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Peter Norris DUPAS

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Mutilation
Number of victims: 3 - 6
Date of murders: 1997 - 1999
Date of arrest: April 22, 1999
Date of birth: July 6, 1953
Victims profile: Margaret Josephine Maher, 40 / Mersina Halvagis, 25 / Nicole Amanda Patterson, 28
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Status: Sentenced to life imprisoment with no possiblility of parole on August 22, 2000. Sentenced to a second term of life imprisonment on  August 16, 2004. Sentenced to his third life sentence with no minimum term on August 17, 2007
 
 

 
 
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Australian Peter Dupas had a long, sad history of violence against women by the time he murdered Nicole Patterson, 29, in Melbourne.

Dupas had previously been convicted of numerous sex offenses between 1974 and 1994, including rape, false imprisonment, and assault with intent to rape. His crimes became more violent each time he was released back into society.

ON March 19, 1999, Dupas posed as a potential client and visited Patterson at her Northcote home, whiched also housed her psychiatric office, for a scheduled appontment. He instead killed the woman, stabbing her 27 times. Arrested and convicted in the Patterson killing, Dupas was sentenced to life imprisoment with no possiblility of parole.

Justice Frank Vincent addressed Dupas saying, "I doubt you are capable of remorse", and assessing the chances of rehabilitation stated they were "so close to hopeless they can effectively be dismissed."

Dupas is a major suspect in several other Melbourne killings including the murder of Mersina Halvagis, who was stabbed to death while visiting her grandmother's grave. Margaret Maher, who was also stabbed to death in October of 1997, is also a likely victim. Another strong possibility is the murder of Helen McMahon in February of 1983, which took place in almost the exact same spot that Dupas had previously raped another woman just weeks prior.


Peter Norris Dupas (born July 6, 1953) is an Australian serial killer, currently serving three consecutive life sentences for murder. His violent criminal history spans more than three decades, and with every release from prison has been known to commit further crimes against women with increasing levels of violence. His criminal signature is to remove the breasts of his female victims.

As of 2007, Dupas has been convicted of three murders and is a prime suspect in at least three other murders committed in the vicinity of the Melbourne area during the 1980s and 1990s.

Early life

Dupas was the youngest of three children, born into what has been described as "a fairly normal family". Born in Sydney, New South Wales, his family moved to Melbourne while he was still a toddler. With both siblings considerably older, his elderly parents treated him much like an only child. Dupas left high school upon completing Form 5, and later obtained his Higher School Certificate while in custody.

On October 3, 1968, at the age of 15, Dupas, still attending high school at Waverley High School in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Mount Waverley, visited his next door neighbour requesting to borrow a knife for the purpose of peeling vegetables. Dupas was apprehended after he stabbed the woman in the face, neck and hand as she attempted to fight off his attack. He later told police he could not help himself and did not know why he began to attack the woman. He was placed on 18 months probation and admitted to the Larundel Psychiatric Hospital for evaluation; he was released after two weeks and treated as an outpatient.

In October 1969, a mortuary located at the Austin Hospital was broken into. The bodies of two elderly women were mutilated using a pathologist's knife. One body contained a strange wound inflicted with a knife to the area of the thigh. Police now believe Dupas was involved in the break-in as the wounds inflicted matched that of a later murder victim, Nicole Patterson.

Senior Detective Ian Armstrong, who interviewed Dupas on November 30, 1973, at the Nunawading Police Station described Dupas as "weak and compliant" when confronted by authority.

“He stood out. To me the guy was just pure evil … His attacks were all carefully planned and he showed no remorse. We could see where he was going. I remember thinking, 'This guy could go all the way'.

He is an unmitigated liar … he is a very dangerous young person who will continue to offend where females are concerned and will possibly cause the death of one of his victims if he is not straightened out.”

After Dupas received a term of nine years imprisonment for rape in 1974, prison psychiatrist Dr. Allen Bartholomew noted Dupas was in constant denial of his criminal activity, noting at the time: "I am reasonably certain that this youth has a serious psychosexual problem, that he is using the technique of denial as a coping device and that he is to be seen as potentially dangerous. The denial technique makes for huge difficulty in treatment."

Sex offences

On July 25, 1974, Dupas was sentenced to nine years imprisonment with a minimum period of five years for an attack on a married woman in her own home. Dupas broke into the victim's house and threatened her with a knife before tying her up with cord and raping her. He threatened to harm her baby when she resisted his attack. The sentencing judge described the offence as "one of the worst rapes that could be imagined".

In 1979, approximately two months after his release from prison, Dupas again molested women in four separate attacks over a 10 day period. On February 28, 1980, Dupas received a five year minimum prison sentence for three charges of assault with intent to rape, malicious wounding, assault with intent to rob, and indecent assault. A 1980 report on Dupas stated "There is little that can be said in Dupas' favour. He remains an extremely disturbed, immature and dangerous man. His release on parole was a mistake."

Dupas was again released from prison in February 1985. Approximately one month later, he raped a 21-year-old woman on a beach at Blairgowrie. After alighting from his car, Dupas followed the woman and attacked her, holding her to the ground at knifepoint before raping her. He later told police: "I'm sorry for what happened. Everyone was telling me I'm OK now. I never thought it was going to happen again. I only wanted to live a normal life."

On June 28, 1985, Dupas was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for the Blairgowrie rape, and released in 1992 after serving seven years of his sentence.

Less than two years after his release from prison, Dupas was arrested on charges of false imprisonment over an incident at Lake Eppalock in January 1994. Wearing a hood and armed with a knife, insulation tape and handcuffs, Dupas followed a woman who was picnicking and held her at knifepoint in a toilet block but was chased off by her friends. As he was leaving the scene he crashed his car and was apprehended.

On August 18, 1994, after entering a guilty plea to one count of false imprisonment in the Country Court in Bendigo, Dupas was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment, with a minimum period of two years and nine months. In September 1996, Dupas was again released from prison and moved into a house in the Melbourne suburb of Pascoe Vale.

Murder of Nicole Patterson

Nicole Amanda Patterson was a 28 year old psychotherapist and youth counsellor employed with the Ardoch Youth Foundation, an organisation formed to assist young drug users. Patterson had desired to operate her own private practice and was using her Northcote home as an office. She placed several classified ads in a local newspaper, the Northcote Leader in an effort to expand her client base.

Two neighbours reported hearing the screams of a young woman coming from Patterson's house between 9.00a.m. and 9.30a.m. on the day of her murder. Attempts by Patterson's boyfriend to contact her in the afternoon failed, raising suspicions.

On April 19, 1999 the body of Nicole Amanda Patterson was discovered by a friend in the front room of her Harper Street, Northcote residence. Patterson's friend had visited to attend a dinner engagement. Upon hearing music from a radio and discovering the front door unlocked, she entered the house and found the body of Patterson severely mutilated.

Patterson died from 27 stab wounds to her chest and back. Her body was discovered naked from the waist down, with her skirt found in a nearby bedroom and her underwear around her ankles. Small pieces of yellow PVC tape were attached to her body and both of her breasts had been removed using a sharp knife. Her handbag and drivers licence were stolen during the attack. The murder weapon and Patterson's breasts have never been recovered.

Arrest

Police investigations of the crime scene revealed Patterson had a 9.00a.m. appointment with a new client by the name of "Malcolm" as noted in her personal diary, alongside a mobile telephone number. The number was traced to an Indian student studying at La Trobe University named "Harry". Police learned Dupas had approached Harry with an offer of labouring work. On April 22, 1999, police arrested Dupas at midday at the Excelsior Hotel in Thomastown and charged him with the murder of Patterson later the same day.

Telephone records revealed Dupas had made three prior telephone calls to Patterson to arrange a counselling session to treat depression and a gambling addiction, the first from a public telephone booth approximately six weeks before her murder. Over the course of the next six weeks, Dupas made calls to Patterson in an attempt to establish her vulnerability. Dupas later told police he cancelled his appointment with Patterson after being told by her his problem was something he was able to work through of his own accord.

Police also noticed scratches on Dupas' face and hand, consistent with a recent struggle. Dupas claimed the scratches had occurred when he was working in his backyard shed and a piece of wood hit him while using a lathe; Dupas did not own a lathe, however. He later changed his story to the effect that the injuries were sustained while working in the shed and walking by a protruding piece of wood.

A police search of Dupas' home revealed blood stained clothing, PVC tape similar to that located at the crime scene, a ski mask, newspaper clippings detailing Patterson's murder and also a paper containing her advertisement for psychotherapy services.

Trial and appeal

After retiring for less than three hours, the jury returned to deliver a guilty verdict. On August 22, 2000, while sentencing Dupas to life imprisonment, Judge Frank Vincent remarked "...the prospects of your eventual rehabilitation must be regarded as so close to hopeless that they can be effectively discounted. There is no indication whatsoever that you have experienced any sense of remorse for what you have done, and I doubt that you are capable of any such human response. At a fundamental level, as human beings, you present for us the awful, threatening and unanswerable question: How did you come to be as you are?"

