Murder of Anita Cobby

Anita Cobby

Anita Lorraine Cobby (2 November 1959 – 2 February 1986) was a 26-year-old Australian registered nurse and beauty pageant winner. She was abducted from Blacktown, and raped and murdered at nearby Prospect, on the evening of 2 February 1986. Five men, including three brothers, were convicted of her murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, never to be released.

On the day of the murder, Cobby finished work at Sydney Hospital at 3pm and met friends for dinner in Redfern, Sydney. She then caught a train from Central Station to Blacktown Station. Aside from her killers, only two witnesses saw her after she left the train – a young brother and sister who witnessed the abduction taking place. Their older brother upon return home was told and unsuccessfully attempted to chase after the car.

Cobby was walking alone along Newton Road, Blacktown around 10pm, when the gang of five youths drove up alongside her and stopped their stolen Holden Kingswood. Two men leaped from the car, dragging her kicking and screaming into the car. She was ordered to strip off her clothes but refused, begging her attackers to let her go, saying she was married and that she was menstruating. Her attackers continued to punch Cobby repeatedly, then drove to a service station to purchase fuel using money stolen from Anita’s purse. She was then driven to a secluded paddock, while being held down in the car and raped and beaten by her five attackers. Cobby was reported missing by her family on 3 February. Her body was found in a farmer’s field on 4 February.

Hunt for the killers

On 6 February, the NSW State Government posted a $50,000 reward for information leading to the capture of her killers. On 9 February, police re-enacted Cobby’s movements on the night of her disappearance in the hope of jogging the memories of travellers or others who may have witnessed her movements. Constable Debbie Wallace wore similar clothing to Cobby and travelled the 9:12 p.m. train to Blacktown. Detectives interviewed the passengers and showed them photos of Cobby whilst Constable Wallace walked the length of the train during the journey.

Following a tip-off from a police informant regarding a stolen vehicle, police started searching for John Travers, Michael Murdoch and Les, Michael, and Gary Murphy after they discovered that some of them had a history of violence and Travers had a reputation for carrying a knife. On 21 February, police found and arrested Travers and Murdoch at Travers’ uncle’s house and Les Murphy at Travers’ house. Murdoch and Murphy were charged with offences relating to stolen cars and released on police bail. Travers, who admitted that he had stolen a car, had also made conflicting statements about the murder. He was detained in police custody.

While in custody, John Travers requested that a friend be called so she could bring him cigarettes. The phone number was handed to the investigating police who contacted the friend, a woman. The woman agreed to help with the investigation, met with an officer, and gave him details of Travers’ background. The woman, who became known as Mrs. X, talked to Travers and he confessed the crime to her. Mrs. X was subsequently sent back in to talk to him with a recording device, with which she was able to obtain a confession.

Eventually, five men were arrested and charged with the murder. Police were praised for their quick response in capturing all suspects involved. In total, 22 days had elapsed from the time of the murder to the time all suspects were taken into custody.

The accused

The five accused suspects had over fifty prior convictions for offences including armed robbery, assault, larceny, car theft, breaking and entering, drug use, escaping lawful custody, receiving stolen goods and rape.

anita cobby murderers

Four of the five men charged with the murder of Anita Cobby arrive at the Westmead Coroners Court, 13 March 1986. Four of the five men charged with the murder of Anita Cobby arrive at the Westmead Coroners Court, 13 March 1986.

John Travers

Main article: John Travers

John Raymond Travers, the eldest of eight children, was considered the ring-leader of the gang of attackers.

Michael Murdoch

Michael Murdoch was a childhood friend and criminal associate of Travers. Murdoch had also spent a great part of his childhood in juvenile prisons where he experienced sexual assaults. He was known to write to politicians during this period of imprisonment seeking protection from such assaults.

The Murphys

Les, Michael and Gary Murphy, brothers from an Irish family of nine children, were also accused of the crime.

Michael Murphy

Murphy was 33 at the time of the murder. He was the eldest of the nine Murphy children. Murphy was sent to live with his grandmother when 12 years of age.

Gary Murphy

Gary Murphy was five years younger than Michael Murphy. Hearing impairment affected Gary Murphy’s schooling and he left early to seek work. He was noted as being an able and willing worker before the crimes. His strong interest in cars led to him facing several car theft related charges in the years before the murder. Gary was also known to have a very violent temper.

