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Leslie Alfred CAMILLERI

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: October 6, 1997
Date of arrest: October 28, 1997
Date of birth: May 31, 1969
Victim profile: Lauren Margaret Barry, 14, and Nichole Emma Collins, 16
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: New South Wales/Victoria, Australia
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders, never to be released, on April 27, 1999
 
 
 
 
 

Supreme Court of Victoria

 

The Queen v. Leslie Alfred Camilleri (1999)

 

The Queen v. Leslie Alfred Camilleri (2001)

 
 
 
 
 
 

The Bega schoolgirl murders refers to the abduction, rape and murder of New South Wales schoolgirls, 14-year-old Lauren Margaret Barry and 16-year-old Nichole Emma Collins of Bega, New South Wales on 6 October 1997.

The girls were abducted by Leslie Camilleri and Lindsay Beckett, both from the town of Yass on the outskirts of Canberra, ACT. The men subjected the girls to repeated rapes and sexual assaults on five or more separate occasions, while driving them to remote locations throughout rural New South Wales and Victoria. Over a twelve-hour period the girls had been driven several hundred kilometres from Bega, New South Wales, to Fiddler's Green Creek in Victoria, where they were stabbed to death by Beckett under the order of Camilleri.

The girls were reported missing on the day of their disappearance, and a massive manhunt consisting of family, friends, police and members of the Bega community combed the area but failed to locate any sign of the missing girls.

Police investigations lasting several weeks eventually led to Camilleri and Beckett, career criminals with over 200 criminal convictions between them. Camilleri, who claimed he was innocent of any crime and insisted Beckett acted alone, was facing existing charges relating to other sexual assaults against minors at the time of the schoolgirl murders.

Perpetrators

Leslie Camilleri

Leslie Alfred Camilleri (born 31 May 1969) was born to a family of six children in Liverpool, New South Wales. He did not meet his natural father until he was 13 years of age. A psychiatric report prepared in 1993 spoke of Camilleri's deprived childhood, and "a pattern of theft and vandalism which have been his reaction to social ostracism, leading to frustration, which because of poor impulse control has ended in explosive outbursts of destructive behaviour."

Camilleri was considered "uncontrollable" as a child, and spent a large part of his childhood in juvenile detention. He escaped the institution and between the ages of 10 to 12 lived on the streets of King's Cross in Sydney as a street kid. He was eventually taken before the Children's Court by police and ordered to return to the institution where he remained until he was 15.

Four days prior to the abduction of a girl, Rosamari Gandarias, in Canberra and three weeks prior to the schoolgirl murders, Camilleri appeared in the District Court of New South Wales on trial for charges relating to sexual offences against his defacto's daughter. After two days the trial was aborted and Camilleri was released from custody on bail. Camilleri had 146 prior convictions for offences such as dishonesty, theft and wilful damage. At the time of the murders Camilleri lived in Yass, New South Wales. He had known Beckett for a period of two to three years and would often associate with him to steal cars.

Lindsay Beckett

Lindsay Hoani Beckett (born 27 March 1974) was born in New Zealand and lived in the town of Opotiki before coming to Australia. At the time of the murders Beckett lived in Yass and had come to associate with Camilleri, five years his senior, in criminal pursuits. It would be Beckett who would eventually break and confess to police about the schoolgirl murders, and leading them to the bodies of the victims.

It was claimed Camilleri exerted a strong influence over Beckett. In sentencing Beckett to life imprisonment, Justice Vincent described Beckett as having "quite a low IQ" and as someone "who had fallen under the influence of an older individual of much stronger personality". Beckett was 23 at the time of the murders. He will be 59 when eligible for parole.

Events

Abduction of Barry and Collins

On 3 October 1997, a camp site was set up by the father of Nichole Collins at White Rock, near Bega, for his teenage daughter to invite friends over for the coming Labour Day long weekend. The camp site was located three kilometres from the Collins' home.

The girls would regularly call at the house while camping to change clothing, shower and eat. Collins' father regularly called at the camp site to check on the children and did so on the day the girls disappeared. At approximately 9pm on 5 October 1997, Collins, wearing her high school jacket, and her younger friend Barry, left a group of friends at the camp site and walked off for a nearby party.

A Ford Telstar belonging to Camilleri's defacto partner and driven by Camilleri was nearby with Beckett alongside him in the passenger seat. Camilleri had an argument hours earlier with his defacto partner and talked to Beckett about his feelings of depression. He and Beckett were consuming beer and injecting each other with amphetamines while driving aimlessly.

According to Beckett, it was Camilleri who spotted the girls walking single file along the Bega-Tathra Road in Evan's Hill and stopped to offer them a lift. At approximately 10pm, after a brief discussion with the men the girls entered the car willingly, according to Beckett. A pink portable television set, which had earlier been taken by Camilleri and Beckett from a friend in lieu of a drug-related debt was removed from the back seat of the vehicle and discarded at the side of the road to provide room for the girls to sit. The television set would later become important evidence and implicate the two men in their crimes to follow.

