How a Gympie policeman nailed Sian Kingi's sadistic killers
LIKE many of those involved in solving one of Australia's most horrific murders, former Gympie top cop Alan Bourke never got over the brutal killing of 12-year-old Noosa schoolgirl Sian Kingi in 1987.
It was a ruthless and sadistic crime that traumatised everyone who heard about it, including probably every parent and every high school student in the Gympie and Sunshine Coast regions.
No-one can bring back an innocent life, but it was Alan Bourke's painstaking backroom police work, combined with information from two people who were not even direct witnesses, which ultimately secured the conviction of Barrie John Watts and Valmae Faye Beck.
Their imprisonment lifted a burden of fear from young people and their parents throughout Queensland, but especially around here.
It only happened because of information from the public.
A couple bathing at Castaways Beach noticed a man acting suspiciously around vehicles in the car park.
Elizabeth Young and renowned surfboard shaper Bill Wallace felt something was wrong when they noticed Watts.
Ms Young recalled Watts' cold stare, straight through her.
The hairs stood up on the back of her neck, she said.
When Watts left the beach, they followed his vehicle.
They lost the car at Noosa Junction, as Watts disappeared through the shopping centre to Pinnaroo Park.
Less than 90 minutes later, Sian Kingi was grabbed from behind, had a cloth shoved over her mouth and was manhandled by Watts into the car.
She had been riding her bike home from the hot bread shop when Watts' wife, Valmae Beck lured Sian close by asking her to help find a missing dog.
The depraved pair had been searching for a victim and Sian had unknowingly happened upon two monsters, only a kilometre from her home.
Her muffled screams went unheard as she was driven, mouth taped and hands tied, towards the Tinbeerwah Mountain State Forest, where she would be horrifically raped, strangled and brutally stabbed and cast aside.
Luckily, Young and Wallace had done their best to make a note of the vehicle.
There were about 3000 vehicles of that type in Queensland, so the number was critical.
Even though one letter was wrong on the note, Alan Bourke kept up with all the information coming in and, when interstate police reported concerns about a couple in a similar car with a similar Queensland registration, the case became more open, ultimately leading to Watts confessing in a recorded conversation with another detainee.