Ten of Australia’s Most Notorious Criminal Cases

Ten of Australia’s Most Notorious Criminal Cases

A psychiatrist out for revenge, a young mother bludgeoned to death with a fire hydrant and human remains found in a suitcase, these are some of Australia’s most infamous criminal cases.

#1 Belanglo Forest serial killer

One of Australia’s worst serial killers, Ivan Milat murdered at least seven backpackers, including a young German couple and two British girls who were vacationing in Australia. From December 1989 to January 1992 Milat picked up his victims who were hitchhiking along the highway, kidnapped them and brought them to the Belanglo Forest in southern NSW where he brutally shot or stabbed them and placed them in ritualistic graves. Milat kept hundreds of souvenirs of the murders, including a Benetton shirt, which he gave to his girlfriend as a gift.

Milat was convicted in 1996 and received seven life sentences for his crimes. He has been incarcerated in the “Supermax” near Sydney ever since. It is believed that Milat is also responsible for the disappearance of several other young women who went missing over the course of twenty years.

#2 Australia’s worst mass murder

In 1996 35 people were killed and another 23 wounded in what is known as the “deadliest mass shooting in Australian history.” The shooting spree occurred in a cafe at Port Arthur a tourist site in Tasmania. Considered the worst mass-murderer in Australian history, twenty eight year old Martin Bryant was later discovered to have the intellectual capacity of an eleven year old.

As a result of the mass shooting the Australian federal government introduced legislation that banned automatic and semi-automatic weapons, as well as pump action shotguns. This new National Firearms Agreement saw more than 640,000 weapons turned in to authorities.

Martin Bryant is currently imprisoned in the Wilfred Lopes Centre, near the Risdon Prison Complex serving 35 life sentences.

#3 Young girl’s remains found in suitcase

In 2010 Karlie–Pearce Stevenson’s body was also found in the infamous Belanglo State Forest. However, the identity of her body was not known until five years later when someone discovered a suitcase dumped at the side of the highway near Wynarka, east of Adelaide. In the suitcase was the skeletal remains of a young girl who was later revealed to be her two-year-old daughter, Khandalyce Pearce.

Forty one year old Daniel James Holdom was charged with the murder of both mother and daughter.

#4 Radicalised youth kills NSW Police accountant in act of terror

In 2015 Curtis Cheng an accountant for the NSW Police was leaving NSW Police Headquarter in Parramatta when he was shot in the head at close range by 15 year old radicalised youth Farhad Jabar. Jabar, a student of the nearby Arthur Phillip High School, was killed in an exchange of gunfire on the scene by special constables right after the shooting. The incident described as one of the most high-profile acts of terror in recent years also involved three other men who have been charged in connection with the killing.

In a recent sentencing hearing of one of the men, Cheng’s widow described Curtis Cheng as “a good man, the gentlest of souls” and “a loving husband and father.”

#5 Sydney hostage crisis

In another thought to be terrorist attack, lone gunman Haron Monis went into the Lindt Cafe and held ten customers and eight employees hostage in December 2014. The Sydney siege lasted 16 hours until Tactical Operations Unit stormed the café and shot Monis. Two hostages were killed in the event, Tori Johnson, the 34-year-old manager of the cafe who was shot in the back of the head by Monis and Katrina Dawson who was killed by seven police bullet fragments that had ricocheted off a chair she was hiding behind during the raid. Another three hostages and one police officer were also injured by police bullets during the raid.

#6 Roadside murder of young mother in the Gold Coast

In 2015 Lionel Patea smashed his ex partner Tara Brown’s face in with a 7.8 kg fire hydrant metal plate while she lay trapped in the wreckage of her upturned vehicle on the Gold Coast after he ran her of the road. The 24 year old and mother of his young daughter suffered non-survivable head injuries that included multiple facial fractures and a brain laceration. Convicted this past year Patea, an ex-Bandido bikie, pled guilty to the murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

#7 Women shot dead by former partner at McDonalds

In front of horrified diners, Karina Lock was shot by her former partner Steven Lock at a McDonald’s restaurant in the Gold Coast.  It is reported that Steven Lock was on a mission to kill her and nothing would divert him from his plan. After shooting Karina Lock in the head he turned the gun on himself as 30 restaurant patrons looked on. Steven Lock later died in hospital.

It was later revealed that Steven Lock had been subject to a domestic violence order.

Both the Karina Lock and Tara Brown murders sparked renewed efforts to address domestic violence at the hands of men like their ex partners.

#8 Cairns child killings

In December 2014, a mentally distraught Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday killed eight children. Seven of which were her own children aged 27 months and 15 years. The eighth was her niece. All the children were found brutally stabbed in her home in Cairns, Queensland.

In what was later to be revealed as a mental health tragedy, the single mom started showing signs of mental distress after breaking up with her partner and when she threw the families possessions onto the front lawn in a purge. Witnesses recalled her starting to act out of character. However, no one suspected the tragedy to follow.

After the killings, Thaiday was discovered on her porch with about 35 self-inflicted stab wounds to her chest and neck, including a puncture wound to her lung.

Subsequent psychiatric treatment revealed that Thaiday was suffering from one of the worst cases of schizophrenia her doctors had ever seen.

Her home was subsequently torn down after the incident and turned into a park in memory of the murdered children.

#9 Melbourne car attack

On 20 January 2017, Dimitrious Gargasoulas, aged 27 allegedly stole a car from a neighbour and intentionally drove it into a group of pedestrians killing six and wounding another approximately thirty in the rampage. Three of who sustained critical injuries. 

Prior to the attack it is alleged that Gargasoulas went to his brothers flat where he left his brother in critical condition after stabbing him and then taking his brother’s pregnant wife hostage.

The six victims of his rampage included a ten year old girl, a three-month-old baby boy, a 25-year-old man, a 22-year-old woman, a 33-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman.

Gargasoulas has recently pled not guilty to 39 charges, including six counts of murder.

#10 Ax murderer

On the evening of June 2008, grandfather, John Walsh murdered his wife, seven-year-old grandson and five-year old granddaughter with an ax in NSW. He then attempted to attack his daughter, Senior Constable Shelly Walsh, 31 who ran to a neighbour’s house for help with a gaping ax wound to her head.

Police later arrested Walsh him at a nearby hotel and charged him with three counts of murder and one of attempted murder. He received a life sentence for the ax murders.