Dupas appeared in the Supreme Court of Victoria Court of Appeal in August 2001 to appeal his conviction for the murder of Patterson. His appeal was dismissed.

Murder of Margaret Maher

Margaret Josephine Maher, 40, was a prostitute working in the Melbourne area who was last seen alive at the Safeway supermarket at 12.20a.m. in Broadmeadows on October 4, 1997.

Her body was discovered under a cardboard box containing computer parts at 1.45p.m. on October 4, 1997 by Ronald Frank McDonald, who made the discovery while he was collecting aluminium cans beside Cliffords Road, Somerton with his wife, Eva and their children. A black woollen glove was found near Maher's body which police later confirmed contained DNA matching that of Dupas.

A post-mortem examination revealed Maher had suffered a stab wound to her left wrist, bruising to her neck, blunt force trauma to the area of her right eyebrow and lacerations to her right arm. Maher's left breast had been removed and placed into her mouth. At the time of Maher's murder, Dupas had been out of prison for just over a year after serving time for rape offences and was no longer under the supervision of the government corrections agency, Corrections Victoria.

Dupas was already serving a life sentence without parole for the murder of Nicole Patterson at the time of his arrest for the murder of Margaret Maher. With Dupas in custody, police were able to obtain a DNA sample, linking him to the 1997 murder of Maher.

Trial

During a trial lasting three weeks, evidence was presented to the jury that the removal of Patterson's and Maher's breasts were so "strikingly similar" as to be a signature or trademark stamp common to both crimes, thereby identifying Dupas as the killer of both women. The jury, who was not told Dupas was already serving a life term of imprisonment for the murder of Patterson, took less than a day to convict him of his second murder conviction. Upon hearing the jury deliver the guilty verdict, Dupas claimed "it's a kangaroo court" before being led away by court staff to begin his sentence.

After the guilty verdict, Kylie Nicholas, Nicole Pattersons sister, described Dupas as "...the most evil predator, a psychopath, a true evil predatory, cunning repulsive person. It's such a rare evil that comes into this world that's destroyed these women and our lives. We're just praying that this man is held accountable for everything he has done."

On August 16, 2004, Dupas was convicted of the October 4, 1997, murder of Maher and sentenced to a second term of life imprisonment.

Ian Joblin, a Melbourne-based forensic psychologist, released a report to the court attempting to explain Dupas’ sexual reoffending behaviour:

"Dupas attacked women to fulfil fantasies of conquest and control…For Dupas, the actual assault has not lived up to the fantasy which preceded the assault, and is seen at times as disappointing…He does not feel reassured by either his performance or his victim’s response and must find another victim, this time ‘the right one’. Thus, his offences become quite repetitive."

During sentencing, Kaye remarked he would have sentenced Dupas for a life term for Maher's murder even if he had not killed Patterson, saying:

"In view of your appalling criminal history, and in view of the particularly serious nature of the crime for which you have been convicted, it is only appropriate that you be sentenced to life imprisonment. Even if the murder of Nicole Patterson had never occurred, I would have no hesitation in imposing a term of life imprisonment upon you. "It is clear, both in the present case and from your previous convictions for rape and like offences, that your offending is connected with a need by you to vindicate a perverted and sadistic hatred of women and a contempt for them and their right to live. As such the present offence must be characterised as being in one of the most serious categories of murders which come before this Court. "You intentionally killed a harmless, defenceless woman who, like all your other victims, had no prospect of protecting herself against you. At the time you committed that offence, you had, over almost three decades, terrorised women in this State. You have repeatedly violated a central norm of a decent civilised society. Your conduct in the present case is without mitigation or palliation. There has been no recognition by you of your wrongdoing. Rather, you repeated the same offence, with even more brutality, 18 months after murdering Margaret Maher. "Based on your repeated violent offences, and on the gravity of this offence, there is no prospect of your rehabilitation. Nothing was advanced on your behalf to reflect that there is even the faintest glimmer of hope for you. Even if there were, any considerations of rehabilitation must, in this case, be subordinated to the gravity of your offending, the need for the imposition of a just punishment, and the principle of general deterrence. All those circumstances combine, in my view, not only to justify, but also to require that I do not fix a minimum term."

After Dupas received his second murder conviction, Victorian Attorney General Rob Hulls stated judges needed discretionary powers to tailor punishments for criminals such as Dupas and that more training may be needed to assist them in making their judgments. Hulls was quoted as saying, "There's no question that a formalised judicial education and training needs to be introduced in Victoria. I intend to investigate how that can best be done".

Felicity Hampell QC, president of civil liberties group Liberty Victoria replied in response to Hulls, "Neither imprisonment in itself nor parole in itself is going to stop everybody from committing offences. What's important to bear in mind is that a person has to be sentenced for the offence they've committed, and that might mean that somebody gets a sentence that is proportionate for the crime, but it doesn't cure them of the dangerousness or the characteristic that makes them continue to offend".

Appeal

On July 25, 2005, Dupas appeared in the Supreme Court of Victoria Court of Appeal to appeal his conviction for the murder of Maher on the grounds of:

"whether the judge erred in ruling that the facts of the mutilation of Patterson’s body should have been admitted at trial".

"whether the directions of the judge aimed at keeping the evidence of the Patterson murder discrete were sufficient".

"whether the judge incorrectly directed the jury regarding the compression applied to the deceased’s neck as one of three possible causes of death".

"if the matters relied upon in the other grounds listed above did not result in a miscarriage of justice, their "aggregate effect" did".

His appeal was dismissed.

Murder of Mersina Halvagis

Mersina Halvagis was a 25-year-old Melbourne woman murdered in an attack on November 1, 1997, while visiting her grandmother's grave in the Greek Orthodox section of Fawkner Cemetery in Fawkner, a northern suburb of Melbourne. The alarm was raised by Halvagis' fiancée when she failed to meet with him later that day as the couple had planned.

Halvagis' body was discovered at 4.35 a.m. on November 5, 1997, by Halvagis' fiancée in an empty plot, three graves from where her grandmother was buried. Police believe Halvagis was attacked from behind while kneeling to attend to a flower arrangement, and that she died from massive injuries, including 87 stab wounds about her knees, neck, with most wounds concentrated around her breasts. Her upper clothing had been pulled over her head towards her chest.

Dupas' home in Coane Street, Pascoe Vale was near the cemetery. Halvagis' murder had remained unsolved since 1997, with the Victorian state government, together with police offering a AUD$1 million reward for information leading to an arrest. The large reward was the fourth such reward of AUD$1 million in Victoria's history.

Frank Cole, an elderly resident of Pascoe Vale, claims he saw Dupas leaving the Fawkner Cemetery on the day of the murder. Cole had earlier claimed he shot a dingo he suspected had killed two-month-old Azaria Chamberlain who went missing at an Ayers Rock camping ground on August 17, 1980.

An anonymous female who was visiting her parents' grave on the day of the murder had seen Dupas wearing sunglasses jogging through out the cemetery casually.

Inquest

An inquest into Halvagis's death before coroner Graeme Johnstone heard circumstantial evidence in the case against Dupas in relation to the murder:

  • Nine witnesses identified Dupas as a man they saw at Fawkner Cemetery on the day Halvagis was attacked.

  • Dupas' grandfather's gravesite is located 128 metres from the crime scene.

  • Dupas frequented the 'First and Last Hotel', located opposite Fawkner Cemetery.

  • Dupas lied to police about a facial injury received about the time of the attack on Halvagis.

  • Dupas attempted to alter his appearance after Halvagis' murder.

  • Dupas was identified by a woman from police photographs, who said she saw him minutes before the attack 20 metres from where Halvagis' murder occurred.

Senior Detective Scarlett told the inquest a car known to be used by Dupas at the time of the murder was sold to a work associate in the month following the murder of Halvagis. The car has since been crushed for scrap metal and was never examined by detectives.

Forensic pathologist Professor David Ransom, who compared wounds suffered by Halvagis to the wounds suffered by Patterson and Maher, told the inquest there was insufficient evidence to suggest the wounds suffered by Halvagis were inflicted using the same knife or by the same person who had murdered Dupas' other victims.

Dupas' lawyer, David Drake, advised the inquest that the only evidence linking Dupas to the murder of Halvagis was the fact that Dupas had lived nearby to the Fawkner Cemetery, and his reputation based on prior convictions for similar offences. He further said police had relied upon their beliefs that Dupas had a propensity to attack women using knives, thereby linking him to the crime.

On August 1, 2006, the inquest was adjourned indefinitely following charges laid by police on Dupas for the murder of Halvagis.

