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Back to Billy McCulkin’s police statement, not that it’s worth two bits now we’ve established that what the Mouse has told police could not in a million years be the truth, but for the sake of completeness we’ll finish it off.
So it’s either 12.15pm or 2.15 pm now, depending on which story of Billy’s you believe, and he leaves Dubois’ mum’s house at Kedron with Norman Wild and heads back to break into his ex-wife Barbara’s place again.
Before he leaves O’Dempsey tells him that he will call him at the Federal Hotel at 2pm, although why he would do such a thing is difficult to fathom, given that according to Billy they are sitting there face to face talking about whatever it is they need to talk about, and no mention is made of any follow up and report back that Vince has committed to.
And of course if Billy’s repressed memory come good is correct, and he was actually with Estelle until she started work at midday, then it’s after two anyway at the time Billy claims his old mate told him that he’d call him at 2.
We therefore have to work on the theory that it’s 12.15pm, otherwise we will just have to throw Billy’s police statement in the bin.
So let’s play make pretend, and at a quarter past 12 Wild and Billy leave Kedron, which means they get to Barb’s place at about 12-45.
But hang on! Billy’s just remembered that earlier that morning, when he was still in the company of his gangster moll girlfriend Estelle, he visited a Mrs Holdsworth, because before he and Barb shifted to Dorchester Street they were neighbours, and his kids were friendly with theirs. What that has to do with the price of eggs who knows, for of course Billy doesn’t tell us and DS Redmond doesn’t ask him why.
We also don’t know how long Billy may have spent breaking in and out of Barb’s place again, but lets err on the side of caution and give him 15 minutes. So it’s 1.00pm when he and Wild take off and head back in to the Federal, which means that by the time they drive to Spring Hill, park the car, lock up and head into the Public Bar it’s 1.15pm.
Billy says that he then sits in the front bar looking out the window and waiting for O’Dempsey to ring, but the call never comes, which is no surprise really because in this fairytale Vince has said he’s going to call at 2pm, but at almost exactly that same time Billy sees a car go by, and lo and behold who is in it but Gary Dubois!
No having seen Dubois twice already that day – the most recent time either an hour and three-quarters ago or 15 minutes into the future – you wouldn’t imagine that Billy would have a whole lot more to say to the bloke would you? But why let common sense get in the way of a bad story?
So donning a Superman cape, Billy forgets all about the looming call from Vince, and somehow he and Norm Wild manage to get from the front bar to the car park at the rear of the pub, unlock the car with the key (no central locking in 1974), jump in, start the car, race out of the car park and into St Paul’s Terrace.
And all in time to have the car they spotted from the front window still in sight so that they could chase it down Leichardt Street, into Petrie Terrace, and around the corner to the corner of Milton Road and Boomerang Street, about a 2 minute drive from the Federal Hotel, which these days in known as the Spring Hill Hotel.
(A little bit more showing off. My mate’s Uncle Charlie, a former TV Star whose real name is Paul Charlton, in the late 80’s held the lease for the nightclub in the pub. Although he was as straight as an arrow, he made it a gay club because he figured men without kids who like to party had more disposable Jumping Jack Flash than married blokes, and would therefore spend more. He was right too. I used to go there most weekends and drink free piss and free amyl nitrates that the gay blokes used to sling me in the hope that I’d shag them. Fat chance. Geez they gave you headaches those poppers)
Anyway, back to the chase, and it’s an amazing feat of motoring, and why Wild and Billy were not recruited immediately to the Jack Brabham racing team we will never know because Rocket Ronny Redmond – who appears to the strong, silent type – did not of course ask.
Billy and Norm pull Dubois over. As Billy has already noted as the car sped past the pub, Peter Hall (then going by the name Jeffrey Bennett, but known to Billy as ‘Pin’) is driving and Tommy Hamilton and Keith Meredith are passengers inside, although who is sitting where we never find out.
Amazingly, Billy has also noticed that the car is White 1970 model Holden Sedan, and its registration number is PQL-132. Dead set, with those powers of observation Billy should have been a copper, or perhaps sitting in front of one with access to vehicle records while he was making his hooked statement.
‘What’s that Mum? Oh yeah, you’re right, he was’
Billy jumps out and confronts Dubpois, telling him exactly the same thing that he has told him twice already today; and in reply Dubois tells him the same thing that he has told him twice in a few hours too.
That’s that then, and Billy and Norm head off to the Doomben Races. It’s about a 20 minutes drive from Milton, so they get there at either 2.30pm or 4.30pm depending agaoin on which version of Billy’s fairytale you’re working off.
Now this is interesting, and should be setting off flashing lights for Rocket Redmond, but it seems that not only does he have his ears blocked and his brain turned off, but he has his eyes closed too.
The pair pull up at the racetrack, and Norm waits outside. This is unusual, because even in 1974 I was going to Doomben with my grandpa – I distinctly remember seeing Veil Kingdom and Pay the Purple quinella the Labor Day Cup that year – and then and now there has always been a taxi rank out the front of the course, and the rest of the street is a No Standing zone. And if you arrive after the first race you are a hundred to one of getting a park within cooee of the front gate, particularly back in the 70’s when 30 000 punters went to the races every Saturday.
But let’s set logic and common sense aside, and keep rolling with Billy’s fable.
He jumps out of the car, and enters the track, looking for one man and one man only.
Alarm bells start ringing to accompany the flashing lights, because take a guess who that man Billy’s looking for is?
None other than Paul Meade.
Billy’s missus and sole alibi Estelle’s former partner (on the sly from his wife) of 17 years.
Billy tells Mead about Barbara and the kids being missing, but Meade says he can’t offer him any advice.
Then Billy hits him up to cash the $210 cheque that he pinched out of Barbara’s letterbox the night before. He must have been thirsty, and of course the banks are closed on a Saturday afternoon.
But Meade, a well-known big gambler, is having a bad day on the punt – or so he tells Billy – and doesn’t have the readies on him to cash the cheque. I suspect that he simply didn’t want any physical connection that could later be established between he and Mr McCulkin at that particular time, because being a man who pays off Police Commissioners he was well and truly in the know, and therefore realised that Billy was right at that moment red hot. But then again, I’m from Geebung, so I grew up cynical.
Cynical or not though, what Billy says happens next is so obviously bullsh*t that even Jesus Christ himself wouldn’t believe it; and this amateur’s mistake shows that Redmond is an absolute moron too.
Billy – who earlier in this same statement told Redmond that at about 9pm the night before he had telephoned Vince O’Dempsey’s brothel the Polonia and spoken to the prostitute Cheryl Evans asking after his wife, and did so from a phone box outside the Red Hill Skating Rink without recourse to checking a phone book, and could recite the phone number and the address verbatim – says he went to a phone book and found the address of Vince’s Lutwyche brothel the Polonia.
The same brothel that not 4 pages ago he told us that he had stopped at earlier in the day, when he had seen O’Dempsey’s Valiant Charger parked outside.
If you believe what Billy has just said, then there is a bed at the Psych ward at the RBH freshly made and waiting for you, with the pillows primped.
But Ron Redmond, the man who in 1989 would become the Top Cop in Queensland, believed it, lock stock and red hot smoking barrel.
Do I need to say any more?