Spear Creek
Spear Creek

Spear Creek: ‘The little b*****d done it’

The father of the man charged over the 1978 Spear Creek triple murders apparently told a family friend "the little bastard done it", according to documents filed in court.

Documents obtained by The Courier-Mail reveal former prison unit commander and weapons trainer Bruce John Preston kept several guns, has an "interest in rifles" and was once found by police in a state forest with a "large hunting knife" and the butchered remains of a deer.

Preston, 63, a father of two from Goulburn, NSW, was arrested on April 12 and charged with the cold case murders of Karen Edwards, her boyfriend Timothy Thomson and their friend Gordon Twaddle.

The three friends were on a motorbike trip around Australia and are alleged to have met Preston, who was on a motorbike trip of his own, on the road between Alice Springs and Mount Isa.

Police reviewed the Cold Case triple murders of Karen Edwards, Tim Thomson and Gordon Twaddle at Spear Creek near Mt Isa in 1978. The last known picture of the group, taken by a tourist when they stopped at Devils Marbles.
Police reviewed the Cold Case triple murders of Karen Edwards, Tim Thomson and Gordon Twaddle at Spear Creek near Mt Isa in 1978. The last known picture of the group, taken by a tourist when they stopped at Devils Marbles.

Karen, 23, Tim, 31, and Gordon, 21, booked into the Lake Moondarra Caravan Park at Mount Isa on October 4 and were visited by a man in a Toyota LandCruiser that evening. The following morning, the LandCruiser returned, and the friends got in. They were never seen alive again. Their bodies were found three weeks later in isolated bushland north of town. They had all been shot in the head.

Court documents show that detectives obtained a witness statement from a "close family friend" who recalls being visited by Preston's parents - his father Arthur and stepmother Yvonne - on multiple occasions after the murders.

"Arthur and Yvonne were very stressed," the friend told police.

"They didn't want to be alone. Yvonne and Arthur were both worried about Bruce. They both said that they were worried that Bruce could kill them.

"I can remember speaking to Arthur about the people who had been killed at Spear Creek. Arthur said that Bruce was being questioned.

Karen Edwards, 23, from Dandenong in Melbourne.
Karen Edwards, 23, from Dandenong in Melbourne.

"Arthur said, 'the little bastard done it - but he's a tough little bastard and they can't break him'."

The family friend told police Arthur and Yvonne had visited a lot during that time and that "it was like they didn't want to go home".

The parents, according to the documents, had also spoken about Preston borrowing Arthur's Toyota LandCruiser at the time of the murders.

Both Arthur and Yvonne gave statements at the time confirming Preston had used his father's LandCruiser after returning from his motorbike trip.

But an affidavit from Preston's brother, Ian, said the claims were laughable and described his father as "proud" and "supportive" of Preston.

"My father had served with distinction during the Second World War in the 'Black Watch' … he was a very tough man and scared of no one," he said in his affidavit.

The bail documents also reveal Preston, a bike enthusiast, told a friend he had "bought" a new BMW R100S motorbike from a man in Adelaide who was desperate for money.

Preston was later found with Tim's motorbike - a valuable BMW R100S - and pleaded guilty to theft, claiming he'd found it abandoned.

Tim Thomson's 1977 BMW R100S motorcycle with homemade sidecar. The bike had SA plates and was recovered two weeks after their bodies were discovered.
Tim Thomson's 1977 BMW R100S motorcycle with homemade sidecar. The bike had SA plates and was recovered two weeks after their bodies were discovered.

But the conversation with the friend is alleged to have happened the night Preston returned from his road trip - the day before the murders. Police will allege this is evidence Preston planned to "gain imminent possession of the motorcycle".

The court documents describe Preston as an "avid hunter" who is licensed to have three firearms at his home.

The firearms were removed following his arrest but later that day, Preston's wife phoned to say she'd found another gun. That same day, a friend of the accused, having seen reports of his arrest, phoned police to report Preston had asked him to hold on to another gun for "safekeeping".

That firearm, a .22 rifle with a telescopic sight, is undergoing forensic testing.

Preston has denied killing the Spear Creek victims.

 

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