Beckett told police the group travelled to Tathra Beach and spent some time there before returning to the camp site at White Rock. On the road leading to the camp site, Camilleri became disturbed at the car bottoming out on the uneven gravel road and became angry at the girls. The rear doors of the vehicle had been previously locked using the vehicle's child locks and there were no window winders, preventing the rear doors from being opened by passengers inside. Camilleri produced a knife and told the girls they would be stabbed if they tried to escape. Beckett also produced a knife and went along with Camilleri in threatening the girls.

"Whilst Les (Camilleri) was going off, he pulled his knife out of a pocket in the driver's door. This was a black handled pocket knife with a serrated edge. Les turned around to the girls and showed them the knife. He told them to shut up and not to say anything. Les said if they did not do what he said, he would stab them. During this Les told me to get my knife. I got my knife out of the glove box. I have a black handled knife with a jagged edge. I showed the girls I had a knife, too. I said to the girls to do as Les says."

Camilleri reversed away from the camp site and drove onto Old Wallagoot Road

Assaults

Rather than being returned to the camp site as earlier promised, the girls were driven to a rubbish dump off Old Wallagoot Road, not far from their homes in Kalaru, and raped. They were then driven further south, passing through the town of Merimbula until the car stopped at Ben Boyd National Park and the girls were further assaulted. A black rubber torch belonging to Barry and a tampon were later located at the scene by police.

They continued through the town of Eden, where the men again raped the girls in an area south of Eden. Camilleri then ordered Beckett to drive, while Camilleri continued to force Barry to perform oral sex on him in the back seat. They drove towards Orbost before turning off and eventually stopping at Wingan Point in Victoria, where the girls were again assaulted.

Camilleri slept, but later woke up and realised he was deep into the state of Victoria. Beckett recalled in his statement to police,

"I drove down the highway and just before Cann River Les woke up. He wanted to know where we were. I told him we were in Victoria heading to Orbost. Les cracked the shits and was abusing me. He was saying he wanted to go to Sydney. He kept saying 'the bridge'. I took this to mean he wanted to throw the girls off the bridge because he had spoken about this before (a reference to Rosamari Gandarias). There are some bridges on the way to Sydney on the Hume Highway which have great drops."

The girls began to question the men, asking if they were going to be murdered. Camilleri assured the girls they would only be tied up so the men could make their escape. During this time Beckett recalled Camilleri repeating the words "They can't go back", referring to his intention to murder the girls to avoid detection for their crimes

Double murder

The final stop, at approximately 8am the following morning, was at Fiddler's Green Creek, located just south of the Victorian border with New South Wales. The girls' hands were tied and they were ordered along a remote bush track over rugged terrain to a creek. The group walked alongside the creek for several hundred metres. Camilleri ordered the girls to remove their clothing and wash their vaginas thoroughly to remove any evidence of the prior sexual assaults.

After washing, the girls were then ordered to lie on their stomachs before being retied and gagged. They were then separated by a distance of approximately 30 metres as Camilleri and Beckett discussed what to do next. Camilleri demanded Beckett drown the girls but Beckett protested, saying it was unfair that he had to kill both. Beckett eventually complied when an argument occurred and Camilleri threatened to stab Beckett if he did not do as wanted.

Murder of Lauren Barry

Beckett attempted to first drown Barry, who was tied up near the creek. After a struggle, he became angry when his knee became wet. He reached for his knife and stabbed Barry in the neck, accidentally cutting his thumb. Beckett described the scene to police as follows,

"I went over to Lauren and dragged her down to the water. I held her head under the water. She was struggling and she knocked me into the water. One of my knees, I think the left went into the water. This pissed me off a little bit and I opened my knife, it was in my left hand and I stabbed Lauren in the left side of the neck. I said in my interview that it was the right side of the neck with my right hand but I am been thinking since. It wasn't my right thumb which was cut but my left. After a couple of seconds after I stabbed her she stopped moving."

Murder of Nichole Collins

Beckett then ran up the embankment towards Collins who was tied to a tree and out of view of Barry who now lay dying in the creek bed. Beckett slashed Collins to the throat several times then began to punch and kick her when he realised she had not died instantly from the knife wounds.

"After I stabbed Lauren, I ran up the bank to where I tied Nichole up. She must have heard what I had done to Lauren because when I got to her she said, 'you're going to kill me, aren't you.' I said 'shut up' and walked around to her left side and I cut her throat two or three times. This was across her throat. The knife was in my left hand. Nichole was sitting down when I cut her throat.

