"THEY weren't bad. They were rotten."
A witness in the McCulkin murder trial says the men linked to one of the accused killers were so "dangerous" that William "Billy" McCulkin confronted them with a sawn-off shotgun labelled as "insurance".
Norman Wild was giving evidence before the Brisbane Supreme Court jury charged with determining whether or not Vincent O'Dempsey was involved in the disappearance of Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Leanne and Vicki.
The 24-year-old mother and her daughters, aged 11 and 13, were last seen in their Dorchester St, Highgate Hill, home on January 16, 1974.
Mr O'Dempsey, a 78-year-old Warwick resident, has pleaded not guilty to three charges of murder and one of deprivation of liberty.
The Crown alleges Mr O'Dempsey and Gary Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois murdered Mrs McCulkin and her daughters because they feared Mrs McCulkin could link them to a nightclub fire in 1973.
Mr Wild told the court he drove Mr McCulkin around Brisbane as he tried to track down the missing mum and children in the days after they disappeared.
He said they visited the McCulkin home a number of times and on the last occasion Mr McCulkin collected a brown satchel containing a shotgun.
Mr Wild said Mr McCulkin described the shotgun as "his insurance" and they had it with them when they followed a car carrying Dubois and three other men through Brisbane on the Monday after the family disappeared.
Stopping them on a secluded road behind a biscuit factory, Mr Wild urged Mr McCulkin to "take it (the gun) with you" when he decided to approach the other car.
"There was four of them and two of us," Mr Wild said.
"I wanted him to take the shotgun to protect himself.
"These guys had a good reputation, they weren't bad, they were rotten."
Mr McCulkin spoke to the men for a few minutes before they all parted ways.
The trial before Justice Peter Applegarth continues. - ARM NEWSDESK
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