Never forget the 15 – Courier Mail (8 March 2023)

(Letter to the Editor) by Geoff Plunkett

The Whiskey Au Go Go massacre is about I5 people who either went to work or went out for a good time.

Fifteen people who burned to death.

It’s about their relatives and those in the club who escaped.

It’s about why they were murdered and who else was involved.

Why did the police fabricate James Finch’s confession to ensure that only two people were convicted for the atrocity, Finch and John Stuart?

Disgraced convicted killer cop, Roger Rogerson, bragged that he and his colleagues forged the confession because they knew Finch and Stuart were guilty but they didn’t have the evidence.

The consequence? Coconspirators walked free – and then murdered others.

When Rogerson signed the fake confession, he signed a death warrant for Barbara McCulkin and her two
daughters, Vicki and Leanne.

Mrs McCulkin knew too much – she knew the truth.

A second coroner’s inquest concluded in May 2022.

The three main hypotheses explored were:

l. Criminals from Sydney were wanting to stand over the Brisbane clubs. This was Stuart’s original hard-to believe narrative.

2. It was an insurance job as the Whiskey was bankrupt or;

3. Sydney criminals were displeased that a drug courier operation was being run from the Whiskey and undercutting their market. This was a new and surprising addition to the possible “whys”.

Maybe it was a combination of the above.

The coroner had to sift through the alternatives, see through the smoke that has enveloped the Whiskey for 50 years and see through the witnesses’ credibility. Some lied directly to his honour’s face.

Rogerson, while taking the oath, promised to tell “anything but the truth” and so he did.

Full justice is not possible as many of the major players are dead. The absolute truth may be difficult to obtain but a closer understanding of the whos and whys is gettable.

Regardless of the outcome of the second inquest, the relatives were grateful that, albeit belatedly, their concerns over the true motives and other actors were considered.

Grateful that they could tell his honour that the deceased were not just names or cardboard cutouts but sisters, brothers, sons or parents who deserved to remembered in life,
rather than death.