I love podcasts, which is definitely an understatement, I am obsessed. I first listening started in law school with the classic ABC Radio National Law Report with Damien Carrick. While podcasts were around they weren’t the ‘thing’ they are now until Serial season 1 – the investigation into the murder of Hae Min Lee and conviction of Adnan Syed. Since then there has been an explosion of podcasts, and podcasts on all manner of topics pops up every day. I thought I would pick five of my favourite long form Australian true crime podcasts.
The murder of Leanne Holland and the incarceration and eventual release of Graham Stafford is a highly publicised case in Queensland. Holland’s was 12 years old when her body was found in Ipswich bushland in September 1991. Her sister’s live in boyfriend Graham Stafford was convicted of her murder however, his conviction was quashed as a miscarriage of justice after serving 14 years in prison. The case is controversial for a number of reasons – primarily that the case is now considered unsolved. In addition, there were a number of problems with the ‘forensic evidence.’ The term forensic evidence being used loosely – as there were issues with blood evidence, alleged blood spatter and maggots in the boot of Stafford’s vehicle.
There are a number of other resources in relation to this case including a book, Australian Story episodes and TV interviews, which lead to questions of whether Stafford would be retried. The Department of Public Prosecutions has decided not to retry Stafford for the murder of Holland.
On December 2, 2010, 24-year-old Phoebe Handsjuk was found deceased in the garbage room of the apartment building she lived in with her boyfriend, Antony Hampel. Her body had fallen 12 storeys, feet first down the garbage chute. She survived the fall, but the garbage compacter virtually severed her right foot and she bled out. The Coroner decided that she had climbed in the chute by herself, however her family doubts the Coroner’s version of events. The story of Handsjuk is a tragic one but the podcast tells a compelling story of her life and the events that surrounded her death.
This podcast explores how 16-year-old Rachel Antonio went missing in the small north Queensland town of Bowen 20 years ago. On ANZAC Day 1998, Antonio was dropped off at the cinema by her mother and was later seen at the nearby beach, after that she disappeared. Her alleged boyfriend 26-year-old Robert Hytch was initially found guilty of manslaughter in 1999, serviced nine months of his sentence, but was acquitted at a retrial. Hytch denied having a sexual relationship with Antonio and refused to answer questions at the Coronal Inquest until he was compelled by law to do so.
Is the new podcast on the block, with only three episodes released so far it shows promise to be the making of a good podcast. Lyn and Chris Dawson were married with two young children. They lived in Sydney when Lyn disappeared 36 years ago, and to this day has never been heard from. Two days after she went missing (and still six weeks until her husband reported her missing to the police), Chris moved in the 16-year-old babysitter he was having a sexual relationship with. He was a sports teacher and taught her at school. Two coroners have ruled that Lyn was murdered by Chris in January 1982, but Chris has not been charged as there is insufficient evidence. Lyn’s family believe Chris murdered her as she would not have left her children.
To bring it to an even five, an honourable mention from New Zealand
On June 20, 1994, five members of the Bain family were gunned down in their home in Dunedin with the sole survivor David Bain. The case is one that divides New Zealand. Originally David was convicted of the murders but when his case was retried he was acquitted of all charges after serving 12 years in prison.
There is a lot of speculation in the case as the house (the crime scene) was an absolute mess, there was questionable blood evidence used and allegations of sexual assault against David’s father. This leads itself to the alternate suspect – that David’s father murdered his wife, three children and then committed suicide. Bain received a lot of support from Joe Karam a former rugby player and as a result there are a number of books written by Karam on the crimes.
Having read a number of the books, listening to the podcast, and having meet Bain a number of years ago, I still don’t know how I feel about his guilt or innocence. I do know there were definite problems with the investigation though.