‘Instinct’ may have saved hitchhiker, friend
A hitchhiker has told the Claremont serial killings trial she pulled her friend out of a Telstra vehicle at a red light after her "strong instincts" told her they were not "in a good spot".
Ex-Telstra employee Bradley Robert Edwards, 50, is on trial in the Western Australia Supreme Court, accused of murdering Sarah Spiers, 18, Jane Rimmer, 23, and Ciara Glennon, 27, in 1996 and 1997.
Annabelle Bushell, 45, testified on Wednesday she downed up to 20 full-strength middies at the Ocean Beach Hotel with her friend Trilby Smith, 42, in late 1996 when she saw a white vehicle with a Telstra logo drive past. The vehicle came by again and she remembered getting into the front passenger seat, while Ms Smith sat in the back.
Ms Bushell could not recall speaking with the driver, but said she made an excuse to get out and seized her chance at a red traffic light.
"My recollection at that point is looking up and seeing a red traffic light and just wanting to get out," she said.
"I just had a strong instinct to get out of the car and I wasn't in a good spot."
She said Ms Smith was probably half asleep and she recalled "reaching in and grabbing her to alert her that we're moving".
Ms Smith testified on Tuesday that Ms Bushell commented "that man was..." but the witness was prevented from finishing her sentence.
Ms Bushell only said she cannot remember what happened next and assumed they walked home.
While both women described a tanned man with dark hair, Ms Smith said he drove an "electrical van" because it had cables in the back and no obvious signage.
Ms Bushell agreed with defence counsel Paul Yovich that she was drunk and had minimal recollection of the man.
Another woman testified she saw a Telstra vehicle in Claremont while she waited for a taxi in the early hours of January 27, 1996 - the night Ms Spiers vanished.
Julie-Anne Johnstone, 47, said the man had been parked next to her for up to 15 minutes before he caught her attention by winding down the passenger side window and staring at her for up to 30 seconds.
It prompted her to say, "What?".
But he did not respond, so she walked away.
Her description of the man does not appear to strongly match Edwards or other accounts of a lone male Telstra driver seen in the area around the time of the murders.
Natalie Clements, 47, said on Tuesday she saw a car go by five times in about two hours one night in 1996.
A friend who was with her, Rebecca Morse, 45, told the court on Wednesday the vehicle passed up to six times.
"It was enough to be annoying - we kept thinking it was a taxi and it wasn't," she said.
The trial also heard from retired taxi driver Jaroslav Krupnik, 70, who was called to pick up Ms Spiers in the early hours of January 27, 1996, but she was not there when he arrived about two minutes later.
There was still nobody at the spot she specified a few moments later when he went past again, having picked up a different fare.
One of the last people to see Ms Spiers alive also testified. Alec Pannell, 47, said he saw a slim, young woman leaning against a post with her arms crossed, "looking around as if expecting someone".
The court also heard from Telstra payroll executive Tony Vomero, who confirmed there was no record of Edwards' assault on a Hollywood Hospital social worker in 1990 in the company's archives.
DAY EIGHT OF THE TRIAL
SARAH SPIERS' DISAPPEARANCE
* Retired Swan Taxis driver Jaroslav Krupnik, 70, was called to pick up Ms Spiers and take her to Mosman Park on the night she vanished on January 27, 1996
* He testified it took him about two minutes to arrive, he took a "glance" and no one was there so he continued to Club Bayview where he picked up three other people and took them to Mosman Park
* Alec Pannell, 47, testified via video link from the UK and said just after 2am he saw a slim, young woman leaning against a telecommunications inspection post with her arms crossed, "looking around as if expecting someone"
TELSTRA 'LIVING WITNESS' TESTIMONY
* Annabelle Bushell, 47, testified she had drunk up to 20 full-strength middies at the Ocean Beach Hotel with her friend Trilby Winsome Smith, 42, in late 1996 when she saw a white station wagon with a Telstra logo drive past
* The vehicle came by again and they got in but she soon made an excuse to get out at a red traffic light, saying she had "a strong instinct to get out of the car and I wasn't in a good spot." She opened the door and pulled her friend out
* Julie-Anne Johnstone, 47, saw a Telstra vehicle in Claremont on the night Ms Spiers vanished. The driver stared at her for up to 30 seconds, prompting her to say "what?" but he did not respond
EDWARDS' TELSTRA RECORDS
* Telstra payroll executive Tony Vomero was asked about various human resources documents and leave records for Edwards, which appeared to show he took sick leave on January 28, 1996 - the day after Ms Spiers disappeared
* It also showed he took leave without pay the day after he attacked a social worker at Hollywood Hospital in May 1990 and claimed overtime the day before he raped a 17-year-old girl at Karrakatta Cemetery
* But Mr Vomero conceded under questioning by defence counsel Paul Yovich there were anomalies in Telstra records and specific dates may refer to when leave or overtime was claimed, not necessarily when it was taken
* There was no record of Edwards' attack on a Hollywood Hospital social worker in 1990 in Telstra archives and he remained employed with the company until his arrest in December 2016
* In Edwards' successful application for a promotion in 1992, he said under "outside interests" he enjoyed camping, basketball, crabbing and restoring cars.