Leslie Joseph Murphy

Les Murphy was the youngest of the Murphy children, but was known as having the worst temperament. He had faced Children’s Court on many occasions for a number of theft-related offences before being accused of the Anita Cobby murder. He was 24 years old at the time of the murder.

The trial

The trial began in Sydney on 16 March, 1987. Before proceedings began, Travers changed his plea to guilty. Sydney newspaper The Sun published a front page story on the day the trial began, carrying the headline “ANITA MURDER MAN GUILTY” alongside a large image of Travers. A follow-up story in the same paper detailed Michael Murphy’s recent escape from Silverwater Correctional Centre, where he was serving a 25 year sentence for a string of burglaries and thefts, and his criminal convictions. The jury was discharged.

The trial for the remaining members of the gang lasted 54 days, with the men’s defence relying on convincing the jury of their minimal involvement in the beating and murder. On 10 June 1987, all five men accused of the murder were found guilty of murder. On 16 June, 1987, they were sentenced in the Supreme Court of New South Wales to life imprisonment plus additional time, never to be released. Justice Alan Maxwell described the crime as “One of the most horrifying physical and sexual assaults. This was a calculated killing done in cold blood. The Executive should grant the same degree of mercy they bestowed on their victim.”


Cobby’s parents were the founders of the Victims of Homicide Support Group, a community support group that helps families deal with heinous crimes. They also campaigned in seeking tougher sentencing and truth in sentencing laws which eventuated after Anita Cobby’s murder. Cobby’s father Garry Lynch died on 14 September 2008, aged 90, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

A September 2006 episode of Australian television series Crime Investigation Australia featured the Anita Cobby murder. A July 2010 T.V episode of Australian Families Of Crime, titled, Blood Brothers ,Murpheys, Murdoch And Travers also featured the Anita Cobby murder.

A park in Sullivan Street, Blacktown was named Anita Cobby Reserve in memory of Cobby.

58 thoughts on “Murder of Anita Cobby

  1. Hello my name is Michelle, and im doing a assignment for legal studies on the case of Anita Cobby and i was wondering of there was any more information you have that i can have a look at..
    Michelle Marshall

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leigh Johnson was Gary Murphy’s lawyer. She was the Zarah Garde-Wilson of that era. Young, attractive, and got a bit too close to her clients.

      She cried when Cobby’s killers got life.


      • Anita Cobby’s killers got it rather easy. To live in prison till they die. Too easy in fact. How about slicing off John Traver’s arms for a start. Breaking his skull with a steel bar and smashing his face in for what he has done 30 years ago.


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  3. I was only 12 when i remember when this horrific crime happen i have read the book someone eles daughter a few times and these dogs should spend the rest of there lives in jail and should be bashed and hang like the dogs they are i say anybody from the jail they are at please for anitas sake bash the fuck out of them dogs if they were in a Queensland jail we would have got them by know. GOD BLESS ANITA COBBY


  4. absolute dogs… monsters like these deserve to have done to them what they did to poor Anita! i cant farthem how one human being can so such horrific acts to another human being!! i hope they live a extreamly painful life and rot in hell!!!


    • rumour has it that Les Murphy isn’t rotting in hell.. he is out of prison and has been living comfortably in Cranebrook NSW for the past year under another name!


      • I wuld like to know where you get ur facts from.Never to be released rotting in Goulburn check it out, so get ur facts right before u speak bullshit!


  5. This is why the death penalty is appropriate. The ripple effects of this violence lasts far, far longer than just what the identified victim endured. Even if there is a so-called ‘Life Sentence’ there is a good chance criminals like this will eventually be let out and you are condemning some innocent person in the future to be another victim: an example is the Lawrence Singleton case in the USA; he was in his 70’s committing his last sex murder. We repeatedly hear the spurious bromide that to execute makes us no different than the murderer. Anyone who equates a state execution of murderers like this to the acts the murderer commits on innocent victims has a broken moral compass and lacks the moral and physical courage to do the right thing. To them I say, if you can or won’t do the what’s necessary, then you are part of the problem.


  6. Talking about rumours this one is true 2 of the killers have had colostomy bags after they were beaten up by an inmate years ago they’ve been crapping through a bag for years.Those freaks will die in jail come on wardens hold back on the food and slowly starve them to death I’m waiting.


