The poor, lost kids and their Mum – Is justice truly served if the real killers escape?

For more than two years now I have been a lone voice in the media contending that based on the evidence against presented by the Crown against them Garry Dubois and Vincent O’Dempsey could not be safely convicted of the the charges of murder, deprivation of liberty and, in the case of Dubois only, 2 counts of rape.

Many have said that I got it wrong and are poking their literary and metaphorical tongues in my direction, but forgive them Lord for they know not what they do.

O’Dempsey and Dubois may well have been found guilty by a jury, but the 12 good men and women who made the call to convict had been profoundly misled into forming their guilty verdict by a non-conspiratorial clutch of police, Crown prosecutors, highly compromised witnesses and perhaps even the judge who allowed large chunks of dubious testimony to be admitted into evidence.

The profound weakness of the Crown case could, and should, have been ripped to shreds by properly prepared and highly skilled defence teams running well crafted, intelligent strategies designed to cast so much reasonable doubt about the prosecution case that no jury on earth would convict their clients, but it wasn’t and thus the Crown’s case was turned from a weakness into a strength in the eyes of the jury members, who in the circumstances were left with little option but to enter guilty verdicts on all counts.

So now O’Dempsey and Dubois have disappeared from our gaze and spend their days locked behind bars and razor wire in prison cells that for the terms of their natural lives they must call home and the world cheers, for no living soul on earth other than Brett Cowan feels anything but repulsion for animals posing as men who defile and then slaughter a woman and her children.

There remains but one voice crying out in Dubois and O’Dempsey’s defence and shouting aloud to all who might hear that the river of justice has strayed down a crooked course, and that a huge wrong has been done.

I am acutely aware that I am going out on a limb  when I say these things, way way out, and the seeming incongruity of a child-sex abuse victim mounting such a spirited defence of a pair of  a convicted child killers and, in the case of Dubois at least, a jury-determined pedophile is far from lost on me, for I like you am a law-abiding citizen and a decent human being and I too abhor the demons who committed this horrible crime.

Those demons however are not Dubois and O’Dempsey, no matter what the jury found or the judge and the prosecution said and the court of public opinion now holds.

They didn’t do it.

The wrong men have been convicted, and the real killers have gotten away with one of the most heinous crimes this state has ever seen; in fact they’ve escaped justice for two, for the uniformed men who ordered, arranged and perhaps even perpetrated the murders of the McCulkin women are the same men responsible for slaughtering 15 innocent men and women in the Whiskey Au Go Go inferno, and I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.

Until few days ago I held no opinion either way about whether O’Dempsey and Dubois had done the dastardly deeds they were accused and have now been convicted of, for the simple reason that not being a judge or God I had not asked myself the question.

The taking of men’s liberty is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of the most extreme gravity and must never be based on anything but evidence and facts. That the O’Dempsey and Dubois prosecutions was from the outset of investigations not has meant that the non-pliable yet conversely intangible tenet of faith we know as justice and hold dear has been bent from the start.

It is oft said that evil flourishes when good women and men do nothing; but evil is equally borne and grows wild when armed with the certainty of their self-determined truths men and women embark on expeditions of a type where nothing but reaching the intended destination matters; linear journeys along potted rock paths hewn over hundreds of years that may be rearranged without remorse or regret and the exploratory imperative is cast aside as intrinsically extraneous.

The investigative journey into the dark heart of the McCulkin murders has traversed exactly this course, and the well meaning but misguided premise that propelled the travelers on a low road from the very beginning has led us all down a false path and resulted in the ruination of two men whose liberty we have cruelly stolen away as the price for a presumed evil deed that – following the emergence of new evidence uncovered in my personal quest to find meaning and truth about these poor girls slaughter – I am absolutely certain O’Dempsey and Dubois did not perform.

The road that has led those of us that love the law and are wedded to justice into the dark hollow of doubt and disbelief in which we now rest is, like most seemingly complex puzzles, stunningly simple at its deconstructed core.

Having reviewed the file of evidence passed to them like a baton in a four decade long Olympic relay the cold case police officers, sworn to uphold the truth and the law and stripping those that break it bare, , became convinced that they had found both it and them.

It never occurred to the experienced officers to take a step backward before they started, and ask themselves whether the evidence that they had been handed was in fact sound and true, for if it were not then it was inevitable that their examination of an ancient atrocity with fresh modern eyes would simple be an inexorable journey down a false path perhaps laid by the very criminals they were seeking to find.

