GYMPIE KILLERS: Where are they now? (Left: Stephen Armitage, middle: Peter Lamb, right: Billy Fox
GYMPIE KILLERS: Where are they now? (Left: Stephen Armitage, middle: Peter Lamb, right: Billy Fox

Gympie’s most notorious killers: where are they now?

Over the years, the Gympie region has been left shocked and devastated by a number of horrific deaths and murder cases.

 

From the horror of the Lamb murders back in the 1970s, to the dramatic manhunt for Billy Fox in the northern countryside of the region in the 90s, we take a grim walk down memory lane and reveal what those responsible for the horror are doing with their lives - or not - now.

Warning: Graphic content

 

The Lamb Family Killings

Gympie detectives Don Robertson and Neil Magnussen arrive at the Gympie Court House with Peter Lamb (middle).
Gympie detectives Don Robertson and Neil Magnussen arrive at the Gympie Court House with Peter Lamb (middle).

It was a night of horror that haunted family members, first responders and the entire community for years afterwards, and still to this day.

After receiving a call in the early hours of February 21, 1977, detectives and a Brisbane Homicide Squad arrived on the scene at a rundown farm house at Wolvi.

A visitor and three siblings had been slaughtered in a satanic "cleanse" killing by their parents Peter and Irene Lamb.

Peter Lamb, 37, was found wandering down a dirt road by police responding to the call, and told officers he was "walking to the Lord" and took them back to the farmhouse.

An extremely heavy marijuana user, Lamb believed he could save the world from evil and satanic forces, and convinced his wife that their children and the visitor were possessed by the devil.

The bodies of three of their children Thomas Lamb, 17, Lorrie Lamb, 12, and Brenda Lamb, 3, were found, in what was described as the worst crime scene one officer had ever seen in his life.

CRIME SCENE: The old farmhouse at Wolvi where the Lamb family was slaughtered.
CRIME SCENE: The old farmhouse at Wolvi where the Lamb family was slaughtered.

The fourth victim, New Zealander Lynette Gail Oakley, also known as Toni Olivia Lavetti, 26, was found on the property with gunshot wounds and severe head injuries.

Peter Lamb confessed when he was picked up by detectives, was charged with four counts of murder and was placed in remand in the psychiatric section of Wacol Prison, where he committed suicide.

Irene Lamb evaded police for about 10 days before she was found about 15km from the scene by two police officers camped out.

She was a co-accused in the murders, but never punished, after a Supreme Court found her to be of unsound mind at the time, and she spent years in a mental institution before being released into outside care.

 

The Glenwood Shooter

Killer William “Billy” Kelvin Fox was the subject of a massive manhunt after the events of 1996.
Killer William “Billy” Kelvin Fox was the subject of a massive manhunt after the events of 1996.

One of Queensland's most notorious killers, William 'Billy' Kelvin Fox was jailed in 1998 for murdering his ex-wife, Patricia Atkinson, and attempting to murder his son, his son's girlfriend and his neighbour near Gympie in 1996.

He was also jailed for the 1992 attempted murder of Basia Hellwich, whom he shot three times while she was holding her two-year-old son.

For years, Ms Hellwich lived in fear, and is reminded every day of the horrific attempt on her life by a bullet fragment left in her skull.

Fox has now spent 22 years behind bars, after being sentenced to two concurrent life sentences.

Shooting victim Basia Hellwich was successful in her appeal to the courts to refuse Fox’s parole release. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe
Shooting victim Basia Hellwich was successful in her appeal to the courts to refuse Fox’s parole release. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe

In 2014, Fox was denied parole, and in 2015 applied to the Supreme Court to fight the decision, but was dismissed by a judge.

In June 2020, it was revealed Fox had been granted parole and was to be released into the Caboolture community.

However, his parole was revoked just days before his scheduled release following a campaign by Ms Hellwich who appealed to the board at the last minute.

 

The Esky Slaying

Stephen John Armitage (pictured), his son Matthew Leslie Armitage and William Francis Dean were convicted of manslaughter for the death of Shaun Barker, whose body was found in the Toolara Forest.
Stephen John Armitage (pictured), his son Matthew Leslie Armitage and William Francis Dean were convicted of manslaughter for the death of Shaun Barker, whose body was found in the Toolara Forest.

Three men who subjected Shaun Barker to brutal acts of violence, locked him in an esky and gave him drug-laced water until his death, have had their murder convictions quashed and downgraded to manslaughter.

In April 2014, four months after he was reported missing, the charred and scattered remains of Mr Barker's body were found in the Toolara Forestry near Cooloola Cove and Tin Can Bay.

His skull and jawbone were found, prompting a search which found more bone fragments, but not enough for a cause of death to be determined.

Charged with murder and torture, Stephen John Armitage, his son Matthew Leslie Armitage, and William Francis Dean were found guilty in 2017 and jailed for life.

Picture of Cooloola Cove man Matthew Leslie Armitage, who was one of three people convicted of manslaughter over the death of Shaun Barker.
Picture of Cooloola Cove man Matthew Leslie Armitage, who was one of three people convicted of manslaughter over the death of Shaun Barker.

During trials it was revealed that Mr Barker had been subject to "inhumane" treatment by the men in an effort to extract information from the Gold Coast man about stolen drugs.

Courts heard Mr Barker was bludgeoned, had a finger broken and possibly cut off, had honey dripped on his genitals to attract ants, and was kept in an esky before his death.

