Conscience call in Prue Bird murder case
A judge has urged infamous child killer Leslie Alfred Camilleri to "exercise his conscience" and reveal details of the whereabouts of a murdered Melbourne teenager.
Camilleri, 43, pleaded guilty late last year to the 20-year-old murder of Prue Bird, who disappeared from her Glenroy home on February 2, 1992. She was 13 years old.
A pre-sentence plea hearing before Justice Elizabeth Curtain in Victoria's Supreme Court on Monday heard that key facts of her murder, which police believe occurred some time between February 2 and 11, 1992, were still in dispute.
Clockwise from centre: Murdered teenager Prue Bird; her confessed killer, Leslie Alfred Camilleri at a hearing several years ago; police search for Prue's body in East Gippsland; Prue’s mother, Jennifer Bird, with a picture of her daughter.
But after the majority of the prosecution's opening was read to the court, Justice Curtain urged Camilleri's defence barrister John Kelly to discuss with his client what had been aired in court, before she added: "it might be time now for your client to exercise his conscience... and give details of the whereabouts of Prue Bird."
In the prosecution's long and complicated opening address, Michele Williams, SC, revealed that after approaching police in 2009 about his involvement in the murder, Camilleri admitted to accidentally killing the teenager.
He said he lost his temper after she refused to tell him where her father was when he approached her as she was walking along her Glenroy street.
The court heard that Camilleri believed her father might have been a man who had sexually abused him when he was young, so he was trying to find him.
He said he went up behind her after she told him "where to go" and placed his hands around her neck until she was unconscious. He placed her in his car, hog-tied her but continued talking to her, only to later realise that she was not breathing.
In one version of how he claims to have disposed of her body, Camilleri claimed he dumped her in a fridge at a Frankston rubbish tip.
In another version, he said he buried her body in bushland near where he had hidden the body of an unidentified NSW man who had sexually abused him when he was young.
But the prosecution argues that Camilleri killed Prue while working with another notorious criminal, Mark Skinner McConville, who died in jail in 2003.
The prosecution alleges that:
- Prue was possibly abducted from her Glenroy home in a planned kidnapping as payback against relatives who were Crown witnesses in the Russell Street police headquarters bombing, although there was not enough evidence to prove this as a motive;
- A witness saw Prue moments after she had been abducted in the rear of a blue sedan where she was bashing on the car’s rear widow pleading for help;
- She was taken to a backyard shed where another witness, who was also being held captive, saw her tied up, frightened and was pleading to go home to her mum; and,
- Camilleri made recent admissions to others about being responsible for three other murders in addition to the 1997 Bega schoolgirl murders for which he is currently serving life without parole.
Prue's mother Jenny audibly wept in court as details of her daughter's death were revealed.
Ms Williams told the court that much of the admissions Camilleri had made were "self-serving" and the prosecution submitted that the murder had not taken place the way he said it had.
She said more than 500 interviews had been conducted in relation to Prue’s death and police had also followed up multiple avenues of inquiry.
"Despite an exhaustive investigation she has never been located and nor have her remains," she added.
A $500,000 reward has been offered for information leading to a conviction in her murder and the court heard Camilleri had been covertly recorded discussing the murder and reward money with many people, including several prisoners.