Deborah Keegan was just nine when Rodney Thomas Clarke broke into her home in Western Sydney and raped and murdered her, while her little sister pretended to be asleep.
Deborah Keegan was just nine when Rodney Thomas Clarke broke into her home in Western Sydney and raped and murdered her, while her little sister pretended to be asleep. News Corp Australia

Woman pleads for her sister's killer to remain in jail

A SYDNEY woman whose sister was raped and murdered in front of her 30 years ago is fighting to keep her killer behind bars.

Sarah Keegan-Adams was just seven years old when her older sister Deborah, then nine, was raped and murdered by Rodney Thomas Clarke, who was 21.

The sisters shared a room in their western Sydney home, and on that fateful night of July 15, 1987, Clarke broke in through the window of their bedroom and raped the little girl three times before suffocating her to death.

As she died she was just a metre from Sarah, who lay in her bed pretending to be asleep so she would be spared.
"It just doesn't go away," Ms Keegan-Adams told news.com.au

"It is always with you.

"I remember hearing my sister saying, 'Who are you, what are you doing?'

"It's pretty hard not knowing what would have happened if I had said something.

"There are no words for what happened that night - it changed everything.

Clarke, who lived on the Keegan family's Tregear street, was caught after breaking into another neighbour's home several days later - another family with young girls.

He was sentenced to life in prison for the violent killing of Deborah after being found guilty of one count of murder, and was also sentenced to two 20-year sentences and one 10-year term for the rapes.

Rodney Thomas Clarke, convicted for the rape and murder of nine-year-old Debbie Keegan in 1987.
Rodney Thomas Clarke, convicted for the rape and murder of nine-year-old Debbie Keegan in 1987. News Corp Australia

But his non-parole period ended in 2015 - and now every 12 months Ms Keegan-Adams is forced to fight to keep her sister's killer behind bars.

Last week, she was contacted by the Victims Register of the NSW Department of Corrective Services, to advise that the Serious Offenders Review Council was recommending Clarke's security classification be downgraded to allow him day release to take part in day external leave programs within the community.

Ms Keegan-Adams described Clarke as the definition of evil - and someone who should never be released - not for one minute of one day.

"Keep in mind that even his original sentencing judge Justice Terrance Cole, who handed him well over 50 years worth of time said 'the attack is too horrific to even contemplate' and that Clarke 'gratified his sexual desires on an innocent nine-year-old girl while slowly killing her'.

"Rodney Thomas Clarke is in his early 50s now, still very much capable of committing heinous crimes against our children.

"We are fighting two battles here - one to stop him from getting day release, and then in July his parole is up for review again, so we have to fight that again too," the 37-year-old told news.com.au

"My mum passed away in August but my Dad is still here and my two younger sisters are married with kids.
"We are banding together to fight this - to fight this for our sister.

"I also have nieces and nephews around that age and I feel it is our mission to keep him behind bars.
"If he gets out I am scared because of my nieces and nephews, and he knows what I look like."

Ms Keegan-Adams, who moved out of western Sydney and now lives on Sydney's north shore, said the tragic murder of their much-loved Debbie changed the course of all their lives, and haunts her every day.

"It tore the family apart," she said.

"Everyone who met [Deborah] was friends with her.

Debbie Keegan before her murder. Source:Supplied
Debbie Keegan before her murder. Source:Supplied Supplied

"She was the one who would get all of the kids in the street to play together.

"I was in that room that night. We had two single beds, one on each side of the room with a metre in between.

"I was awake. I tried to pretend I was asleep so he would leave me alone.

"This changed everything for me.

"It made it difficult to get close to people, that's for sure."

She said when Clarke was arrested, he denied committing the crime for 12 years, instead blaming an unnamed accomplice.

"It wasn't until he was denied parole that he even admitted to the crime," she said.

"This man shows zero remorse for his crimes … now this definition of evil thinks he should be paroled into society once more.

"We do not accept this monster living in our community, endangering our children."

The Keegan family has started a petition against Clarke's release, which will be sent to the state's Attorney General.

News Corp Australia

New options growing the future of North Burnett agriculture

New options growing the future of North Burnett agriculture

Monto growers are exploring new options on a cropping crusade.

OPINION: The cream always rises to the top

OPINION: The cream always rises to the top

Just like a quality cops and robbers film, good always defeats evil.

11 'deliberately lit' fires in Cherbourg and Murgon

11 'deliberately lit' fires in Cherbourg and Murgon

Fire crews battled 11 suspicious fires in Murgon and Cherbourg.

Local Partners