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Tomorrow morning a 68 year-old family man who – 40 years after the event – has on the flimsiest of evidence been charged with, and committed to trial for, the murder of Barbara McCulkin and her 2 children will appear in Queensland’s Supreme Court as he attempts for the second time to secure bail ahead of his much-heralded trial to be held at a yet to be determined date sometime in a year somewhere in the future, probably the year 2048 when he’s 100 years of age.
The man’s name is Gary Reginald Dubois, who due to his diminutive stature was in his youth known to his mates in the northside Brisbane suburbs of Chermside and Wavell Heights as Shorty – a fact that’s relevance will soon become clear – but for the past 4 decades has been known to his loving family simply as Dad.
Dubois is no saint, as his rap sheet reveals, for he has a number of various minor infractions etched on his record, including a conviction for the once considered serious crime of cultivation of cannabis – a bloke who grows the green weed that alleviates cancer patients suffering, albeit in breach of the law, is by the statute deemed a criminal, although in California and other parts of the world the same fella is merely called a farmer – but in among the judicial listing of his penny-ante crimes there rests a serious dark stain, for in 1964 Gary Dubois, then living at his mother’s house in the Housing Commission ghetto turned millionaire’s suburb of Chermside after they demolished the old houses and turned them into condos, was tried and convicted for the rape of a minor, and received a sentence of imprisonment of ten years for his deemed crime.
Dubois’ conviction occurred at a time when he himself had only just entered adulthood, in the judicial sense at least, for he was but 17 years of age and still unable to vote or legally purchase a beer when sentenced to a decade behind bars. It was and remains a curiously long sentence for an offence presumed to have been committed at such a tender age, particularly given the questionable nature of the material facts and evidence that led to his conviction and sentence, in particular the statements made by police, that today would arguably be ruled inadmissible at the stroke of a judge’s pen.
Right or wrong as his conviction may now be, it matters not because the result was that Dubois spent the formative years of his young adulthood behind bars, and forever since has borne the perjorative label of rapist. Such a tag tends to stick forever, no matter how questionable the circumstances of the charge and conviction may be, and regardless of what great leaps the convicted man has taken toward absolution and rehabilitation during the 50 odd years since the judge banged the gavel and sentenced him to a young-life-shattering stretch in the slammer.
It’s mighty easy to throw around labels, and that of rapist is perhaps the easiest to hurl, but even a cursory examination of the court records from Dubois’ 1964 conviction, and his unsuccessful appeal the following year, casts huge doubts upon both the veracity of the conviction itself, and on the unjust severity of his sentence.
The facts pertaining to the matter are quite simple. A group of teenage girls, wards of the State living in a shared home under the supervision of paid state-appointed carers, were in those halcyon days of limited female penal accommodation permitted to go out into the big bad world one night each week and allowed to do as they pleased, but like Cinderella they were mandated a strict curfew by which they had to abide, at the threat not of their coach turning into a pumpkin and they into a ragged pauper – they already were roughly dressed peasants, and their coach was simply the five-toed appendages attached to their ankles – but rather on the promise, not threat, of being incarcerated, or more correctly reincarcerated, at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in an over-stocked youth correctional facility where rape and bashings by sadistic perverted wardens of both genders were not merely a possibility, but instead a dead set cert.
It was a punishment to be avoided at any cost, but even that did not deter the wayward adolsecents from the youthful pursuit of pleasure, for what the girls pleased to do that swinging 60’s evening was to visit the house of Dubois’s mother, where a teenage Gary and his mates were hanging out drinking grog and sucking a few cones, as boys from the mean streets of the Housing Commission are wont to do both then and now in a fruitless attempt to wash and smoke away the the misery of their harsh daily existence, although in their youthful ignorance of the vast possibilities of the world outside their poverty-limited horizon, they simply think that they are getting pissed and stoned and having a whale of a time.
