Accused killer Arthur Brown leaves Townsville Magistrates Court after the first day of his committal hearing into 1970 murders of Susan and Judith Mackay. Photo: Patrick Hamilton.
Accused killer Arthur Brown leaves Townsville Magistrates Court after the first day of his committal hearing into 1970 murders of Susan and Judith Mackay. Photo: Patrick Hamilton.

Fresh leads develop in brutal murder case

More witnesses have come forward adding weight to accusations paedophile Arthur Stanley Brown was involved in the murder of a young woman in Townsville 45 years ago.

The latest claims also support a view that Brown, if he was involved, did not act alone.

Catherine Pamela Graham, 18, was reported missing on July 30, 1975.

Two days later her body was found at Anthill Creek about 20km southwest of the city.

She had been raped and repeatedly bashed about the head with a heavy stone.

A Cairns man, who asked not to be named, has told the Bulletin he believes his father was involved and was acting with Brown and possibly others.

He has approached the police, not for the first time, after a recent appeal for information which could lead to a resolution of the case.

"I believe that justice has to be dealt here. I want closure for everyone," the man said.

Brown is a notorious figure in Townsville history, having been charged with the 1970 murders of school girls, Judith and Susan Mackay, in 1998, as well as some 36 charges of deprivation of liberty, indecent dealing with a child and rape involving friends and relatives of Brown.

 

Cold Case Murder Catherine Graham 1975 Townsville - Copy photo
Cold Case Murder Catherine Graham 1975 Townsville - Copy photo

Standing trial for murder, the first hearing ended in a hung jury, while his second trial was abandoned when it was found he was mentally unfit.

A year later, in 2002, Brown, aged 90, died in a nursing home in Malanda.

The Cairns man said he worked with his father and Brown, who were employed in the State Government's public works department, in Townsville in the 1970s.

He said he was with his father at the Townsville General Hospital outpatients section on what is believed to be the night of Catherine Graham's death, July 29, 1975.

His father had taken him to the hospital about 7pm for treatment for stomach pains.

Catherine Graham was there seeing a friend and Brown also turned up.

His father left him after about an hour, ostensibly to go for a drink with his ``mate'' Art, returning to collect him around 1am. He never saw his father and Brown take Catherine Graham but his father later would refer to a woman called ``Catti''.

He said the last words of his mother, when she died in Townsville in 1997, were "Catherine Graham".

 

 

Likeness from the 1960s of Qld carpenter alleged murderer Arthur Brown after being released on bail. He is to appear in court on charges of murder in relation to 1970 abduction, rape and murder of sisters Susan and Judith Mackay. children child
Likeness from the 1960s of Qld carpenter alleged murderer Arthur Brown after being released on bail. He is to appear in court on charges of murder in relation to 1970 abduction, rape and murder of sisters Susan and Judith Mackay. children child

 

"For years we couldn't understand why she said that. I thought my mother was delirious with medication," the man said.

He said his father had admitted to him in 2009 that "we" killed Catherine Graham.

He began calling Crime Stoppers and Brisbane's Homicide Investigation Unit from mid-2009 and succeeded in having a detective interview his father in 2010. But the result was inconclusive and his father died in 2015.

Now he has agreed to meet the Homicide Group when he travels to Brisbane in September. He said he would supply his DNA.

Previously, witnesses have said they saw two men sitting in a Holden panel van on the Flinders Highway near Anthill Creek on July 29, 1975.

On that day, Catherine Graham had been selling books door-to-door and was seen near Brown's house in Lowths St, Rosslea.

She had phoned her mother from a phone box that evening. Her last words to her mother were: "There is someone peering at me mum - and I don't like the look of him".

But having left the phone box, she bought a hamburger at a nearby Rising Sun fish shop at 8.10pm and then visited a friend at Townsville General Hospital.

 

 

Arthur Brown (right) leaving court with his family. Picture: Scott Radford-Chisholm
Arthur Brown (right) leaving court with his family. Picture: Scott Radford-Chisholm

She was seen at the Townsville Post Office at 9pm before visiting a family friend in The Avenue, Hermit Park. That was her last known movement.

Her body was discovered 500m from where the bodies of the Mackay sisters had been found, five years previously.

According to newspaper reports, police believed the murder had been committed by more than one person and agreed there were similarities with the Mackay sisters' murders. The disposal of the bodies was very similar. Semen swabs were collected from the scene.

A Detective Sergeant Phil Notaro said of the case in 2001: "We believe at least one of the culprits is still in or near Townsville. We are pretty confident of that."

Yesterday, a Queensland Police spokeswoman said "a number of witnesses" had come forward since the appeal last year and investigations were continuing.

"There is a $250,000 reward being offered for information which leads to the apprehension and conviction of the person/persons responsible for the murder of Catherine Pamela Graham," the spokeswoman said.

"In addition, an appropriate indemnity from prosecution will be recommended for any accomplice, not being the person who actually committed the crime, who first gives such information."

Anybody with any information, no matter how small or irrelevant they think it might be, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the Crime Stopper website on line.

Originally published as Fresh leads develop in brutal murder case


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