Vincent O'Dempsey charged in 55-year-old cold case

GANGLAND figure Vincent O'Dempsey has briefly appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court, charged with the murder of Vincent Raymond Allen in 1964.

He cannot apply for bail in this court because of the serious nature of the charge.

After the brief procedural mention, O'Dempsey was remanded in custody and had his matter adjourned until September 16.

Allen was last seen alive in a vehicle driven by a known associate around 5pm on April 18, 1964, at Warwick on the southern Darling Downs.

He was never seen again and his body has never been found.

About 16 years after Allen disappeared, a coroner found: "I am unable to find how or where he met his death.

"The cause of his disappearance would seem to be directly linked with the fact that he was required to give evidence against Vincent O'Dempsey in a criminal proceeding..."

At the time of his disappearance Allen was described as being a flamboyant man who wore "loud shirts" and leopard-skin pants.

O'Dempsey was brought into custody earlier today.

Vincent Raymond Allen.
Vincent Raymond Allen. QPS

The murder count is the oldest charge laid against a person in Australian cold case history.

O'Dempsey is currently serving a sentence in Queensland for the murders of Barbara McCulkin, 34, and her daughters Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11, in January 1974.

He was in 2017 sentenced to life behind bars for the killings.

O'Dempsey unsuccessfully appealed the convictions to the Queensland Court of Appeal.

In June this year, he lost his final bid to have the conviction overturned by the High Court of Australia, who denied him special leave to appeal.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said Queensland's homicide cold case team led the nation.

"Fifty-five years have passed but the cold case unit of the Queensland Police Service did not relent," he said.

"Our homicide detectives, our cold case team, lead the nation. They are the best. And today, yet again, we see evidence of that.

"For these detectives, the quest for justice is eternal.

"Never before in Australia has a cold case this old produced a result like this.

"It's history today - but more importantly, it's justice today."

Detective Senior Sergeant Tara Kentwell from the Homicide Investigation Unit's cold case team said Vincent Allen's surviving family members - four sisters and two brothers - were relieved to learn of today's arrest.

She said detectives began reviewing the investigation last year, trawling through "thousands of pieces of information" dating back to 1964.

"We have interviewed witnesses and conducted a forensic review of exhibits," she said.

"We have used modern methodologies to progress a historical police investigation."

Vincent O'Dempsey is driven into the police watchhouse today.
Vincent O'Dempsey is driven into the police watchhouse today. Dan Peled/AAP

She said Vincent Allen was a 23-year-old single man who had worked on the Leslie Dam before taking a job with Queensland Rail.

He was a witness in an investigation into two jewellery store robberies and was supposed to testify in court proceedings. He disappeared before the hearing, resulting in charges being dropped against Vincent O'Dempsey.

O'Dempsey was interviewed by police in relation to Mr Allen's disappearance in 1975 and again in 1979.

He front a coronial inquiry into the suspected murder in 1980 where he was questioned on the stand.

Police again approached him while conducting the current review.

"We believe that there are still witnesses out there who hold vital information and we appeal for any person who might hold such information to come forward," Det Sen Sgt Kentwell said.

"It is never too late to come forward. Relationships and loyalties change. People who were once scared may no longer be."

She confirmed that numerous inquiries had been made over the years about the possibility that Mr Allen's body was hidden in the wall of the Leslie Dam during its construction.

She said anyone with information on where his body may be should contact police.

"I caution those responsible for cold case murders to take no solace in the passage of time," Det Sen Sgt Kentwell said.

"This arrest is an example of how our cold case investigation team continues to review unsolved homicides so alleged offenders are brought to justice and closure comes to families."



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