Disgraced cop Roger Rogerson could testify – Brisbane Times (14 June 2021)


Disgraced NSW detective Roger Rogerson, jailed for murder, could give evidence to the coronial inquest into the 1973 Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub firebombing in Brisbane which killed 15 people.

An inquiry into the nightclub arson, in the inner-city suburb of Fortitude Valley on March 8, 1973, started on Monday after it was ordered in 2017 by then attorney-general Yvette D’Ath.

Lawyer Chris Minnery, representing convicted murderer and key witness Vincent O’Dempsey, made a request for Rogerson to testify.

Rogerson is serving a life sentence in NSW for the murder of 20-year-old university student and drug dealer Jamie Gao in a Sydney storage unit in May 2014.

The former detective was sentenced in September 2016 after the NSW Supreme Court heard he killed Mr Gao to steal 2.78 kilograms of the drug ice.

Mr Minnery’s request was read aloud to the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday by Stephen Keim, legal counsel assisting Queensland State Coroner Terry Ryan.

“The request put forward by my friend is on the basis, as I understand it, that Mr Rogerson’s view in 1973 that Mr O’Dempsey was not involved in the attack on the Whiskey Au Go Go fire might be of some assistance to your honour,” Mr Keim said.

“Counsel assisting can see that there may be merit to call Mr Rogerson in relation to the adequacy of investigations carried out into the causes of, and the parties involved, in the fire, and the deaths immediately thereafter and in subsequent years.”

Mr Keim also pointed to a newspaper article that said Rogerson believed convicted Whiskey Au Go Go killer James Richard Finch did not make the admissions attributed to him by police.

“Mr Rogerson’s evidence on that subject alone may be of assistance to the court,” Mr Keim said.

“Therefore counsel assisting will request an inquiry be made of NSW Corrective Services as to the practicality of Mr Rogerson giving evidence by remote means and will report back to the court.”

Finch, who died in Britain earlier this year, was one of two men convicted of murder over the nightclub fire.

The other, John Andrew Stuart, died in his cell in 1979 after a hunger strike.

During a pre-inquest hearing in April, Mr Keim said the new two-week inquest would focus on evidence that Finch and Stuart were not the only ones involved in the arson.

“The evidence also raises concerns that the focus of the police investigation activities in the aftermath of the fires was not directed at finding all of the persons responsible for the fires,” Mr Keim said earlier this year.

“These concerns extend to fears that a broader group of persons, including possibly police officers themselves, had some role in planning the attack of the nightclub.”

Mr Keim said some findings of the 1989 Fitzgerald Inquiry into widespread Queensland police corruption would be used in the inquest.

McCulkin killer Garry Dubois dies – Brisbane Times (7 June 2021)


Infamous Queensland criminal Garry Dubois, who killed Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters Vicki and Leanne McCulkin, has been found dead in his jail cell overnight.

Queensland Corrective Services confirmed a 74-year-old male prisoner was found dead in his Maryborough Correctional Centre cell about 4.30am on Monday.

Prison officers and paramedics tried to revive him in his single-occupancy cell, but he was declared dead about 5.20am. The death is not being treated as suspicious.

QCS will assist Queensland police in preparing a report for the Coroner.

In 2016, more than 40 years after the McCulkins went missing, Dubois was found guilty by a Brisbane Supreme Court jury of the manslaughter of Mrs McCulkin and the murder of her daughters, Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11.

Dubois and accomplice Vincent O’Dempsey maintained their innocence despite being found guilty.

The pair, in their 70s, were jailed for life for killing the McCulkins in bushland near Warwick on the night of January 16, 1974, after taking them from their Brisbane home.

At their trials, the court was told the men might have been motivated to kill Mrs McCulkin over fears she would try to implicate O’Dempsey in the firebombing of the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub.

Mrs McCulkin’s estranged husband Billy had connections with O’Dempsey and Dubois, so she might have been able to implicate them, through what her estranged husband may have told her.

Billy McCulkin died in 2011.

O’Dempsey was found guilty of all three McCulkin murders.

Dubois was found guilty of raping and murdering Vicki and Leanne. He was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter against Barbara.

Dubois was also due to testify at the new coronial inquest into Brisbane’s horrific Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub firebombing in Fortitude Valley on March 8, 1973, that killed 15 people.

The two-week inquest will begin in Brisbane next Monday.

Key witness death will not delay inquest – Brisbane Times (7 June 2021)

From Tony Moore;


The death of a second key Whiskey Au Go Go witness will not delay the start of a new inquest into the firebombing mass murder, the Queensland Coroner’s Court insisted after convicted killer Garry Dubois was found dead in his cell on Monday.

But a spokesman for the court said Dubois’ death could still have an effect on proceedings, which would examine the 1973 events that resulted in the deaths of 15 people.

“The impact, if any, that Mr Dubois’ death will have on the inquest will need to be considered,” a spokesman for the court said.

Dubois, a convicted killer and rapist, died early Monday morning in his Maryborough Correctional Centre cell.

“Mr Dubois was not scheduled to give evidence during the two weeks of sittings commencing 14 June 2021,” the court spokesman said.

“Further sittings will be scheduled later in 2021.”

The new inquest into the March 1973 firebombing of the Fortitude Valley nightclub, on the corner of St Pauls Terrace and Amelia Street, began in April.

It was ordered in June 2017 after Dubois and Vincent O’Dempsey were handed life sentences over the 1974 murders of Barbara McCulkin and her daughters, 13-year-old Vicki and 11-year-old Leanne.

At their separate trials, the courts were told the pair murdered Mrs McCulkin due to fears she might try to implicate them in the bombing.

Both denied being involved.

Whiskey Au Go Go researcher Geoff Plunkett said Dubois’ death meant the inquest had lost another key witness.

Mr Plunkett wrote The Whiskey Au Go Go Massacre in 2018 after gaining exclusive access for five years to formal police records, transcripts and interviews from the investigation.

“My initial thought is that again we lost a major player who well could have had vital information,” he said.

“It is inconceivable that Garry Dubois, who participated in Mrs McCulkin’s murder and is convicted of the [daughter’s] rapes as well, did not know the reasoning why they did it.

“[Convicted Whiskey Au Go Go bomber James Richard] Finch has died recently, and now we have lost another one who must have had vital evidence.

“He could have been brought before the coroner and compelled to give that sort of evidence.”

Two criminal hardmen, Finch and John Andrew Stuart, were convicted of one count of murder from the firebombing in 1973, but there has been decades of speculation that other people were involved.

Finch died in England earlier this year, the first day of the new inquest heard on April 29.

Stuart was found dead in his Boggo Road prison cell on January 2, 1979.

Mrs McCulkin’s estranged husband, Billy McCulkin, died in 2011.

Mr Plunkett said it was almost 50 years since the Whiskey Au Go Go was firebombed, at 2.08am on Thursday, March 8, 1973.

“It’s a reflection that almost 50 years on, a lot of the [alleged] major players like [Billy] McCulkin, Finch and Stuart are not here any longer,” he said.

“It should have been investigated as early as 1975, when [Port News editor] William Stokes nominated the people allegedly behind the fire.”

Stokes was subsequently convicted of the murder of boxer Thomas Hamilton and served 16 years, although he still denies the charge.

Hamilton was a member of Brisbane’s Clockwork Orange gang, of which Dubois was also a member, evidence at his 2015 trial showed.

The gang was accused of firebombing Brisbane’s Torino nightclub earlier in 1973.

O’Dempsey has repeatedly denied he was involved in any Brisbane nightclub fires.

Stokes is listed to give evidence at the new Whiskey Au Go Go inquest.