A photograph of Garry Dubois taken in 1978.
A photograph of Garry Dubois taken in 1978.

McCulkin witnesses should have been ruled out: Lawyers

ONE of the killers in the notorious McCulkin case should be acquitted because the trial judge mistakenly allowed the jury to hear confession evidence from two key witnesses, the state's highest court has heard.

In the Court of Appeal this morning, Garry Dubois' barrister Michael Copley QC submitted that evidence given by a star witness that former boxer Tommy Hamilton told him that Dubois had confessed should have been excluded by the trial judge, Peter Applegarth.

Mr Copley told the court that the evidence did not meet the legal standard of being "highly probable that it was reliable" because the star witness was told of the alleged confession by a man who was drunk and stoned on cannabis at the time he heard it.

Garry Dubois being extradited to Queensland in 1980.
Garry Dubois being extradited to Queensland in 1980.

The star witness gave evidence at Dubois' committal and at his trial, that Hamilton told him that Garry Dubois had confessed to Hamilton.

Garry Dubois, 70, was found guilty in November 2016 of the 1974 murders of Brisbane sisters Vicki and Leanne McCulkin and the manslaughter of their mother Barbara.

Today's hearing was presided over by Court of Appeal president Walter Sofronoff, Justice's Peter Gotterson and Soraya Ryan.

Mr Copley also challenged the jury's verdict, submitting that it was not supported by the evidence, arguing that witness Peter Hall was an unreliable witness because he was "fed" information by investigators and parroted it back to them in court.

Barbara McCulkin with daughters Barbara and Vicki.
Barbara McCulkin with daughters Barbara and Vicki.

Mr Hall testified that Dubois confessed to murdering the McCulkin sisters.

Mr Copley argued that if he succeeds on his second ground of insufficient evidence, or on both his grounds of appeal, Dubois must be acquitted.

He told the court that if the Court of Appeal agrees the star witnesses evidence should have been ruled out by Justice Applegarth, Dubois will face a retrial.

Crown Prosecutor David Meredith argued Dubois' conviction must stand because no legal error occurred.

The court has reserved its decision.