he had a map,” Ms Dixon said.

“He’s not retarded, he’s not dumb in that sense, but he’s certainly not in terms of autism, he’s not some Rain Man character”.

But the jury rejected the notion Sokaluk was an innocent victim of circumstance and who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He was a killer who brought death and devastation to his own community and left a vile legacy for LaTrobe Valley that will never be forgotten or erased.

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