PERTH, Australia (AP) — A judge on Wednesday ordered a long prison term for a man who killed two women and sexually assaulted two others in Australia's western city of Perth more than 20 years ago — crimes connected years later by fingerprints and DNA tests.
Bradley Robert Edwards, 52, was sentenced in the Western Australia state Supreme Court to life in prison and must serve at least 40 years, the longest minimum sentence in the state’s history. The sentence was greeted with applause from the public gallery including victim's relatives.
The two women he assaulted delivered victim impact statements at Wednesday's hearing. “Bradley Edwards now features as the villain of my nightmares and I can’t make it stop,” said one woman, who cannot be named because she is a victim of a sex crime.
Edwards was convicted in September of abducting and killing childcare worker Jane Rimmer, 23, and lawyer Ciara Glennon, 27. He was acquitted of killing 18-year-old secretary Sarah Spiers, who was the first of the three to vanish during nights out in the Claremont nightlife precinct over 14 months in 1996-97.
Spiers’ body was never found. The bodies of the other two were found concealed in scrub land within days of their murders.
Justice Stephen Hall said the confessed rapist’s propensity for violent abductions made it likely that he also killed Spiers.
Edwards pleaded guilty on the eve of the trial to sexually assaulting two young women in Perth in 1988 and 1995.
A renewed police investigation of unsolved crimes in the 1980s and 1990s in recent years had led to Edwards’ arrest in 2016.
Hall described Edwards as a dangerous predator who had sought out vulnerable young women and attacked them for his own gratification.
But Hall declined to rule out parole, saying a life sentence with a long minimum term was appropriate under the circumstances.
Police did not discover until 2008 that a DNA sample from Glennon’s killer had never been tested. But police had no record of whom the DNA belonged to.
A fingerprint left at a Perth house by a male intruder dressed in a woman’s nightie in 1988 eventually led police to Edwards years later.
His fingerprints were on record after the telecommunications technician was convicted of assault for grabbing a woman at a hospital where he was working on the telephone system.
Police started investigating him and extracted his DNA from a soda bottle he'd left in a cinema.