STALKED TO DEATH
For 10 blocks, Eurydice’s killer lurked in the shadows
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.