Anita Cobby was brutally raped and murdered in a crime that shocked Australia
Four men who brutally raped and murdered a nurse and beauty queen in a crime that shocked Australia could be released early from prison.
Anita Cobby, 26, was found naked in a field in western Sydney after she was grabbed while walking home from Blacktown station and then beaten, raped and had her throat cut by brothers Leslie, then 22, Gary, 28, and Michael Murphy, 33, and John Travers, 18, and Michael Murdoch, 19.
They were all found guilty of murder. Michael Murphy died last year and the remaining four are serving a life sentence.
But the NSW Bar Association has backed a plan that could turn the definition of a life sentence on its head and allow Ms Cobby’s four surviving killers to seek leniency, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Offenders once considered unquestioningly violent and dangerous could be released after ‘imprisonment, counselling and simple maturing’, according to the lawyers’ body.
Anita Cobby, 26, was found naked in a field in western Sydney after she was grabbed while walking home from Blacktown station. Pictured: Anita Cobby’s parents Gary and Grace at her grave site
Under the proposed changes, Allan Baker, now 71, and Kevin Crump, 69, who tortured and murdered young mother-of-three Virginia Morse in 1973 could also apply to have their life sentences reassessed.
Ms Morse was abducted from her family’s property in Collarenebri in north-west NSW and tortured for 22 hours.
Details of her ordeal have never been released but one report said she was shot in both eyes before her body was dumped in a river.
The pair have been in jail for 46 years.
Virginia Morse’s (pictured) killers have been behind bars for 46 years. Baker, who has diabetes, is now 71 and Crump is 69
Allan Baker (left) raped and murdered Virginia Morse in 1973 with Kevin Crump (right)
The NSW Sentencing Council are reviewing the proposed changes after the release of serial paedophile Michael Guider in September last year caused public outcry.
Guider pleaded guilty to kidnapping and killing nine-year-old Samantha Knight in 1986, along with 60 other child offences.
He was released from jail even though never revealed the location of Samantha’s body.
The lawyers’ body said the popular idea that sentences for murder and manslaughter are not tough enough is a ‘misconception’.
Legal Aid NSW also backed the motion to allow people serving life sentences to have their situation redetermined.
The two bodies put in submissions for non-parole periods to be implemented for murderers who have been jailed for life – giving them the opportunity to be released.
Samantha Knight was snatched from her Bondi apartment. Her body has never been found
Guider had previously been jailed for sexually assaulting 13 children from 1980 to 1996 and police are aware of other victims still too traumatised to come forward
‘The crushing nature of a natural term life sentence with no prospect of release from prison has been long recognised, particularly for young offenders who given the general rate of life expectancy could potentially spend 50 years or more in prison,’ the Bar Association said in the submission.
It also said ‘predicting future dangerousness’ of a criminal is ‘notoriously difficult’ and should be reassessed in the future.
If passed, the submission would cover all 49 life sentences currently being served in the state.
Legal Aid NSW said families of victims would need support and assistance to properly understand the re-determination process.
Samantha Knight’s mother Tess wrote in the submission: ‘The only way a convicted killer can satisfy their debt to society is for society to ensure no other person is ever exposed to the risk of being killed by a convicted murderer.’
Submissions have closed the the Sentencing Council is preparing its recommendation.
THE VILE ATTACK THAT SHOCKED AUSTRALIA
Ms Cobby was walking home late at night in Blacktown, in Sydney’s west, when she was abducted by five men, before she was savagely tortured, raped, and beaten
Shortly before 10pm on February 2, 1986, Anita Cobby, 26, was snatched from Newton Road in Blacktown by John Travers, Michael Murdoch and brothers Mick, Les and Gary Murphy.
She was repeatedly bashed and sexually assaulted in a stolen car before the five men drove her to a cow paddock at Reen Road in Prospect, dragging her through barbed wire fences.
Ms Cobby would be further subjected to a horrific sexual ordeal, with the five men taking turns raping her on the farm.
Her attackers then argued over who would cut her throat, a heinous act which would be carried out by Travers, chosen because he had previously done so with animals.
Ms Cobby’s brutalised body was found two days later by a local farmer, sparking a manhunt which would see all five suspects arrested about three weeks later.
The crime was so horrific there were widespread calls to hang the men, who were arrested after police captured them on secret tapes confessing to the brutal murder.
All five were convicted in 1987 and sentenced to life in jail, never to be released.