After this she was thrashing around on the ground. She was trying to scream but nothing was coming out. I think I kicked her because she wouldn't keep still. And then I put my foot on to her to keep her still. This didn't work so I stabbed her in the throat. I aimed and stabbed at the hard thing in her neck. I pushed the knife all the way in but she still wouldn't keep still so I worked out where her heart would be and I stabbed her on the left side of the chest.

She still didn't stop moving so I stabbed her in the front of the chest. I was aiming for her heart. I needed two hands to get the knife through her chest. She kept moving so I kicked her in the head a couple of times. She still kept moving but she was slowing down. I waited until she stopped moving which didn't take long."

After the murders, Camilleri, who was not present during the murders and was waiting in the car, asked Beckett "Did you see the demon?". The pair quickly left the crime scene with Beckett driving and returned to New South Wales.

Disposal of evidence

Beckett drove from the murder scene while Camilleri slept in the vehicle, and woke as the pair approached Canberra. They stopped at Theodore Lookout on the Monaro Highway to the south of Canberra and burned their blood-stained clothing, ropes and gags used to restrain the girls. The knives used by the pair were later thrown from the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge into Lake Burley Griffin before returning to their homes in Yass, New South Wales.

On 8 October 1997, Camilleri and Beckett drove from Yass to Sydney and stayed with Camilleri's brother for several days. While in Campbelltown in Sydney's south-west, they spent six hours cleaning the car at a Car Lovers car wash, going as far as removing the vehicle's seats and carpets to clean them thoroughly.

The pair then returned to Canberra to destroy further evidence, before returning to Bega on an unsuccessful search for the discarded pink television set which Camilleri believed would lead police to them as the abductors of the missing schoolgirls. The television set was earlier removed by a local council worker.

Arrests

On 25 October 1997, police located a car earlier stolen by Beckett in Canberra. The vehicle was searched and police discovered maps of the Bega area and items belonging to Beckett. Members of the Australian Federal Police arrested Beckett on 27 October 1997 on car theft charges and remanded him in custody. Police interviewed Camilleri the following day. Both men denied any knowledge of the girls' abduction and murder. The pair also denied discarding a television set by the roadside, however Camilleri admitted travelling with one that he had dropped at a St. Vincent De Paul store.

On 12 November 1997, police again interviewed Beckett, who made a full confession. He agreed to take police to the crime scene at Fiddler's Green Creek where the remains of the girls' bodies were discovered.

Camilleri, who was at this time also remanded in custody for breaching bail conditions, was awaiting trial at Goulburn Correctional Centre. He was again interviewed by police regarding the schoolgirl murders. Police informed Camilleri of Beckett's confession. Camilleri again denied any involvement in the murders, and attempted to implicate Beckett as the lone murderer. Camilleri insisted he was in a drug induced stupor for most of the time the girls were in the car.

"We picked up the girls and went to the beach. I had a shot behind the shed. While the girls were drinking I was trying to OD. We drove around with them. I was asleep most the time. Beckett told me he dropped them off at home. I remember waking up and seeing the girls and then later I asked Beckett where we were and he said Victoria, on the main road somewhere. And I went off my head. I told him to go home, get the fuck out of here. Then I saw him walking out of the bush. He had blood all over him. Told me he cut his finger."

Police later charged Camilleri and Beckett with multiple counts of abduction, rape and murder.

Trials

Leslie Camilleri

The trial of Camilleri for the murder of Barry and Collins began on 15 February 1999 and ran until 10 April 1999. A total of 70 witnesses were called. Prosecution evidence included a shirt belonging to Barry containing semen matching the DNA profile of Camilleri. The shirt was discovered at the rubbish dump in Old Wallagoot Road where the pair had first taken the girls. Police recovered evidence from almost every location the pair had taken the girls and assaulted them. Beckett was called to give evidence against his co-accused and spent five days in the witness box.

Camilleri claimed he was in a drug induced stupor when the girls were with the pair, and that he barely remembered them, hoping to lay the entire blame for the murders on his associate Beckett. He was found guilty by the Supreme Court jury and on April 27, 1999 was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders, never to be released.

In sentencing Camilleri to life imprisonment, never to be released, the judge remarked

"Using the control which you clearly had over your weaker willed but equally evil companion (Beckett), you instructed him to perform acts that, in a somewhat perverse way, it could be said that you probably did not possess the courage to perform yourself."

"It is terrible to contemplate the prospect that, as a consequence of the order which in my view justice and a proper appreciation of sentencing principles would require in your case, you may never be released from prison. However, I consider that my duty is clear. Through your own actions, you have forfeited your right ever to walk among us again."

Camilleri was 28 at the time of his crimes and 29 when sentenced. Camilleri appeared before the Supreme Court in 2001 to appeal his sentence; the appeal was unsuccessfu . He later appealed to the High Court in May 2002 and again his appeal was dismissed. Camilleri has received numerous death threats from other prisoners and remains in protective custody.

