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Paroled: How serial killer played the system and won

Reginald Kenneth Arthurell has killed three people but none of them, according to judges, have amounted to the "worst case".

From the bashing death of 19-year-old naval rating Ross Browning in the outback near Tennant Creek in 1981 to smashing his naive and caring fiancee Venet Mulhall over the head with a piece of wood, the serial killer has played the system and won.

He has never been jailed for life, his longest sentence was 24 years, and will soon walk free as homicide detectives continue to investigate him over the murder of Catherine Page, 82, in Coonamble in 1971.

Reginald Arthurell bludgeoned Venet Raylee Mulhall to death at Coonabarabran in 1995 while he was out on parole.
Reginald Arthurell bludgeoned Venet Raylee Mulhall to death at Coonabarabran in 1995 while he was out on parole.

Arthurell was granted parole today and can be released as early as November 5 but no later than November 26 unless the Attorney-General appeals the decision.

The State Parole Authority said it was better to release the triple killer with conditions, seven months before his sentence finished, rather than let him into the community "cold turkey".

Judge David Frearson, head of the State Parole Authority, said he believed it was best to release Arthurell so he could be monitored for the next seven months.

Arthurell has told authorities he wants to have a sex change as soon as possible on his ­release.

During the hearing today, the 75-year-old was referred to as Ms Arthurell.

 

Cowboy wannabe Reginald Arthurell used more than 70 aliases including Tex and Big John.
Cowboy wannabe Reginald Arthurell used more than 70 aliases including Tex and Big John.

 

COWBOY POSER'S MURDEROUS PATH

Two-metres tall and powerfully-built, the drifter who used over 70 aliases including Tex, Buck, Big John and Cookie, hung around outback rodeo posing as an American cowboy.

He was already well known to police who he had tricked by cross-dressing as a woman.

In 1971, aged 25, he was among the itinerant visitors stranded in Coonamble by the 1971 floods that cut off the town.

He was staying with a friend around the corner from Ms Page, a devout Christian woman who lived alone and went to church every day. She lived in Pages Terrace, a street named after her family.

She died from seven savage blows to her head, her hat and purse still on her kitchen table, the money to buy the local paper on the windowsill to give to a neighbour.

Arthurell drifted to the towns in the north of Western Australia, returning to Sydney in May 1974 to visit his mother. He bumped into his former stepfather Thomas Thornton, who was found stabbed to death in the chest at his Guildford home.

Reginald Arthurell (right) arrives at the Alice Springs Magistrates Court to face charges for the murder of Ross Browning, whose body was found mutilated off a highway.
Reginald Arthurell (right) arrives at the Alice Springs Magistrates Court to face charges for the murder of Ross Browning, whose body was found mutilated off a highway.

'VERY BAD CASE OF MANSLAUGHTER'

In November 1981, Browning was on leave from his ship which had docked in Darwin and was on his way to visit his grandmother near Brisbane. He gave Arthurell and another man, Neil Buckley, a lift from the Frewena Roadhouse on the Barkly Highway.

His body was found 14km down the road. He had been tied up, tortured and his skull fractured by a blow to the head.

As he was hunted by police from the Northern Territory and NSW, Arthurell was arrested in November 1981 at the Corncob Hotel, Mareeba, in far north Queensland where he was working as a chef.

When their trial began in Alice Springs, Arthurell and Buckley pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter. Their pleas were accepted by the crown prosecutor who accepted there was "no intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm" over the objections of the NT Police Commissioner Peter McAuley.

Justice Kearney described it as a "very bad case of manslaughter" but said it did not warrant life sentences.

Buckley got 14 and a half years in prison with hard labour and seven and half years non parole. Arthurell was jail for 12 years with hard labour and six years non-parole.

 

Venet Raylee Mulhall who was bludgeoned to death in her home at Coonabarabran.
Venet Raylee Mulhall who was bludgeoned to death in her home at Coonabarabran.

SENSELESS AND WANTON KILLING

Released after six and half years, Arthurell was immediately arrested by NSW Police and extradited to Sydney where he was charged with the murder of his stepfather.

Again the prosecution accepted his plea of guilty to manslaughter after a psychiatrist said Arthurell had been releasing the "frustration and anger" at what he had experienced as a child at the hands of his stepfather.

In 1989, Justice "Tex" McInerney jailed him for 11 years with four and half years' non-parole after being told he had taken up Christianity and been baptised in a Darwin jail, becoming a "more caring, gentle and loving person."

Venet Mulhall, 54, had started writing to Arthurell while he was in jail in Darwin and visited him behind bars in Sydney. He was released as early as April 1991 on the condition he live with Ms Mulhall.

Reginald Arthurell, the serial killer who was also a cross dresser. This image was found on a camera that belonged to a murder victim.
Reginald Arthurell, the serial killer who was also a cross dresser. This image was found on a camera that belonged to a murder victim.

In February 1995, she was found bashed to death at her home in Coonabarabran after she refused to give Arthurell her car.

Charged with her murder, he tried again to get off with manslaughter but this time the prosecution refused and a jury convicted him of murder.

Justice David Hunt jailed him for 24 year with 18 years non-parole.

"The murder was committed while the prisoner was on parole in relation to a conviction of manslaughter," the judge said.

"I have already describe the killing as senseless and wanton. I accept there are no facts mitigating the seriousness of the crime. But it is not within the worst class of murder."

Catherine Page's murder remains unsolved with Arthurell the only suspect.

 

Minister David Elliot says Arthurell should die in jail and never be released. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett
Minister David Elliot says Arthurell should die in jail and never be released. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett

 

HE SHOULD 'DIE IN JAIL' LIKE MILAT

Before his parole hearing today, NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliot said he would speak to the Attorney-General about Arthurell's release.

"He is an evil individual who, in my mind, the judiciary should never have given him the opportunity to get parole. I think the sentencing judge should have just done the same as Ivan Milat - die in jail and good luck on the other side," Mr Elliot said on 2GB this morning.

"I'm going to have a chat with the Attorney-General about that this morning. I share the community's disgust.

Reginald Arthurell during his trial for murdering Venet Raylee Mulhall. The killer has avoided life sentences despite multiple murders.
Reginald Arthurell during his trial for murdering Venet Raylee Mulhall. The killer has avoided life sentences despite multiple murders.

"When I was Corrections Minister I did everything I could to keep him (in jail).

"I knew we did not want him out on my watch."

His release from jail has been stalled several times as authorities assessed his medical condition and tried to find a suitable facility for him to live before granting him parole.

The Parole Authority ­believes it is safer to release him seven months before his sentence expires because they have the power to put strict parole conditions on him.

He will be forced to wear an electronic bracelet and submit to a number of other con­ditions, including refraining from drugs and alcohol.

He will also be banned from going anywhere near his victims' families.

Relatives of Ms Mulhall said they had passed on evidence that Arthurell told two inmates he had plans to kill them and police when he gets out.

Police recently interviewed the inmates and Arthurell about the allegations.

A police spokesman said ­inquiries were continuing into the claims.

 

 

 

Originally published as Paroled: How serial killer played the system and won

Arthurell met Mulhall after she began writing to him while he was in prison.
Arthurell met Mulhall after she began writing to him while he was in prison.

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