There has been a dramatic development in the Claremont serial killer case with accused murderer Bradley Edwards pleading guilty to attacks on two women, including the rape of a teenage girl.
The incidents include an attack on a woman in the Perth suburb of Huntingdale in 1988 and a rape of a teenager at Karrakatta Cemetery in 1995.
In a barely audible voice, Mr Edwards pleaded guilty to the five charges – including sexual assault, deprivation of liberty and unlawful detention – as they were read out in court at a pre-trial hearing on Monday.
Earlier hearings were told Mr Edwards broke into the home of an 18-year-old Huntingdale woman while she was asleep in her bedroom.
Her parents were home at the time, but were also asleep.
The court heard Mr Edwards straddled the woman as she lay on her stomach and tried to force a piece of fabric into her mouth, but she fought him off and he fled.
However, a distinctive silk dressing gown was left behind and that garment could play a crucial part in the trial.
Previous hearings were also told details about the Karrakatta attack, in which Mr Edwards grabbed the teenager from behind, pushed her to the ground and used a cord with a “pre-prepared, improvised handcuff knot” to bind her hands.
He also placed a hood over her head and bound her feet together, before carrying her to his car and driving to the cemetery.
Edwards continues to fight murder charges
Monday’s pre-trial hearing opened with the change of pleas by Mr Edwards, who is also charged with murdering Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon.
The three women all disappeared from the upmarket entertainment district of Claremont between January 1996 and March 1997.
The bodies of Ms Rimmer and Ms Glennon were found in bushland, but Ms Spiers has never been found.
Mr Edwards has continued to plead not guilty in relation to the three murder charges.
State prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo said the prosecution would be relying on fibre evidence common to the Karrakatta rape victim and both Ms Rimmer and Ms Glennon.
She said she anticipated the defence would try to argue some crucial items of forensic evidence, including samples taken from the bodies of the two women, had been contaminated.
But the prosecution had procured multiple witnesses, including forensic scientists and technicians, to testify that the samples had been treated appropriately were not contaminated.
Marathon trial may be cut short
Ms Barbagallo also said she expected the guilty pleas would cut short Mr Edwards’ trial by at least three months.
It was originally slated to last nine months.
Despite Monday’s development, Justice Stephen Hall indicated he would still like the trial to begin as scheduled on November 18.
A large crowd of police and the public was present in the public gallery in the Supreme Court in Perth on Monday to hear the admissions.
The onlookers included Ms Spiers’s father, Don Spiers, and Ms Glennon’s father, Denis Glennon, who have been a constant presence at each of Mr Edwards’s court appearances.
The hearing was delayed by more than half an hour because of a delay in getting Mr Edwards to court.