McCulkin cold case: court hears of confession warning

IN CUSTODY: Vince O’Dempsey in the back of a police vehicle heading into the Brisbane City watchhouse ahead of his court appearance today. Photo - Channel 9.
IN CUSTODY: Vince O’Dempsey in the back of a police vehicle heading into the Brisbane City watchhouse ahead of his court appearance today. Photo - Channel 9. CHANNEL

TWO elderly men have indicated they will plead not guilty to murdering a mother and two daughters who disappeared 40 years ago.

Warwick man Vincent O'Dempsey, 76, and Torbanlea man Garry Reginald Dubois, 67, also face deprivation of liberty and other charges in relation to the cold case of Barbara McCulkin and her daughters, Leanne and Vicki.

O'Dempsey and Dubois appeared briefly in a Brisbane magistrates court this morning.
Outside court, O'Dempsey's solicitor Terry O'Gorman said he was putting the police "on notice".

He warned his client was at risk of being "verballed" in prison by inmates trying to win favour with police, by claiming that he confessed to the murders.

"I have advised Mr O'Dempsey because of the profile and notoriety of this case, that there is a very real risk that he will be the subject of a jail verbal or a false allegation that in jail he confessed to a prisoner in relation to the subject matter of these charges," Mr O'Gorman said.

Mr O'Gorman said if police encouraged prisoners to talk to his client without being electronically recorded it would be "on the police's head".

Mr O'Gorman said he had advised O'Dempsey not to speak to prisoners, police or anyone else.

Dubois' solicitor said his client was in the same situation as O'Dempsey and he had advised Dubois not to speak to anyone about the allegations.

The men will both apply for bail, but can only do so in the Supreme Court because they face murder charges.

Their matters will appear in court on November 24 for a committal call-over.

O'Dempsey charged in 'cold case' McCulkin murders

IT'S the cold case mystery that has gripped the Rose City for 40 years and today it's another step closer to being solved, following the arrest of key person of interest who lives in Warwick.

Vincent O'Dempsey was arrested at a public phone box behind the Matilda service station in Warwick at 10.30am on Saturday in relation to the disappearance of Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Leanne and Vicki.

On Saturday, police also arrested 67-year-old Gary Dubois of Torbanlea, near Maryborough, charging both men with murder and deprivation of liberty.

Barbara and her daughters Leanne and Vicki disappeared from their Highgate Hill, Brisbane, home on the night of January 16, 1974.

It is believed they may have had evidence to give to police in their investigation into the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub fire in Brisbane in 1973, long believed to be linked to the Clockwork Orange Gang, of which the charged men were members.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Queensland Police said the two arrests followed an "extensive and protracted investigation by members of the State Crime Command's Homicide Cold Case Unit.

The unit had assistance from the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) and the Warwick Police Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), detectives from which were involved in Saturday's arrest of the Warwick man here.

Police said that in January a full review of the case commenced which included speaking with a number of people in Queensland and interstate and the execution of search warrants on properties in Warwick.

Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicky (left) and Leanne (centre) disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974.
Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicky (left) and Leanne (centre) disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974. Contributed

"This has been a full and thorough investigation and review. Many investigators and specialist police over the years have contributed to the evidence in support of these arrests and we are pleased with the arrests," Detective Superintendent Steve Holahan of the Homicide Group said.

Numerous witnesses believed to have information or evidence relevant to the suspected murder of Barbara, Vicki and Leanne McCulkin have been called to CCC hearings over 31 days since February.

Hearings have been held in Brisbane and in North Queensland.

"The renewed investigation and use of coercive powers has gathered significant evidence without which the arrests would not have been possible," Det Supt Holahan said in his statement.

It is understood that the men may have been the subject of closed-door coercive meetings with the CCC, where failure to answer questions truthfully can lead to a perjury charge and jail.

Vince O'Dempsey was arrested in August but later released without charge, with police tight-lipped about the nature of the evidence that has arisen since.

The Daily News contacted O'Dempsey's daughter, Warwick's Sharon Kelly, for comment yesterday but she declined, saying the matter was in the hands of her father's solicitor, Terry O'Gorman.

Standing by her man

The wife of Torbanlea retiree Gary "Shorty" Dubois is standing by her husband who has also been charged over the McCulkin cold case murders.

As her husband spent the weekend in a Brisbane jail cell, Jen Dubois vowed her family would continue to fight the allegations.

Speaking to the Fraser Coast Chronicle from his Torbanlea home earlier this year, Dubois said he had co-operated with detectives and previously travelled to Brisbane and that if "police want to speak to me, they know where to find me".

Yesterday, his wife said the family had always maintained they would fight any charges brought against her husband.

She said the decision was "now in the hands of the courts" and asked for the public to respect her family's privacy.

- Additional reporting by the Fraser Coast Chronicle.


  • Vince O'Dempsey and Gary Dubois are charged with three counts of murder, three counts of deprivation of liberty and others matters,and will face Brisbane Magistrate's Court today
  • Double jeopardy legislation not applicable here, although the two men were known to police during the investigation
  • New witnesses have come forward - police would not go into details
  • Not believed to have strong links to the recent evidence discovery in Warwick including cannabis and cash, which is still being investigated.

Topics:  cold case editors picks murder vincent odempsey

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