In 2019, all three men were successful in their appeals and had their murder charges downgraded to manslaughter, and the torture charges dropped.

Evidence pointed to it being in the best interests of the men to have kept Mr Barker alive, as they wanted information from him.

Early this year, Stephen Armitage and Dean were re-sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Matthew Armitage was sentenced to eight.

 

The Headless Torso Murder

Five years after the horrific discovery of burning human remains on Cedar Pocket Road in September 2013, killer Lindy Yvonne Williams was convicted of murdering her partner, George Gerbic.

Williams was convicted of killing her partner, dismembering him with a tool bought from Bunnings, and leaving his torso on the side of the road, burning.

Williams never confessed to murder, but admitted to the dismemberment, and has never divulged where Mr Gerbic's head, hands and lower body were.

Facebook photos of torso victim George Gerbic and his convicted murderer Lindy Williams
Facebook photos of torso victim George Gerbic and his convicted murderer Lindy Williams

Williams claimed she was acting in self-defence, which was labelled inexplicable as she did not go to the police nor tell anybody about his death, and interfered with the corpse.

During the 10 months before the body was identified as Mr Gerbic, Williams spent his money and "undertook a detailed and sophisticated" cover-up which involved lying to Mr Gerbic's family and friends.

Williams remains behind bars, after having been found guilty and sentenced to life in jail for murder, and two years for interfering with a corpse in 2018.

Having spent about 1470 days in custody, Williams will not be eligible for parole until 2034, when she will be in her mid-70s.

 

The Glenwood Wife Killer

In 2003, Russell Stewart Henry Crump was convicted of murdering his de facto wife Erica Tomkinson, whose "mutilated corpse" had been found near Gympie the year before.

Ms Tomkinson's body was located in an isolated lagoon, at the end of a dirt track in the Toolara Forest in February 2002.

She was weighed down with concrete blocks and had two head injuries and six knife wounds to her abdomen.

Crump appealed his conviction as far as possible, going to the Court of Appeal and the High Court.

Russell Crump was arrested for the murder of Erica Tomkinson in 2002.
Russell Crump was arrested for the murder of Erica Tomkinson in 2002.

Both attempts were dismissed, and Crump sought a pardon in 2010 and again four years later, both of which were not referred to the Court of Appeal.

In 2015, Crump filed an application requesting a review of the latest decision, but in 2016 it was also dismissed as Crump had not referred to new material or fresh evidence.

In 2018, a Justice Department spokesperson confirmed Crump had been released on parole sometime that year, but because of security reasons they could not release further information.

 

The Killer Cleaner

A cleaner who beat his employee to death while on the job "found God" while serving time for manslaughter.

Graeme Hughes' body was found "slumped" in a bathtub in a Goomboorian house he had been cleaning with his boss on May 22, 2009.

The back of Hughes' skull was severely caved in, and was a "spiderweb of fractures."

His boss, Allen James Murray had beat him with a hammer six or seven times, and did not check whether he was alive after, as he feared Mr Hughes "may pull a knife" a court heard.

In 2011, Murray was convicted of manslaughter, after pleading not guilty to murder, claiming he acted in self-defence and Mr Hughes had swung the hammer at him first.

Murray was released from prison in 2017, after being convicted in 2011 of the manslaughter of musician Graeme Hughes.
Murray was released from prison in 2017, after being convicted in 2011 of the manslaughter of musician Graeme Hughes.

Murray said he believed at the time Mr Hughes was a hit man, acting for his ex-wife.

Justice Atkinson said "He [Hughes] fell, he was very seriously injured, but once he had fallen, when he was no longer any threat whatsoever, you continued to hit him."

Murray was sentenced to nine years in prison for the manslaughter, but was released by 2017.

Murray said he "found God" while behind bars, and since his release he wanted to share the lessons he learnt and help others find peace in God.

He said he had a "life-changing encounter with God" and composed a collection of songs for an album after his release, with funds given to him by a prison chaplain.

 

Gympie's Oldest Murderer

In the winter of 2008, the shooting death of a well-loved family man on a suburban street left the Rainbow Beach community in shock.

Beloved father Peter Brady, 39, was shot twice and left for dead by his then 75-year-old father-in-law, Philip Tonal Scott, a retired Gympie funeral director.

Scott was picked up by police at his Pie Creek home in the early hours of the following morning, and eventually charged with murder.

Murderer Philip Scott with guns, pictured at the Mary Valley Rattler.
Murderer Philip Scott with guns, pictured at the Mary Valley Rattler.

During the trial, the court was told the bullet had penetrated Mr Brady's lower left back and exited his right upper chest passing through several of Mr Brady's organs and severing major arteries, filling his stomach with blood.

The wound track was consistent with the deceased bending over at the time he was shot.

Mr Brady's screams had "echoed" throughout the quiet Rainbow Beach street as he stumbled from his home to a residence nearby, where he died, but not before telling two neighbours who had shot him.

The court heard Scott was angry with Mr Brady over the breakdown of his marriage to his daughter, and told the courts he had only wanted to give Mr Brady "the fright of his life".

In 2010, it took a jury three days to find him guilty, and the Justice ordered Scott serve a life sentence with his 829 days served on remand to be counted against the sentence.

In 2011, an appeal to overturn his conviction was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Brisbane.

There is no update on whether Scott, who would now be almost 90, is still alive.

Gympie Times

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