More than two decades after Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon vanished off the streets of Claremont, the fate of their accused killer, Bradley Edwards, will finally be decided on Thursday.
The hunt for the Claremont serial killer became Australia’s biggest and most expensive murder investigation, spanning 20 years to 2016 when the breakthrough arrest of Mr Edwards was made.
The mammoth Macro Taskforce investigation was followed by Western Australia’s longest-running murder trial, which heard from more than 200 witnesses over 95 days between November 2019 and June 2020.The immense public interest and complex nature of the case against Mr Edwards meant the 51-year-old’s trial was heard by a judge alone.
Supreme Court of WA Justice Stephen Hall retired to reach his verdict on June 25.
He has spent the past three months considering the evidence against the former Telstra technician to determine his innocence or guilt over the murders of Ms Spiers, 18, Ms Rimmer, 23, and Ms Glennon, 27 in 1996 and 1997.
On Thursday morning, the most anticipated verdict in the state’s history will finally be revealed, with WAtoday to provide live updates from inside the courtroom throughout the hearing.
Overflow courtrooms will be opened for interested members of the public and a video recording of the verdict will be available on the Supreme Court website shortly after the decision is handed down.
During Mr Edwards’ trial, state prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo set out to prove an unassuming suburban step-dad was the “enigma of the dark sought by so many for so long”.
“[In November] in this very place, the state made reference to an enigma of the dark and promised to shed light on and demystify that enigma, we say that that light has been cast incrementally from the months of many witnesses who gave evidence of events that occurred more than 20 years ago,” she said.
“Some of them still have vivid memories of those events, others have recollections which have faded over time, but what has remained impervious to the two-decade span is the forensic evidence.
“Physical evidence can’t be intimidated and it can’t forget.”
The state’s case against Mr Edwards centred around DNA evidence, with prosecutors alleging his DNA was recovered from underneath Ms Glennon’s fingernails after she scratched him in a fight for her life.
Justice Hall has previously indicated to the prosecution that propensity evidence alone, or a tendency to behave in a certain way, is not enough to convict someone of an offence.
Mr Edwards has been in custody since his arrest and has been convicted, but not yet sentenced, for two unrelated sex crimes. He faces decades behind bars for those offences.If also convicted of any of the three murders, he faces life in jail with it open for Justice Hall to make an order he never be released.
Family members of the three women, as well as Macro Taskforce detectives, are expected to be in court to hear the long-awaited verdict.Mr Edwards’ parents, who sat through nearly every day of the trial, are also expected to attend.