    • I agree they r monsters to do that to another human been is beyond ME! Les is not out of prison on parole fuck use need to get ur facts right &this shit about him living under diff name in Cranbrook seriously they will only get out in a body bag fools careful what u right if u dnt know….. Never to b realeased get it!!


    • U r stupid which to & use ur write name u must of been in boneyard get ya facts write how many murphy r there all up? There never to b released so dnt hurt the victims by talking SHIT…..


  7. The parents of those Murphy brothers,Travers & Murdoch must have gone into hiding knowing they conceived absolute sickening evil for sons how on earth could anyone connected to this scum be able to sleep soundly at night the families must be all interbred throwbacks from the back blocks of bankstown you can tell they are useless and were never going to fit into mainstream society just by looking at their ugly freaky heads they should have been drowned at birth. They were ticking time bombs and the people connected to them knew and didn’t alert the public until it was too late they are just as bad scum breeds scum its a vicious circle.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was 18 when that happened and I still remmebr it like it was yesterday. I grew up in seven hills and worked in blacktown and remember my parents and other making curfews and checking on us all the time as we ran around those streets till all hours..😦


    • How traumatic for you Sharon as well as every decent person that cared in your area unfortunately 27 yrs later and we are still disturbed and talking about it. I am sad and annoyed that the killers outlived Anita’s parents because its just not fair that they still had the privilege of breathing all these years maybe our only hope of closure will be when these killers finally die the question still remains.


  9. I went to school with Anita knew her very well in my teenage years in fact she was the girlfriend of my best friend .A lovely girl who had a bad word for no one. Too clever for a lot us she never let on. Just let us do our own thing and smiled reassurangly.She deserved much more out of her life.


      • And as for the murderers defence lawyer she was nothing but a kinky lowlife scumbag that fancied her clients as mentioned above she cried when the cobby killers got life. It would be great if a current affair could track her down and ask her a few questions on why she fell in love with evil, see how she handles that because the past can come back to haunt her because some of us don’t forget.


  10. First of all NO NEED TO SWEAR and second of all they r not dogs they r worse then dogs. Dogs are at least cute and can be loved and they don’t do no harm but those sons go a cow have absolute no heart and they are sick in the head so there u have it. Rest in peace Anita cobby


  11. Yes I do think that the death penalty should be reintroduced. with D&A forensics the way they are now there is less chance that innocent people would be put to death. I remember the time Anita was killed like I imagine a lot of other people do. It’s not right to keep savage killers alive.


  12. I was in the area where Anita died today. It has a big cyclone fence now, no access, no cows and is overgrown. The street name has also changed. There sitting on the fence was a dried out bunch of red flowers, others still pay homage to an angel. Not forgotten. Again I stopped and sat still for a while, I can’t begin to describe the overwhelming heaviness that is still there.


    • I can only imagine being in that place and the feeling of sadness.

      I will never forget that crime, the search for the pigs that committed it, and the utter degrading torture and murder of that poor woman Anita Cobby.

      They were depraved animals before this crime and proved so afterwards laughing at every opportunity.


  13. I too, grew up in Seven Hills and I will never forget the terror these animals put upon our little town. I was 11 yrs old, playing in the caravan with my cousins at my grandparents house when heard and saw the choppers and the lights above us while they were searching the housing commission blocks the street behind us. We were terrified and were all ushered into the house and had granddad locked everything up. I will never forget the horrible feeling and the absolute anguish over how that beautiful woman left this world. The terror and desperation she must have felt in her last moments would be indescribable. God bless her brave parents and family. There must not be a day that passes that they do not miss her terribly. These animals deserve everything they get in jail. May they rot in hell.


  14. I too, remember this well. I spent my childhood in Blacktown, but moved interstate as a teenager. That weekend I was in Blacktown to visit my mother. I later recalled I was parked on the opposite side of the train station in Main Street around 9.30pm -10pm. I happened to be there because I was set to drive the 6 hours to get home, and I’d had a headache most of the day that wouldn’t quit. Back then, the train station was on the left after you came into town over the bridge that crossed over the railway. There was a small offshoot/island where the local buses (Rowes buses from memory – orange and white) would pull into just outside the train station. I still recall it wasn’t very busy that night – a few people around. I pulled into where the buses parked (traffic could also drive there) drove around the small island, and made a right-hand turn on Main Street. I parked in front of the Chemist that was opposite the station. I didn’t hear about Anita’s murder until some days later when I was back at home. It was only then that I realised I was in the vicinity about the time Anita would have left the train station. I often wondered if I didn’t have a headache that night – would I have noticed something? Because I knew one of the Murphy brothers from sight – I went to the same high school (Doonside). Even then, it was obvious there was something very wrong with the Murphy’s and the friends they kept. I sincerely hope none of them are ever released – people like that don’t change.