Like the fellows gathered at Gary’s mother’s home, the visiting girls hadn’t enjoyed the happiest of lives either, hence their residential arrangements at the time of that fateful evening, and thus they too were keen to wash and smoke away the demons that nightly haunted their dreams. And that they merrily proceeded to do, downing shots of hard liquor and pulling cones that night like there was no tomorrow alongside a clutch of testosterone pumped boys a year or two their senior, who in the milieu of the girls damaged lives they looked up to and lusted after as if they were each Jimmy Dean, much as young women from the better side of the tracks today fawn over and want to f*ck the boater wearing sons of local Ascot doctors or lawyers, believing them to be the spitting image of the young George Clooney.
The difference of course being that the private school boys who push the limits of the law by getting carried away under the influence of drugs and grog, and gain carnal knowledge of the blonde teenage girls pushing their own boundaries with them tend never to find themselves in courtrooms attempting to explain their actions after being caught in flagrente delicto by their parents, with the young girl naked by their side, harbouring a Mars Bar in places where caramel filled chocolates aren’t meant to be, unless of course your name is Marianne Faithfull and the depositor of fruit is a rich kids son called Mick Jagger, then see above.
But young waifs and wastrels in forced government care don’t have parents who worry about such things as propriety, or worry about them at all – that’s why they live in homes under the supervision of the state – but like the offspring of the rich, they do get sometimes carried away when under the influence, and find themselves in older boys beds with Mars Bars in places that they are not thought proper to be, and that’s what happened in Chermside on that balmy, fateful evening way back in the year of nineteen hundred and sixty four.
The exact details of the sexual encounters that occurred that night, and the degrees of consent involved, are mysteries shrouded both by the passage of time and the cloaks of the differing and fluidly changing stories told by all involved, but the long and short of the tale is that in the process of digesting, or allowing to have digested, the Mars bars the young girls inadvertently breached their curfews, and when the sh*t hit the fan at the state-run home and they were noticed missing, someone panicked and told the matrons-in-charge that their absent room-mates were at Shorty’s Mums place, and the coppers were called and soon duly arrived at Mrs Dubois’s Chermside Housing Commission palace door.
And then all hell broke loose, and it was a hell that was to haunt Dubois for the next half a century, and is the hell that continues to haunts him still.
You see one of the girls – fearful of being relocated from her if not happy, at least semi-liberated, suburban supervised home to a small room enclosed by bars at the Leslie Wilson Youth Centre – pointed the finger at one of the drunken, stoned boys in Mrs Dubois’ house and cried rape, telling the attendant copper that the reason she didn’t make it back to her state-run residence prior to the appointed hour when the witching bell tolled was because the boy she was pointing at had, much to his surprise, forcibly detained her for the express purpose of using her hitherto compliant form as a vessel upon which to forcibly achieve the desired outcomes of his wicked and lustful way, despite the fact that he interpreted her request to root her as a clear signal that she consented to such a rooting.
The boy was not Dubois, but rather one of his mates, and no accusation was made whatsoever against the diminutive kid known as Shorty at that particular juncture. His nightmare was to begin a few hours later, when the police attended the state-run home to interview the other girls present at the piss and pot gathering, and a girl who by then had realised that she too faced a stint behind bars in the youth detention centre if found to gave knowingly breached her curfew, and would thus be denied the freedom of Friday nights out and about sucking on a bong and a stubbie and who knows what else, decided that indiscretion was the better part of valor, and pointed her finger firmly at Shorty and like her room mate had a few hours earlier hollered ‘Rape!’.
And that, as they say, was that for Gary Dubois, and despite his protestations of innocence and his later claims of being verballed and fitted up by the arresting officers – knowledge of police corruption and the widespread practice of coppers ‘bricking’ suspects didn’t come to public attention until more than 20 years later, in the wake of the sensational revelations of police skulduggery revealed at the Fitzgerald Inquiry – his die was cast.
