Vincent O'Dempsey.
Vincent O'Dempsey.

Court: 'Dark garbage bags' seen after McCulkins went missing

MEN were seen carrying "dark garbage bags" from the home of Vincent O'Dempsey about a week after the McCulkins disappeared.

Mr O'Dempsey's former landlord told a Brisbane Supreme Court jury that he saw three men remove the bags from Mr O'Dempsey's unit on January 22, 1974.

Mr O'Dempsey is standing trial for the alleged murder of Barbara McCulkin, 34, and her daughters Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11, who were last seen at their Highgate Hill home on January 16, 1974.

The 78-year-old Warwick resident has pleaded not guilty to three charges of murder and one of deprivation of liberty.
Property owner Adrian Burton said he saw Mr O'Dempsey and three unknown men turn up at the unit in an "orange" Valiant Charger.

The men went into the unit and came back out carrying the garbage bags.

Mr Burton said he went to collect the rent a few days later from Mr O'Dempsey, but found the defendant's belongings were gone and that he had moved out.

Massage parlour financier and hotel operator Ernest Watkins is dead but his witness statement was read to the court.

Mr Watkins said Mr O'Dempsey was in a relationship with Di Pritchard in January of 1974.

He financed a massage parlour on Ms Pritchard's behalf and she was repaying him weekly.

Ms Pritchard also rented a room at Mr Watkins' hotel.

Mr Watkins said Ms Pritchard did not sleep in the room but she used it to store her clothes and she often changed there.

On January 22, 1974, she turned up at the hotel and collected her belongings, he said.

"She was very quiet and withdrawn," Mr Watkins said in his witness statement.

"This was the last time I saw her."

Two days later Mr Watkins went to the massage parlour and found it closed.

He then went to Mr O'Dempsey's house.

"I found they (Mr O'Dempsey and Ms Pritchard) had vacated (his home) and had gone," Mr Watkins said.

"I could not find out where they had gone."

The Crown alleges Mr O'Dempsey and Gary Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois murdered Mrs McCulkin and her daughters because they feared Mrs McCulkin could link them to a nightclub fire in 1973.

Mr O'Dempsey's trail was separated from the trial of Mr Dubois.

The trial before Justice Peter Applegarth continues.  

In this report on Saturday regarding the McCulkin murder trial incorrectly named a witness. The deceased witness whose evidence was read to the court was massage parlour owner and hotelier Ernest Watkins.  Former forensic police officer Neil Raward, who was mistakenly quoted in this article, is still alive. He provided evidence on another issue during the trial in Brisbane Supreme Court on Friday.  We apologise and regret the mistake.

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