STALKED TO DEATH

For 10 blocks, Eury­dice’s killer lurked in the shad­ows

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - CHIP LE GRAND

The teenager who mur­dered Eury­dice Dixon stalked her for at least 10 city blocks be­fore rap­ing and stran­gling the aspir­ing co­me­dian to death in a de­serted park close to her Mel­bourne home, court doc­u­ments re­veal.

Jaymes Todd, 19, pleaded guilty in the Vic­to­rian County Court yes­ter­day to sin­gle counts of rape, mur­der, at­tempted rape and at­tempted sex­ual as­sault of Dixon, 22, in Princes Park in the early hours of June 13 this year.

A pros­e­cu­tion sum­mary de­tails how Todd spent the af­ter­noon be­fore the at­tack drink­ing vodka, cider, and bour­bon and coke with a friend on the banks of the Yarra in Bat­man Park, a pop­u­lar in­ner-city meet­ing place for home­less peo­ple, va­grants and drunks.

A chronol­ogy of seem­ingly ran­dom move­ments fol­lowed, with Todd catch­ing a train out of the city, walk­ing through the west­ern sub­urbs, then catch­ing a train back to Flin­ders Street Sta­tion at about the same time that Dixon and her boyfriend were leav­ing a com­edy gig at the nearby High­land Club.

CCTV footage ob­tained by homi­cide de­tec­tives sug­gests that Dixon and Todd fate­fully crossed paths shortly be­fore 11pm at the busy in­ter­sec­tion of Swanston Street and Flin­ders Street, just af­ter Dixon parted from her boyfriend and fel­low co­me­dian, Tony Mag­nus­son.

From that chance mo­ment, Todd ap­pears to have be­come fix­ated on Dixon.

Todd, de­scribed by his lawyer as so­cially re­gres­sive, had pre­vi­ously been di­ag­nosed as be­ing on the autism spec­trum. He lived in the north­ern sub­urb of Broad­mead­ows and was en­rolled in a hos­pi­tal­ity course run by the Mel­bourne City Mis­sion for home­less peo­ple and stu­dents with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties.

Dixon, hav­ing de­cided to walk home to her fa­ther’s flat in Parkville, walked north along Flin­ders Street un­aware of her sin­is­ter shadow. Ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tion sum­mary, she was “obliv­i­ous’’ to her sur­rounds, chat­ting to her­self as she walked through the fa­mil­iar city streets.

Todd, de­spite hav­ing drunk a large amount of al­co­hol, took care to fol­low at a con­stant dis­tance of be­tween 10 and 20 sec­onds be­hind, speed­ing and slow­ing his steps to match her pace.

At the cor­ner of La Trobe and Flin­ders streets, while Dixon ducked into a shop­ping cen­tre, Todd waited at the kerb, rolling and smok­ing a cig­a­rette, un­til his quarry reap­peared.

It was close to mid­night when Dixon de­cided to cut through the dark ex­panse of Princes Park. She was at­tacked by Todd in the mid­dle of the park. Her body was found by a passer-by just be­fore 3am, prompt­ing an im­me­di­ate po­lice hunt for her killer.

That evening, a CCTV image of Todd in his grey hoodie was re­leased by po­lice and broad­cast on the tele­vi­sion news. Todd called po­lice at 7.08pm, fewer than 24 hours af­ter he mur­dered Dixon, and iden­ti­fied him­self as the man in the pho­to­graph.

He ini­tially de­nied any in­volve­ment in Dixon’s death but even­tu­ally con­fessed to po­lice and pro­vided a de­tailed state­ment. Foren­sic tests found traces of his DNA at the crime scene.

Dixon’s rape and mur­der trig­gered a na­tional de­bate about the safety of women on our streets and an out­pour­ing of grief in the North Carl­ton com­mu­nity where Dixon went to school and lived.

Four days af­ter she was killed, thou­sands of peo­ple at­tended a can­dle­light vigil on a cold win­ter’s night at Princes Park.

Then prime min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten spoke in par­lia­ment about her mur­der, call­ing for more to be done to pro­tect women from vi­o­lence.

“Women must be safe ev­ery­where,’’ Mr Turn­bull said. “On the street, walk­ing through a park, in their home, at work. We need to en­sure that we have a cul­ture of re­spect for women.’’

The pros­e­cu­tion sum­mary re­leased by mag­is­trate Sue Cameron was ex­ten­sively redacted to con­ceal the de­tails of the at­tack, Dixon’s death and other de­tails in the po­lice brief of ev­i­dence.

Todd ap­peared in court via video link, his head freshly shaved and face im­pas­sive. A date for his plea and sen­tence hear­ing in the Vic­to­rian Supreme Court will be set on Tues­day.

Todd

Dixon

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