Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki and Leanne. The family disappeared in 1974.
Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki and Leanne. The family disappeared in 1974. Contributed

McCulkin murders: 'They'll never find them'

ACCUSED murderer Vincent O'Dempsey allegedly told a fellow inmate police would "never find" the bodies of Barbara, Leanne and Vicki McCulkin.

The prison informant, who cannot be named, told Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday he had regular conversations with Mr O'Dempsey when they were both jailed in 2016.

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

In one conversation, the informant told Mr O'Dempsey he did not think the authorities had enough evidence on him.

"I told him (the police) obviously got nothing on you and he said 'Yeah, I know and they'll never find them'," he said.

The informant said on another occasion Mr O'Dempsey told him "In those days if you got paid to do a job you did it".

"That just gave me goose bumps," the informant said.

"He said 'I wasn't going to go down for a bunch of them'."

But the informant said when he asked Mr O'Dempsey if he had killed Vicki and Leanne he said "never laid a hand on them".

Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki, 13 and Leanne, 11, disappeared from their Highgate Hill home in January 1974. Mr O'Dempsey's trial was separated from that of his co-accused, Gary Reginald "Shorty" Dubois.

Mr O'Dempsey's barrister Terry Glynn accused the informant of using notes to "learn" rather than relying on memory. But the informant maintained he did remember the events.

Mr Glynn questioned the quality and reliability of the informant's evidence.

The informant said Mr O'Dempsey gave him a message and a phone number to pass on to a friend on the outside if he was granted bail.

The informant said he used greyhound racing jersey colours to record the phone number without others realising what it was.

He said Mr O'Dempsey told him to use the number to pass on a message to an ex-girlfriend of Mr O'Dempsey's, who he thought would be a witness, telling her to deny having a relationship with him or seeing any criminal activity.

"He said that would blow (the prosecution's) case out of the water. He said that was his only hope," the informant said.

The informant said Mr O'Dempsey wanted him to flee to Melbourne after passing on the message.

The trial continues.