Arrest

After obtaining a court order granting permission to interview Dupas in relation to Halvagis' murder, police collected Dupas from HM Prison Barwon on September 2, 2006, taking him to the St Kilda Road Police Headquarters in Melbourne for questioning. On September 11, 2006, police charged Dupas with the murder of Mersina Halvagis, after disgraced Melbourne lawyer, Andrew Fraser, revealed Dupas confessed to the killing of Halvagis while gardening weeds in Port Phillip Prison during 2002.

Fraser told police he once found a homemade knife concealed among weeds at Port Phillip Prison and he called Dupas over to inspect it, which is when the confession occurred:

"We regularly used to find stuff hidden in the garden, drugs, weapons and other stuff. I once found a homemade knife and called Dupas over to show it to him. He took it off me and started handling it, almost caressing it in a sexual way. Dupas then started saying 'Mersina, Mersina' over and over with this strange look on his face. I was certainly left in no doubt that Dupas murdered Mersina. "This wasn't some sort of jailhouse confession where somebody has gone in and sat in a cell one night and had a brew with another prisoner and somebody has allegedly said something. It's a lot stronger than that. Dupas and I spoke regularly, just the two of us. This was over months and months that he was talking to me and confiding in me. "There was one occasion when another prisoner came up to us when we were gardening and started abusing Dupas. This prisoner was yelling at Dupas saying 'You killed Mersina, you killed Mersina'. "After he had gone, Dupas turned to me and said 'How does that cunt know I did it?'

After agreeing to give evidence against Dupas, Fraser was released from Fulham Correctional Centre in Sale on September 11, 2006, two months early of his five year sentence for drug trafficking. The Victorian government has said Fraser is now eligible to apply for a share of the AUD$1 million reward offered for information leading to an arrest on Halvagis' murder.

Direct presentment to trial

The Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew the charge of murder in the Melbourne Magistrates Court and requested the case against Dupas be sent directly to trial, bypassing the committal hearing process. On September 26, 2006, Dupas appeared via video link in the Supreme Court of Victoria, charged with Halvagis' murder, entering a plea of not guilty. Dupas' barrister David Drake told the Supreme Court his client was being unfairly dealt with by skipping the usual process of a committal hearing in the Magistrates' Court.

The Supreme Court of Victoria ruled on whether Dupas would face a committal hearing in November 2006. On November 14, 2006, Dupas appeared in the Supreme Court of Victoria before Justice John Coldrey, where he requested an opportunity to be able to cross-examine witness Andrew Fraser before a criminal trial takes place.

On December 12, 2006, the Supreme Court of Victoria ordered Dupas be presented directly to trial for the murder of Mersina Halvagis, bypassing the usual committal hearing process

Trial

The trial for the murder of Mersina Halvagis ran for 22 days. On July 9, 2007, the jury selected for the trial was discharged on a "legal technicality" when prosecutor Colin Hillman, SC advised Justice Philip Cummins that a failure to comply with the Jury Act had occurred when potential jurors were not advised of the possible duration of the trial.

Prosecution witness and disgraced lawyer Andrew Fraser described to the jury how Dupas attacked Halvagis. Fraser has now submitted a claim to the $1 million reward.

Dupas was found guilty of the murder of Mersina Halvagis on August 9, 2007 and appeared for a pre-sentencing hearing eight days later. Dupas was sentenced to his third life sentence with no minimum term. The sentencing judge allowed permission for one television camera to record the sentencing of Dupas, the only televised sentencing in Australia since the 1995 sentencing of child killer Nathan John Avent. Upon sentencing Dupas, the judge said "life means life".

On September 10, 2007, lawyers for Dupas submitted an appeal on the basis the verdict of guilty for the murder of Halvagis was unsafe and unsatisfactory.

On September 17, 2009, Dupas's appeal against the conviction was upheld in Victoria's Court of Appeal by a two to one majority. The Court ruled that the directions of the judge in the original trial were inadequate.

On October 14, 2009, Lawyers for Dupas argued that the procedings against him should be stayed permenanently based on the publicity surrounding the case. Victorian Supreme Court Justice Paul Coghlan disagreed and set the trial date for April 7, 2010.

Murder of Helen McMahon

Helen McMahon was a 47-year-old woman found bashed to death on a Rye beach in February 13, 1985. Although Dupas was imprisoned at the time of McMahon's murder and was not released until two weeks later, investigators learned Dupas was on pre-release leave from prison and living in the Rye area when McMahon was killed.

McMahon was sunbathing topless on the beach when attacked. Her body was discovered naked, covered by her beach towel. The location of the murder of McMahon was nearby to the location where Dupas had earlier raped a 21-year-old woman at a beach in Blairgowrie, for which he was convicted and served a term of imprisonment. Police believe McMahon may have been Dupas' first murder victim, although her murder officially remains unsolved.

Murder of Renita Brunton

Dupas is a suspect in the murder of 31-year old Renita Brunton at Sunbury, Victoria in 1993.

Murder of Kathleen Downes

Dupas is a suspect in the murder of 95-year-old Kathleen Downes at the Brunswick Lodge nursing home in Brunswick. Downes was stabbed to death at 6:30a.m. on December 31, 1997, a month after Halvagis' murder. Police investigations revealed Dupas had telephoned the nursing home some time before the murder. No charges have been laid regarding Downes' murder. Her murder is being considered for referral to the State Coroner.

Marriage

While imprisoned at Melbourne's Pentridge Prison, Dupas formed a relationship with mental health nurse Grace McConnell, who was 16 years his senior. The pair married in 1987 inside Castlemaine Gaol.

McConnell described her marriage to Dupas during the inquest into the murder of Mersina Halvagis:

"He insisted that he was in love with me .... and that with my help he could come out of himself and become a normal person. I agreed (to marry Dupas), not out of particular love for this man but from a sense of responsibility to helping him become a useful member of the community. In my mind, our relationship was mother and son. "Our sex life was very basic, almost non-existent. I would go along with it out of a sense of responsibility … It got to the stage where I could not bear him touching me.

His new wife found him to be a self-obsessed, lazy, needy, and a snob, and they divorced during the mid 1990s.

Prison life

As of 2006, Dupas is serving his sentences between the maximum security protection unit of Port Phillip Correctional Centre, at Laverton and HM Prison Barwon in Lara, a northern suburb of Geelong. He has attempted suicide several times while imprisoned. Prison staff describe him as a model prisoner while in custody and "a monster" whenever released.

Summary of criminal convictions

Before his first conviction for murder, Dupas had 16 prior convictions involving acts of sexual violence from six court appearances between March 27, 1972 and November 11, 1994.

  • July 25, 1974- Rape - Sentenced to 9 years imprisonment.

  • February 28, 1980 - Rape - Committed two months after his release from prison. Sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.

  • June 28, 1985 - Rape - Committed 4 days after his release from prison. Sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

  • August 18, 1994 - False imprisonment - Sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.

  • August 22, 2000 - Murder - Nicole Patterson. Sentenced to life imprisonment with no minimum period.

  • August 16, 2004 - Murder - Margaret Maher. Sentenced to life imprisonment with no minimum period.

  • August 9, 2007 - Murder - Mersina Halvagis. Sentenced to life imprisonment with no minimum period on August 27, 2007.

Chronology

  • July 6, 1953 born

  • October 3, 1968 at age fifteen he stabbed his female neighbour and received eighteen months probation

  • July 25, 1974 sentenced to 5 to 9 years imprisonment for rape aged 21

  • 1979 approximately two months after his release from prison, Dupas again molested women in four separate attacks over a ten day period.

  • February 28, 1980 Dupas received a five year minimum prison sentence for three charges of assault with intent to rape, malicious wounding, assault with intent to rob, and indecent assault.

  • 1985 February released from prison

  • June 28, 1985 Dupas was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment for rape that was committed four days after his release from prison. Less than two years after his release from prison, Dupas was arrested on charges of false imprisonment over an incident at Lake Eppalock during January 1994

  • August 18, 1994 after entering a guilty plea to one count of false imprisonment, Dupas was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment, with a minimum period of two years and nine months.

  • 1996 September Dupas released from prison

  • October 4, 1997 The murdered body of Margaret Josephine Maher was discovered.

  • November 4, 1997 Mersina Halvagis murdered. Body discovered the next day.

  • April 19, 1999 The murdered body of Nicole Amanda Patterson was discovered.

  • April 22, 1999 police arrested Dupas

  • August 22, 2000 Sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Nicole Patterson with no minimum period.

  • August 16, 2004 Dupas was convicted of the murder of Maher and sentenced to a second term of life imprisonment.

  • September 11, 2006 police charged Dupas with the murder of Mersina Halvagis August 9, 2007 Dupas was convicted of the murder of Mersina Halvagis.

  • August 27, 2007 Dupas sentenced to serve life imprisonment for the murder of Mersina Halvagis.

