Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicky (left) and Leanne (centre) disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974.
Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicky (left) and Leanne (centre) disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974.

'I just heard the man I'm laying beside is a killer of kids'

A REFORMED heroin junkie and criminal says the man accused of murdering the McCulkins would feed her drug habit if she asked him.

Vincent O'Dempsey's one-time lover Kerri Scully told a Brisbane Supreme Court jury on Monday that Mr O'Dempsey told her he killed Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11.

Mr O'Dempsey, a 78-year-old Warwick resident, has pleaded not guilty to three charges of murder and one of deprivation of liberty.

Ms Scully said the alleged admission happened while they were in bed at Mr O'Dempsey's Warwick home reading a book called Shotgun and Standover, in which the defendant featured.

"(He said) I'm good for it but they'll never get me for it," said Ms Scully, who also told the court that Mr O'Dempsey told her he was "sleeping" with Barbara McCulkin before she and her daughters disappeared from their Highgate Hill home in January of 1974.

"I was blown away when I heard that come out of his mouth," 36-year-old Ms Scully said of Mr O'Dempsey's alleged confession regarding the McCulkin family.

"I went home and tried to distance myself from him and the relationship.

"I was scared, I was confused, I was off my head."

Under questioning from Mr O'Dempsey's barrister Tony Glynn, Ms Scully angrily yelled that she could have fled Warwick to have a 'hit' of heroin: "Especially if I just heard the man I'm laying beside is a killer of kids".

"I'll be a junkie for the rest of my life," she said when asked about her drug use, indicating that she no longer used the drug but considered herself addicted regardless.

Mr Glynn told Ms Scully he did not believe the evidence she was giving.

"I'm telling the truth," she rebutted.

"I don't give two sh*ts if you believe me or not."

Ms Scully rejected Mr Glynn's assertion that she made up the alleged confession to get a $250,000 reward offered for the conviction of the person responsible for killing the McCulkins.

"I wasn't interested in the reward," she said.

"What was the $250,000 was going to do for me?

"I wasted thousands and millions of dollars in my arms.

"If the reward was offered to me I wouldn't take it - I would be offended."

Ms Scully said that during their relationship, the defendant paid for her to undergo drug rehabilitation treatment but "If I told him I wanted a shot, he would have driven me there and got it for me".

"Vince took care of me - he gave me everything I need or wanted," she said.

"He gave me cash whenever I wanted it."

Ms Scully said Mr O'Dempsey wanted them to get married, have a baby and "live happily ever after" and that she had written letters from prison to him about this.

However, she told the court that she "exaggerated" her feelings for him in those letters.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Geoffrey Faulkes said 16 fingerprints belonging to Mr O'Dempsey and one belonging to Ms Scully were on assorted pages of a copy of Shotgun and Standover that was found in Mr O'Dempsey's house.

Mr O'Dempsey's trial was separated from that of his co-accused, Gary Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois.

The Crown alleges a "suspected connection" between the Torino and Whiskey Au Go Go fires in 1973 "would provide a motive for Mr Dubois and Mr O'Dempsey (as a friend of Dubois to) keep Barbara McCulkin quiet."

"It may not sound a sufficient motive or even a sensible one, but there never is for murder," prosecutor David Meredith told the jury during his opening address.

The trial before Justice Peter Applegarth continues.