WA Premier Mark McGowan has urged Claremont killer Bradley Edwards to reveal anything he might know about the location of Sarah Spiers’s body, after the former Telstra technician was convicted of the murders of two other women.
- Bradley Edwards has been acquitted of killing Sarah Spiers in early 1996
- But a judge said the evidence made it “more likely” he was her killer
- Police say the investigation into Ms Spiers’s presumed murder continues
The seven month Claremont serial killings trial has ended with Edwards acquitted of the murder of Ms Spiers but found guilty of abducting and killing Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon in 1996 and 1997.
Delivering his verdicts in the WA Supreme Court, Justice Stephen Hall found that although the evidence made it “more likely” the 51-year-old was the killer of Ms Spiers, it could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Mr McGowan said the court had reached a conclusion “that we all believe was justified” and paid tribute to the women and their families.
“[The] families have been through an enormous amount,” he said.
“A massive amount of anguish, a massive amount of pain and suffering … that we cannot possibly fathom and we cannot possibly imagine.
“Can I also knowledge the women themselves, Sarah, Jane and Ciara. Those three women went through a lot and today we remember them. The lives that were lost, the promise that was not fulfilled.”
Responding to the not guilty verdict over Ms Spiers’s murder, Mr McGowan ended his media conference with a direct plea to Edwards.
“Can you please provide some closure to the Spiers family to let them know where their daughter is. At times like this, it’s the time to do the right thing by the family.
“It’s the time to give them some comfort out of all this pain.”
Spiers investigation ongoing: police
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the judgement had delivered justice to an “evil murderer and rapist”.
“Today is a combination of more than three decades of investigations which involved over 700 officers directly allocated to these investigations, and there were hundreds more police and public servants who were contributing to this investigation,” he said.
“We must never forget Jane, Sarah, and Ciara, and the other many witnesses and victims, and the devastating effects these crimes had on their families.”
Commissioner Dawson would not comment on whether Edwards could be charged for a second time with the murder of Ms Spiers, citing the fact Edwards had not yet been sentenced for the crimes he did commit.
But he said the investigation into Ms Spiers’s disappearance and presumed murder remained open.
“We will continue to investigate the murder of Sarah Spiers. We want to find Sarah, and we will,” he said.
‘The healing process can begin’
In a statement, Jane Rimmer’s family said they were pleased with the verdict “which gives us some answers about the abduction and horrendous murder of our beloved Jane”.
“For our family and friends there have been 24 years of pain and anguish at the loss of our young, vibrant daughter, sister, niece and close friend,” the statement read.
“Our family can now take some comfort today and the healing process can begin.”
They thanked police and prosecutors for their support and said they did not wish to comment further.
Jane Rimmer’s friends relieved at verdict
School friends of Ms Rimmer spoke of their relief that the trial was over and a judgement had been delivered.
Alison Coats and Lisa Keogh went to Hollywood Primary School with Ms Rimmer, and Ms Keogh was also at Rosalie Primary School with her.
“It’s justice served, but I don’t feel closure. For me closure would be him [Edwards] actually acknowledging it and apologising,” Ms Coats, who was in court for the verdict, said.
She said she had tears in her eyes as Justice Stephen Hall delivered his finding that Edwards had murdered Ms Rimmer.
The pair said they hoped their friend could now be remembered as the fun-loving, “gorgeous” girl she was, not just as the victim of a terrible crime.
Ms Coats remembered Jane as a glamorous young woman who wore beautiful makeup and loved a party, saying she “should be sitting here with us”.
“She should be going through her life having kids, having whatever,” Ms Keogh added.
“She’s not only had the most frightening and horrific experience and death with no honour or regard or respect for her, which is bad enough, but then when you think about all those years since then that she’s missed out on … that’s really pretty tough.”
Fears grew as women disappeared
When Ms Rimmer vanished, both women spoke of a “massive sense of fear” among their friends and among young people in general, who stopped going to Claremont.
“Claremont died. Businesses closed, the streets were dead. No-one went to the [Continental Hotel], to Club Bay View,” Ms Keogh said.
“You didn’t know who to trust.”
Too scared to catch taxis home at night, Ms Coats said she gave up drinking for 14 years so she could ensure she was able to get herself home safely.
When Ms Glennon vanished from the same spot nine months after Ms Rimmer, the fear intensified.
“Everything changed. I still went out, I still did stuff, but there was a real dark cloud over everything at that time,” Ms Keogh said.
Ms Coats said she also had problems trusting people in the wake of the Claremont murders.
“That’s a big thing. I do not trust anybody really now, because of what happened to Jane,” she said.
“He [Edwards] was an athletics coach [for] juniors, people trusted him with their kids.”
Former police chief heralds ‘pivotal moment’
Former police commissioner Karl O’Callaghan, who announced the arrest of Edwards at a packed media conference in December 2016, said it had been “the biggest murder investigation in the history of Western Australia.”
“I felt elated, not just for the WA Police of course, but for the families,” he said in reaction to the judgement.
“People had been waiting nearly a quarter of a century for an outcome on these crimes.”
He said the detectives who had worked on the case would have been nervous ahead of the verdict.
“This will be the end point for them and there will be some form of conclusion,” he said.
“I think it’s a pivotal moment for everybody — a pivotal moment for the justice system, a pivotal moment for police and of course, for the families that have waited so long.”
He said the long-running case showed the tenacity of police over the decades.
“It was complex investigation … in the end it was the doggedness of the investigators going back to the original material and trying to re-look at everything that the police had in their possession, which eventually found a chink.”
Edwards will be sentenced on December 23 for the two murders, as well as the rape of a teenager at Karrakatta Cemetery in 1995 and an earlier assault on a teenager in Huntingdale.