  • September 17, 2009 Dupas' appeal upheld against conviction for the murder of Mersina Halvagis, verdict set aside.

Wikipedia.org



R v Dupas [2000] VSC 356 (22 August 2000)

SUPREME COURT OF VICTORIA

CRIMINAL DIVISION

No. 1524 of 1999

THE QUEEN v. PETER NORRIS DUPAS

JUDGE: VINCENT, J.

HIS HONOUR:

  1. Peter Norris Dupas, you have been found guilty by the jury empanelled upon your trial in this Court of the murder at Northcote in the State of Victoria on the 19th day of April 1999 of Nicole Amanda Patterson.

     

  2. It is now my responsibility to impose sentence upon you.

     

  3. Miss Patterson, who was 28 years of age at the time, carried on practice as a qualified psychotherapist and youth counsellor. She worked at the Ardoch Centre, an organization which endeavours to assist homeless or disadvantaged young people, and she also assisted in activities associated with the Australian Drug Foundation.

     

  4. However, she had an ambition to develop her own private practice. To this end, she inserted an advertisement in a local newspaper circulating in the Northcote area in which she lived. It indicated that Miss Patterson engaged in the counselling of persons with respect to relationship and sexuality problems. The advertisement also made clear that strict confidentiality concerning any disclosures made by clients to her would be maintained. I suspect, but do not find, that your interest was excited by these references as you are a secretive individual with very disturbed sexuality.

     

  5. When and how you learned that the person who inserted the advertisement was an extremely attractive young woman is unknown. Perhaps, as the prosecutor suggested to you in cross-examination, you saw a photograph of Miss Patterson which appeared in a local newspaper, although you denied this was the case.

     

  6. However your attention was attracted to her, it is evident that you must have selected her as a potential victim some time before her death. Without initially appreciating the significance of the answer in the course of cross-examination, you made the startling admission that you first attempted to contact her by calling her on a public telephone a day or so before 3 March 1999, that is, approximately six weeks before she was killed.

     

  7. You claimed that you are unable to recall where the particular telephone was located and you were evasive when asked about your reason for adopting this course, rather than ringing her from your home. It is highly likely that you were already seriously contemplating the possibility of attacking her at that time.

     

  8. I doubt that we will ever learn how you went about the task of gaining the information that you required to assess the extent of her vulnerability so that you could feel confident about the safety of proceeding further, including the need to ensure that Miss Patterson would be alone and unsuspecting at the time that you chose to put your intentions into effect.

     

  9. Although you had obtained her mobile telephone number and would probably have experienced little difficulty in speaking to her had you really wished to do so, for some unexplained reason you made a number of telephone calls to her home between 3 March and 12 April when the appointment for you to see her was made. There is, in the circumstances, force in the prosecutor's contention that you were stalking Miss Patterson trying to ascertain her movement patterns and endeavouring to determine whether there was ever anyone else present in the house in which she lived and conducted her practice.

     

  10. It is also clear from the history of your earlier offences that you possess the ability to present yourself as quite inoffensive to those to may be described as your targets, so that your unsuspecting victims are caught unawares when you strike. I have little doubt that on the occasions on which you did speak to Miss Patterson you adopted the same approach, exercising significant skills in manipulation.

     

  11. Ultimately on the morning of Monday 19 April 1999, and not long after your partner, Miss Cruz, with whom you were living in a house at Pascoe Vale, left for work, you set out for your victim's home. She was, it appears clear, expecting a client named Malcolm who was suffering from depression, as those words were found on a note in her handwriting that was subsequently located by the police.

     

  12. One of the relatively few statements that you had made in the witness box which I accept is that you indicated in the telephone conversations which led to the appointment being made that you were experiencing problems in your relationship with your partner arising from a low level of self-esteem. You stated in your evidence that she was nice to you and responded to your concerns. This would have been exactly the situation which you were hoping to achieve.

     

  13. I have no doubt that Miss Patterson experienced no sense of danger as she prepared for an appointment with a client who had presented such issues and who was to see her at the innocent hour of 9 o'clock on a Monday morning.

     

  14. She almost certainly felt comfortable and secure in the safety of her own home in a normal suburban street at that hour and on an ordinary working day.

     

  15. We are unlikely ever to know precisely what took place upon your arrival or for how long you were present in the house before you commenced a savage attack upon Miss Patterson. The terror experienced by her at that moment, which you had contemplated in your perverted imagination and for which you had carefully planned, now became a terrible reality. You struck at her again and again, using a knife capable of inflicting deep wounds. That weapon has never been found.

     

  16. Defensive injuries to her hands provide silent evidence of her unsuccessful attempts to defend herself against what must have been a sustained and determined assault.

     

  17. Altogether Miss Patterson received 27 stab wounds. Her breasts were completely cut from her body, probably, but not necessarily, after death in a depraved act of contempt. They were never located and it appears likely that in a further act of obscenity they were taken as a kind of trophy.

     

  18. After checking the house to ensure that there was nothing left which might incriminate you, and collecting her handbag and driver's licence, also presumably as trophies, you returned to your home where you resumed your normal daily activities as if nothing had occurred and with your urge to kill, at least temporarily, sated.

     

  19. At that stage, you must have felt reasonably confident that you were safe from detection. But you had made two mistakes. First, although you had given the false name Malcolm and had provided Miss Patterson with a false telephone number, the number was, in fact, that of a student who you had engaged to do labouring work for you.

     

  20. Second, although you appear to have partially searched the premises, you had not seen Miss Patterson's diary which was underneath some other items on a couch in the living room. It contained a reference to the appointment and, importantly, the incriminating telephone number. Not surprisingly, when the investigating police members became aware of your possible connection with that number, you quickly came under suspicion. You were arrested and a search of your house was conducted, in the course of which important evidence that led to your conviction was found.

     

  21. As this summary suggests, there is much that is unknown concerning the selection of your victim, the preparations which you undertook to gain access to her and exactly what took place when you arrived at her home.

     

  22. However, the information that has emerged enables the finding to be made beyond reasonable doubt, in my opinion, that you regarded Nicole Patterson as nothing more than prey to be entrapped and killed. Her life, youth and personal qualities assumed importance in your mind only by reason of the sense of satisfaction and power which you experienced in taking them from her.

     

  23. For the normal decent members of this community, it is difficult to comprehend that anyone could have acted as you did. There is absolutely nothing in the circumstances which could conceivably be regarded as extenuating in any possible way. You are reasonably intelligent and cannot be described as suffering any mental illness as that term is currently understood. You did not act impulsively or in a state of high emotion, whether engendered by some external incident or otherwise, or whilst you were affected by alcohol or drugs. Rather, you carried out your crime with remorseless deliberation and after careful manipulation of the situation, in full understanding of the significance of your actions. Your level of personal culpability must be regarded, accordingly, as extremely high.

     

  24. Viewed from the perspective of the community which this Court represent, your offence constitutes a profoundly serious example of the most serious crime known to our society. That degree of seriousness and the unequivocal denunciation of conduct of the kind in which you engaged must be reflected in the response of this Court.

     

  25. You have breached the most fundamental principle upon which any decent society must be based; the sanctity of the life of each of those who dwell peacefully in it. In so doing, I have no doubt that you have increased significantly the regrettably understandable level of fear experienced, I would suggest, by almost every woman in this society that she may become the victim of sexual violence. The Court in a case such as the present one must, through the sentences that is impose, assert commitment to this principle and make it perfectly clear that such behaviour will not be tolerated. The courts must endeavour to deter those who may be inclined to act in this way.

     

  26. I have read the victim-impact statements which have been made by a number of the members of the deceased's friends and family, and once again found myself deeply saddened by the complex range of emotions which are experienced by people in their position as they endeavour to come to terms with the enormity of what has happened. It is, I think, the almost inevitable consequence of the commission of such a crime that there will be some who will be so deeply affected that they may never recover. Others will cope one way or another and more or less adequately, but the lives of all who are close to the victim will be irrevocably changed. They too are appropriately designated as victims.

