Claremont killer to be sentenced

 

Bradley Edwards - the man now known as the Claremont killer - will learn today whether he has any prospect of ever being released from prison.

In what will be one of the final acts in WA's longest and largest murder investigation, Edwards will be formally sentenced in WA's Supreme Court for the murders of Jane Rimmer in 1996 and Ciara Glennon in 1997.

He will also learn his fate over the attacks on two young women - the first in her own bedroom in Huntingdale in 1988 as well as the horrifying rape of another teenager at Karrakatta Cemetery in 1995.

Having received lengthy written submissions from prosecution and defence, Justice Stephen Hall will be the judge who will decide Edwards' fate.

And one of his main tasks will be to decide whether to impose life with a minimum term to be served - or the exceptionally rare sentence of life without parole.

That is the sentence prosecutors, led by Carmel Barbagallo, have asked him to hand down.

Since amendments to the State's sentencing laws in 2008, it has only been handed down once. That was also by Justice Hall, last year, to Anthony Harvey, who murdered his wife, three children and mother-in-law in Bedford in 2018.

A court sketch of Bradley Robert Edwards at a final directions hearing ahead of his lengthy trial. Picture: AAP
A court sketch of Bradley Robert Edwards at a final directions hearing ahead of his lengthy trial. Picture: AAP

In that case, Justice Hall ran through the reasoning behind coming to a conclusion that a killer should be jailed for the rest of their life.

"There are cases, though rare, where the community's interest in punishment will require the imposition of a sentence which is for the whole of the offender's life," he said then.

"No person committing such acts should be entitled to have an expectation of a meaningful life in the community in the future.

"It is also said that the community has a legitimate interest in the courts condemning conduct of this level of seriousness in the most pronounced manner, in order to deter others from contemplating such acts."

The community interest in Edwards' sentencing is again expected to be so high today that two extra courtrooms have been set aside for those wanting to see the climax of the case of the Claremont killer.

The hearing is due to begin at 9.30am and is expected to take most of the day.

That day will include submissions from the prosecution and defence lawyers, and will also include consideration of the victim impact statements tendered to the court.

There is scope for victims, if they wish, to deliver those statements in person in court - which if it did happen, would see them confront Edwards personally about the impact his crimes have had on them and their families.

Bradley Robert Edwards has been found guilty of the murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon but was acquitted of the murder of 18-year-old receptionist Sarah Spiers.
Bradley Robert Edwards has been found guilty of the murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon but was acquitted of the murder of 18-year-old receptionist Sarah Spiers.

That could include his two surviving victims, who attended many days of the trial - with one of them even giving evidence about her ordeal in person.

After today, Edwards will be on the clock to lodge any appeal against the murder convictions, the sentence, or both.

The West Australian understands his family has consulted several senior barristers across Perth about appeal prospects.

The case is seen as so significant that only a senior counsel could take on the bid to overturn the guilty findings.

Those findings were handed down by Justice Hall in September, following a seven-month trial heard by him alone.

Amid the mountain of evidence, he found that striking similarities between the murders of Ms Rimmer and Ms Glennon were numerous - meaning he could safely conclude one man killed both women.

Those similarities included their age, their presence in Claremont at the time they went missing, the way they were killed - with a knife slashing their necks - and the way they defended themselves.

Bradley Edwards faces the rare sentence of life without parole.
Bradley Edwards faces the rare sentence of life without parole.

Justice Hall then said the forensic evidence on both bodies - DNA and fibres on Ms Glennon and fibres on Ms Rimmer - meant he could find, beyond reasonable doubt, Edwards was that man.

However, he said while there were also similarities with the disappearance of Sarah Spiers in January 1996, the absence of physical evidence - with her body having never been found - meant he could not be sure beyond a reasonable doubt Edwards was her killer.

"The prosecution has failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the accused killed Ms Spiers.

"The evidence of his propensity to kill may make him a likely suspect, or even the probable killer, but it does not exclude the real possibility that some other person killed her," Justice Hall said.

After the verdict, WA Police promised they would never give up in their investigation of Ms Spiers' murder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Claremont killer to be sentenced


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