Another great article from Tony Moore;
A prominent Brisbane business identity has been named by a convicted criminal as the mastermind behind Brisbane’s Whiskey Au Go Go fire bombing, in which 15 people died in March 1973.
And a researcher, who spent five years investigating the notes of the Whiskey Au Go Go lead detectives, believes 77-year-old William “Billy” Stokes’s comments should be investigated seriously.
Stokes, 77, the former editor of the Waterside Workers Union magazine Port News, named the businessman at a commemoration service to those who died in the nightclub, when two barrels of petrol were rolled into the ground-floor foyer of the Whiskey Au Go Go on March 8, 1973.
Due to a lack of corroboration, Brisbane Times is not naming the businessman.
As editor of Port News, Stokes has previously published accounts of the mass murder based on what he was told at the time.
Stokes was convicted of the murder of Clockwork Orange gang member, boxer Thomas Hamilton and served 16 years, although he still denies the charge.
Stokes said he would give a statement to the new Whiskey Au Go Go inquest, which could begin in the second half of 2019.
He said he had not yet been interviewed by the coronial investigators.
“I don’t think the police would want me to give evidence, because I’m of the belief that (the person) paid the police to organise the fire bombing,” he said.
“I’m of the belief that police were the ones paid by (the person) to arrange the fire bombing.
“(The person) was the mastermind, you can say.”
Researcher Geoff Plunkett, who wrote the 2018 book Whiskey Au Go Go Massacre after being the first person to have direct access to the lead detectives’ notes, on Friday described Stokes as “the ignored witness”.
“Mr Stokes must be interviewed by the new inquiry,” Plunkett said.
“I would describe him as an essential witness for the forthcoming inquiry.
“In the last 46 years, no detective has ever interviewed William on his assertions, which proved eerily accurate during the 2017 McCulkin murder trials.
“Stokes was never approached during the O’Dempsey-Dubois trails and has not been for the upcoming Whiskey inquest.
“This makes no sense.”
The new Whiskey Au Go Go inquest was ordered after Vincent O’Dempsey and Garry Dubois were handed life sentences in 2017 over the 1974 murders of Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki (13) and 11-year-old Leanne.
O’Dempsey’s trial heard he murdered Mrs McCulkin because of fears she could have implicated him in the Whiskey Au Go Go bombing.
Stokes said he was told by Hamilton that the Clockwork Orange gang was responsible for the Fortitude Valley Torino nightclub fire earlier in 1973.
Evidence that O’Dempsey was involved in the 1973 Torino fire-bombing by the Clockwork Orange gang was given at his and Dubois’s 2017 Supreme Court trial for the McCulkin murders.
At that trial, former Clockwork Orange gang member Peter Hall told the jury that Dubois told him O’Dempsey was paying them $500 for the Torino attack because “apparently the nightclub wasn’t doing too well”.
Unlike last year’s gathering to mark 45 years since the bombing, there were only four people at the corner of Amelia Street and St Paul’s Terrace for Friday’s commemoration.
One was Donna Phillips, who was a waitress at the club in 1973. Today, she is fighting cancer and keeping close links with the families of the 15 victims.
Ms Phillips said she hoped the inquest would go ahead.
”They asked if I would like to speak to them and at that stage I was in the middle of cancer therapy,” she said.
Ms Phillips said the inquest should look beyond convicted killers James Richard Finch and John Andrew Stuart.
“Let’s hope that it is weighted with the relevant information to take people beyond Finch and Stuart,” she said.
A spokeswoman for the Queensland Coroners Court would not say if the businessman alluded to by Stokes would form part of the new inquest.
“The State Coroner intends to proceed with the inquest during 2019 and the QPS Homicide Investigation Unit is assisting with the investigation,” she said.