     

  27. With respect to the victim-impact statements I repeat comments that I made not that long ago in R v. Beckett, unreported, 20 August 1998:

    "The introduction of such statements was not, as I see it, intended to effect any change in the sentencing principles which govern the exercise of discretion by a sentencing judge. What such statements do is to introduce in a more specific way factors which a Court would ordinarily have considered in a broader context. They constitute a reminder of what might be described as the human impact of crime. They draw to the attention of the judge, who would, of necessity, have to consider the possible and probable consequences of criminal behaviour, not only its significance to society in general but the actual effect of a specific crime upon those who have been intimately affected by it. The statements provide an opportunity for those whose lives are often tragically altered by criminal behaviour to draw to the court's attention the damage and sense of anguish which has been created and which can often be of very long duration. To that extent, they relate to an aspect of the criminal law to which reference is not often made. They play their part in achieving what might be termed social and individual rehabilitation. Rehabilitation, in this sense, is not perceived from the perspective of the offender, but from that of those persons who have sustained loss and damage by reason of the commission of an offence. To that extent, statements of this kind place the crime in a wider and yet paradoxically more specific context to be considered by a judge when imposing sentence. This notion of social rehabilitation to which I have referred is one that I do not believe has been accorded anything approaching significant recognition as an identifiable underlying object of the criminal justice system. It seems to me that the process of social and personal recovery which we attempt to achieve in order to ameliorate the consequences of crime can be impeded or facilitated by the response of the courts. The imposition of a sentence often constitutes both a practical and ritual completion of a protracted painful period. If the balancing of values represented by the system is perceived as just, the process of recovery will be assisted. If not, there will be created within the minds of those directly affected by the crime, and the wider community generally, a sense of injustice and hurt and of the failure of the system that may never be removed."

     

  28. At a fundamental level, as human beings, you present for us the awful, threatening and unanswerable question - how did you come to be as you are?

     

  29. Accordingly, I now turn to your personal background.

     

  30. I note that you have an appalling criminality history, involving repeated acts of sexual violence and which extends over approximately 30 years. I do not think that I need set out the detail of the various crimes which you have committed in these remarks. It is sufficient for present purposes, I think, to state that you have admitted 16 prior convictions involving 6 court appearances, between 27 March 1972 and 11 November 1994.

     

  31. However, I will append the presentment on which they are set out, and the sentencing remarks of three of the four County Court judges before whom you appeared, to the written version of these remarks. Unfortunately, although extensive searches have been made, I have been unable to locate the remarks of Judge Lazarus who dealt with you in 1980.

     

  32. All of the offences were sexually related or motivated. A number of them involved physical violence and use of a knife. On three separate appearances you were sentenced to terms of imprisonment for the commission of rape, aggravated rape or assault with intent to rape. On the second and third of those occasions, you committed your offences within a very short time of your release from custody. It appears that the only periods during which you were at large in the community without committing offences were two periods of approximately 12 months each during which you were subject to strict parole conditions following your release from prison in 1992 and 1996. However, it was not long after that form of control was lifted by the expiration of the sentence to which it was related that you reverted to your usual type of criminal behaviour.

     

  33. I suspect that these periods simply reflect an ability to exercise a considerable degree of control over your underlying impulses which were then released when you considered that it was safe to do so and they emphasize your resistance to any rehabilitation endeavour.

     

  34. I have considered the substantial amount of material which was provided to the Court in anticipation of the possibility that an attempt might be made to introduce evidence of propensity in the trial. Although it was subsequently not considered to be necessary by the prosecutor to proceed on that basis, the various statements, transcripts and reports present a clear and elaborate history of your background and personality.

     

  35. You were born on 6 July 1953. You were the youngest of three children born into what appears to have been a fairly normal family. The suggestion was advanced by Mr Brustman in the course of presenting a plea on your behalf that the family environment may not have been as unproblematic as it appears from the various reports in the material. However, he did not contend there was anything in that environment that could provide a plausible explanation for your early development of significant personality problems. You attended high school and left at the age of 17 years after completing Form 5. You later obtained your HSC whilst in custody. It is apparent that you are intelligent and there has never been any suggestion, as I understand the situation, that you have been the victim of neglect or abuse.

     

  36. The genesis of your impulse to attack and sexually assault females can only be the subject of speculation, but it was recognized at a quite early stage. There are constant references to the danger which you pose to potential victims in the documents. Dr Bartholomew, a recognized expert in the area, reported, for example, in 1974:

    "I am reasonably certain that this youth has a serious psycho-sexual problem, that he is using the technique of denial as a coping device and this he is to be seen as potentially dangerous."

     

  37. That potential has been repeatedly demonstrated over the years.

     

  38. You are now 47 years with a deeply entrenched desire to engage in sexually violent behaviour. In this context, I have referred to your criminal history, but I note that the member of the counsel who represented you in the County Court in 1974 informed the sentencing judge of an incident in 1968 when you would have been only 14 years of age and in which you attacked and wounded a female neighbour with a knife. I understand that you appeared before the Children's Court in relation to that matter and were placed on probation for a period of 18 months.

     

  39. Whether or not the situation may have been different had there been available at that time the early intervention programs which are now conducted must remain a matter of idle conjecture. In any event, the position with which I am confronted is patently clear. You have committed an horrendous crime in circumstances meriting the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment for life.

     

  40. There is absolutely nothing in the material before the Court to suggest that the serious risk which you pose would diminish other than perhaps as a consequence of physical infirmity associated with age. Setting to one side, your categorization under the law as a serious sexual offender and the obligation imposed by legislation to regard the protection of the public as the paramount sentencing consideration in your situation, commonsense would dictate that this must be the case.

     

  41. You have not responded in anything remotely approaching an appropriate fashion to sentences of imprisonment, psychiatric treatment or community supervision. Realistically considered, the prospects of your eventual rehabilitation must be regarded as so close to hopeless that they can be effectively discounted. There is no indication whatever that you have experienced any sense of remorse for what you have done, and I doubt that you are capable of any such human response.

     

  42. I have had regard to the sentences which have been imposed by the Court over recent years upon persons who have committed the crime of murder in circumstances of sexually motivated violence.

     

  43. I have considered the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal in R v. Denyer [1995] 1 V.R. 186 and those of the Court of Appeal in R v. Coulston [1977] 2 V.R. 446 and R v. Lowe [1977] 2 V.R. 465 which were all cases in which no minimum term was fixed by the sentencing judge.

     

  44. When regard is had to the seriousness of the crime which you committed and the other sentencing considerations to which I have adverted, including your high level of culpability, the nature of the offence which you committed, the need to protect the community from the risk that you will continue to present for the foreseeable future, the total lack of remorse and the absence of any significant prospect of rehabilitation, only one course can sensibly be seen to remain. You must as a consequence of the commission of the terrible crime which has brought you before this Court be removed permanently from the society upon whose female members you have preyed for over 30 years. I do not consider that it would be appropriate to fix a minimum term in your case.

     

  45. The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned for the rest of your natural life and without the opportunity for release on parole.

     

  46. I declare that the period of 489 days that you have undergone as pre-sentence detention be reckoned as having been served under the sentence hereby imposed and I direct that this declaration and its details be entered in the records of the Court.

    *****

    APPENDIX A

    COUNT - And the Director of Public Prosecutions further presents that the said

    PETER NORRIS DUPAS

    Was previously convicted at the Magistrates' Court at Oakleigh on the 27th day of March, 1972 of

    Being found on premises without lawful excuse

    and was sentenced to pay a fine of $50 in default to be imprisoned for a period of 14 days.

    COUNT - And the Director of Public Prosecutions further presents that the said

    PETER NORRIS DUPAS

    Was previously convicted at the Magistrates' Court at Dromana on the 2nd day of April, 1974 of

    Loitering with the intent to commit a felony;

    Behaving in an offensive manner in a public place

    and was sentenced to pay a fine of $100 in default to be imprisoned for a period of 20 days on the 1st charge, the matter having been found proven the charge was adjourned to a date not exceeding one month on the 2nd charge.

    COUNT - And the Director of Public Prosecutions further presents that the said

    PETER NORRIS DUPAS

    Was previously convicted at the County Court at Melbourne on the 1st day of July, 1974 of

    Rape, housebreaking and stealing;

    Housebreaking; and

    Housebreaking and stealing

    and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 9 years in relation to the first count and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 6 months in relation to each of counts 2 and 3 such sentences to be served concurrently with each other and concurrently with the sentence imposed in relation to the first count making a total effective sentence of 9 years and he was ordered to serve a minimum of 5 years before being eligible for parole.

    COUNT - And the Director of Public Prosecutions further presents that the said

    PETER NORRIS DUPAS

    Was previously convicted at the County Court at Melbourne on the 2nd day of June, 1980 of

    Rape;

    Assault with intent to rape (3 counts);

    Malicious wounding;

    Assault with intent to rob; and

    Indecent assault

    and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 5 years in relation to the first count, sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 4 years in relation to the second count, with 3½ years of such sentence to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed on the first count and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 3 years in relation to each of counts 3 and 4 with 2½ years of such sentences to be served concurrently with each other and concurrently with the sentence imposed in relation to the first count and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 3 years in relation to the fifth count such sentence to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed on the first count and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 2 years in relation to the sixth count such sentence to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed on the first count and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 12 months in relation to the seventh count such sentence to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed on the first count making a total effective sentence of 6½ years and he was ordered to serve a minimum of 5 years before being eligible for parole.

