Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicky (left) and Leanne (centre) disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974.
Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicky (left) and Leanne (centre) disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974.

McCulkin murder accused's terrifying jailhouse confession

CLOSE to tears, an "upset" and "agitated" Garry Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois made a jailhouse confession in which he feared being extradited to Joh Bjelke-Petersen's Queensland where he faced life behind bars for an alleged triple murder - or death at the hands of his associate Vincent O'Dempsey.

Mr Dubois and Mr O'Dempsey are accused of the murder of 34-year-old Barbara McCulkin and the rape and murder of her daughters Vicki, 13, and 11-year-old Leanne 42 years ago.

The Highgate Hill family disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974.

Mr Dubois, from Torbanlea, has pleaded not guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court to one charge of deprivation of liberty, two of rape and three charges of murder.

Mr O'Dempsey, a 78-year-old Warwick resident, is scheduled to face trial next year.

Former South Australian police officers John Attwood and James Munro had the job of arresting Mr Dubois and ensuring he appeared in Adelaide Magistrates Court for a July 1980 extradition hearing on drugs and failing to appear in court charges.

Mr Dubois became increasingly stressed while waiting in the holding cells not long before he was due to face the magistrate 36 years ago.

Mr Attwood told Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday that Mr Dubois said: "F**king hell this is stupid - murder, I don't believe it."

"What's the use? No one can help me.

"Talking to you lot is not me - but grow a bit of dope and make a few bob.

"I'm guilty by association. I know O'Dempsey.

"If I blab I'm dead, and I'm dead if I don't.

"Christ, Joh's (Bjelke-Petersen) mob throw away the key for murder."

Mr Attwood said Mr Dubois was on the verge of tears when he "sat alongside of me and shook his head" while repeatedly describing Mr O'Dempsey as "f**king mad".

"F**king murder - I can't believe it. I'm guilty because I know O'Dempsey."

"I'm dead if I say anything. He's mad. He likes doing it. He's a mad f**king dog. When I get back there, it's goodbye world.

"He's f**king mad. I don't believe it - murder.

"You don't know him either. He's a mad f**king dog. I'm f**king dead if I say anything.

"Don't you think I would (say something) if I could - what about me seeing the kid (Mr Dubois's daughter) in court and knowing I'll never see her or (wife) Jan again."

Mr Attwood's colleague James Munro said it took a crew of special taskforce, major crime and uniformed officers to apprehend Mr Dubois at his Christie's Beach home in SA.

"We surrounded the house," Mr Munro recalled.

"A struggle ensued.

"A (police) shotgun was produced.

"We all struggled together and apprehended him."

Mr Attwood told the court he remembered Mr Dubois's "unforgettable" comment about the gun.

"(He said) 'If I had got hold of the shotgun it would have been World War III'," Mr Attwood said.

Back at the police station, Mr Munro and Mr Attwood did a short interview with their suspect.

Mr Munro asked Mr Dubois if he knew Mrs McCulkin's estranged husband Robert William 'Billy' McCulkin.

Mr Attwood told the court Mr Dubois replied: "He (Mr McCulkin) fancies himself as some sort of gangster."

"I met them (Mrs McCulkin and her daughters) and hardly knew them," Mr Dubois said.

When asked if he knew anything about the alleged murders, Mr Dubois told the officers: "I don't know anything about it."

"You know me, I don't talk.

"Come on, you know me better than that."

The court has heard that the McCulkins may have had some knowledge of the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub blaze that killed 15 people in 1973.

Crown prosecutor David Meredith told the court last week that Garry Dubois, Mr O'Dempsey and three other men were behind the torching of the Torino nightclub about 10 days before the Whiskey Au Go Go went up in flames.

The accused feared their involvement in the Torino blaze could see them linked to the Whiskey fire.

On Monday Garry Dubois's brother Paul claimed that during a phone conversation, Garry Dubois said: "Barbara McCulkin had information on O'Dempsey that he felt could've got him 20 years and this is how he dealt with it".

Mr Meredith has said the prosecution's case is not that Mrs McCulkin was blackmailing O'Dempsey.

However, he said her knowledge of the two fires may have been a motive for her death.

The McCulkins' bodies have not been found.

The trial continues before Justice Peter Applegarth.

 

Witness drinking with friend who made 'murder' revelation

A NEW South Wales man claims he was told who killed the McCulkin family in 1974.

Douglas Meredith told a Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday that a man called Tommy Hamilton told him Vincent O'Dempsey murdered 34-year-old Barbara and her daughters.

Mr Hamilton also allegedly said Mr O'Dempsey and Garry Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois raped 13-year-old Vicki and 11-year-old Leanne McCulkin.

Mr Meredith said he, Mr Hamilton and a man called Peter Burns were high on drugs and alcohol one evening in 1974 when the conversation about the alleged murders took place.

"We'd been on the drink and smoking pot ... for quite some period of time," the elderly father of two said.

"Vincent O'Dempsey's name came up.

"Tommy said 'What are you doing mucking around with him? He murdered the McCulkins. And they raped the children.

"He (Hamilton) told me Vincent O'Dempsey murdered them and he and Shorty raped the children.

"Garry Dubois told him (Hamilton), sometime after the murders when it was all finished.

"I don't know exactly when it (the conversation between Mr Dubois and Mr Hamilton) happened but it was after they'd done it."

Mr Hamilton disappeared in 1975 and is presumed murdered.

 

What Garry Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois allegedly told South Australian police in July 1980.

"F**king hell this is stupid. Murder, I don't believe it.

"What's the use, no one can help me.

"Talking to you lot is not me. But grow a bit of dope and make a few bob.

"I'm guilty by association.

"I know (Vincent) O'Dempsey - that's it.

"I hardly knew them (the McCulkins).

"If I blab I'm dead and I'm dead if I don't.

"I'll be an old man if I get out.

"They throw away the key for murder.

"He's mad you know, f**king crims.

"Christ Joh's mob throw away the key for murder.

"If I talk I'm dead.

"I've got to cop it.

"I have to live with him in jail. I'm dead if I talk.

"It's hopeless.

"I can't say anything.

"I'll have to go and listen to what they've (Queensland police) got to say and hope it's not enough or I get a break - that's all I can do.

"If I blab I'm dead and I'll be an old man in jail if I don't.

"F**king murder - I can't believe it. I'm guilty because I know O'Dempsey.

"I'm dead if I say anything. He's mad. He likes doing it.

He's a mad f**king dog.

"When I get back there, it's goodbye world.

"I wish he had taken me out at the house.

"I hardly knew the McCulkins.

"I'm guilty by association. A bit of dope and make ends meet (but) murder it's not my bag.

"He's f**king mad.

"I don't believe it - murder.

"You don't know him either.

"He's a mad f**king dog.

"I'm fucking dead if I say anything - can you give me one of your smokes?

"Don't you think I would if I could (speak to police).

"What about me seeing the kid (Mr Dubois's daughter) in court and knowing I'll never see her or Jan (his wife) again.

"I can't say anything.

"They know I'm staunch and not an imbecile."

-ARM NEWSDESK



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