Vincent O'Dempsey.
Vincent O'Dempsey.

McCulkin jury may consider manslaughter as an alternative

A BRISBANE Supreme Court justice has told a jury it may consider verdicts of manslaughter against triple murder accused Vincent O'Dempsey.

The 78-year-old Warwick resident has pleaded not guilty to three charges of murder and one of deprivation of liberty in relation to the disappearance of Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11.

The family was last seen alive at their Highgate Hill home in 1974.

In his closing remarks in the three-week trial, Justice Peter Applegarth said the jury may consider manslaughter as an alternative to the murder charges when it retires to consider its verdict.

Justice Applegarth, during his summing up this morning, also dismissed any notions that the family disappeared as part of an "elaborate ruse" as very unlikely during his summing up this morning.

"There's no suggestion she (Mrs McCulkin) was flush with funds," Justice Applegarth said.

"You can rest assured that the evidence doesn't seem as if she had some money parked in an offshore bank account.

"The hypothesis that there was some elaborate ruse seems, or may seem to you, very unlikely."

 

Barbara McCulkin and with one of her daughters. The McCulkin family disappeared in 1974.
Barbara McCulkin and with one of her daughters. The McCulkin family disappeared in 1974. Contributed

During the trial, the jury heard Mrs McCulkin did not tell friends or family she would be leaving. Her purse and wedding ring were found in her house after she and the children disappeared.

Justice Applegarth said the jury should also consider defence barrister Tony Glynn's claim that Mrs McCulkin's "detestable" estranged husband Robert William 'Billy' McCulkin killed his family.

The jury previously heard allegations Mr McCulkin often violently abused his wife.

"There is someone who had a real motive, who it would appear hasn't been looked at seriously by either the police or the crown," Mr Glynn said of the deceased father and husband in his closing address.

"He is a much more, in my submission, likely candidate than Mr O'Dempsey.

"We know that he's a jealous, violent man."

 

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

The Crown alleged the McCulkins willingly left their Highgate Hill home to go for a drive with Mr O'Dempsey and his co-accused Gary Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois on the evening of January 16, 1974.

Mr O'Dempsey and Mr Dubois then allegedly "deprived them of their liberty" and each of the McCulkins was allegedly murdered "by the defendant", Justice Applegarth told the jury.

The Crown claimed a "suspected connection" between the Torino and Whiskey Au Go Go fires in 1973 "would provide a motive for Mr Dubois and Mr O'Dempsey (as a friend of Dubois to) keep Barbara McCulkin quiet."

"It may not sound a sufficient motive or even a sensible one, but there never is for murder," prosecutor David Meredith told the jury during his opening address.

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

The jury has heard from 64 witnesses, with the testimony of dead witnesses read to the court.

The trial before Justice Peter Applegarth continues.   

- ARM NEWSDESK

News Corp Australia


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