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.

McCulkin murder and rape accused declines to testify

A MAN accused of raping and killing the McCulkin girls has declined to speak at his trial.

About noon on Thursday, 42 years, 10 months and a day after 13-year-old Vicki McCulkin and her sister Leanne, 11, vanished, 69-year-old Garry Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois stood silently, staring towards Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Peter Applegarth as defence barrister Dennis Lynch told the jury his client would not be making the short walk from the dock to the witness box.

That brought to an end the evidence component of the Crown's case against Mr Dubois who 11 days ago pleaded not guilty to the murder of 34-year-old Barbara McCulkin and the rape and murder of her daughters.

A decision not to provide evidence cannot be used against a person facing trial.

The Torbanlea man's co-accused, 79-year-old Warwick resident Vincent O'Dempsey, will face trial next year.

On November 7, Crown prosecutor David Meredith spent much of his opening address focusing on the expected testimony of a small-time 1970s crook called Peter Hall who claimed Mr Dubois made a chilling confession in the days after the McCulkins disappeared.

When Mr Hall took to the witness box, he described to the court how Mr Dubois said Mr Dubois and Mr O'Dempsey drove Mrs McCulkin and her girls to the bush where they were "raped and murdered”.

"Dubois said O'Dempsey separated the mother from the daughters into the darkness,” Mr Hall said.

"He (Dubois) believes he (O'Dempsey) strangled her - he said there were gurgling sounds and O'Dempsey seemed to be gone for what seemed to be a long period of time.

"After the sound stopped he (O'Dempsey) came down and proceeded to rape one of the girls.”

Mr Hall told the court that Mr O'Dempsey told Mr Dubois to "rape the other one, which he had trouble doing”.

"He (Dubois) said he didn't feel real good but he eventually complied.

"After that was over, O'Dempsey killed one (of the sisters) and asked him to kill the other.

"He said he couldn't do it, so O'Dempsey killed the other (girl).

"They waited till dawn then they buried the bodies.

"He (Dubois) said once the sun come up and he looked at them it was a horrific sight.”

After Mr Hall's turn in the witness box, Janet Gayton told the court about the last few hours she spent with her childhood friends Vicki and Leanne.

About 6.30pm on January 16, 1974, 13-year-old Janet wandered across the road to the McCulkin house where she found a sandy-haired man with a moustache petting Ginger Meggs the cat in the front yard.

Through the kitchen window, she saw a man she knew only as 'Vince' leaning against the oven talking to Mrs McCulkin.

"I don't remember seeing them (the men) arrive - when I got there they were already there,” Ms Gayton said.

"Vicki said friends of her dad were there - Vince and Shorty.”

The McCulkin sisters then went to a party at Janet's house. Around 8pm, Leanne went home feeling sick and her big sister followed around 10pm.

"Nothing had been said that they were going anywhere,” Janet told the court when asked about their disappearance.

Other witnesses described a bright orange with black stripes Valiant Charger coupe like one belonging to Mr O'Dempsey parked in the McCulkins' street at various times.

The court also heard how a desperate Robert William 'Billy' McCulkin broke into his estranged family's home where he found a half-sewn dress on the sewing machine, empty beer bottles on the kitchen table, his wife's house dress and slippers missing and her purse and engagement ring on the fridge.

Norman Wild, an associate of the now-dead Mr McCulkin, told the court about going on a desperate hunt to find the men Billy McCulkin believed were responsible for the missing family.

Mr Wild said when they found Mr Dubois, Mr McCulkin yelled at him: "Where's me f**king kids, where's me wife?”.

A number of witnesses testified that Mr McCulkin would often bash his wife but that he also spent a lot of time with her and their children.

Maryborough truck driver Trevor McGrath told the court that while they were having drinks one evening in 2010, Mr Dubois confessed "they'll never find the bodies”.

"We talked about hunting and things in general,” Mr McGrath said.

"His (Mr Dubois's) past come up.

"(He said) that he had done time and got out on insufficient evidence - that he was charged with murder.”

Mr Dubois then said: "They review it (the murder) every five years but they'll never find the bodies.”

A South Australian police officer involved in the arrest and extradition of Mr Dubois to Queensland told the court this week that the accused became extremely agitated, upset and close to tears while waiting to front Adelaide Magistrates Court in July, 1980.

"(Mr Dubois said) 'I'm guilty by association. I know O'Dempsey',” witness John Attwood said on Thursday.

"If I blab I'm dead, and I'm dead if I don't.

"Christ, Joh's (Bjelke-Petersen) mob throw away the key for murder.

"F**king murder - I can't believe it. I'm guilty because I know O'Dempsey.

"I'm dead if I say anything. He's mad. He likes doing it. He's a mad f**king dog.

"When I get back there, it's goodbye world.

"You don't know him either. He's a mad f**king dog. I'm f**king dead if I say anything.

"Don't you think I would (say something) if I could - what about me seeing the kid (Mr Dubois's daughter) in court and knowing I'll never see her or (wife) Jan again.”

The court also heard that the McCulkins may have had some knowledge of the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub blaze that killed 15 people in 1973.

Mr Meredith told the court last week that Mr Dubois, Mr O'Dempsey and three other men were behind the torching of the Torino nightclub about 10 days before the Whiskey Au Go Go went up in flames.

The accused feared their involvement in the Torino blaze could see them linked to the Whiskey fire.

Mr Dubois's brother Paul told the court that during a phone conversation, Garry Dubois said: "Barbara McCulkin had information on O'Dempsey that he felt could've got him 20 years and this is how he dealt with it”.

Mr Meredith has said the prosecution's case is not that Mrs McCulkin was blackmailing O'Dempsey.

However, he said her knowledge of the two fires may have been a motive for her death.

Physical evidence presented to the court included testimony that samples of blood taken from the McCulkin's home belonged to cats, photos of Mr O'Dempsey's Charger, a photo of Garry Dubois from the 1970s, photos of the McCulkins' Highgate Hill house and photos of unidentified fingerprints found at the scene.

The McCulkins' bodies have never been found.

The Crown and the defence are expected to present their closing arguments from Monday. - ARM NEWSDESK