No judicial officer in the State was prepared to believe that Dubois may well be absolutely innocent of the heinous crime with which he was charged, for the presentation by Queensland’s finest of the complainant as a sweet, innocent flower despoiled by Dubois’ evil lust – as opposed to being the consenting, drug-taking, grog-guzzling,promiscouous attention-seeking wild-child that she may perhaps have been – could not be dispelled by the young accused teen boy’s lawyers, and Dubois’ continued protestations of denial earned him not a reprieve, but rather a sentence well out of proportion to his presumed crime, one that has left him labeled a rapist from that day half a century ago forward, and a mark of Cain that he wears like an albatross around his neck to this day.
That dear sportsfans is the short version of the background to the cold-case charges laid 15 months ago against Dubois and his co-accused Vincent O’Dempsey, a much older man with a sinister past, who associated with the young Dubois and his mean street mates only so that he could take advantage of their youthful sub-class wannabe criminal esprit, and thus use them to commit low-level tomfoolery such as car thefts and burglaries and the like, mere fripery that O’Dempsey was eager to financially benefit from, but considered well beneath his exalted and well-earned status in the criminal hierarchy of corrupt police led organised crime.
The fact that Dempsey makes no application for bail in the McCulkin case well illustrates the gulf in criminality that existed between he and Dubois in the 1960’s and 70’s, and continues to exist now, for O’Dempsey’s life of crime has been a continuim that began well before Gough famously declared ‘It’s Time’, and has progresses apace ever since, whereas Dubois appears for all intents and purposes to have left his wayward past behind, and for the past 15 years at least has seemingly lived a blameless life as an upright citizen of the Wide Bay region in Queensland’s upper south-east.
Dubois has spent most of that time caring for his beloved daughter, who suffered a brain injury in a road accident as a young woman, and supporting the entrepreneurial endeavors of she and her mother – his wife of nearly 40 years Jan – ferrying them from place to place as they visite the second hand shops of the region to purchase broken or discarded jewelry, which they work assiduously to recraft into recycled gems that they sell at their weekly market stalls in order to keep the wolves from the door, and put bread and a couple of stubbies of XXX Gold for their Dad upon their table, and at the same time afford the kid some worth and meaning in a once promise-filled life that by virtue of a fast car and a jealous boyfriend and a big tree and a high-speed collision she was cruelly denied.
It’s the table upon which the Dubois family broke their daily bread, and Gary drank his beer, and the girls crafted their treasures, that Dubois and his family were sitting at back in August 2014, when to their surprise they read that an un-named ‘police spokesperson’ had mendaciously declared that Dubois – who the officers falsely and deliberately publicly maligned as a ‘retired gangster’ – could not be found, despite him never actually receiving a knock on the door, and regardless of the fact that a simple land register search could reveal exactly where he had lived peacefully for many years, and that he had no cause or desire to flee, and nothing to run from and nothing to hide in the tiny hamlet with a population of just 1364,
Gary may not have realised that the press release was simply the first salvo in a campaign designed to paint him black, but his wife Jan did, and she also knew that it was the beginning of a craven campaign to bolster the credentials of the preposterous wafer thin case that a clutch of career-climbing cold case detectives, eager to carve a huge notch on their police-issue black belts, had manufactured against her husband in order to push their own self-serving barrows.
I say manufactured quite deliberately, because suddenly the motive and modus operandi for the McCulkin murders had morphed from the previously unsuccessful premise of a police-sanctioned gangland execution into a suppoed sex crime in which O’Dempsey and Dubois purportedly undertook the evil deed of murdering a woman and 10 and 12 year old children simply so that they could have the nefarious pleasure of raping the kids.
If the police case sounds absurd, well that’s because it is, for their are no bodies, no eyewitness evidence, no forensic reports, and absolutely no evidence of any intent on the part of the accused to take sexual advantage of a couple of children simply so that they could satisfy a hitherto unknown prediliction for under-age child sex.
