BODIES NOT FOUND: Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicky (left) and Leanne (centre) disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974.
BODIES NOT FOUND: Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicky (left) and Leanne (centre) disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974. Contributed

Defence claims Billy McCulkin killed his own family

BARBARA McCulkin's estranged husband killed her and their daughters because he feared his wife could link him to the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub fire that killed 15 people in 1973.

Defence barrister Dennis Lynch made the claim during his closing address to a Brisbane Supreme Court jury charged with deciding the fate of his client, Garry Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois.

Mr Dubois is on trial for the murder of 34-year-old Highgate Hill mother Barbara McCulkin and the rape and murder of her daughters Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11.

He has pleaded not guilty to three murder charges, two rape charges and one charge of deprivation of liberty.

His co-accused Vincent O'Demspey is expected to face trial next year.

Crown prosecutor David Meredith previously told the court 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 in 1973.

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

Mr O'Dempsey also allegedly claimed Mrs McCulkin was blackmailing him over the crime.

Mrs McCulkin's husband Robert William 'Billy' McCulkin was one the first people interviewed about Whiskey fire.

The court heard Mrs McCulkin told a workmate she knew something about the blaze, Leanne McCulkin told a school friend she feared her father had something to with it and one of the men accused of the fire, John Stewart, lived in the McCulkin home for a while.

Mr Lynch said the Crown's claim that Mrs McCulkin was "in a position" to implicate his client and Mr O'Dempsey in the Whiskey fire was an attempt to try to make the evidence suit the prosecution's theory.

"Compare that to the motive Billy McCulkin might have had," Mr Lynch said.

"He was clearly associated with (John) Stewart.

"He was the first person taken to police headquarters (after the blaze).

"A daughter was saying something to a friend at school, saying that Billy was involved in the fire. 

"That was a powerful motive."

Mr Lynch dismissed witness Peter Hall's claim that Mr Dubois confessed to his alleged involvement in the deaths as lies. 

"His reason for telling a lie was to save his own neck," Mr Lynch said referring to Mr Hall not revealing the alleged conversation between him and Mr Dubois at the  Crime and Misconduct Commission in 2014 for fear of being implicated in the Torino fire.

""It's abundantly clear that Peter Hall told lies (before the CMC).

"He continued to lie when he got into the witness box here."

Crown claims McCulkin 'murder, rape' accused knew all along that mum and daughters would die

ACCUSED murderer and rapist Garry Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois knew Barbara McCulkin and her daughters would die from the moment he "tied" them up, trapping them in the back seat of the car that drove them to their bush graves.

Crown prosecutor David Meredith told a Brisbane Supreme Court jury on Monday that Mr Dubois was an active participant in the abduction and murders of the 34-year-old Highgate Hill mum and her children about January 16, 1974.

Mr Meredith described the alleged rapes of 13-year-old Vicki and 11-year-old Leanne as "gratuitous pleasure seeking" on the way to their deaths.

The Crown has alleged that the McCulkins were driven from their home in co-accused Vincent O'Dempsey's two-door Valiant Charger "towards Warwick".

Once there, Mr O'Demspey allegedly separated Mrs McCulkin from her daughters and then strangled her to death.

Mr O'Dempsey then allegedly raped one of the girls and convinced Mr Dubois to do the same to the other child.

Mr O'Dempsey allegedly murdered them both and the two men then "buried" their bodies in an unknown location.

Mr Meredith told the jury on Monday that even though the alleged crimes happened in 1974, the memories of key witnesses Janet and Juneen Gayton and Peter Hall had not faded with time.

Mr Meredith said the Gayton sisters, who were close friends of Leanne and Vicki, both saw men called "Shorty" and "Vince" at the McCulkins' home on the evening the family disappeared.

"You can be absolutely certain that that is what occurred," the prosecutor said.

Mr Meredith said while Mr Hall was an admitted criminal he had no reason to lie about confessions allegedly made by Mr Dubois in the days after the McCulkins disappeared.

Mr Hall previously told the jury Mr Dubois confessed to him that Mr O'Dempsey killed the trio, raped one of the girls and made him do the same to the other.

"(Mr Hall) gets nothing for this (testimony) except satisfying his conscious," Mr Meredith said of Mr Hall's testimony.

Mr Meredith said Mr Dubois knew as soon as he allegedly "tied" the McCulkins up that they would die.

"By tying them up he is showing he is willing to go along with O'Dempsey's plan," Mr Meredith said.

"She (Mrs McCulkin) is strangled - the sound he (Dubois) hears goes on for ages. 

"He has an opportunity (to intervene).

"Does he do anything? No."

Mr Meredith said Mr O'Dempsey's demand that Mr Dubois rape one of the girls was aimed at implicating the defendant in the crimes.

"You can see his motivation - get Dubois to do something so he can't inform on him," Mr Meredith said.

"Nothing could be more indicative of his (Dubois') support (for the crimes) than that he participates.

"He might not like what is occurring but he is a participant - this is shown by helping to bury the bodies afterwards."

The McCulkins' bodies have never been found.

The case continues before Justice Peter Applegarth. - ARM NEWSDESK

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