David Meredith walks us through the case for the prosecution, and forgive me if I say it’s taken a meandering route that’s more like a ramble, and I’m not the only one who’s left scratching their head and wondering ‘is that all there is?’
We learn that Dubois was charged with similar offences – but not the rapes, they’re new – following a 1980 coronial inquest into the disappearance into thin air of the three McCulkin females, but that the case collapsed before it got to court due to lack of evidence.
Meredith tells us that the case is essentially the same, which at first glance is somewhat of a surprise, until he tells the jury that there are 3 new pieces of evidence that differentiate this prosecution from the failed attempt over 3 decades ago. These are:
- The evidence of Dubois’ former mate Peter Hall, who has in the colloquial parlance rolled over and turned dog on his one time friend. It wouldn’t happen in Geebung.
- The evidence of Doug Meredith, who we are told was a criminal associate of Dubois’ back in the 70’s, but after the McCulkin murders were alleged to have been committed
- The evidence of Trevor McGrath, a neighbor of the Dubois family in recent years.
It is on the testimony of one or all of these witnesses that the Crown’s case will rise or fall is the essence of what Mr Meredith tells the jury.
Hall will tell us that Dubois confessed his to him on the day after the McCulkin’s allegedly disappeared – which would make the date of his alleged confession the 17th of January 1974 by my reckoning – that he had indeed perpetrated the evil deeds for which he now sits in the dock charged.
It appears powerful evidence upon its first telling, but we quickly learn both from Mr Meredith himself and from Mr Dennis Lynch QC, Dubois’ defense counsel, that Hall’s evidence will not only be uncorroborated, but in fact will be contradicted by witness Keith Meredith, who with Hall is the only surviving soul present when Dubois’ seemingly extraordinary confession was made, the other fella there at the time being a chap named Tom Hamilton who was murdered in unrelated circumstances in 1975.
It gets worse for the prosecution case for we learn that not only did Hall stay schtum for 40 years about his mate allegedly telling him that he was a kiddy rapist and a triple murderer, but he in fact gave evidence under oath denying that Dubois ever said any such thing, before later changing his tune and telling the story he today tells.
It weakens the probative value of Hall’s evidence considerably, and Mr Lynch QC with a metaphoric nod and wink suggests that may not be all there is to the story, so we can expect to hear more as the defense get stuck into Hall’s credibility and character. I must confess that I have more than a sneaking suspicion of what’s to follow, but the jury must hear whatever it may be before I can relate it to you and that’s simply the way the cookie crumbles and the justice system works, and as my friend Mr Gatto says ‘Thank God for the jury system’, and I say hear hear to that.
Doug Meredith’s evidence is curious to say the least, and I am somewhat surprised that it has endured the pre-trial argument and survived to step into the arena for the main event, given that by my count it is, according to the sequence of what we have been told today, third hand hearsay.
Meredith D you see will be telling us that Tom Hamilton told him that Peter Hall had told him that Garry Dubois told him that he was party to the rape and murder of the McCulkin Three. Following me? A (Dubois) allegedly told B (Hall) who allegedly told C (Hamilton) who allegedly told D (Doug Meredith) that he was a child killing rapist.
It’s not the strongest of evidence even the most optimistic of watchers would have to agree, and what the jury will make of it is anyone’s guess.
The third vital cog in the chain is McGrath, an unknown quantity (well not to me, but once more you will have to wait and see) who will tell us that Dubois told him that he had once been charged with the McCulkin murders but the charges were withdrawn due to the lack of evidence, and had gone on further to tell him that the police reviewed the file every 5 years or so but he wasn’t worried ‘because they’ll never find the bodies’.
It’s not quite a confession but it’s not helpful to Dubois’ cause should the jury accept McGrath’s evidence as read. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one, but given the strict ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ test applied in cases of capital murder you would have to suspect that the prosecution may need a little more than just that if they are to get their case over the line.
Lynch gives a brief address but doesn’t say too much except for the bits related above sketching out the bones of his intended attack on the evidence of Hall, who from what we have heard this afternoon is both the star witness and the key to the whole trial. Mr Meredith the prosecutor has made no bones about the fact that his case will either rise or fall on the evidence of Hall, so expect that witness to spend a lengthy period in the box being cross examined by Mr Lynch QC, who will have to throw the kitchen sink at him and probably the dishwasher too in order to rip his evidence to shreds and send his client home to sing carols on Christmas Eve.