Wednesday 11 December 2019

Serial killer trial: Final movements of murdered Irish woman Ciara Glennon (27) shown to court

Tragic: Irishwoman Ciara Glennon, whose body was found 18 days after she went missing near Perth, Australia
Tragic: Irishwoman Ciara Glennon, whose body was found 18 days after she went missing near Perth, Australia
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

Denis Glennon has waited over 22 years to face the man accused of his daughter’s murder in Australia.

Ciara (27) disappeared on March 14, 1997 following a night out celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Claremont, Perth.

Her body was found three weeks later in bushland some 50km north of Australia’s third largest city.

It is the prosecution’s case that Ciara along with Sarah Spiers (18) and Jane Rimmer (23) were abducted and murdered by Bradley Robert Edwards - the ‘Claremont Serial Killer’ between 1996 and 1997.

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Ciara Glennon
Ciara Glennon

On the first day of what is expected to be a six-month trial, the court heard that Ciara, Sarah and Jane all disappeared “under the cover of darkness”.

Mr Edwards eluded police until Christmas 2016, prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo SC told the court.

The three young women went missing after nights out with friends or work colleagues.

Members of each young woman’s family – including Denis Glennon - were in the public gallery today, a few metres from Mr Edwards who is due to turn 51 next month.

Denis and Una Glennon, originally from Westport, Co Mayo and Monaghan, settled in Western Australia when Ciara was five years old.

A keen ballet dancer, Ciara was a diligent student who was beginning to establish her career as a lawyer, after graduating from university with degrees in law and Japanese and had started an internship at law firm Blake Dawson Waldron.

Ciara also had an adventurous spirit and had returned from a year of travelling overseas just two weeks before she disappeared.

She was supposed to be her sister’s bridesmaid later that month and was out celebrating St Patrick’s Day with friends in the Perth suburb of Claremonth on the night she disappeared.

Footage was shown to the court earlier today, showing Ciara and her friends arriving at The Continental Hotel.

There is no CCTV footage of Ciara leaving the venue – but the prosecution outlined how there are 12 instances where witnesses said they spotted a female matching her description walking along Bayview Terrace and Stirling Highway that night.

"When she reached a point ... on Stirling Highway ... a white VS Holden Commodore station wagon was seen in close proximity to her," Ms Barbagallo said.

"It is on this stretch of highway that Ciara Glennon either accepted a lift from the perpetrator, or was abducted by the perpetrator in a blitz attack."

A group of three men who had been out drinking when they went to Hungry Jacks takeaway to buy hamburgers said that while they were sitting at a bus stop on Stirling Highway, they saw a lone woman matching Glennon's description.

"One of the men yelled out ‘you're crazy to hitchhike’  then Ciara gestured back to him," Ms Barbagallo said.

The man said he saw a white VS Commodore drive past a short time later. He then saw a woman leaning towards the vehicle.

The prosecution said that on the night of her disappearance, Ciara’s mother went into her daughter’s bedroom to check on her but discovered she wasn’t there. The following morning she called police.

Ms Glennon's moderately-decomposed body was found 18 days later in Eglington by a man looking for cannabis plants. The court heard her left thumbnail was damaged and the tip of another nail was gone.

Sarah Spiers  (18) was the first of the three women to disappear.

Originally from rural Western Australia, Sarah was sharing a flat in South Perth with her older sister, Amanda.  On the night of Australia Day 1996, Amanda dropped Sarah and her friends to Club Bayview in Claremont.

The court heard an audio recording of Sarah ordering a taxi, telling the operator she wanted to go to Mosman Park, some 4km away. She sounded polite and chirpy as she ordered the taxi she never got into.

When taxi 232 turned up, the driver could not see anyone waiting but two men driving past the observed another vehicle, not a taxi, approaching her from behind.

Hours after Spiers’s disappearance from Claremont, four separate witnesses heard a woman’s high pitched screams in Mosman Park, not far from Iona Presentation College where Spiers had been a student.

One couple was woken by the screams and saw a light-coloured station wagon, while a second woman said she heard a high-pitched scream that abruptly stopped.

“In the still of the night, the screams of a female in distress can carry long distances and may be difficult to accurately ascertain the direction from which they come,” Barbagallo told the court.

Jane Rimmer’s naked body was discovered by “absolute chance” 55 days later in Wellard, in an advanced state of decomposition metres from the road.

A couple said they were woken by the sound of a female yelling that night then a car driving off, while another couple about one kilometre away also heard screaming that stopped suddenly, the prosecutor said.

The childcare worker’s watch was found the next day by a man who did not realise its significance.

Ms Rimmer (23) was last seen on security camera footage outside the Continental Hotel in the early hours of June 9, 1996.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to murdering Spiers, Rimmer and Glennon. Sarah Spiers’s body has never been found.

Ms Barbagallo said Edwards had dumped his victims in bushland, covered in foliage in the hope that they “would never be found”.

But she said DNA had been “preserved, recovered and revealed” and would implicate him.

She said the community had lived in fear “caused by an enigma of the dark” and in coming months the prosecution would demystify that enigma.

“There was one killer and that killer was Bradley Robert Edwards,” she said.

The trial is being held without a jury owing to the publicity surrounding the case. Justice Stephen Hall is expected to reserve his judgment for months before handing down a lengthy written verdict.

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