Barbara McCulkin
Barbara McCulkin

Two men accused of McCulkin murders will face separate trials

TWO men will face separate trials on allegations they raped and murdered sisters Vicki and Leanne McCulkin and killed their mother Barbara more than 40 years ago.

Warwick man Vincent O'Dempsey, 77, and Torbanlea man Garry Reginald Dubois, 69, were committed to stand trial for the cold case murders after a committal hearing in 2015.

Barbara, 34, and daughters Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11, disappeared from their Highgate Hill home on January 16, 1974.

Their bodies have never been found.

In a pre-trial hearing on Thursday, Justice Peter Applegarth agreed with a defence submission the trials should be held separately.

In a decision he handed down, he said it was important the jury could focus on the evidence against each man.

He said there was too much prejudicial evidence that could affect a jury's ability to clearly identify the cases against the respective accused men.

"The substantial prejudice cannot be effectively ameliorated by directions to the jury," he concluded.

"Considerations which favour a joint trial are outweighed by the risk that inadmissible evidence will prejudice each applicant's right to a fair trial.

"In the circumstances, there will be an order for each applicant to be tried separately."

The Crown must now decide whether Mr O'Dempsey or Mr Dubois will face trial first at the November trial date set down already. - ARM NEWSDESK