The only remotely plausible link to a sexual motivation for the alleged crime is Dubois’ 1864 rape conviction, and we have already explained how questionable that particular miscarriage of jutice is and was.
So much then for the rehabilitative principles of the judicial system. It appears that in our free land the desperate desire for career advancement held by a couple of detectives – who weren’t even born when Barbara McCulkin and her kids disappeared – coupled with the police officers desire to solve a high-profile heinous crime by inventing a hypothesis and then arranging the facts to fit by hook or by crook – or perhaps even a combination of both – far outweighs the centuries old tenets of our system of law and the calibration of Iusticia’s famous scales of justice.
And thus the wheels of injustice were set in train, and Dubois – whose place of residence was in fact well known to police, for it was where they had earlier that year served a summons on him to appear at a Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) hearing, along with a number of people who after being leaned on and promised the riches of a $250 000 reward have now become the Crown’s star witnesses for the prosecution – was in late October 2014 duly arrested and charged with the McCulkin murders, and surreptitiously hurled handcuffed into the slammer.
Yet despite the absolute paucity of evidence against him, Dubois has remained behind bars ever since his October 2014 arrest, an innocent man in a living hell eating porridge and dry toast when in the twighlight of his life he should instead be blowing out birthday candles, hunting for Easter eggs, enjoying romantic candle-lit wedding anniversary dinners, and cracking Xmas crackers with the wife and daughter that he loves and adores.
It’s an absolute scandal, and one inupitably and unconscienably fanned by incurious and/or blindingly lazy mainstream media journo’s who have been leaked hugely slanted evidence by the police, and have taken the nonsense that they have been fed as unfettered fact, then unquestioningly reported the police PR as the gospel truth.
It is a hugely damning indictment of the skills of our so-called elite brigade of crime reporting journalists that 8/10’s of what you read about the McCulkin murders in the Murdoch and Fairfax press is absolute fairytale, and the other 2/10’s a blend of long kmnown fact combined with a patently apparent recasting of reality.
Forget what the 20 something journalists tell you.
Here is the simple truth, and it is one that my much admired colleague and friend Matthew Condon knows full well, yet in pursuit of his absolute but erronous conviction that Dubois is one of the McCulkin murderers elects to wilfully overlook, to his great discredit and at the risk of irrevocable damage to his reputation as one of the Wide Brown land’s pre-eminent crime reporters.
Barbara McCulkin was murdered because she was about to spill the beans about the absolutely abhorrent and disgraceful involvement of corrupt police in the 1973 Whiskey Au Go Go arson and mass murders, which was not by any means the intentional massacre that it was painted by the deeply corrupt cabal of constabulary and their equally crooked and compliant press mates of the day, but simply a police standover attempt gone wrong.
In the early months of that fateful year two score and three years ago the bent wide-boy coppers and former coppers turned full-time criminals – principally Tony Murphy and Glenn Hallahan – had embarked on a campaign of shaking down Fortitude Valley nightclub owners, with the aim of re-taking the exclusive license to drug distribution, sale of illegal alcohol, and the prostitution racket that had been deregulated in the wake of the 1964 National Hotel inquiry that, coupled with the descent into madness of their pedophile mentor Frank Bishoff, had allowed the business of Brisbane crime to become to an unacceptable extent a deregulated trade managed by non-rent paying villains, many of whom were connected to criminals from the south who wilfully neglected to pay their tributes to the temporarily emasculated local triumvarite .
These dirty blow-ins may have well have basked in the sun for a few years while the lads in charge of enforcement law lay low, but the crooked coppers were about to bring the lucrative monopoly back in-house and, supported by corrupt politicians such as their old bent police mate Don Lane – who not by sheer coincidence was now the State MP for the sin and sling centre of the Valley – and hopelessly drunken and punt-addicted newspaper editors like the Sunday Sun’s Ron Richards, in 1973 the Rat Pack embarked on a mission to regain their lost monopoly, and launched their assault, starting with the torching of the Torino Restaurant, which was burned to the ground just weeks before the Whiskey was blown to pieces.