Lindsay Beckett

On 26 June 1998, Lindsay Hoani Beckett, who confessed to the murders, appeared in the Supreme Court of Victoria where he was arraigned and pleaded guilty to the murders of Lauren Barry and Nichole Collins. On 20 August 1998, Beckett was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 35 years. At the time of Beckett's sentencing, his non-parole period was the longest ever given to a Victorian prisoner. After sentencing, the mother of one of the schoolgirls yelled to Beckett, "I hope you rot in hell" as he was led from the courtroom to begin his sentence.

Abduction of Rosamari Gandarias

On 14 September 1997, 19-year-old Rosamari Gandarias was abducted in Canberra. She was held captive for over 12 hours and driven to a number of locations and raped repeatedly by two men in their twenties.

Gandarias escaped when the vehicle stopped at a rest area on a highway near Bowral and she asked her abductors if she could go to the toilet. Wearing only a t-shirt and shoes, she evaded the pair by hiding in bushland and later sought assistance from a nearby farmhouse. This crime would contain many similarities with the murder of the Bega schoolgirls just three weeks later.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

The murders of Lauren Barry and Nichole Collins

I believe that the case of the abduction and sexually motivated murders of Lauren Barry and Nichole Collins is one of the worst in Australia's criminal history. To date their story has not been told, and their memory is fading, they were two pretty young girls who had not a care in the world. They were trusting and loving, it was these traits that may have attributed to their murders.

Lauren Barry

Lauren Margaret Barry was born on October 11, 1982 to Garret and Cheryl Barry. She grew up in the town of Bega and enjoyed the close-knit group of friends she had through out her short life. Lauren enjoyed life and was extremely close to her best friend Nichole Collins. Lauren was in Year 9 at the local Bega High School while Nichole was in year 11.

For Laurenís fifteenth birthday she and Nichole planned a camping party at the local camping area at White Rock near Kalaru where they lived. With a public holiday on the Monday it was a perfect time to have the party. It meant the party could last all weekend long.

Lauren was taller than her best friend Nichole even though she was younger. She had shoulder length brown hair. She enjoyed the sun and had a little pink freckled nose in summer to prove it. Her smile was full of warmth and her eyes were full of a future that would never come.

Nichole Collins

Nichole Emma Collins was born to Graeme and Delma Collins on November 14, 1980. She was older then her best friend but the age difference did not worry the girls. The families lived in the small hamlet of Kalaru. Kalaru was a small town of Bega. It's residents numbered only 400.

Nichole was physically quite different from her best friend. Nichole was shorter than Lauren and had fair skin and golden hair. She wore glasses and her smile was often hidden behind her shyness. Nonetheless the girls found their kindred spirit in each other.

Camilleri

Leslie Alfred Camilleri was born in May 1969 in Liverpool, a south-western suburb of Sydney, NSW, where crime and unemployment were high. So it was quite natural that Camilleri would follow others into a life of crime.

By the time he was twelve-years-old he was in trouble with the police and brought before the juvenile courts. His first appearance in Minda Children's court was for breaking and entering and stealing. He was not deterred by his arrest and continued to steal for the next several years adding several more criminal offences to his record including theft, motor vehicle offences, carrying a weapon, possession and absconding.

In 1986, Camilleri decided to illegally leave NSW while on a good behaviour bond and headed to Queensland to start fresh, attempting to leave his criminal record behind him. However he was not in Queensland long before he was again in front of the court.

In 1989 he was charged with a various number of offences including 15 motor vehicle thefts, eight break and enters and 92 counts of stealing. He was a compulsive thief who stole everything he could. For the accumulation of crimes he was sentenced to three year in prison

When Camilleri was released from prison he met and moved in with Helen Souvlis and her nine-year-old daughter. The relationship had only been going for four months when Camilleri decided to move back to NSW. He travelled to the small country town of Binnalong near Yass. Helen and her daughter followed Camilleri and soon the couple were together again. By March 1994 Helen gave birth to Camilleriís daughter Jade and the family soon moved to a bigger house in the town of Yass.

In Yass, Camilleri met Lindsay Beckett who was called "Kiwi" by all who knew him. The two became friends. You could say as thick as thieves.

Beckett

Lindsay Hoani Beckett was born in March 1974 in a small New Zealand North Island town called Opotiki. According to some his father was a rapist who had raped his mother when she was 15-years-old. His mother later married a man who would drink heavily and beat and abuse her and the children.

One day his step-father stabbed Beckett in the hand when he could not find the car keys. When the family car was stolen, Beckett's step-father took his anger out on the Lindsay by beating him with an electrical cord and kicking him mercilessly into unconsciousness.

