Linda’s mother, Jean Priest, fought back tears after hearing Supreme Court Justice Iain Ross rule that Percy did not have to take the stand to answer questions on his alleged involvement in Linda’s abduction from St Kilda 42 years ago.
Percy has accumulated about $300,000 from his navy superannuation pension during his ongoing prison term for the mutilation killing of Yvonne Tuohy, 12, less than 12 months after Linda’s disappearance.
But the pedophile sadist, who was acquitted of Yvonne’s murder on the grounds of insanity and remains in jail for an indefinite term, has instructed his lawyers to pursue the Stilwell family for money he spent on barristers defending his fight against self-incrimination in the Stilwell mystery.
Police have questioned Percy about the Stilwell abduction but he has claimed to not “remember” whether he killed the child.
Deputy State Coroner Iain West last year ruled Percy should not take the stand in an inquest into Linda’s death because of the time that had elapsed and his psychosis in the late 1960s meant his evidence would be unreliable.
An appeal to Justice Ross in the Supreme Court had sought a judicial review to overturn Coroner West’s decision.
Justice Ross will rule in coming days on whether Mrs Priest has to pay Percy’s legal bill.
“Like the coroner, I have enormous sympathy for Linda Stilwell’s family who have waited a considerable time for this inquest,” Justice Ross told the court today.
“But my task is to determine whether the coroner made a jurisdictional error in the rulings subject to review. I am not persuaded that he did.”