Brisbane Supreme and District courts.
Brisbane Supreme and District courts. Rae Wilson

Man who raped, killed sister to stay in jail

A TOOWOOMBA man who has spent the best part of the past three decades behind bars for the brutal rape and murder of his sister will remain in jail for now after the state's highest court overturned a previous decision ordering the parole board to reconsider his application.

James Patrick McGrane, 45, was found guilty of raping and murdering his sister, Dianne Madelaine McGrane, 21, whose naked body was found on March 26, 1986, on the bedroom floor of a pottery shop at Hodgson Vale.

McGrane pleaded guilty to rape but not guilty to murder on the ground of diminished responsibility.

His trial heard, McGrane, who was 17 at the time, bound and gagged his sister, cut away her clothes and raped her.

After stabbing her once in the heart he rolled her over onto her stomach and stabbed her 10 more times in the back.

The court heard four of the knife wounds in the back also penetrated his sister's heart.

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A Supreme Court jury subsequently found him guilty on both charges and he was sentenced to 15 years in jail for rape and life behind bars for murder.

McGrane, who became eligible to apply for parole on April 1, 1999, has made a number of unsuccessful applications for release.

His most recent bid for freedom came in May, 2012, when the Queensland State Parole Board again refused him his freedom.

The board found McGrane poses an unacceptable risk to the community and there was a high chance he would commit another serious violent crime or sexual abuse in the future.

McGrane took the matter to the Brisbane Supreme Court in February this year and the court subsequently ordered the parole board to reconsider the application.

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Justice Philip McMurdo said the Parole Board could have, and should have, considered a set of conditions could be attached to McGrane's release which would significantly reduce the relative risk to the community.

"The assessment of an unacceptable risk to the community was made without reference to the possible imposition of relevant conditions of parole," he said.

The Queensland Parole Board appealed the decision to Queensland Court of Appeal claiming McGrane was unsuitable for parole given his length of imprisonment, institutionalisation and his vulnerability to impulsive verbal and physical outbursts.

They argued any release to the community would need to be managed in a very structured manner and McGrane's inability to create an appropriately detailed release plan demonstrated he does not appreciate the challenges being on parole may pose.

Justice John Muir, in granting the appeal, said on Tuesday any parole conditions which may have been imposed with a view to reducing McGrane's risk of re-offending were irrelevant to the board's determination.

"The parole board did not need to undertake the task of fashioning conditions for parole which, guided in part by the evidence of experienced professional experts, it had decided against granting."

The court ordered the decision in February this year be overturned and dismissed McGrane's application for judicial review.

McGrane is currently housed in a high security facility south west of Brisbane.



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