Fam­i­lies’ 40 years of an­guish

Vic­tim’s brother tells of re­lief as po­lice charge NSW man in triple slay­ing

Herald on Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Dil­lane

Rel­a­tives of two slain Ki­wis are hop­ing they will fi­nally get jus­tice for their loved ones af­ter an ar­rest and mur­der charges were laid re­lat­ing to a 40-year cold case in Aus­tralia. New Zealan­ders Gor­don Twad­dle, top, and Ti­mothy Thom­son – and Aus­tralian woman Karen Ed­wards – were shot in the out­back near Mt Isa. Yes­ter­day a 63-year-old for­mer prison of­fi­cer ap­peared in a Bris­bane court charged with their mur­ders.

Ever since John Twad­dle got the im­pres­sion Aus­tralian po­lice were about to charge some­one for his brother’s 40-year-old cold case death, he’s been wak­ing in the night.

That was a year ago, af­ter re­newed po­lice in­ter­est in the 1978 al­leged triple mur­ders of Ki­wis Gor­don Twad­dle and Ti­mothy Thom­son and Aus­tralian woman Karen Ed­wards at Mount Isa in the Queens­land out­back.

Yes­ter­day 63-year-old Bruce John Pre­ston from Goul­burn, New South Wales, was charged with three counts of mur­der over the case.

“It’s re­lief, I was just talk­ing to my wife about it last night,” the 69-yearold Mos­giel man told the Her­ald on Sun­day.

“I’ve got to the stage that I knew it was com­ing, that he was go­ing to be ar­rested. I knew his name about six months ago.

“They’ve [po­lice] been work­ing on this, the cold case files and been keep­ing me up to date with it.

“At the mo­ment, I’m still wak­ing up in the mid­dle of the night and think­ing about it be­cause of all these new de­vel­op­ments, it brings back a

lot of things.”

The three vic­tims were last seen on the morn­ing of Oc­to­ber 5, 1978, af­ter they ar­rived in Mount Isa as part of a mo­tor­cy­cle jour­ney from Alice Springs to Mel­bourne.

Thom­son, 31, and Twad­dle, 21, were fam­ily friends from New Zealand with a pas­sion for mo­tor­cy­cles.

Ed­wards, 23, was Thom­son’s girl­friend and the trio were on the ad­ven­ture of a life­time trekking across the out­back.

Once they reached Cairns, the group planned to head south to Mel­bourne for Christ­mas with fam­ily.

They never made it.

Af­ter their last sight­ing in the Moon­darra Car­a­van Park, their bod­ies were found 19 days later in bush­land near Spear Creek, 12km north of Mount Isa.

All three died from gun­shot wounds.

Pre­ston had been a per­son of in­ter­est at the time, charged with steal­ing Tim’s mo­tor­cy­cle in 1978 for which he was con­victed and fined $300.

David Thom­son told the Her­ald on Sun­day the al­leged mur­der of his younger brother Ti­mothy pre­ma­turely “aged” him, his par­ents, and two other brothers Peter and Ken over the past 40 years.

“It cer­tainly took a lot of en­joy­ment out of life. It’s left me with a feel­ing it’s all sort of un­fin­ished, that we don’t know ex­actly what hap­pened to him,” the 79-year-old Christchurch res­i­dent said.

He said the mur­der charge against Pre­ston of­fers some re­lief but he

It’s been ter­ri­ble. It doesn’t mat­ter how much they do to this guy, it’s never go­ing to bring them back. John Twad­dle

won’t “start cel­e­brat­ing” un­til a ver­dict is handed out.

“It doesn’t al­ter the fact that they’re dead, that we won’t see him again. I’ll cer­tainly never be able to for­get my baby brother,” he said.

De­tec­tive Se­nior Sergeant Tara Ken­twell said the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims had been told of the charges and were re­lieved by the out­come.

“It’s a good feel­ing to pro­vide some clo­sure to these fam­i­lies af­ter such a long time.”

Ken­twell said the ac­cused was “sur­prised” by the ar­rest, but would not com­ment on a mo­tive other than that he was known to the vic­tims be­fore Oc­to­ber 5, 1978.

“We be­lieve that there are still wit­nesses out there who hold vi­tal in­for­ma­tion and we ap­peal for those per­sons to come for­ward.”

Pre­ston faced Bris­bane Mag­is­trates Court yes­ter­day charged with three counts of mur­der.

For John Twad­dle, any con­so­la­tion at the long-awaited charges is tem­pered by the sad­ness they dredge up.

“It’s al­ways in your mem­ory, you never for­get it, and un­for­tu­nately my dad, Ian, died in 1983, so he’s not been round [to see this].

“It hit him very hard. It’s been ter­ri­ble and you keep on think­ing about it,” Twad­dle said. “You’ve got peo­ple you’re never ever go­ing to see again, it’s just quite hor­ri­ble ac­tu­ally,” he said. “We’ve never ever had any­thing like this in the fam­ily, you never ex­pect it.

“That was a long time ago when it hap­pened, 40 years ago, but it’s some­thing you never, ever get over.”

Karen Ed­wards, Gor­don Twad­dle and Ti­mothy Thom­son (left to right) were found dead from gun­shot wounds in Oc­to­ber 1978.

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