Families’ 40 years of anguish
Victim’s brother tells of relief as police charge NSW man in triple slaying
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.