    COUNT - And the Director of Public Prosecutions further presents that the said

    PETER NORRIS DUPAS

    Was previously convicted at the County Court at Melbourne on the 3rd day of June, 1985 of

    Aggravated rape;

    Indecent assault with aggravating circumstances

    and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 12 years in relation to the first count, sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 6 years in relation to the second count such sentence to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed on the first count and was ordered to serve a minimum of 10 years before being eligible for parole.

    COUNT - And the Director of Public Prosecutions further presents that the said

    PETER NORRIS DUPAS

    Was previously convicted at the County Court at Bendigo on the 21st day of November, 1994 of

    False imprisonment

    and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of 3 years and 9 months and he was ordered to serve a minimum of 2 years and 9 months before being eligible for parole.

    APPENDIX B

    R. v. PETER NORRIS DUPAS

    Monday 30 September 1974

    1. Peter Norris Dupas, you were found guilty at your trial on one count of rape, one count of housebreaking and stealing, and one count of housebreaking with intent to commit a felony. Leaving aside the so-called pack rapes, this was one of the worst rapes that could be imagined. You raped a young married woman who was previously unknown to you in her own home and on her own bed. You invaded the sanctity of her home by a false story about your car having broken down, relying upon her willingness to help in order to gain admission. You threatened her with a knife, you tied her up with cord, you struck her when she tried to resist, and, worst of all, you threatened to harm her baby when she tried to resist. This was no sudden impulse, because you must have left home that morning armed with a knife and provided with the cord to bind your victim. One prior conviction was alleged. In 1972 you were convicted of being found on premises without lawful excuse; that offence had apparently some sexual background to it. But your counsel properly disclosed an incident in 1969 in which you attacked and wounded a woman, living next door, with a knife. This was not a prior. It could not be alleged as a prior, because of an hiatus in the legislation, which has previously been pointed out by the Courts, and so I do not take it as a prior conviction, that is to say, as a matter which might add to the appropriate length of the sentence, but I must have regard to it in considering whether you are a potential danger to the community. As a consequence of this incident in 1968, you were admitted to Larundel Hospital in October of that year, but after a series of examinations you were discharged next day and attended thereafter as an out-patient. I have been given a report prepared soon after by a consultant psychiatrist, Ms Julie Jones. She considered that on that occasion you lost normal control when pent-up feelings of sexual needs and aggression overwhelmed you. This is in contrast to some extent to the crime for which you now stand for sentence, because, as I have pointed out, you set out from home prepared for what you eventually did. In view of this history I have obtained pre-sentence and psychiatric reports. Dr. Bartholomew conducted a very thorough investigation, but found it difficult to make any definite diagnostic statement in the absence of any admissions by you. He is reasonably certain that you have a serious psycho-sexual problem and you are to be seen as potentially dangerous. The problem of potential danger to the community is also adverted to in the report of a psychologist who tested you. A fortnight after the rape you entered the homes of two women in a different suburb, using the same false pretence as you used at Mitcham. In one house you stole some money; in the other you did not commit a further crime; but the jury has found you entered with intent to commit a felony, but in that case the woman told you she was expecting her husband home shortly, which may explain why you went no further. These further matters are additional reasons why I am unable to accept that the rape was committed in sudden impulse. All these offences would seem to have been premeditated. Moreover, whilst accepting that you are psychologically disturbed, I believe you were fully responsible for your actions. The attempt after the rape to establish a partial alibi helps to establish this. In view of the potential danger to the community which you present, there is obviously no alternative but to sentence you to a term of imprisonment. In determining what the length of that sentence should be, I have regard not only to the seriousness of the offences, but also to your youth, your background, the reports I have received, the evidence of the witness who was called on your behalf, and several references which were submitted. On the count of rape you are sentenced to be imprisoned for nine years, and on each of the breaking counts to six months' imprisonment, cumulative upon each other, but each concurrent with the sentence on the first. That makes a total of nine years, and I fix five years as the term to be served before you become eligible for parole. Remove the prisoner.

    APPENDIX C

    R. v. PETER NORRIS DUPAS

    Friday 28 June 1985

    Before His Honour Judge Leckie

    County Court

    1. Peter Norris Dupas you have pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault with aggravating circumstances and one count of rape with aggravating circumstances.

    2. The evidence in relation to these offences is that you went in your motor car to the beach in the vicinity of Blairgowrie, got out of the car, taking with you a knife, with the intention of using that knife - should the opportunity present itself - to frighten a female so that you could have intercourse with her.

    3. You went down on to the beach and this girl, Margaret Bathman was there and you followed her round for some time and then, coming behind her, you forced your arm across her throat and forced her down to the ground, threatened her with the knife, and took her bathing costume off and raped her against her will and without her consent. It must have been a horrifying experience for her.

    4. I do not go into those details just for the record, because, on the evidence which I have had before me this morning there seems to be a very good chance - if you were at large again - that some other girl might suffer in the same way.

    5. You have admitted prior convictions and these are of immediate concern to me. Apart from some minor matters dealt with in the Magistrates' Court, which apparently were sexually related, you were convicted in July of 1974 of rape and with other offences related to the rape, and were sentenced to a total of nine years' imprisonment with a minimum of five years before becoming eligible for parole.

    6. In June of 1980 you were convicted, amongst other offences, of indecent assault, rape and assault with intent to rape, and that was the occasion upon which Dr. Myers gave evidence. You were sentenced then, with concurrencies, to a total period of six and a half years with a minimum of five years before becoming eligible for parole. In other words, in view of the sentence imposed on the earlier offence of rape, it becomes clear that Judge Lazarus accepted what Dr. Myers then told him and imposed what, on the face of it, appeared to be a light sentence, for the purposes of seeing whether you could be rehabilitated and could be allowed at large in the community.

    7. That attempt failed miserably because, I am told, it was within a month of your release upon parole that you committed these present offences. One cannot help by being struck with the fact that if the sentence which appeared to be appropriate - leaving aside the question of rehabilitation - had been imposed, this girl would not have suffered as she did.

    8. Now, the question is what can I do? I have got that dreadful example of what did happen in front of me. Dr. Myers puts it that, without specific treatment, there is a strong probability of your re-offending, that the recidivism rate in cases of your type is between 80% and 90% or even higher and he acceded to counsel's expression that "You carried a loaded time bomb in your pocket".

    9. Consequently, I think, the question of releasing you at this stage is not to be considered. The community, I am sure would be both outraged and apprehensive if that were to be done. But what is suggested is that a further attempt upon your subsequent release should be made to give you the appropriate treatment including the medication of Depo Provera if no other drug is then considered effective, with of course no guarantee that even that would be effective.

    10. The situation is that I am not empowered to prescribe conditions of parole when you are eventually released. So I have no guarantee - even in any order that I could make - that you would receive that treatment.

    11. I accept readily that you feel remorse and that you endeavour to overcome this enormous urge which you must have. But quite simply, I am not prepared to run the risk of some other girl being attacked by you in the same fashion.

    12. I think the only course open to me, because I am of the opinion that a custodial sentence is the only course open having considered all the other alternatives, I think I can only impose what I regard as the appropriate sentence for the offence, and apply that in contemplation of the earlier offences because not only are these offences accompanied by aggravating circumstances - that you carried a knife with you an offensive weapon - but because of the prior convictions, there are six other grounds upon which each of these offences is accompanied by aggravated circumstances, in accordance with the provisions of the Crimes Act. One must have sympathy for you but the community must also be protected.

    13. On the first count of indecent assault with aggravating circumstances you are sentenced to be imprisoned for six years. On the second count of rape with aggravating circumstances you are sentenced to be imprisoned for twelve years. The two offences were really one, a rolled up matter, and consequently I make those two sentences concurrent, making a total of twelve years. I fix ten years as the minimum term to be served before you become eligible for parole.

    3. APPENDIX D

    R. v. PETER NORRIS DUPAS

    Monday 21 November 1994

    Before His Honour Judge Hart

    County Court

     

  47. You have pleaded guilty to one count of false imprisonment which occurred on 3 January of this year. On that day a lady aged about 26 years was picnicking at Lake Eppalock. At about 11.30 a.m. she left her friends and walked some 150 metres to a public toilet block, she entered a cubicle and removed her shorts and sat there. As she was getting up, you entered the cubicle, forcing the door open and wielding a knife. You were wearing a hood with eye-holes and holding the knife towards her face. She attempted to fend off the knife and suffered lacerations to her left hand. You kept telling her to turn around and you were trying to force her to turn around and face the rear, but she resisted this. You took her arm and led her out of the cubicle and at the exit of the toilet block, unexpectedly let her go and told her to go off.

     

  48. You then entered your own car and drove away. She alerted her friends who chased you in their car, caught you and restrained you until the police arrived.

     

  49. In your pockets you had a roll of insulation tape and a pair of metal handcuffs. She would not have known this at the time but no doubt had learned of these items subsequently and they would have no doubt confirmed her worst fears that she was to be raped and perhaps otherwise injured or even worse. Her statement indicates that this was her state of mind during her detention and it was a very reasonable view to hold in the circumstances.