By 14 years of age, Beckett was a heavy smoker and would often turn to marijuana to block out the pain of his family life. When he was 16, he left school and fled his fatherís beatings and moved to Australia to live with his mother's relatives

Beckett first lived with an uncle in Colac but was unsteady and soon began to travel along the New South Wales coast. He was sometimes caught for damaging property or assault on his travels.

By 1992 he had began going out with a young girl called Lauralee Tatt. When she became pregnant Beckett moved in with her. The couple lived together in Griffith and over the ensuing years produced three more children. The relationship was not a steady one. The couple often fought and Beckett would often beat his girlfriend. By 1995 the couple moved to Yass where Beckett met Les Camilleri.

Camilleri and Beckett

Together the two men were an extremely dangerous combination. Camilleri was the smarter of the two men and enjoyed the power he had over Beckett. Beckett would do whatever Camilleri told him to do like a lost puppy.

Yet Camilleri was always being charged for crimes. On 4 October 1995 he was charged with 10 counts sexual crime - including six of sexual intercourse with a child under 16 and one of indecent assault - allegedly committed against an 11-year-old girl.

By the beginning of 1997 the two men began taking harder drugs. Before then they had both smoked marijuana but now they found a better thrill with amphetamines and speed. The men had been a menace before taking the harder drugs. With the drugs they were terrifying.

In April 1997 Camilleri was again in front of the court charged with receiving and being in possession of stolen goods. At the same time Beckett was suspended for driving after being stopped by police with a high-range alcohol limit as well as being charged for improper conduct and drugs found in his car.

As 1997 continues the two men appear time and time again in court for a range of charges. A charge that is later dropped, against Camilleri by a young girl who claims that he forced his way into her home and tried to rape her.

With all of the mounting charges Camilleri finds himself sentence to periodic detention. He is to attend prison every weekend for four months. His first days at Campbelltown detention centre were September 5 and 6, 1997. He hated doing the weekend detention and changed the days to mid-week. The change did not mean much to Camilleri he rarely turned up anyway.

The sexual abuse case was heard on Monday 8 September 1997 before Judge Frederick Kirkham in the Queanbeyan District Court. The child gave evidence that over a period of 12 months he had molested and penetrated her a number of times. Once, she said, he made her perform oral sex on him. "He was counting while I sucked him and every time my tooth touched it he said I had to do those ones again,'' she claimed. The trial was aborted due to a speech made by the Police Minister about child abuse in the media.

Camilleri was free to enjoy himself again. With Beckett, Camilleri decided they should go for a drive to Canberra.

Rosamari Gandarias

On Saturday night, 13 September 1997, the two men found themselves at Garema Place, it is a junkies' hangout in Canberra. There they met a young woman called Rosamari Gandarias.

She was nineteen years old but looked several years younger. Camilleri introduced himself as Les and asked her if she would mind doing the speed injection for him and his mate "Kiwi" neither of them really knew how to do injections. Les told Rosamari the drugs were in the car and would she mind coming out to the car to do it, perhaps even go for a drive. She felt that the two men were paranoid about being there with the drugs and she went with them when they drove to Canberra Showground. When she had finished doing the drugs for the men, she asked to be taken back to Garema Place. But the men ignored her request and drove away towards Yass.

As Beckett drove the car, Camilleri climbed into the back of the car with the woman. The ordeal was only beginning. Camilleri looked at the woman and told her "We're going to fuck you now" The young Rosamari replied that she did not want to have sex with him. Then he pulled out a 10-centimetre folding knife, like a pig-hunting knife, and there was no more arguing.

For the next twelve hours Rosamari was held captive by the two men who took turns in orally, vaginally and anally raping the woman. Camilleri who would threaten to tie her up if she did not comply with their demands repeatedly bashed her around the head.

"If you don't do as you're told we'll drag you behind the car"

He said Camilleri forced her to perform oral sex.

"Do it properly don't use your teeth."

Camilleri would tell Lauren the same thing during her ordeal.

Beckett continued to drive the car towards Sydney at each stop the men raped the woman. At a rest area off the Highway near Bowral, Rosamari told her captors that she needed to use the toilet. They unassumingly let her go alone. Rosamari saw her opportunity and fled for her life. She ran into the nearby bushes only wearing a t-shirt and shoes. The branches tore at her body but she continued to run. The men spotted her running and gave chase.

Rosamari hid in a large wombat warren as the men ran past her. Once they were out of sight, Rosamari came out of her hiding spot and ran to a farmhouse where she raised the alarm. According to Beckett Camilleri had planned to kill the woman when they were finished with her. The plan was to drop her off a bridge.

The police were called to the farmhouse, but Rosamari did not want to make a statement especially after the two men had arrived at the scene with their own version of events. They claimed that the sex was consensual and was in return for drugs.

