It was the crime that shocked Australia – pretty 26-year-old nursing sister Anita Lorraine Cobby was found brutally murdered in a field at Prospect, in Sydney’s Western suburbs on 4 February 1986.
Anita had been dragged through a barbed wire fence and bashed, raped and then slashed twice across her throat so deeply she was almost decapitated. Both her shoulders and her fingers were broken.
Her body was found in mud two days after she disappeared. It is believed Anita was still alive when her throat was cut.
A former beauty pageant winner, Anita lived with her parents Garry and Grace Lynch at Blacktown following the break-up of her marriage.
On that fateful Sunday, Anita finished her shift at Sydney Hospital at 3pm and met friends for dinner at Redfern.
She then caught a train from Central Station to Blacktown Station, never to be seen by anyone except her murderers again.
Two days after her body was discovered, the NSW state government posted a $50,000 reward for information leading to the capture of her killers.
On 11 February police finally got their breakthrough when a frightened man telephoned them with information about local criminals John Travers, Mick Murdoch and Les Murphy.
The gang’s ringleader Travers, 19, eventually confessed to abducting and murdering Anita, along with Mick Murdoch, 18, and three Murphy Brothers – Leslie, 22, Michael, 33, and Gary, 28.
The gang was arrested and charged. At their committal hearing in July 1986, it was found that all five had a case to answer.
Despite their confessions and overwhelming evidence, they elected to plead not guilty. But on 16 June 1987, Travers and his heinous band of followers were sentenced in the Supreme Court to life in jail.
In handing down life sentences to the five men, Justice Alan Maxwell described the crime as “one of the most horrifying physical and sexual assaults. This was a calculated killing done in cold blood”.
He then marked their files ‘never to be released’.