     

  50. As can only be expected, this experience has had a terrible, immediate and lasting effect on her. Apart from her physical lacerations, she suffered emotional and psychological detriments which persist. She required constant counselling for some two months and suffered nightmares, re-enacting the events which, fortunately, are reducing in frequency. She has required sedatives for sleeping and the need for these is again, fortunately tapering off and she has continuing fears of certain places and circumstances. Hopefully these problems will reduce or even abate with time but there is no way of knowing with confidence. She may suffer from these troubles for years or even for her life and her situation may deteriorate.

     

  51. Learning of your prior convictions which I have no doubt she has, will have been yet another factor confirming her original fear and perhaps compounding it.

     

  52. Mr. Dupas, your prior convictions and criminal history are breathtaking.

     

  53. On 1 July 1974 you were convicted of rape and associated offences and sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of nine years with a minimum of five years. You were released on parole on 4 September 1979.

     

  54. Very shortly after your release you offended again in a similar manner and on 2 June 1980 you were convicted again of rape and associated offences and violence was involved. You were sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of six and a half years with a minimum of five years.

     

  55. You were released on 27 February 1985 and again very shortly after release, offended in yet the same way. On 3 June 1985 you were convicted of aggravated rape and sentenced to imprisonment for a period of twelve years with a minimum of ten.

     

  56. From this sentence you were paroled in March of 1992. In this instance and uncharacteristically, there was a gap of almost two years to this offence. This offence is not a sexual offence nor a violent offence nor a serious violent offence as those terms are defined and you are not subject, in this case, to the penalties introduced by the Sentencing (Amendment) Act 1993 although you will clearly be found to be a serious sexual offender, as defined, should you ever be convicted of a sexual offence or a violent offence in the future.

     

  57. Whilst your motivation for this offence is a matter proper for me to consider in assessing your moral culpability and I infer that your motive was to commit an offence of a sexual nature, I remind myself that no matter what the victim might have thought your purpose was, nor what I might think your purpose was, the offence cannot be elevated or altered thereby to an offence other than what it is and I must sentence you for the offence of false imprisonment and for nothing else.

     

  58. That offence, especially in the following circumstances, is nonetheless a serious and significant offence, high on the scale of gravity of such offences. It was not spontaneous, it was planned and you must have been watching and waiting nearby. Steps were taken to conceal your identity, a weapon was used and other equipment was at hand, if required. It was an offence carried out on a single, by that I mean a lone defenceless woman in degrading circumstances in the seclusion of an isolated toilet block when she was separated from her friends and at your mercy. It was calculated to and did engender terror into her mind. It involved a physical assault and the likely consequence of using a knife eventuated. It was a significant affront to her and a serious violation of her rights and self-esteem. What is more, it was carried out by a person with the prior convictions and criminal history that you have.

     

  59. As was said in Veen (No. 2) [1988] HCA 14; (1988) 33 A.Crim.R. 230 at pp.238-9:

    "The antecedent criminal history of an offender is a factor which may be taken into account in determining the sentence to be imposed but it cannot be given such weight as to lead to the imposition of a penalty which is disproportionate to the gravity of the instant offence. To do so would be to impose a fresh penalty for past offences, see the DPP and Ottowell. The antecedent criminal history is relevant, however, to show whether the instant offence is an uncharacteristic aberration or whether the offender has manifested in his commission of the instant offence a continuing attitude of disobedience to the law. In the latter case, retribution, deterrence and protection of society may all indicate that a more severe penalty is warranted. It is legitimate to take account of the antecedent criminal history when it illuminates the moral culpability of the offender in the instant case or shows his dangerous propensity or shows a need to impose condign punishment to deter the offender or other offenders from committing further offences of a like kind."

    2. Deterrence, both special and general looms large as a sentencing consideration in this matter, but again I remind myself that you are not subject to the provisions of the Sentencing (Amendment) Act 1993 and that I must punish you only for the offence charged and not for what I think you were going to do, but did not.

    3. The only matters that I can think of which tend, to some extent, to mitigate the gravity of the offence and your criminality are that it was mercifully short. That is, the detention was over in minutes, although I am sure it seemed a much longer period for the girl and that you released her voluntarily and not because you were disturbed or prevented from continuing. I do not know why you did this but it is an important matter in your favour, indeed, a very important matter.

    4. By ceasing when you did, although you had already offended as I have outlined, you spared the girl the terrible fate you originally intended and which she expected and you acted in such a manner as to give rise to at least the hope and perhaps the prospect that realisation of the significance of what you are about to do activated your conscience in such a way as had not happened on the occasions of your previous offences. I cannot, therefore, preclude the possibility of rehabilitation notwithstanding that your history suggests otherwise.

    5. You are aged 41 years, you have come from a good family. You were a poor student, leaving school at Form 5. You then completed an apprenticeship but soon thereafter at age 21, received the first prison term that I have spoken of.

    6. Whilst serving your last prison term, you married and, on release, lived with your wife happily until about six months before this offence. You completed your parole but did express fears to your Parole Officers that upon completion, you would be left without the supervision and assistance you needed and here, again, is perhaps a glimmer of conscience shining through.

    7. Whilst you have been in custody awaiting trial you have twice attempted suicide and you had made similar attempts in 1985 and 1986. I wrote this at the time when I originally prepared my reasons, at that stage you were currently prescribed anti-depressant tablets.

    8. Any time you spend in prison will no doubt be "done hard", as they say, because of the nature of the offences and because of the prison culture.

    9. You pleaded guilty to this offence at an earlyish time and thereby spared the victim the trauma of a trial and I take into account that plea in reduction of what might otherwise have been the appropriate sentence and the plea, is again, consistent with the hints of conscience that I have referred to.

    10. I bear in mind s.10 of the Sentencing Act and the need to scale down, as it were, the appropriate sentences to take account of the abolition of remissions. I have sought to find some points of reference or guides from decided cases as to the proper sentence in this case. The nearest I can find is the case of Lakeland (unreported) 19 November 1993 referred to by counsel. There are, of course, many differences between your case and that of Lakeland. For example, the period of imprisonment in Lakeland was much longer. Lakeland went on to commit a number of sexual offences on his victim. He did not plead guilty and in any event I do not know the details of his prior convictions. Nonetheless, that case has been of some assistance in my sentencing task as has been the case of Rizzo & Ors. 21 June 1994 to some extent.

    11. Mr. Dupas, I sentence you to be imprisoned for a period of three years and nine months. I fix a non-parole period of two years and nine months and, although I am not clear whether there is any balance owing, as it were, to the Parole Board, but so that there is no doubt about it, I order that the sentence be served cumulatively upon the balance, if any, of any sentence ordered to be served by the Adult Parole Board.

    12. I declare pursuant to s.18 that the period of 323 days be reckoned as already served pursuant to this sentence and I will cause the records of the court to be endorsed accordingly.


R v Dupas [2004] VSC 281 (16 August 2004)

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF VICTORIA

AT MELBOURNE

CRIMINAL DIVISION

No. 1503 of 2003

THE QUEEN v PETER NORRIS DUPAS

JUDGE: KAYE J.

HIS HONOUR:

  1. Peter Norris Dupas, you have been found guilty by the jury empanelled upon your trial in this Court of the murder of Margaret Josephine Maher on 4 October 1997 at Somerton.

     

  2. You are already serving a term of life imprisonment, without a non-parole period, imposed on you by order of this Court on 22 August 2000. Notwithstanding that any sentence which I now impose will not have any practical effect on your disposition, nevertheless the process of sentencing you for the murder of Margaret Maher should not be considered to be an academic or futile exercise.

     

  3. The functions and purposes of sentencing are not confined to questions of punishment and deterrence of you as the offender. Importantly, they also include the denunciation by this Court of your conduct, and in particular the public condemnation of the intentional taking by you of the life of Margaret Josephine Maher. Secondly, the process of sentencing involves the imposition by this Court of a just punishment for what is a very serious offence, and the vindication of the rights of the victim, who is deceased, and of those who are left behind to struggle with the grief and trauma occasioned by her violent murder. Thirdly, in a case such as this, the principle of general deterrence is an important consideration in the determination of an appropriate sentence.

     

  4. The Crown case against you was circumstantial. It is not therefore possible to draw conclusions as to the precise circumstances in which Margaret Maher met her end. It is clear from the verdict that the jury accepted that Margaret Maher was last seen alive when she departed from the Safeway supermarket at Broadmeadows Town Shopping Centre at 12.20 a.m. on 4 October 1997, and was seen walking in the direction of Pascoe Vale Road. The circumstances in which her body was found located by the side of Cliffords Road, Somerton shortly before 2.00 p.m. on the same day indicate that you had murdered her at a different location, and then dumped and left her mutilated body where it was found.