She was lucky to escape with her life. With Rosamari not making a formal statement the men escaped any retribution. Had the incident been pursued, Lauren and Nichole may still be alive.

The events unfold

On Friday October 3, 1997 Nichole's father helped the two girls set up a tent and other camping equipment at White Rock, near Tathra Bega Road. It was a popular camping ground and the girls often enjoyed camping out on their own and aware from the parents. They were normal teenagers who enjoyed the freedom.

It was the start of the school holidays and the perfect time for a party. There were parties happening all over Bega in conjunction with the Music Festival. So Nichole and Lauren thought it would be good to combine Lauren's birthday party with all of the merriment.

The first day, Friday was spent horse-riding. The girls had camped her often. They would head home occasionally to wash and get fresh clothes. Their parents dropped in to check on them. They went horse riding or swimming down at Macarthur, rode down to Boulder Bay, but mainly kept to the camp, listening to music, talking, reading magazines with their friends Sarah Darcy, Malcolm Denning and Damien Brown and, off and on, Lauren's brother Nathan and a friend from Sydney, Todd Hadenham.

The next morning, Saturday October 4, the two girls enjoyed more of the same before Lauren rode home to wish her mother a happy birthday. The trip to and from the campsite was not far and Lauren did it in no time.

Lauren ate birthday cake with her family and another school friend Rebecca Kemble before kissing her family goodbye and heading back to the party at the camping ground.

When she arrived back at the camp, Lauren found Nichole in a reflective mood. Though she felt she still loved her boyfriend Andrew Irving she thought maybe the time was not right and wanted to break off the relationship with him. Nichole chatted with Lauren about Andrew but decided to stay to celebrate her friends coming 15th birthday.

October 5, 1997

Camilleri decided that he and Beckett should leave the area and decided to drive to Rose's new house in Bega. They used the same banged up old Ford Telstar for the drive that they used to abduct Rosamari. The car's back doors did not open from the inside and the two men always kept various knives in the car. The car had been stolen from Andrew Smart, a friend on Camilleri's who had owed him money. Camilleri also took the man's pink portable colour TV and a cheque book.

About 10am on Sunday October 5, 1997, Beckett cashed a cheque made out to him in the name of A.J. Smart for $44 and bought a bottle of Bundaberg rum and a slab of VB stubbies at the Monaro Pub in Cooma. The manager had a bad feeling about the man and watched him walk to a car and took down the number QUX-928. There was a taller, blond-haired man sitting in the driver's seat of the car.

The men then took the alcohol back to Helen Souvlis' house and began drinking and doing drugs. By 8pm that evening Helen threw the men out when she got sick and tired of their lazy and abusive ways.

So the two men left the house in the car and went driving around Bega. They continued to drink and inject each other with "speed".

Nichole was still thinking about Andrew late on Sunday evening and decided maybe she should go and talk to him about their relationship. She knew he would be at a party at the nearby suburb of Jellat Jellat 8kms away.

She left the camp saying she was going to sort out her life. Lauren was concerned about her friend walking that far at night on her own and decided to join her. With the two girls chatting together the trip won't seem nearly as long. The two girls did not get far before a car pulled over.

At around 10pm on the evening of October 5, 1997 the men saw two girls walking single-file along the Bega-Tathra Road. Camilleri was driving the car and Beckett was in the front passenger seat. Camilleri pointed out the two girls on the side of the road and did a u-turn, pulling up beside them.

The men appeared friendly enough when they began to strike up a conversation with the girls. They asked them about the music festival in town and if they wanted to go down to a beach party the men knew about.

For some unknown reason the two teenagers got into the car with the two men, Camilleri was 28 at the time, Beckett four years younger. Beckett opened the back door for the girls to get in, but had to take out the pink TV set that was in the back sat. There wasn't any room in the boot for the TV so the men decided to just leave it where they were.

The four in the car drove to Tathra Beach and stayed a little while before the girls decided to head back to the camp. Camilleri said he would gladly drive the girls back to the site and headed along the dirt track back to White Rock. The road was quite rough and soon the rocks that the car was throwing up banged out the bottom of the car. Camilleri stopped the car and in his frustration at the damage began to yell at the girls.

Camilleri produced a knife he had secreted into the car's door and told the girls, `Just shut up and don't say a word. He looked at Beckett and told him to get out his knife as well. The girls sat frozen. The fear obvious on their faces.

Camilleri reversed the car out along the dirt-track and turned left driving towards Kalaru. He continued driving along Old Wallagoot Road and towards the Sapphire Coast Highway. The men spotted a small clearing and Camilleri parked the car.

Beckett grabbed Lauren and got her out of the car. The frightened girl complied with the man's demand of taking off her pants and underwear. Lauren tried to prevent the man from having sex with her by telling him that she currently was having her periods (menstruation) and that she was virgin. The reasons she gave did nothing to stop Beckett raping the young woman. Lauren cried in pain and fear as Beckett continued to rape her for half an hour before ejaculating inside her.

