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

Key McCulkin murder trial witness ‘lied’ under oath

THE Queensland  Government gave a key McCulkin murder trial witness a guarantee he would not be prosecuted for perjury or for his role in torching the Torino nightclub in 1973.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath signed indemnity documents ensuring Peter Hall cannot be prosecuted despite admitting before a Brisbane Supreme Court jury on Thursday that he was involved in the nightclub arson and other crimes including break and enters.

The documents were tendered to the court on Thursday morning.

They also protect Mr Hall from prosecution for "lying" under oath about his knowledge of the McCulkin "murders" when he gave testimony before the former Crime and Misconduct Commission in 2014.

He told the CMC (now the Crime and Corruption Commission) that he knew nothing about how Barbara McCulkin and her 13 and 11-year-old daughters Vicki and Leanne came to disappear from their Highgate Hill home on January 16, 1974.

However, Mr Hall told a Brisbane Supreme Court jury yesterday that 69-year-old Torbanlea man Garry Reginald "Shorty" Dubois told him he (Dubois) and co-accused Vincent O'Dempsey were involved in the 'rape and murder' of the family.

Mr Dubois has pleaded not guilty to one charge of deprivation of liberty, two of rape and three charges of murder.

Mr O'Dempsey, a 78-year-old Warwick resident, is scheduled to face trial next year.

Mr Hall told the court that and Mr Dubois committed crimes together.

"We would get together and cruise looking for jobs," Mr Hall said.

"Mainly break and enters."

Mr Hall said that on the day the McCulkins disappeared, Mr Dubois asked him if he wanted to come to the McCulkins' home to have some drinks and "sex with the girls".

Mr Hall said he declined the offer.

He said the following day he went looking for Mr Dubois at the defendant's mother's home where he was told Mr Dubois had not been home all night.

Mr Hall claimed that when he found Mr Dubois, he confessed to him that he (Dubois) and Mr O'Dempsey raped Vicki and Leanne and that Mr O'Dempsey killed them and  their mother.

Mr Hall said Mr Dubois told him they drove Mrs McCulkin and her girls to  the bush where they were "raped and murdered".

"Dubois said O'Dempsey separated the mother from the daughters into the darkness," Mr Hall said.

"He (Dubois) believes he strangled her - he said there were gurgling sounds and O'Dempsey seemed to be gone for what seemed to be a long period of time.

"After the sound stopped he (O'Dempsey) came down and proceeded to rape one of the girls."

Mr Hall said Mr O'Dempsey told Mr Dubois to "rape the other one, which he had trouble doing".

"He (Dubois) said he didn't feel real good but he eventually complied.

"After that was over, O'Dempsey killed one (of the sisters) and asked him to kill the other.

"He said he couldn't do it so O'Dempsey killed the other (girl).

"They waited til dawn then they buried the bodies.

"He (Dubois) said once the sun come up and he looked at them it was an horrific sight."

Under questioning from defence barrister Dennis Lynch, Mr Hall revealed  he did not tell the truth when he appeared before the Crime and Misconduct Commission in 2014.

"I lied," Mr Hall said.

Mr Lynch said the documents signed by the AG meant Mr Hall could not be prosecuted for offences exposed while he was giving evidence.

"As long as you stick to the story incriminating Garry Dubois you're safe?" Mr Lynch asked the witness.

Mr Hall replied: "No."

The court earlier this week heard that the McCulkins may have had some knowledge of the 1973 Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub blaze that killed 15 people in 1973.

Crown prosecutor David Meredith told the court that Mr Hall, Mr Dubois, Mr O'Dempsey and two other men were behind the torching of the Torino nightclub about 10 days before the Whiskey Au Go Go went up in flames.

The court has heard that the accused feared their involvement in the Torino blaze could see them linked to the Whiskey fire.

The court has also heard that Mrs McCulkin was "blackmailing" Mr O'Dempsey.

The McCulkins' bodies have not been found.

The trial continues today. - ARM NEWSDESK

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