     

  5. The evidence was that you commenced work on that day at 6.38 a.m. The pathologist who attended the scene and later conducted the autopsy, Dr Lynch, placed the likely time of death between 9.00 p.m. on 3 October and 7.00 a.m. on 4 October. It is therefore apparent that you murdered Margaret Maher in the early hours of 4 October after you either met her or intercepted her, probably while she was travelling along or in the vicinity of the Hume Highway, as she often did.

     

  6. The evidence of Dr Lynch was that there were three possible causes of death, namely, drug toxicity, advanced coronary artery disease, and the application of compression to the neck. By its verdict the jury accepted that death resulted from compression of the neck. The jury came to that view based on injuries which were found on the neck, considered in the context of other injuries to the deceased, including a wound caused by blunt trauma over the right eyebrow and lacerations to the right arm. In addition, either shortly before or immediately after death, there was a stab wound inflicted to the deceased's left wrist with a sharp implement.

     

  7. Whatever the precise circumstances, it is clear that the jury accepted that you compressed the deceased's neck with the intention either to kill her or to cause her really serious injury. There has been no suggestion that there was any legal justification for you killing Margaret Maher.

     

  8. After you murdered her, you then mutilated the deceased's body in the manner which has already been described to the jury, and left it by the side of a road, in a desolate place, as a disgusting display of loathing for the deceased and contempt for her dignity. Not content with what you had done to her in life, you robbed her of her dignity in death. Those actions are, I consider, an eloquent insight into the unmitigated evil which actuated you to kill Margaret Maher and to behave as you did.

     

  9. The offence for which you have been found guilty is the most serious crime known to our legal system. It involved the intentional deprivation by you of the life of another human being. You have violated the most sacred and unique right any person has, namely, the right to live his or her life as they wish. Margaret Maher had the same right to life as each and every other member of our community. You have taken that from her, and have thereby done the greatest wrong known to our law. Your act has also deprived those who loved her of their daughter, sister and mother. Victim impact statements have been produced to me and I have read them. Those statements are a salutary and specific reminder of the trauma, grief and anguish your actions have caused, and will undoubtedly continue to cause for the indefinite future, to those left struggling with their bereavement for the woman you so cruelly murdered.

     

  10. You have an appalling background of previous criminality. The hallmark of your previous convictions involves wanton and despicable acts of violence to defenceless women. I have had the opportunity to read the reasons for sentence in three of those cases, as they have been appended to the sentence pronounced by Vincent J when he sentenced you, in August 2000, for the murder of Nicole Patterson (R v Dupas [2000] VSC 356). They are a chilling account of some of your criminal history. It is relevant for me to briefly summarise some of the details of your record. In short, your history reveals the following:

    (1) On 25 July 1974 (30 years ago) you were convicted at the County Court at Melbourne of rape, housebreaking with intent to commit a felony, and housebreaking and stealing. A total effective sentence was imposed on you of nine years' imprisonment with a minimum term of five years. The sentencing judge described it as "one of the worst rapes that could be imagined". You broke into the house of a defenceless young married woman, threatened her with a knife, tied her up with cord, and when she tried to resist, threatened to harm her baby. The offence was clearly well planned by you. I note that the eminent psychiatrist, the late Dr Alan Bartholemew, reported in 1974 that you had a serious psychosexual problem, and that he considered you to be potentially dangerous.

    (2) Shortly after your release you offended again. On 28 February 1980 you were convicted at the County Court of rape, assault with intent to rape (3 counts), malicious wounding, assault with intent to rob, and indecent assault. The reasons for your sentence have not been located. However, at your next appearance, the judge noted that the court which sentenced you in 1980 was persuaded by a psychiatrist to impose what might be regarded as a merciful sentence in the hope that you had some prospects of rehabilitation. Accordingly a sentence of six years and six months was imposed with a minimum of five years.

    (3) The hope for your rehabilitation proved to be forlorn. Within one month of your release from prison, you offended yet again. On 28 June 1985 you were convicted at the County Court of aggravated rape and indecent assault with aggravating circumstances. The court imposed upon you a total effective sentence of 12 years' imprisonment with a minimum term of ten years. The offences occurred when you drove to a beach near Blairgowrie, got out of the car, and took a knife with you. You noticed a girl, followed her for some time, attacked her, forced her to the ground, threatened her with a knife, and raped her. The sentencing judge remarked that it must have been a horrifying experience for your unfortunate victim.

    (4) You were paroled in March 1992. Two years later, in January 1994, you offended again. On 18 August 1994 you were convicted at the County Court at Bendigo of one count of false imprisonment and were sentenced to be imprisoned for three years and nine months, with a minimum of two years and nine months. The offence occurred at Lake Eppalock. A woman picnicking there, went to a public toilet. You apparently followed her there, wearing a hood with eye holes. You entered her cubicle with a knife. She suffered lacerations to her hand when she attempted to fend off the knife. You took her arm and led her out of the cubicle. Unexpectedly you let her go and told her to go off. She alerted her friends who chased you in their car and caught you.

  11. As I understand it you were released on parole in 1996. The present offence occurred on 4 October 1997. It occurred in the context of a man who has displayed an abominable and despicable disposition to repeatedly violate the basic rights of women in our community. Insofar as the Sentencing Act requires me to take into account your character and background, this is by far the most outstanding and salient feature of it. Secondly, your record of recurrent recidivism over three decades demonstrates that there is no hope at all for your rehabilitation into society.

     

  12. As I noted at the outset of these remarks, you were further convicted in August 2000 for the murder of Nicole Patterson on 19 April 1999. You were arrested for that crime on 22 April 1999. In the present trial some of the evidence given in your previous trial was adduced again. The murder of Nicole Patterson was brutal and cold blooded. You had planned it for some time. You murdered her in her own home, when she had no prospect at all of defending herself. The evidence relating to that offence was adduced because of the striking similarity between the mutilation of Margaret Maher after her death and the mutilation which was inflicted on Nicole Patterson after you murdered her. The evidence of your further offending, and your conviction for it, although a subsequent and not a previous conviction, is relevant to your character; R v Coulston [1997] 2 VR 446 at 459; R v Poulton [1974] VR 716. It is also relevant because it cannot be said that, notwithstanding your previous violent past, the present murder for which I now sentence you was in some way or other a "diversion" from your usual conduct. In addition, the murder by you of Nicole Patterson, only 18 months after you had murdered Margaret Maher, makes it plain that you lacked the slightest recognition of the enormity of what you had done to Margaret Maher, yet alone feel even the faintest twinge of remorse for it.

     

  13. In view of your appalling criminal history, and in view of the particularly serious nature of the crime for which you have been convicted, it is only appropriate that you be sentenced to life imprisonment. Even if the murder of Nicole Patterson had never occurred, I would have no hesitation in imposing a term of life imprisonment upon you. Bearing in mind the principles discussed in R v Coulston (above), R v Denyer [1995] 1 VR 186, and R v Lowe [1997] 2 VR 465, I also consider that I should not fix a minimum term. It is clear, both in the present case and from your previous convictions for rape and like offences, that your offending is connected with a need by you to vindicate a perverted and sadistic hatred of women and a contempt for them and their right to live. As such the present offence must be characterised as being in one of the most serious categories of murders which come before this Court. You intentionally killed a harmless, defenceless woman who, like all your other victims, had no prospect of protecting herself against you. At the time you committed that offence, you had, over almost three decades, terrorised women in this State. You have repeatedly violated a central norm of a decent civilised society. Your conduct in the present case is without mitigation or palliation. There has been no recognition by you of your wrongdoing. Rather, you repeated the same offence, with even more brutality, 18 months after murdering Margaret Maher. Based on your repeated violent offences, and on the gravity of this offence, there is no prospect of your rehabilitation. Nothing was advanced on your behalf to reflect that there is even the faintest glimmer of hope for you. Even if there were, any considerations of rehabilitation must, in this case, be subordinated to the gravity of your offending, the need for the imposition of a just punishment, and the principle of general deterrence. All those circumstances combine, in my view, not only to justify, but also to require that I do not fix a minimum term.

     

  14. In addition, at the request of the Crown I declare you a serious offender for the purpose of Part 2A of the Sentencing Act 1991. That declaration will be entered in the records of the Court under s.6F of the Act.

     

  15. I also grant an order permitting retention of the sample of DNA taken from the prisoner pursuant to s.464ZFB of the Crimes Act 1958.

     

  16. The sentence of the Court is that, for the murder of Margaret Josephine Maher at Somerton on 4 October 1997, you be imprisoned for the rest of your natural life and without the opportunity for release on parole. Accordingly, the Court sentences Peter Norris Dupas to be imprisoned for the rest of his natural life and without the opportunity for release on parole.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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