Any journalist who truly believes that the two explosive arsons were unconnected either belongs in bed A in the nuthouse, or lives in a world of delusion known and underst0od only to themselves, which probably means that they slumber in bed B in the same window-barred, locked-door house.
McCulkin and her estranged husband Billy lived, until he took off with his new found love and set in train the events that haunt us still today, lived directly next door to the tattooist, criminal and police associate/informant Billy Phillips – the drug distributor whose business partner, some would say overlord, was the disgraced police officer, standover man, armed hold-up merchant, drug addict, murder and deranged lunatic Glenn Hallahan – and McCulkin was without any shadow of a doubt up to his neck in the torchings of both the Torino and the Whiskey Au Go Go, and if he didn’t light the wick himself then he almost certainly drove the man or men who set Whiskey alight – neither of whom in all probability were Finch or Stuart, the men convicted of the crimes – to and from the scene.
And as sure as London to a Brick that at various times before and after the arsons McCulkin met with Hallahan, Phillips and who knows what other bent coppers and discussed the planning of the crimes, right in the earshot of his loyal wife Barbara and their kids. He had no reason to worry about talking in front of his missus, for he had done so a thousand times before, and she was as solid as a rock.
That is, until he made the fatal mistake – for his family at least – of leaving his wife for a younger woman a month before she and the kids disappeared, never to be seen again.
Shakespeare famously proclaimed that ‘Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned’, and the bard was spot on the money, for Barb McCulkin didn’t take too kindly to her husband pissing off on her with what she in her street wisdom deemed to be a young tart, and fuelled by grog and drugs and anger she made it patently clear to anyone and everyone who would listen that she was about to turn dog and shop the once man of her dreams about his role in the arsons in order to gain her bitter heartfelt revenge.
By doing so she joined her husband in making a mistake of the fatal kind, for if she turned informant and told Billy’s tale then those who were in on his crimes would almost certainly go down too. After all, there’s no Hansel without Gretel, or Billy McCulkin without corrupt police, or rats without Ratsack.
And so, within mere weeks of ill-advisedly shooting off her mouth about her suicidal intentions, Barbara McCulkin one warm summer’s night suddenly disappeared, and her children – too young to die, yet old enough to talk – vanished with her too.
And anyone with any knowledge of Brisbane’s criminal history, or indeed half a brain, knows that the reason for their unexplained absence from this earth, and the responsibility for its occurrence, lies directly not with a young amateur crim like Shorty Dubois, but rather at the feet of the deeply corrupt entrenched police officers who had so much to very much to lose had Barbara McCulkin remained alive to relate her extraordinary tale.
The hit – for that was indeed what it was – was a job for professionals experienced at the task of expertly forever disappearing those that evil wrongdoers with the clout to shut down unwanted criminal investigations desired vanished.
People like Glen Hallahan, Vince O’Dempsey, Tony Murphy – although like Judas, Murph would never be so silly as to allow his hands to be dirtied – Billy McCulkin himself, and a parade of nefarious interstate hitmen, criminals and police, or even a juxtaposition of the three, as the case may well be.
Scratch our backs Messers Krahe and Rogerson, and we’ll certainly stroke yours. Have you ever wondered who really perpetrated the Bli-Bli postal heist? Wonder no more.
It is blindingly obvious that a major job of the ilk of liquidating the McCulkins wasn’t a task that a low-level, and relatively untested petty crim like the 1970’s Gary Dubois would have been deemed by the big boys to be up for, and despite his youthful record of keeping his mouth shut during police investigations into misdemeanors such as break and enters and car thefts, there is no way on earth that a bent copper or one of their green-lighted crims like O’Dempsey would have allowed the young petty crook in on such a high-stakes game.
