Brett Wortman

Psychiatrist: man in 'low risk' jail is remorseless killer

HE'S been described as a cold-blooded killer who shot his former wife in the face and attempted to kill four other people, including his son, before hiding in bushland for months.

Corrective services officers and doctors have also referred to him as a charming man who has "psychopathic interpersonal traits" and believes he has the right to punish those who betray him.

William Kelvin Fox, 64, has been in jail for 18 years and is serving two life sentences.

He walked into a caravan and shot his former partner's friend three times in front of a two-year-old child in 1992 on the Gold Coast.

Four years later, he murdered his former wife and tried killing three other people in a shooting spree at Glenwood, near Gympie, in 1996.

After being denied parole in 2014, Fox recently failed in his bid to overturn the parole board's decision in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

Documents lodged ahead of the hearing reveal what might have motivated Fox to turn a gun on five people.

Evidence put before the court at trial showed he was previously violent towards his former wife, Patricia Gaye Atkinson, who had a black eye in the lead-up to her murder.

She had also withdrawn surety bail money for Fox the day before she was killed.

The other victims in the 1996 shooting were his 19-year-old son Peter (who he had had conflicts with), Peter's partner Julia Cotter (who Fox thought was getting in the way of his relationship with another of his sons) and John Horrex (who Fox thought was having an affair with Patricia).

Documents lodged for the parole hearing also detailed how Fox thought teacher Barbara Hellwich, who he shot in 1992, had been in a sexual relationship with Peter; a teenager at the time.

"I have noticed that unfaithfulness in a relationship induces a profound negative response for me," Fox said in a submission to the court.

Subhead: Four victims, one man with a gun

IT was early one crisp winter's morning in 1996 when 17-year-old Julia Cotter went outside to feed the dogs at her boyfriend Peter Fox's Glenwood house.

About 6.15am she saw a balaclava-clad man approach her with a pump action shotgun.

Julia screamed and tried to run inside but the gunman, Fox, shot her in the left shoulder from about a metre away.

Entering the house, the armed man bypassed one son hidden under a blanket on a couch but shot at his son Peter, who jumped through a glass window to escape the bullet.

Fox then shot his former wife Patricia in the face.

He picked up bullet cartridges as he fled the house and drove to John Horrex's house nearby.

Fox fired shots through the house, believing John was in a relationship with Patricia.

John dived out of the way and Fox then fled the town.

Court documents detailed how Fox attempted to remove evidence from the crime scenes. But he left a shotgun cartridge behind at Peter's house.

Fox threw his gathered cartridges out the car window as he drove away from the town. A boy picked one up and took it to school for show and tell. It was then handed to police.

The hunt for two women in hiding

This shooting spree was not Fox's first.

The woman he tried killing years before was a friend of his former partner Coleen King, who he met while he and Patricia were separated.

Fox and Coleen were together for about 10 years and lived together near Gympie up until 1992 when she fled Queensland with her son.

Fox tried to trace them and pestered Coleen's friend Barbara Hellwich for information.

The two women were at a women's shelter but moved to a caravan at the Gold Coast two weeks before the shooting.

About 3.30am one April morning, Fox burst into the caravan and shot Barbara three times.

A two-year-old boy ran out of the bedroom in tears as she fell to her knees from the first shot to her face.

Fox then placed the gun barrel at the back of her head but the next bullet did not penetrate her skull.

Barbara begged Fox not to shoot the boy. He shot her again, under her arm. She lost consciousness and Fox went into hiding.

The following year he reunited with Patricia in Gympie and she paid surety for his bail when he was charged in 1995 with Barbara's attempted murder.

But slowly their relationship deteriorated and Patricia moved in with their son Peter.

Quiet "leader" in prison

Fox has four children, 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

"I don't blame anyone for me being in prison," he has submitted to the court.

"I have taken responsibility for my own action (sic) and mistakes in life. I am not perfect but I am working on it. I am alive and live every day as a bonus."

Fox is in Maryborough Correctional Centre, where he has been since 2009.

Following his arrest Fox worked his way down from a high security classification to medium and eventually down to low in 2006.

But his classification escalated to high months later when officers found maps in his cell and declared him a risk of escaping.

Prison reports say Fox "maintains a quiet presence on the compound".

He is polite and friendly, has a select group of friends and has been described as a team leader at the prison's metal workshop.

He has completed countless courses including mathematics, horticulture, woodworking, furniture finishing, computers and aquaculture.

In 2012, psychologist Gavan Palk said Fox had "psychopathic interpersonal" traits that were higher than the average prisoner.

Dr Palk said it was unlikely Fox would be amenable to rehabilitation and that there could be three reasons for Fox's behaviour.

The first is that Fox was a "remorseless psychopathic killer" who was a danger to anyone who he felt had betrayed him.

The second is that Fox is completely innocent, despite being convicted at trial.

The third is that he is guilty but chooses not to accept responsibility because of his antisocial nature.

Fox has been eligible for parole since September 2011.

He has applied at least three times and has been rejected.

Authorities say Fox needs to demonstrate a "considerably changed attitude towards women" to prove his violent tendencies would reduce.


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