Derek Percy is a convicted child killer suspected of involvement in the murder of seven-year-old Linda Stilwell
A PENSIONER whose daughter was abducted and murdered has been ordered to pay child killer Derek Percy more than $32,000.
The Supreme Court has ordered Jean Priest, 72, must pay Percy’s legal bill after she lost the first stage of her fight to force him to give evidence about his suspected part in the killing of her daughter, seven-year-old Linda Stilwell, in 1968.
Ms Priest, pictured holding a cherished photo of Linda, is a community volunteer who lives in a retirement village.
She says she could be bankrupted by Percy, who has amassed a fortune of up to $300,000 from a navy pension he receives in jail.
The grieving grandmother plans one last bid for justice before the Court of Appeal, but she may face a total legal bill from Percy of $80,000 if that appeal fails.
“We now have a bill for $32,247 and I don’t know how I am going to pay that. I have no way of doing that,” a tearful Ms Priest told the Herald Sun.
“I can’t sleep at night. Prisoners seem to have all the rights, victims have no rights.”
Percy, 62, is Victoria’s longest-serving prisoner and remains in jail for the mutilation killing of Yvonne Tuohy, 12, less than 12 months after Linda disappeared.
Linda’s body has never been found. Percy has been linked to nine child killings in the late 1960s across several states.
He was prosecuted only for Yvonne Tuohy’s death, where he was found not guilty by reason of insanity – a technicality that allows him to continue receiving his navy pension.
“I feel I’ve got to go as far as I possibly can for Linda,” Ms Priest said. She added that she was “physically sick” when told she might have to pay $80,000 in legal fees to Percy if the appeal were lost.
Ms Priest said she would continue to try to find her daughter’s body so she could be finally laid to rest with some dignity.
“The coroner found Derek Percy was in St Kilda on that day and only metres from her,” she said.
“What is the possibility that there could be two child murderers in that kind of area at the same time?
“We need her body so that we can have a resting place for her.
“I believe he did it. I just can’t bare to think of what he did to her.”
Both Deputy State Coroner Iain West and Supreme Court Justice Iain Ross declined to force Percy to give evidence because of his apparent psychosis at the time of the abduction and the potential his evidence would be unreliable.
Ms Priest’s barristers, Elizabeth McKinnon and Simon Gillespie-Jones, would not comment.
Before the ruling on costs went against Ms Priest, Herald Sun readers late last year pledged $7300 towards her pending legal bill.
“I’d like to thank the readers of the Herald Sun for the help they have given me. I just wonder if anybody else can help because it’s financial ruin,” she said.