But unfortunately for Shorty, despite all his well-contrived appearances to the contrary, Vince O’Dempsey was by no means anyone’s fool, and so he established both an alibi and an alternative explanation for his presence at the McCulkin’s rented Highgate Hill residence by taking Dubois and some other young aspiring crooks to the McCulkin house on the eve of their disappearance, and made sure that they were seen by more than a couple of the family’s liy-white and therefore most credible as potential witness neighbors.
Let’s face it, you don’t get away with a rumored half-dozen plus murders by being careless and stupid do you? And az the advanced age of 77, and with nary a corpse to be found, O’Dempsey has escaped justice for his crimes, on this earth at least.
But if you’re young and uneducated in the devious ways of the professional criminal, naive and eager to please to boot, and you measure a mere tick over 5 feet tall in high heels, and you arrive at the scene of what will in 24 hours time become a murder scebe in the company of a bunch of blokes a full foot taller than you, then you’re an absolute dead cert to stick in the mind of, and be remembered by, the neighbors somewhat more than your companions aren’t you? Particularly when the bent cops working in tandem with the bent bloke that you erroniously thought was your mate start waving your picture around at the crime scene and suggesting to the neighbours that this was the bloke you saw, wasn’t it?
And if you are that bloke in the picture, then your name is probably Gary Dubois, and with the benefit of wisdom you long ago worked out that you’d been f*cked over by the bloke you thought was your mate, but who these days you realise was and is in fact simply a super-crafty manipulative psychopath, and that if you say a single bad word about what you know about him then your beloved wife and kid are brown bread.
So you abide by the Geebung dictum about loose lips and you keep yours sealed tight, for during your long period of injust incarceration you’ve worked out what the bloke who sat in front of you in the glass box in the Brisbane Magistrates Court and his mates did all those years ago, and you know it could happen to your loved ones too, so you simply suck it up and take it like a man and dream of the day that you and your family will hold each other in your arms once again.
It’s the comfort of that dream helps you get through each dim, dark day, as time and time again you are denied bail due to the lies told by coppers who know full well that you are 100-1 and blowing of being a fit for the crimes of which you are accused, but they live in the hope that one day soon you may crack and roll over and swear on a stack of bibles that it was O’Dempsey who killed the McCulkins, andfrom all that you have learnt in and out of jail over the past 40 years tell them exactly why.
But you won’t, because you grew up near the Zillman Waterholes and know how life works when you’re a poor kid from a single parent family who grew up doing the best that he could, You’d love to tell them all about your youthful ignorance and poor the judgment that caused to unwittingly dine with the devil and become privy to his evil deeds, but you won’t, because as long as the missus and the kid are breathing and happy, you’re happy too, come what may on the morrow.
So there you sit in silence, wondering not whether all the years on the straight road were worth the pain you are now enduring, but rather knowing that your self-determined road to rehabilitation is worth your present pain, because thw wisdom you’ve gained over the past 68 years has taught you that redemption is healing, and whether you live or die to once more bask in the sunshine of that little blue tent that your cellmates call the sky, you know that you are no longer the bad man you once were, and not even a shiv in the shower can take away the joy you derive from the knowledge that your 2 girls love and admire you, and its love that in the dark, painful abusive days of your youth you never imagined you would find or deserve, but one that you now know is worth far more than any words that a bad man bearing a sharpened shiv could ever utter.
It’s just a shame that it took you so long to realise it, and that the truth only dawned while you were banged up in this hell-hole that by temporary necessity you must call home. As Ned said in a similar place though, such is life, and the truth truly learned comes better late than never.
You will not sleep for but an instant tonight, however in that briefest of moments you will dream of stepping out of your cell and your prison issue clothes, and into the loving embrace of your wife and daughter, where you will in bliss remain until the big man pulls out your card and calls your name, and it is not the window sills of your youth upon which you shall climb, but the ladder of love that two good women have unfailingly laid out to uplift you.
May the sun shine on your back always Shorty, and the bail Gods smile upon you, and justice be kind.
Chin up mate, your girls goddamn adore you.