    • I knew some of the family – one of their nieces married a relative of mine and they kept the secret of their family history until the divorce. The entire family scam money from people and they live on welfare yet they can afford luxe holidays. They mostly live in Glebe and Pyrmont as housos. Looks like the mental issues didn’t skip any generations- their tempers are scary.


  15. I think of anita often, didn’t know her and I have never even been to Australia, I live in England. These men are absolutely hideous individuals. I sometimes wonder if they had their lives again would they do the same? If not why? because they wouldn’t have chose to grow old in prison? Or because they have realised anita didn’t deserve to die and they feel remorseful for her family? Suppose we will never know. I feel for everyone In the community having to have these gremlins living amongst them for as long as they did.


  16. There is the Death Penalty for Drugs in some countries………… So why do we not value Life in the same way??? Come on People get things into perspective……….!!!


  17. When I get a moment Anita …my thoughts are filled with the memory of the night that you endured. A painful, horrific death unimaginable. Your beautiful face and your sweet smile is etched in my heart and I shall never forget you. May you rest in peace in Heaven.


  18. Savage animals in the wild …look for a weakness in their victims. It could be youth and its unaware frailty, incapacitation ( an injury , a physical weakness , a lack of strength ), old age, or in Anitas case…a goodness that was blind and unexposed to the horrific savagery awaiting her – that was their element of surprise – the fact her upbringing and family,friends,schooling, work associates – had never introduced her to such brooding ,gloating,cruel evil. Her introduction to this unjust bullying – at the hands of weaklings who are so emotionally crippled they must congregate in packs and hunt for unaware victims – was her only brutal exposure – her cruel end. To think these cowards were 5 against 1….these are the numbers needed for these inept beings to gratify their destructive urges. Their mothers should have had vasectomys rather than have 9 and 8 children respectively – as if having more than 1 would make the next one a better human being than the last…like perfecting a cake by baking more.. .The difference being a dud cake gets thrown in the bin….society was left to suffer their mothers propensity to procreate – purely bad , emotionally challenged ,morally,ethically fractured animals – just waiting to unleash on society the pain they figure they endured on a society unprepared for their pathetic brutality to one unarmed , helpless woman – Anita Cobby.
    I wonder what would have happened if the brothers – having found the car one of them saw at Newton Road , parked at Prospect – had climbed through the barbed wire fence and searched for her in the knee high grass . Would these animals have scurried to hide their identity like the cowards they are – then saving Anita from further brutality – or killed them also – thereby performing a triple murder.
    Does this thought go through the minds of the 2 brothers and 1 sister who saw Anitas abduction then searched for the car.
    This murder horrified me as a young man living in Sydneys tough inner west where men still got drunk on Friday night with that weeks pay in their pocket. I watched the life they were trying to forget with alcohol and their friends company at the local pub – merely get magnified by booze as they angrily walked home.The difference was – these people didn’t murder, rape,humiliate innocent women – to gratify the cruelty they learnt as children.lmbalanced.Beasts.
    Nobility was to be seen in the Cobby Family. Her parents were balanced, measured in their reaction .Their reaction was not to match Anitas perpetrators savagery with equal threats of hatred and retribution. They calmly tried to raise awareness , money for charity ,to work with the community to overcome this horror , but to remember Anita , so this death was not in vain.
    Women are thankfully much more aware , cautious.But the ultimate reason more abductions and rape, sometimes murder – continually occur – is because as decent people we are taught to be friendly , kind – and these animals know what horror they will inflict – it’s premeditated – our guard is not up.They prey on societys kindness – they see it as a weakness.