The cold case detectives failed to stop and take that backward step; instead they blithely and unquestioningly accepted the words in those thick volumes of evidence prepared in the 1970’s by the professional  ancestors in whose shoes they now walked as gospel truth, and thus the terrible McCulkin tragedy would claim two more families and the narrow path to justice miscarried was hewn.

Some will say it should have been obvious to the experienced cold case officers from the outset that something was terribly wrong with the evidence they had inherited.

Large and important tracts of it were missing, including a number of police statements and records of interview that should have, and surely must have been, made and taken at the time the McCulkin’s disappeared.

Swathes of the transcripts from the 1980 inquest into the deaths were missing, and many of the exhibits had seemingly vanished into thin air.

The sequence of events in the police inquiry should have set off alarm bells. In the immediate days after his wife and children disappeared Billy McCulkin had raced to meet urgently with Basil Hicks, an officer he acted for as a regular informant, and told Hicks that they were missing and expressed a number of concerns. In the original summary Hicks made of the conversation with McCulkin in his police notebook he recorded that McCulkin had been to a police station to make a missing person’s report, yet no such report appeared in the file.

Hicks also noted that he had made a visit to the McCulkin home a day or two later, but from the records in the files it appeared that he had then been pulled off the case and replaced by officers later proved or suspected corrupt, including later Commissioners Ronald Redmond and Terrence Lewis, and these men by accident or more probably design had not undertaken any further investigation into the sudden disappearance of the wife and young children of a leading underworld figure for almost two months, and had in the process these rising stars of the police force who would later become its leading lights had inexplicably allowed the physical and forensic evidence to be despoiled and the trail to grow cold.

Surely by now the stench must have filled the officers nostrils and they would have begun to question whether their were things other than the trio’s disappearance that might be sinister about this whole case, and that given the names of the officer’s that appeared in the piecework records perhaps the fix might have been in from the start, and they should establish a number of different lines of investigation in their quest to uncover the truth rather than simply zeroing in on O’Dempsey and Dubois and simply resurrecting the only line ever followed from the beginning.

These thoughts should have arisen in the impartial investigators minds, but they didn’t, because the Fitzgerald Inquiry has been prohibited by its narrow terms of reference from investigating or examining the McCulkin’s disappearance, or the torching of Torino’s, or the mass murder at the Whiskey Au Go Go, or the highly suspicious death of Shirley Brifman, or the National Hotel Inquiry, and a whole lot of other things that were essential to an understanding of the depths of depravity and corruption of the leaders of the police force at that time, and the complexity and context of events and the corrupt connections between police and leading criminals that were inexorably linked to the three females last days prior to their disappearance and presumed deaths.

Fitzgerald’s terms of reference did not permit him to examine events prior to 1977 other than as background to events from that year on, and these cold case officers were coppers, not students of history, so how could they have known or suspected that their forebears might have their fingers all over the awful felony and may well just have erased their involvement by putting others in the frame?

They couldn’t have.

Could they?

In the event it was a moot point, because the detectives had become utterly convinced of O’Dempsey and Dubois’ guilt before they had even opened the old investigation file. That the contents inside might be crook seemingly didn’t even cross their minds; they’d fallen hook, line and sinker for yarn spun by the 1970’s coppers and were intent on landing the fish that had escaped without taking the bait all those years ago.

I guess it’s like Brisbane’s eminent crime historian Matt Condon said when with delicious irony he used Terry Lewis’ famous  quote as the title of his book – Little Fish are Sweet.

Unless of course they’re rotten, and then all who are fed them are poisoned and we all become terribly sick.

The words I’ve written above (and as usual failed to proof read – let me know about the grammatical and spelling errors you find so I can fix them) are merely an introduction to a much longer and more detailed and complex true crime tale about the events in the Brisbane underworld over the coming month.

Some of the things that the collaborative research undertaken by the extended itsnotnormal team are going to blow your mind, and if you don’t understand it already I can guarantee you that in no time at all you’ll realise that when I’ve kept on repeating over the past couple the dictum that everything you’ve ever been told is a lie, I wasn’t ever whistling dixie.

Truth is always stranger than fiction, and if Tony Fitzgerald and his cast of thousands wasn’t allowed to expose it to you, well this little black duck from Geebung will.

If you have an interest in learning a whole lot more about what lurked – and in some cases still lurks – in the dark in Brisbane then I highly recommend you take one tip.

Watch this space.