Ciara Glennon murder in 1997: court hears detail of day she died

Irishwoman, whose family is from Mayo, disappeared in Australia on St Patrick’s Day

A file image of Ciara Glennon whose body was found dumped about 50kms from Perth in March 1997. Photograph: PerthNow,

A file image of Ciara Glennon whose body was found dumped about 50kms from Perth in March 1997. Photograph: PerthNow,

 

in Western Australia

An Irishwoman killed in Australia in 1997 ignored a warning not to accept a lift from a stranger the night she was murdered, a Western Australia court has heard.

One of Australia’s biggest murder trials began in a Western Australia Supreme Court on Monday, with Bradley Robert Edwards accused of the murder of Ciara Glennon (27) from the suburb of Claremont on March 14th, 1997.

Mr Edwards (51) is also accused of the murders of Jane Rimmer (23) and Sarah Spiers (18), in 1996 and 1997, around the Claremont nightlife area.

He denies the charges.

Ms Glennon, whose family are originally from Wesport, Co Mayo, was out with friends celebrating St Patricks Day when she disappeared.

In her opening address to the court, State Prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo outlined in detail the last day of Ms Glennon’s life before her body was found dumped in bushland, 50km north of Perth.

Ms Barbagallo went through 12 instances where witnesses claim they saw a lone woman matching her description walking near the Continental Hotel after she left to catch a taxi.

Three men, the state dubbed the “Burger Boys”, were the last to see Ms Glennon as she walked towards her home in Mosman Park.

The court heard one of the men who spotted Ms Glennon yelled to her: “You’re crazy to hitch-hike”.

The woman gestured to the men and they later saw her leaning into the window of a car as if she was talking to the driver. It was the last known sighting of Ms Glennon.

The state has previously argued the car was the Holden Commodore Mr Edwards was driving when he was employed as a technician for Telstra at the time.

“When she reached a point ... on Stirling Highway ... a white VS Holden Commodore station wagon was seen in close proximity to her,” Ms Barbagallo said.

“It is on this stretch of highway that Ciara Glennon either accepted a lift from the perpetrator, or was abducted by the perpetrator in a blitz attack.”

Found

The state told the court Ms Glennon’s body was discovered by a 23-year-old man who was walking through bushland, three weeks after she went missing.

“His attention was drawn to a distinct smell,” Ms Barbagallo said. “He observed part of a body, the rest of the body was covered in bush which had been stripped from the local flora and placed over the body to conceal it.”

Ms Barbagallo said during an examination of the body, a large defect was discovered on her neck, and two large defects were found on her upper and lower arms.

She said the defects across her face and neck, which were around 12 to 21 centimetres long, were consistent with a “sawing type action”.

The court heard Ms Glennon’s body was found 50 metres off the road, lying face down and covered in a “strikingly similar manner” to Jane Rimmer’s body.

The defects to the forearm appeared to be cuts and “represented the classic self-defence position” similar to Ms Rimmer’s injury, albeit to the opposite arm.

“Given the positioning of the body, the staining on her T-shirt and bra ... the state’s case is that neck injury to Ms Glennon was inflicted at or very close to the location where her body was found,” Ms Barbagallo said.

The court hear two of Ms Glennon’s fingernails were broken off - the left thumb and left middle finger - while the rest were “relatively long” and well-manicured.

“The ends of Ms Glennon’s fingernails were cut off and placed into individual, pristine, sterile yellow top containers,” Ms Barbagallo said.

The state is expected to rely on DNA found underneath Ms Glennon’s fingernails, in particular her broken fingernails, as a crucial part of its case.

The state is expected to argue Ms Glennon scratched Mr Edwards’s face before he murdered her, with DNA allegedly located underneath her fingernails when her body was found.

“He observed part of a body, the rest of the body was covered in bush which had been stripped from the local flora and placed over the body to conceal it,” Ms Barbagallo said.

Studied law

Early in the proceedings, Ms Barbagallo said Ms Glennon was “a bright, happy and determined young woman” who had studied law at UWA before starting work at a law firm in Perth CBD.

“She came from a close and loving family,” she said. “Ciara took 12 months leave to travel overseas, returning on March 1st, 1997 - 14 days before she disappeared.”

Ms Barbagallo also spoke of the three “young, bright, beautiful women” who abruptly vanished from the streets of Claremont in 1996 and 1997, creating a climate of fear across Perth.

“That fear was caused by an enigma of the dark,” she said.

“Two were found dead, dumped in bushland, covered in foliage and left to rot in the killer’s hope that they would never be found ... so that any evidence that might connect the killer to the crimes would be lost forever - lost in the bush, in the dirt, in the foliage that he left them in,” she said.

“Despite the killer’s best efforts, miraculously the bodies of those two young women were found.”

Ms Glennon’s father Denis Glennon sat in front row of the packed public gallery to hear Mr Edwards plead not guilty at the start of the trial.