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McCulkins’ convicted murderer Vincent O’Dempsey has denied involvement in the deadly incendiary bombs on Whiskey Au Go Go, the Brisbane investigation said.

A reopened investigation into the deaths of 15 people in an incendiary fire at the Whiskey Au Go nightclub in Brisbane nearly 50 years ago has ended. Convicted murderer Vincent O’Dempsey has testified.

In 2017, O’Dempsey and a co-defendant, Garry Dubois, were sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1974 manslaughter of Brisbane woman Barbara McCulkin and the murder and rape of her two daughters, Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11.

After their trial, the court was told there was evidence that allegedly indicated the couple killed the family for fear that Mrs. McCulkin might implicate them in the 1973 arson attack at the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub in Fortitude Valley. , which led to the fresh probe.

The Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub burned out after being bombed in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley in 1973. (ABC News)

On Monday, O’Dempsey took the stand in Coroners Court in Brisbane, refusing to take an oath or affirmation, saying: “I refuse to do both.”

“Fraud has been committed in this court through false witnesses and a farcical presentation of a report to the coroner by Detective Virginia ‘damaged’ Gray,” O’Dempsey told the hearing.

State coroner Terry Ryan forced O’Dempsey to answer questions without giving the affidavit, telling him now was not the time to “make a speech,” O’Dempsey agreed.

“If it’s related to the Whiskey Au Go Go investigation, and you’re sticking to that, I’ll be happy to help,” O’Dempsey said.

O’Dempsey was questioned extensively about the McCulkin case, which he initially pleaded not guilty to, and he continued to deny any involvement, saying it was “absurd”.

Vicki, Leanne, and their mother, Barbara McCulkin, disappeared from their home on Highgate Hill in Brisbane on January 16, 1974. (Supplied: Queensland Police Service)


When asked if he’d killed anyone, O’Dempsey said, “No murders as far as I’m concerned”.

“I didn’t kill people,” O’Dempsey told the inquest.

O’Dempsey also denied having anything to do with the firebombing, telling the court: “I never settled anything”.

“I’ve never been involved in arson,” he said.

“I had nothing to do with the Whiskey Au Go Go… I’ve never met him [James] Finch and never had dealings with him – never had dealings with him [John] Stuart.”

John Stuart and James Finch were sentenced to life imprisonment for the fatal fire. (ABC News)

John Stuart and James Finch were sentenced to life imprisonment for the fatal fire.

Stuart died in Brisbane Boggo Road prison in 1979, while Finch was released on parole in 1988 and deported to the UK.

Finch has since passed away, in England, in 2021.

‘Never, never complete shutdown’ for family

Outside the court, Sonya Carroll — who lost her mother, Decima Carroll, in the blaze — said she was “very, very disappointed” that O’Dempsey was not cooperating.

“When he didn’t take the oath, it was an indication to me that we weren’t going to get the answers we were looking for, but we were prepared for that,” she said.

Ms. Carroll said there would “never, never be a complete shutdown” for her family, but the inquest had revealed new details.

Sonya Carroll, who lost her mother in the fire, says she is “very, very disappointed” that Vincent O’Dempsey was uncooperative. (ABC News: Talissa Siganto)

“As a child, I wasn’t given much information,” she said.

“We’ll never get the full answer, but I have a lot, and I’m happy with what I have… for me, that’s a win.”

Ms. Carroll said she was “mentally exhausted” and was glad the inquest was finally over.

“I’ve come every day for the past year, and there’s a lot to process at the moment,” said Ms. Carroll.

The corona investigation – which has been ongoing for 29 days over the past 12 months – is trying to determine whether anyone else may have been involved in the firebombing.

Former disgraced NSW police detective Roger Rogerson also testified during the inquest. (ABC News)

During the hearings, evidence was heard from a long list of people, including survivors of the fire, family friends of those who died, former police officers, and secret witnesses, including an anonymous informant.

Disgraced former NSW police detective Roger Rogerson, who was involved in the initial police investigation, also testified in court.

State Coroner Ryan will take written submissions from the legal teams involved in the case over the next six months before reserving his findings.

Dorothy R. Barrett

I’m a full-time blogger by passion. This is my first blog, and I'm excited to share everything that I love about technology, business, and lifestyle with you. I’m a writer by trade, and I can be found writing about tech, business, and lifestyle on my personal blog.

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