While Beckett was raping Lauren, Camilleri was inflicting a similar assault on Nichole.

Camilleri and Beckett forced both of the girls back into the back seat of the car and drove away. The car headed along Old Wallagoot Road past Merimbula and along the Princes Highway towards Eden. Just before the entrance to Eden Camilleri turned the car into the Ben Boyd National Park. Camilleri told Beckett he wanted to have sex with Lauren this time.

With Lauren in tow, Camilleri walked away from the car and into the night. He tried to rape Lauren but her vagina was "too tight" for him to be able to penetrate her. Beckett orally raped Nichole while Camilleri and Lauren were away.

Beckett admitted that the two girls were too scared to even attempt to fight. The knives the men had and the threats they told the girls kept them compliant.

After the sexual assaults were finished, the four people got back and in the car and Camilleri drove into Eden. They continued to a U-turn bay where again the car was stopped and the girls were forced to perform sexual acts for the men. This time Beckett made Nichole fellate him while he sat in the front of the car.

Camilleri got out of the car and stood up with Lauren kneeling down in front of him. He kept telling the fourteen year old girl to suck his penis and not to let her teeth touch him in any way. Any time he felt her teeth touch his penis he would belt her very hard across the held. Lauren would yelp in pain but she was forced to continue.

Beckett finally stopped making Nichole suck his penis when he failed to maintain an erection. Camilleri soon stopped as well and the girls were forced into back seat of the car once more as the men continued to travel south.

Soon the car was driving into Victoria, Camilleri had fallen asleep during the trip and woke up to find them heading towards Orbost. As they continued the trip, Camilleri had Lauren perform fellatio, by sitting on the floor of the car in front of him.

The car was pulled off the main highway and onto a secluded area. Camilleri was upset that he was unable to penetrate Lauren earlier and wanted to find a spot where he could try again.

Beckett spotted a property with a giant green gate. The gate was opened and the men drove through. It was still dark and dawn was still a while away. Camilleri told Beckett to stop the car at a clearing and got out, forcing Lauren from the car as well. Camilleri dug around and grabbed a piece of cardboard from a case of bear and put it on the ground as a marker. He told Beckett to go further and have sex with Nichole and when he returned the cardboard make-shift marker would show Beckett where to stop.

Both of the girls again are repeatedly raped by their attackers. According to Beckett both of the girls were "shocked... frightened" to say the least.

Beckett returns the car to the spot where the cardboard is and waits for Camilleri and Lauren to return. When they do, Camilleri is shirtless. Lauren has on his t-shirt.

Dawn soon came, the girls had been held captive for over 9 hours and were tired, scared and injured. They both had severe lacerations around their heads and vaginas. They were continuously hit by Camilleri if they did not please him.

The girls and their captor returned to the car and again they headed towards Orbost along the Princes Highway. Camilleri again fell asleep and when he woke he was extremely agitated that they were in Victoria. He had plans to throw the girls off a bridge along the highway towards Sydney.

The men began to whisper together. They had to plan what they were going to do with the girls. Camilleri said that the girls could not be allowed to live. They would be able to identify their attackers.

Beckett sees a secluded road and turns off the highway. Lauren, almost in a catatonic state with fear asks the men if they were going to kill them. Camilleri assure her that they just wanted to tie them up so the men could get a head start and go into hiding. But Camilleri knew he was not going to let the girls live.

At 8am on October 6, 1997 Beckett stopped the car near Fiddlers Green Creek in Victoria. The girls's hands were tied with rope from the car and they were both dragged by their captors through the brush to the creek.

Camilleri told Beckett to untie Nichole and then demanded that she get into the water and wash her vagina. Nichole was tired and abused Camilleri for the way he had treated them. Camilleri again produced his knife and told her to "get the fuck in there" and wash out her vagina. She said she was cold in the water but she had to remain their until Camilleri was satisfied that she had done a decent job. She was then told to get dressed again.

Lauren was untied and told to do the same thing. She again asked if they were about to die and Camilleri assured her that they had planned to let the girls go once the evidence was washed away.

Once Lauren was dressed her hands were tied together again and both of the girls were told to lie down on their stomachs. Camilleri had brought rope with him from the car. He hog-tied Nichole so she was unable to move and was tied in a crumpled ball. Lauren was taken to spot where she could no longer see Nichole and tied to a tree. Again she asked Beckett is they were about to die. Beckett ignored her question.

Beckett returned to where Camilleri was standing and asked him what they were going to do next. Camilleri told Beckett to kill the girls. Beckett baulked at the command until Camilleri produced his knife again and said if he didn't he kill him.

