Mr Meredith takes us ever so briefly to motive in his opening address, and goodness gracious me I am as confused as a Trappist Monk with a kinky fetish for Magda Szubanski in a netball skirt already.
Given that Dubois faces 2 counts of rape (against minors, even though that alleged circumstance of aggravation doesn’t feature in the charges proffered against him) one would expect some form of sexually related motive to be offered by the defense, but David Meredith for the Crown at this stage provides us no premeditated motive for the rapes, framing them as an act that Dubois allegedly performed at the spur of the moment at the volition of another.
He tells us there is no physical evidence whatsoever linking Dubois to the rapes, or indeed to any of the offences for which he has been charged and sits presently in the perspex dock facing trial by his peers. No fingerprints, no strands of hair or flecks of blood, and no DNA.
On the latter note Meredith tells us that DNA testing was unknown in 1974, but although true it’s equally true that cold cases in the US from as far back as 1968 – 6 years before the disappearance of the McCulkin’s – have been solved using modern DNA technology. What Mr Meredith is really saying – what he tells us – is that there isn’t anything available from the crime scene to DNA test, and this proves no surprise when we learn that although the disappearance of the three was treated by police as a missing persons matter from mid to late January 1974, the investigation proper didn’t commence until April of that year, by which time any physical evidence there may have been at the alleged initial crime scene (the McCulkin’s house in Dorchester Street, Highgate Hill at which they were last sighted) was well since tainted and therefore unusable.
And of course there are no bodies either, for we are told that the remains of the three McCulkin women have never been found. The absence of the bodies makes it all that much harder for the Crown to prove murder, and given that we are also told that there is no eyewitness evidence to support the charges, and according to the outline of the case provided by Mr Meredith nothing to support the rape charges other than Hall’s testimony, the prosecution certainly have a task ahead of them over the next few weeks.
So what of motive? Well this is where things take a turn for the slightly weird, because as we relayed in an earlier report today Mr Meredith has told us that Hall, Meredith K, the grave-domiciled Tom Hamilton and Dubois allegedly torched the Torinos nightclub just weeks before the Whiskey Au Go Go went up in flames. Allegedly in the case of Hamilton and Dubois at least, for we learn that Hall has admitted his role in the arson, and has received an indemnity against prosecution for his crime, presumably in return for the evidence he will give here in this trial. We don’t know at this stage Meredith K’s status regarding indemnities granted or not granted, nor whether he has readily admitted to involvement in the fire.
Meredith tells us that Hall volunteered the admission of his hands on role as a firestarter under no duress, and proceeds to advise the court that Hall was at no risk ever of being investigated or charged for the 40 year old arson. He has to of course in order to allay any suspicions that Hall may be telling a tale about Dubois’ admission in order to save his own bacon, but taking Mr Meredith’s assertion at face value the question begs – why not? Why would Hall not be charged with the offence if police believed that he did it? It is a very, very unusual confession for a person to make out of the blue that’s for certain.
What Mr Meredith tells us next is equally unusual, for he says the blazes at Torinos and the Whiskey Au Go Go, occurring just weeks apart and with near identical MO’s, were not related. In fact says Mr Meredith the right men were arrested in 1973 and convicted for the crimes of setting the murderous Whiskey inferno and murdering innocents, those men being John Andrew Stuart (deceased) and James Richard Finch (now abroad).
Fair enough we might think.
But what comes next makes us do a double take, if not a triple with a backward pike, for Mr Meredith tells the jury that Barbara McCulkin and her husband Bill were believed by some to have knowledge of the circumstances of the Whiskey fire, and that it may very well have been this presumed knowledge that led directly to the deaths of Mrs McCulkin and her daughters.
In other words a possible Dubois motive for the murders was to shut her up.
But of course the question begs that if the real culprits were the perpetrators and were safe behind bars what could Barbara McCulkin possibly know that could have cost she and her children their lives? Is there more to Whiskey than we imagine or have been told? Not according to what Mr Meredith has put before us today, yet still the Whiskey Au Go Go nexus is the sole motive put forward for Dubois committing murder, and none at all has yet been proffered for him committing what surely must have been the heinous and terrifying rapes of 2 young girls. I’m certain we will hear a whole lot more from both sides of the bar table on motive, as sure as night follows day. It is a crucial point.
I have no idea what the jury makes of this so far, but I have to confess that I’m struggling to make sense of the Crown case at this early juncture. Perhaps it will become clearer but what we are left with at the conclusion of the opening addresses is 3 murder charges, 2 rapes and a count of deprivation of liberty, with no supporting physical evidence, no bodies, no clear motivation other than that linked to the Whiskey Au Go Go blze, and a star witness upon whose word the whole show rests, but who hadn’t spoken any of these words until recently after 4 decades of silence during which we are told he kept all to himself these horrific alleged revelations about two little kids and their Mum being brutally raped (in the girls case) and slain by his then friend.
It sure is a challenging premise to put it kindly, and when you throw in evidence provided in a different theater by now-dead people who are unable to be cross-examined it’s going to be an interesting few weeks ahead as the 50 odd living witness’s file in and out of the box to tell their stories.
Here come the first couple now.