true crime

Screams at night and an expressionless killer: What we learnt from the Claremont murder trial.

This post deals with murder and includes gruesome details that might be triggering for some readers.

Sitting in the front row of a packed public gallery, Don and Carol Spiers listened to the last ever recording of their daughter’s voice.

A chirpy and youthful sounding 18-year-old Sarah Spiers called Swan Taxis to book a ride at 2:06am after going out with her friends on Australia Day.

But when booked cab 232 turned up, she was nowhere to be seen.

Hours later, four separate witnesses heard a woman’s high pitched scream in Mosman Park.

Here’s how the accused Claremont serial killer was found. Post continues after video.

Video via 7News

Yesterday was day one of the murder trial of Telstra technician Bradley Robert Edwards, who is accused of murdering Sarah that night in the summer of 1996.

Edwards has also been charged with the murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon, who were all snatched from the streets of Claremont in Perth, one of the city’s most desirable suburbs.

They all disappeared within a 22-month period in a crime spree that changed Perth forever.

Sarah disappeared first, her body has never been found. Jane vanished five months later, followed by Ciara nine months after that in March 1997.

23-year-old Jane was a childcare worker and had been out at the Continental Hotel with friends. The court was shown never before seen CCTV shots from images taken by the pub cameras, which show Jane walking with a male friend and checking her watch while outside the pub. A dark haired man approaches to chat just as the camera cuts away.

There’s a 13-second gap in the footage, when other cameras at the hotel were recording instead, and when the front camera returned at about four minutes past midnight, Jane was gone.

claremont-cctv
Jane Rimmer was captured talking to an unknown man prior to her disappearance. Image: WA Police
ADVERTISEMENT

Two separate couples heard screaming that night, and sounds of a car driving off.

Jane's body was found by chance 55 days later, in a bush grave on the city's outskirts, in an advanced state of decomposition, just metres from the road.

The court heard she was naked and lying face down, her body carefully concealed with branches and foliage that'd been ripped from nearby trees. A blacked out photo of her body in the bushland was shown in the court, while her family watched on.

Jane's left arm was unusually bent, consistent with being dragged, and she was dumped before rigor mortis took hold. She had a neck injury inflicted in a cutting or "even a sawing action" the court heard.

The court also heard a man riding a horse found Jane's watch on the day she was allegedly murdered. He noticed the silver piece of jewellery in the middle of the road - but had no idea the young woman's body was mere metres away.

Ciara, 27, had just returned from a year travelling overseas, and was preparing to resume her career as a lawyer and be her sister's bridesmaid in a few weeks time. She had also spent the night at the Continental Hotel, before setting off on foot in the direction of her parent's house. She was last seen leaning into the window of a station wagon, by three young men who have become known as the "burger boys" due to the fact they were eating Hungry Jacks burgers at a bus stop when they noticed the interaction.

Ciara's body was found three weeks later in bushland in a strikingly similar pose to Jane, also covered in trees and foliage. She had the same cuts to her neck, as well as her back and shoulder, along with injuries on her arm that were likely self defence injuries.

BRADLEY EDWARDS
Bradley Edwards in court. Image: AAP.
ADVERTISEMENT

Edwards was arrested in 2016 and has spent three years behind bars awaiting trial.

He was expressionless and blank as proceedings finally got underway in the Supreme Court of WA.

Judge Stephen Hall is running the trial without a jury and was told by the prosecution about five other incidents in which women in the vicinity of Claremont were offered a lift by a man driving a white vehicle with Telstra markings on it. The man driving is alleged to have told one woman he liked to drive around and offer lifts to "damsels in distress".

Edwards has admitted to being issued station wagons by work like the one spotted on the night Sarah disappeared, and has also admitted to being issued wooden handled pocket knives like the one found near Jane's body. He does, however, maintain his innocence for the three murders.

What he has confessed to, in a pre-trial hearing last month, is five other charges stemming from an attack on an 18-year-old in 1988, and the rape of a 17-year-old girl in 1995, who he abducted and took to the Karrakatta cemetery.

Edwards' previous conviction was also discussed at the pre-trial, after he attacked a social worker from behind at a hospital where he was working for Telstra in 1990.

He covered her mouth and tried to drag her to a nearby toilet but she broke free. He was sentenced to two years probation for common assault.

The prosecutor in the current trial has argued that Edwards was obsessed with women's underwear and that his crimes have escalated over time. She says the murders have correlated with significant moments in his life, including his wife's refusal to watch the Australia Day fireworks with him, the revelation she was having a baby with another man, and the sale of their marital home.

One of the areas of contention in the trial between the prosecution and defence appears to be about the DNA. There are questions about whether the samples taken from the Karrakatta rape victim and Ciara's body have been contaminated. This detail is going to be of key importance to the defence's case.

The trial will continue for about six months.

With AAP.

00:00 / ???