Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki and Leanne. The family disappeared in 1974.
Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki and Leanne. The family disappeared in 1974. Contributed

McCulkin triple murder: Appeal dismissed

THE KILLERS jailed for the McCulkin murders that shocked Queensland will stay in prison.

Warwick man Vincent O'Dempsey, in his late 70s, pleaded not guilty at his trial in Brisbane Supreme Court last year.

But jurors found he murdered Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11.

The McCulkins went missing from their Highgate Hill home in January 1974.

O'Dempsey's co-accused Garry "Shorty" Dubois, from the Fraser Coast, also lodged an appeal.

He was found guilty in late 2016 of murdering Vicki and Leanne McCulkin, and the manslaughter of their mother.

But on Friday morning at Queensland Court of Appeal, Dubois's appeal was dismissed, and so was O'Dempsey's.

Both men are serving life sentences.

O'Dempsey raised seven grounds of appeal.

Barbara McCulkin with youngest daughter Leanne.
Barbara McCulkin with youngest daughter Leanne.

He said evidence of motive for the murders was weak and the trial judge gave inadequate directions to jurors about motive.

Other arguments included a claim that evidence of Barbara's husband Billy McCulkin should not have been admitted.

Mr McCulkin died before he could see justice delivered.

But he gave statements to police in 1974 and evidence at a 1980 inquest.

The role of two notorious Brisbane arson attacks was also discussed in the appeal.

There was evidence at trial that Dubois and others burned down Torino Nightclub, Fortitude Valley, in a 1973 "insurance job".

Vincent O'Dempsey
Vincent O'Dempsey

Soon after, the nearby Whiskey Au Go Go club was torched and 15 people died.

The Crown claimed O'Dempsey was in a criminal group called the Clockwork Orange Gang.

The appeal court said Mrs McCulkin knew both Dubois and O'Dempsey and had been talking about both fires.

The Crown argued Dubois feared his involvement in the Torino blaze would make police suspect he was linked to the deadly Whisky Au Go Go fire.

Prosecutors said Dubois wanted to silence Mrs McCulkin, and his mate O'Dempsey was willing to help.

The appeal court rejected all of O'Dempsey's arguments.

Garry Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois in the 1970s.
Garry Reginald 'Shorty' Dubois in the 1970s. Contributed

Dubois raised just two grounds of appeal.

He claimed evidence about a confession Dubois made to his friend Thomas Hamilton should not have been admitted.

Dubois also claimed the jury's verdict was unreasonable and "unsupported by the evidence".

His arguments were rejected too.

It took more than 40 years for O'Dempsey and Dubois to be indicted.

In December 2015, both were charged with jointly with murdering and depriving Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters of their liberty, and with the rape of the two girls.

Rape charges against O'Dempsey were dropped but not against Dubois, who was found guilty of the rapes.

Friday's decision means it is highly likely both men will die in jail.

At sentencing last year, Justice Peter Applegarth described Dubois as  a "coward" and "fool" for aiding a child killer and refusing to tell police what happened to the McCulkins.

Neither received a parole eligibility date, because they were sentenced under 1974 laws. -NewsRegional