Accused tried to take my child

By MIKARLA THURECHT

A FAMILY friend of murdered youngsters Russell and Kimberley Griffin yesterday claimed their accused killer had tried to take her daughter just a day earlier. Kathy Marie Hopwood yesterday took the witness stand in the murder trial of Joseph Garrett Button in the Rockhampton Supreme Court. Button, 33, has pleaded not guilty to the murders of Russell, 13, and Kimberley Griffin, 9, on October 15, 2001. The children were allegedly strangled and their bodies thrown off a cliff in the Mount Archer National Park. The court heard Button had taken the children to search for special didgeridoo wood. Ms Hopwood ? a friend of the murdered siblings' mother Annette Griffin ? told the court she had met Button by chance when he walked into the hotel where she was playing pool. She said Button must have seen her address on some paperwork she had and was shocked when he turned up at her house a few weeks later. Ms Hopwood said the conversations she later had with Button had been "very weird'' with him at one point asking her to perform a sex act on him. Ms Hopwood said when her daughter, a school pal of Kimberley's, arrived home Button asked if he could take her to Yeppoon to hunt for didgeridoo wood. When Ms Hopwood refused, she said Button's eyes "went evil''. "He was upset when I refused. I didn't worry about his feelings. I just said no. He got a bit funny. His eyes ... I just wanted him out of my home.'' It was at this point that Ms Griffin and Russell arrived at Ms Hopwood's, meeting Button for what is believed to be the first time. She said Ms Griffin never saw the argument. The Griffin children went missing the next day. The court also heard from one of Ms Griffin's neighbours, Michael Matthew Hepburn, who also had young children. Mr Hepburn said he had seen Button giggling with Russell on the day of the murder, but Russell was usually a quiet kid. He said Russell had asked to borrow a hacksaw from him while Button looked on from underneath the Griffin's house. Witness Tiana June Perkis said she had seen Button and the children on the day of their deaths. She said Russell was drinking and Button smelt of alcohol. Ms Perkis said Button yelled "God bless you'' and he walked off along Richardson Road with the kids. The trial continues.



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