The Murder Of Anita Cobby: Australia's Worst Crime

Anita's Last Moments

Then Michael Murphy went berserk and raped, bashed and kicked Anita until she just lay on the ground, hardly conscious and breathing in gasps. Les Murphy gave Anita one final kick in the head before they decided that they had had enough.

They left their victim in the paddock and headed back to the car. But Travers wasn't happy. He claimed that Anita would be able to recognize all of them and she had heard them call each other by name. She had to die. "I'm going to go back and kill her," Travers said. "She'll never live to give us up. I'll slit her throat."

Rather than try and stop him, the gang urged Travers on. "Yeah, she'll see us all in the shit. Go on, go back and do it." Not needing much encouragement, Travers returned to Anita, sat on her back, lifted her head back by the hair and cut her throat. It was not unlike what he had done to the sheep in his backyard.

In his statement, Travers recalled that he thought he had cut Anita's throat twice. Forensic evidence indicated that he had. Travers left Anita Cobby lying semi-conscious in the paddock, bleeding to death with her head almost severed from her body.

When Travers returned to the car, he was covered in Anita Cobby's blood and boasted about what he had done. In his statement, Mick Murdoch said he asked Travers what it was like to kill someone. He replied: "It didn't feel like nothing. I didn't feel anything at all. They decided to return to Travers' mother's house and clean up. During the short trip, Travers went into great detail about the killing. They all laughed and told him how clever he was. Not one of the murderers had a twinge of conscience about what they had done. Rather, they joked about the night's events until they reached the house.

John Travers under heavy guard at his mother's funeral
John Travers under heavy guard at his mother's funeral

Travers explained away the blood on his clothes by telling his mother that they had killed a dog that had barked at them. Mick Murdoch gathered up all of Anita Cobby's belongings from the car and the gang stood around and drank beer as they burned the evidence in the backyard. Five days later they took the stolen car to a deserted clearing in the bush and set fire to it.

In their unsworn statements from the dock, Gary, Les and Mick Murphy and Mick Murdoch all minimized their involvement in the last hour in the life of Anita Cobby. They all blamed each other. They all said that police had bashed them with torches and fists and forced the confessions out of them. Once Travers had admitted his guilt, each of them tried to unload as much of the blame as possible onto him.

Gary Murphy after his arrest, bloodied
Gary Murphy after his arrest, bloodied

Gary Murphy claimed that he was not even there that night. He was drinking with friends he said, but he couldn't remember exactly where. Les Murphy broke down and cried an asked God to help make the jury believe that he didn't bash and rape Anita Cobby. Michael Murphy claimed that he only went along for the ride and that he was the only one who tried to stop them from dragging Anita Cobby into the car. At one stage he cried out: "I am innocent. This is giving me the shits." Mick Murdoch claimed that he was shocked by the whole affair and he sat in the car and played no part.

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