    In 2000 the Lebanese gang rapes occured in Sydney. Only 9 of the 15 perpetrators were imprisoned. Leaving 6 shielded by their families and friends – and free. This concerns me…they got away with gang rape.So they must think these actions towards – what – (in the act of rape – and uttered in Arabic by the ring leaders mother in court ) – women / victims of rape – were described as – ” Australian sluts “.
    So the ring leaders own mother taught him to disrespect Australian women as a sub species, inferior, to be hosed down after raping .Disturbing. No remorse from him….or…his mother and father.l would strongly consider relocating this family back to Lebanon – as clearly they view the majority of Australian women as worthy of hate crimes.He will re – offend. Prison will not cure his ill thinking.
    Only 8 women reported being raped by this is historically evident that the public shame of admitting being raped hides the majority of cases – the mind boggles at how many more occured.
    It still happens .We must work harder to stop mens cowardice in violence to women.
    Anity Cobby must never be forgotten.
    Bless her struggle to live for she had much love in her life…much reason to live.


  19. Anita….as a woman myself and after hearing your story many years ago I still feel sick to my stomach today at the thought of what these horrendous, in-humane, disgraceful, pathetic, weak, disgusting, scum of the earth cowards put you through. I hope their lives in prison are hell and their deaths are extremely long, slow and torturously painful.

    RIP Anita. X


    • So sad her death.Such torture was inflicted on her …that death made her never need to relive her horror…in trial…that is the only saving grace. They chose her as an animal choses its prey…she was alone…vulnerable…taken.
      She was spotted being abducted by a brother and sister as they rushed from their home …to answer her screams. Their older brother arrived home shortly after …and went looking for the car. He found it …but thought it was the wrong model. At this moment…Anita was being held hidden in knee high grass as they waited for the car to leave…he had a searchlight scanning the tall grass.
      He must live with his decision not to walk in this grass looking for her…but l feel he too would have died…if he chose to look further.
      Like you …this death of hers…both sickens and never leaves me…l am a man…unable to comprehend these animals retribution towards her…for their own troubled lives…Anita was brought up by remarkable parents…who were steadfast in their resolve both during …and after these animals were committed to life.


  20. Its 30 years since Anita Cobby died. That 30 year gap will not bring solace and comfort to her family. John Raymond Travers, the Murphy brothers etc. rightfully deserve to be dealt with by I.S.I.S, as killers like that five will understand what it means to swallow their own medicine. Probably John Travers would lose both his hands which is a step in the right direction. He slit Anita’s throat so he deserves to have his arms cut off. Force all five responsible for Anita’s death to convert to Islam. Sitting in prison until they die is water on a duck’s back. Australia is paradise for killers and rapists. Iraq is the best place for such persons. Send them to the Middle East with no return to Australia, for what they did.


  21. I had friend that worked in jail & what he told me i could imaging what would happen to these crubbd if they were in main stream,
    They wouldnt be worth a peace shit.
    I hope they rott in jail,& never to be released.


  22. Abused, mutilated and killed like some chicken. Treated Anita Cobby like some sex toy first. John Travers, the Murphy brothers. All five murderers sit locked up in prison, wasting taxpayers’ money in those 30 years.They’re probably sitting pretty in jail, watching videos and having great meals. Travers slit Anita’s throat, so chop his arms off. Cut off body parts of the Murphy brothers too to let them “get the feel of things !” With an electric saw, slice off John Travers privates ! Its still not too late. If it was Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s president , he would have blown the brains out of those five criminals’ heads. Probably tortured them first. Indonesian police would have subjected them to severe torturing too. Bashing them up real hard with steel batons. They’ve brought grief, mental suffering and mental torture to Anita Cobby’s family over these 30 years. So why should they just exist behind bars ? John Travers should be forced to have sex with a pig !


    • Not that l know of…but l read he raped a 17 year old boy in mandurah W.A. just months before he killed Anita….this boy was brutally raped by travers with a knife to the boys throat ( see how sexual predators continue their crimes – getting more brazen as they escape penalty ). Three cowards watched and one took polaroid photos – this boy was awaiting results of an Aids Test…results came back after travers raped him…positive. So l am hoping travers has Aids and will die soon.


  23. Pingback: Details Of What Happened To Anita Cobby | Bolakovic3

  24. Interesting how the author refers to the Murphy brothers ancestry as Irish because of their surname yet doesn’t mention Murdoch’s supposed Scottish ancestry, or Travers’ supposed English ancestry, or the Anita’s Irish ancestry.


  25. Why are the Murphys called Irish? They have an Irish name but they aren’t Irish. In fact they look like they have Aboriginal blood as well. Also Lynch is Irish as well as half the police that investigated this crime. Why isn’t Murdoch listed as Scottish if we are labelling people by surnames? I’m glad these scumbags will never be released from prison.


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