No appeal against Claremont killer Bradley Edwards’s not guilty verdict for Sarah Spiers murder

Claremont killer Bradley Edwards’s acquittal of the murder of Sarah Spiers will not be challenged by the state, prosecutors have revealed.

Edwards, a former Telstra technician, was last month found guilty of the wilful murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon in the 1990s.

But he was found not guilty of the 1996 murder of 18-year-old Sarah Spiers, who also disappeared from the suburb of Claremont in similar circumstances, but whose body has never been found.

In his judgement, Justice Stephen Hall acknowledged the similarities between the three murders, but said there was not enough evidence for a third conviction.

“The propensity evidence makes it more likely that the accused was the killer of Sarah Spiers, but it cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt, in the absence of any other evidence, as to the identity of her killer,” Justice Hall ruled.

The prosecution had 21 days to appeal against that decision, but today confirmed it will not do so, marking the end of the line for the Spiers family who had hoped the long-running trial would deliver them justice.

Without an appeal, their only hope of a conviction over Ms Spiers’ murder is the discovery of new evidence that would prompt a fresh trial.

Retrial possible only if new evidence found

Senior criminal barrister Linda Black said if any new evidence pointed to Edwards as the killer, he could be retried after changes to WA’s “double jeopardy” laws in 2012.

“Double jeopardy is the common law notion that you can’t be tried twice for the same offence,” Ms Black said.

Sarah Spiers vanished after a night out in Claremont in 1996 and her body has never been found.(Supplied)

“That’s actually changed, so in very serious cases such as murder, where the evidence wasn’t available at the time and where it’s compelling, someone like the Attorney General John Quigley, or the Director of Public Prosecutions can go to the Court of Appeal and seek permission to try him again.

“So that is always a possibility.”

However, she said any new evidence would have to be particularly strong.

“I would have thought in this case the discovery of Sarah’s body, if there was then forensic findings that enabled to fill in the gap that his honour Justice Hall was not able to fill, that would meet the standard potentially,” Ms Black said.

Search for Sarah’s body goes on

When the verdicts were handed down, police commissioner Chris Dawson said police would never give up trying to locate Ms Spiers’ body.

“We will continue to investigate the murder of Sarah Spiers,” Commissioner Dawson said.

“We want to find Sarah, and we will.”

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WA Premier issues plea to Claremont killer Bradley Edwards

At the same time, Premier Mark McGowan also appealed to Edwards directly to reveal anything he might know about the location of her body.

“If you know where Sarah Spiers is, can you please tell us,” he said last month.

“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,”

Edwards is due to be sentenced in December for the murders of Ms Rimmer and Ms Glennon, as well as violent, sexually motivated attacks on two other women.

He will then have 21 days to lodge his own appeal against the guilty verdicts. However, that window could be extended to allow for the Christmas and New Year break.

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Claremont serial killings trial told fibres found on bodies ‘strongly’ support link to Bradley Edwards’s car

Fibres found on the bodies of two of the Claremont serial killings victims strongly suggest they were in the car driven by accused murderer Bradley Edwards before they died, an international expert has told his triple murder trial.

Fibres consultant Ray Palmer, who is giving evidence by video link from the UK, told the WA Supreme Court the combination of fibres found on Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon were strongly supportive of them having been in Edwards’s white 1996 model Holden Commodore station wagon.

Edwards, 51, a former Telstra technician, is on trial for the murders of the two women and that of 18-year-old Sarah Spiers, whose body has never been recovered.

He has pleaded not guilty.

His Telstra-issued car was seized by police on the same day he was arrested in December 2016 and was forensically examined by detectives and scientists in the months that followed.

Fibres found on the women’s bodies matched those from inside Bradley Edwards’s Telstra car.(Supplied: WA Supreme Court)

Dr Palmer said it was even more likely that Ms Glennon had been in the car than Ms Rimmer, as more fibres were found on her body.

These included blue polyester fibres that matched Telstra-issued clothing Edwards would have worn at the time, and grey polypropylene fibres that matched the interior of the Commodore.

Claremont exhibit 15192 Telstra clothing - back of trousers
Telstra employees wore employer-issued blue trousers at the time of the killings.(Supplied: Supreme Court of Western Australia)

“The findings very strongly support the proposition that she’d been in contact with the interior of the vehicle,” he said.

Concerns raised over evidence collection

On Wednesday, Dr Palmer was highly critical of the behaviour of police and scientists at the crime scenes where the bodies were found, and also at the post mortems.

He told the court not enough care had been taken to preserve evidence, and some staff were seen on video at the scenes not wearing adequate personal protective equipment and not taking appropriate measures to protect the bodies, causing valuable fibre evidence to be likely lost.

A composite image of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon's smiling faces.
The bodies of Jane Rimmer (left) and Ciara Glennon were discovered eight months apart.(Fairfax Media)

Under cross-examination from defence counsel Paul Yovich SC on Thursday, Dr Palmer said there was a possibility fibres found in Ms Rimmer’s hair could have been transferred there by Sergeant Barry Mott, who was the police photographer at the scene.

Sergeant Mott gave evidence he had arrived at the scene in a white Holden Commodore and had changed into blue disposable overalls at the rear of his vehicle.

A polarised strand of a fibre lit up on a black background.
A fibre found in Jane Rimmer’s hair (grey) vs a sample fibre from Edwards’s old car.(Supplied: Supreme Court of WA)

But Dr Palmer said he was less likely to have transferred any fibres to Ms Rimmer’s body if he had not had any physical contact with it.

“It’s possible but given the scenario you’ve given me, I feel it’s less likely,” he said.

Taxi missed Sarah Spiers by minutes

Earlier, the court heard a taxi meant to pick up Ms Spiers on the night she went missing was dispatched immediately but ended up picking up another fare instead, just five minutes after she made what is thought to be her last telephone call.

A montage of a headshot of Bradley Edwards and a polaroid photo of a smiling Sarah Spiers.
Edwards denies the murders including that of Sarah Spiers, whose body has never been found.(ABC News)

The detail was revealed by Alana Coniglio, a Swan Taxis employee who told the court taxi records showed Ms Spiers called from a phone box on the corner of Stirling Road and Stirling Highway in Claremont at 2.06am on January 27, 1996.

He said the closest taxi was dispatched and records showed it picked up a fare at 2:11am.

Earlier in the trial, taxi driver Jaroslav Krupnik testified he was not far away when he was called to pick up Ms Spiers, but when he drove past the intersection he could not see anyone, so he kept driving to nearby Club Bay View where he picked up other passengers.

Ms Coniglio said extensive searches of the taxi database found no evidence of Ms Glennon calling for a taxi on the night of her disappearance in March 1997, and only one record relating to Ms Rimmer on the night she vanished, showing she caught a cab from Nedlands to Cottesloe around 8.30pm on June 8, 1996.

The marathon trial before Justice Stephen Hall is now in its final stages after hearings that have spanned five months.

The fibre evidence is expected to wrap up this week, with Edwards’s police interview due to be played to the court next week, bringing the prosecution’s case to a close.

It is not clear how many witnesses, if any, the defence plans to call.

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A timeline of the Claremont serial killings

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