By Jeremy Sollars
Former Warwick man Vincent O’Dempsey will remain in prison for life over the murders of Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki and Leanne after losing an appeal against his 2017 conviction.
O’Dempsey and co-accused Garry Dubois – both now aged in their 70’s – were found guilty by separate juries in 2017 and 2016 in the Supreme Court of Queensland of the 1974 cold case killings of the McCulkins.
Dubois has also lost an appeal against his conviction and will likewise serve the remainder of his life sentence.
The trial juries were told the bodies of the McCulkins have never been found.
O’Dempsey was found guilty of the murder of all three, while Dubois was convicted of the rape and murder of Vicki and Leanne and the manslaughter of Barbara McCulkin.
It is believed the motivation for the murder of Barbara McCulkin was knowledge she had relating to the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub fire in March 1973.
At their sentencing hearing in 2017 Justice Peter Applegarth told both men they were cold-blooded, heartless killers without consciences, who would likely die in jail.
He said O’Dempsey was a “hardened killer” a child killer and beyond redemption, and told Dubois he was a coward then and a callous old man now.
“You can have no expectation of early parole. If you maintain your silence over where the bodies are buried you could not reasonably expect to ever be granted parole,” Justice Applegarth said at the time.
Dubois appealed his conviction in June of this year on the basis that a confession he made to another man about his involvement in the deaths of the McCulkins and which was passed on to others was inadmissible as evidence as those concerned had been intoxicated and smoking cannabis at the time.
Dubois also asserted in his appeal that the jury’s verdict was “unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence”.
O’Dempsey’s appeal in July of this year was based around his own assertions that the evidence of motive for the murders was weak and that the trial judge had misdirected the jury about their assessment of witnesses and the standard of proof required to reach a guilty verdict.
In decisions handed down today, Friday 21 December, in relation to both appeals Court of Appeal Justices Sofronoff, Gotterson and Brown unanimously rejected all grounds and dismissed the appeals, meaning the life sentences will stand.