Beckett decided it was the girls' lives or his own. He chose to save his own. He went to where Lauren was lying on the ground still hog-tied. She could not move at all. Beckett grabbed the girl and dragged her to the water's edge. In his confession to police Beckett calmly describes the murders.

"I held her head under the water. She was struggling and she knocked me into the water. One of my knees went into the water. This pissed me off a little bit and I opened my knife I stabbed Lauren in the left side of the neck After a couple of seconds after I stabbed her she stopped moving After I stabbed Lauren, I ran up the bank to where I tied Nichole up I walked around to her left side and I cut her throat two or three times. After this she just started thrashing around on the ground she was trying to scream but nothing was coming out I kicked her and put my foot on her to keep her still. This didn't work so I stabbed her in the throat. I aimed and stabbed at the hard thing (her windpipe) in her neck. I pushed the knife all the way in but she still wouldn't keep still so I worked out where her heart would be and I stabbed her on the left side of the chest. She still didn't stop moving so I stabbed her in the front of the chest. I was aiming for her heart. I needed two hands to get the through her chest (plate). She kept moving so I kicked her in the head a couple of time. She still kept moving but she was slowing down. I waited until she stopped moving which didn't take long."

Beckett then removed all of the girls' ropes and walked back to the car where Camilleri was waiting.

The men got into the car and drove away. Over the next few days they burned the clothes they were wearing and the clothes taken from the girls. They threw their knives in to Lake Burley Griffin, one was later recovered. They scrubbed the car to remove any traces of the girls being in the car. The men then returned to Yass and their respective partners before travelling on to Sydney.

On October 28, 1997 Camilleri was finally arrested for breach of his periodic detention and remanded into custody.

On November 5, 1997 Beckett was formally asked about his knowledge of the suspected abduction of Nichole and Lauren. At first the 24 year old denied any knowledge of the girls. A week later when interviewed again, Beckett gave a detailed confession about his part in the girls' abduction and subsequent murders and also details about his partner in the crimes.

Beckett also told police where they would find the bodies of the missing girls.

Finally the girl's decomposing bodies were located. It was 10pm on Wednesday November 12, 1997. It had been a long six weeks wait for their grieving parents.

On November 15 Beckett was extradited to Victoria to face formal charges regarding the girls' murders.

With Beckett's confession Camilleri was also extradited to Victoria to face formal charges of murder.

The girls had simply vanished into thin air.

On October 27, 1997 Beckett was arrested by the Federal Police for unrelated matters of theft. During the search of the stolen car he was driving a map of Bega was found. The officers decided it may be worth forwarding the information onto the local authorities looking for Lauren and Nichole.

The arrest of the men, the girls are located

By this time the girls had been reported missing. The never arrived at the party and so the alarm was raised quickly. The girls' families, friends, the polie and the State Emergency Services all were out searching for the girls. For weeks the families held a vigil hoping for the safe return of their daughters but had feared the worst.

The most amazing part in most murder cases is the lack of a voice for the victim. In this case Justice Vincent echoes these sentiments:

"there is silence concerning what your young victims may have said or done or how they felt during the hours of their captivity. It is, as I have earlier commented, a terrible silence, filled with nightmarish images of terror, tears, and death for their parents, family members, friends as well as for thousands upon thousands of members of the wider community who look at their own children, sense the pain of those close to the girls, and wonder how they personally could endure such an event."

Beckett and Camilleri are Sentenced

On June 26, 1998 at his arraignment Beckett pleaded guilty to the murders of the two girls.

At his sentencing on August 20, 1998 Justice Vincent stated:

"Lindsay Hoani Beckett, you have pleaded guilty to the murder at Fiddlers Green Creek in the State of Victoria on or about 6 October 1997 of two young persons named Lauren Margaret Barry and Nichole Emma Collins You represent the dark in which our women and children fearfully walk"

With those words Justice Vincent sentenced Beckett to two life sentences in prison. For being so co-operative with police by confessing and informing on Camilleri, the judge set a non-parole period of no less than thirty-five years. The longest non-parole period yet set.

It was not the maximum penalty available, however Beckett was not to be released from prison for a long time.

When the judge handed down a life sentence, with a minimum 35 years, Nichole's mother, Mrs Delma Collins, jumped from her seat in the gallery and shouted: "Yes."

Lauren's mother, Ms Cheryl Barry, said to Beckett as he was led away: "I hope you rot in hell.''

On Friday April 9, 1999 after deliberating for seven hours after a seven-week trial found 29-year-old Camilleri guilty of murdering the girls. As the verdicts of guilty of murder for both of the girls were read out to the court, Camilleri yawned. Completely disinterested and feeling no remorse for his crimes.  

Camilleri was given the maximum sentence available in Australia, life in prison with no possibility of release on parole.

 
 


Leslie Alfred Camilleri

 

 

 
 
 
 
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