Our dark past: 1970s gang rape victim comes forward
THE coronial inquest into the 1974 murders of nurses Lorraine Wilson and Wendy Evans has opened a lot of old wounds in Toowoomba.
As painful as it was for one Toowoomba woman - also a victim of gang rape that year - the stirred memories prompted her to come forward yesterday and tell her story in the hope other victims will do likewise.
Pam (not her real name) was just 19 in 1974 when she was raped by two men, including a key "person of interest" in the Murphys Creek murders who she knew as "Shorty" Laurie.
"I was just 19 in 1974," she said through tears.
"I was brought up a Catholic and I was very naive, very innocent."
Like most young people of the time, Pam had been out in Toowoomba's CBD drinking and dancing one Saturday night in 1974.
At evening's end, she was offered a lift home by "Shorty" Laurie and his friend.
"I lived on the outskirts of town and wasn't worried at all," she said.
"I'd heard the Lauries had a bad reputation around Toowoomba but I thought that was just for fighting and getting drunk."
Even when she noticed they seemed to be taking the long way to her home she didn't suspect anything.
"We pulled up behind Downlands (College) near a park," Pam recalled as tears flowed down her face.
"I was in the back, Shorty drove and (the other man) was in the front.
"He (other man) climbed into the back seat and I saw that Shorty locked the doors.
"I knew instinctively that I couldn't get out, I knew there was nothing I could do.
"I just went to another place.
"I was a virgin. I still classified myself as one after that."
The pair dropped Pam off across the road from her home and sped away.
"I got thrown out at my place just on (morning) light, walked in and my father, who was a drunken violent bastard, asked me what I was doing getting home at that hour.
"I just blurted out 'I've been raped'."
The family didn't have a car or a phone and Pam was made to walk to the nearby phone box herself and call police.
She was taken to the government doctor and examined before providing a statement to police.
The police took the clothes she was wearing that night but it was the last Pam heard from them.
"I've never heard a thing from the police.
"I can't remember who the officers were that I talked to but there should be some record of it.
"Why didn't anyone get back to me?
"I was so scared I wasn't going to ring them and ask why they hadn't got back to me.
"After it all, I'd go shopping downtown like everyone else on a Saturday morning and I'd see him (Shorty's mate) across the street and I'd be left shaking.
"Then I heard that others knew he'd done it to me . . . everybody knew.
"If everyone knew it was a common occurrence around town then the police must have known and did nothing."
Shorty Laurie is dead, but Pam saw the other man about 10 years ago at a Melbourne Cup function.
"I felt sick to the stomach," she said.
"I wanted to have the courage to go up to him and sing it out to everyone there.
"I don't know if he's dead. I hope he's dead.
"He was small, a little toad and before that night (in 1974) I used to feel sorry for him," Pam said.
Pam remembers she was wearing warm slacks that night, meaning it was most likely winter time and probably around the same time as the Murphys Creek murders in 1974.
"It could have been me," she said.
Pam went on to marry her childhood sweetheart and has a daughter.
Before they were married, Pam told her husband everything.
Reading The Chronicle's reports of last week's inquest brought that horrific night back to Pam, but she was determined this time to tell her story.
"All these years anger was inside me and never had a place to go," she said.
"There must be other women who were ignored by police too."