Barbara, Vicki and Barbara McCulkin


11     Barbara McCulkin (34) and daughters Vicki (13) and Barbara (11) disappeared from their Highgate Hill Brisbane home in 1974. T...


Rat-Pack leader takes evidence to the grave

By Metro | Dec 23, 2010


IN 1976 I was visited at my home by a young and keen police officer who told me he was concerned about an instruction he had been given to lay a false charge against a person he had arrested that day.

He said the accused, a "Sydney hood" with a long criminal history, had bailed up on him when the constable began questioning him about allegations he was living off the earnings of a prostitute.

The accused said if charged he would give evidence about the involvement of senior detective Tony Murphy in the death of prostitute Shirley Briffman.

The constable charged him nevertheless, and then telephoned his boss, Murphy, and recounted the threat made by the man.

Murphy asked the junior police officer if he had "a present" and when asked what that was, replied "a gun".

The arresting officer said he did not, and Murphy said, "I will send one around to you. Charge him with being in possession of a concealable firearm and we will piss him off back to Sydney".

So the youngster did what he was directed.

However, the charges did not stick as the barrister defending the man somehow became aware that the concealable firearm in question was on the record books of the Queensland police service as having been handed in to them some time before. he accused the police officer of planting the evidence, and his client walked.

I know that to be true because the police officer is a lifelong friend whose view of the police force was shattered from that day.

It also forever formed in my mind a view on Murphy’s honesty.

Over recent years, few attending the Sunday farmer’s markets at Redland Bay in Brisbane would have recognised the frail, grey-haired man with the hook nose who was selling packaged strawberries from his humble stall.

A decade earlier he had a slightly higher public profile as the licensed operator of the TAB betting facility at Dunwich on Stradbroke Island.

But 30 years ago Tony Murphy was a strongly built senior police officer who struck fear in the hearts of those who crossed him, and who, according to most who knew him, was the boss of corruption in a Queensland police force that was rotten to the core.

Then premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen liked to portray Queensland as the tourism mecca of Australia, a state where "family values" and a Christian outlook were valued and were the driving influences behind his government’s philosophy.

Queensland, he would proudly boast, was not like "those southern states" where legalised gambling and prostitution flourished.

What Bjelke-Petersen did not say, of course, was that vice was as rife in Brisbane as it was in any capital city in the world, but the difference was that in his "Sunshine State" it was all underground, run by criminals, protected by crooked cops and to which politicians, in the main, turned a blind eye.

But, inevitably, it all fell apart.

The landmark inquiry into police and political corruption headed by Tony Fitzgerald QC began in 1987 and wound up in July 1989, resulting in the jailing of four National Party ministers as well as police commissioner Terry Lewis, and the charging of more than 250 other people, of whom 139 were found guilty.

In all, 30 police were charged, 36 charges of official corruption laid and 10 indemnities granted to corrupt senior police who were involved in protecting illegal casinos, brothels and unlicensed bookmakers.

One against whom myriad allegations were made but who was never charged after the Fitzgerald inquiry was Murphy, who retired from his position of assistant commissioner in 1983 after a 38-year career.

Murphy, 82, died in Brisbane on Wednesday after a long illness.

The Fitzgerald inquiry was told that Murphy headed what was known as "The Rat Pack": a trio of crooked cops who organised the standover and the creaming off of organised crime in Queensland.

The Rat Pack comprised Murphy who was the tough, uncompromising boss, detective Glen Hallahan and Lewis.

In reality they were little more than upmarket brothel-keepers and pimps.

However, much graver allegations have always persisted around Murphy, particularly concerning the deaths of the prostitute Briffman and nightclub standover man "Norman the Doorman" Ford in Brisbane in the 1970s.

And the Rat Pack’s evil deeds, or reputed criminal involvement, did not stop at the Queensland border.

Eminent journalist and author Evan Whitton is of the published view that Briffman was one of four victims of former NSW cop Fred Krahe, with his victims also including anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay.

Briffman was one of Krahe’s brothel madams.

In 1971 she decided to blow the whistle on him and also air her knowledge of, and involvement in, illegal prostitution in Queensland and the payment of protection money to cops, including Hallahan and Murphy.

It is Whitton’s view that Krahe was the person who actually killed Briffman by holding her and pouring a bottle of whisky and a bottle of sedatives down her throat.

She was found dead in her unit in Bonney Avenue, Clayfield, just days before she was due to give evidence against Murphy, who was facing perjury charges.

And Briffman had a close association with Hallahan who, she said, spent hours on the telephone to her telling how he was wracked with guilt about a man he had charged over a December 1957 murder of three people who were found shot in their car at Sandown Station, 30km south of the Northern Territory border.

Hallahan, who was then stationed in Mt Isa, arrested Raymond John Bailey and held him on two other charges while South Australian police arranged his extradition.

Bailey was charged in Adelaide with the murders but said the statement he was alleged to have given to Hallahan was fabricated. he was found guilty and hanged in July 1958.

In a police interview in 1971, Briffman tells how she moved to Brisbane and struck up a relationship with Murphy "who, on duty, when he should have been somewhere, he was with me. he would carry on his duty at the office and make me sit on the desk and the Hallahan came into the picture, and Terry Lewis too."

Briffman’s death meant the charges of perjury against Murphy did not proceed.

On that point, Fitzgerald wrote in his 1989 report: "There was insufficient other evidence to proceed against Murphy and on April 7, 1972 the Crown decided not to proceed with the prosecution.

"There is no evidence to suggest Murphy was involved in any way with Briffman’s death, which was caused by a drug overdose, a fatal occurrence which has since been associated with a number of other informers who have been drug users. although he is entitled to the presumption of innocence in respect of any charge on which he was not convicted, Briffman’s untimely death meant not that Murphy was tried and acquitted, but that the allegations against him remained unresolved."

Fitzgerald said the lack of a trial, especially taken with rumours about Briffman’s death, served to contribute to a reputation that made many of Murphy’s subsequent promotions and appointments controversial.

But Murphy and Hallahan were key players in Queensland’s justice system at the time of a string of unsolved murders and disappearances of people linked with prostitution and police corruption allegations.

One of the most baffling is the disappearance of Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki Maree, 13 and Barbara Leanne, 11, who were last seen at their Highgate Hill home in Brisbane on January 16, 1974.

Associates said McCulkin had information about the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub firebombing in Brisbane 10 months earlier, in which 15 people perished.

Another prostitute, Margaret Grace Ward, disappeared on November 13, 1973 after leaving the offices of a prominent solicitor.

In 1979 police said her death was linked to the McCulkins and added that they believed she had known and talked too much.

Another link was the disappearance of wealthy brothel operator Simone Vogel, who was not seen after September 16, 1977. she operated six illegal massage parlours in Brisbane, taking around $2500 a day.

When she disappeared she was reputed to be carrying diamonds and a large amount of cash.

And there was Ford, who police wanted to interview about extortion and stolen car rackets and who disappeared in 1979.

The same young police officer who Murphy instructed to plant a gun on an accused was on the Ford investigation, and Murphy gave him a list of people he could and could not speak to.

The list included two police officers who were "off limits", and Norman’s disappearance remains a mystery today.

Fitzgerald Inquiry whistleblower and self-confessed "bagman" for Lewis, Jack Herbert told how it was Murphy who first invited him to join "The Joke", the group extorting protection money from illegal gambling, prostitution and betting.

Even today, police will say how they were scared to speak out against Murphy because they were afraid of what he could arrange to happen to them.

It was also the assertion that it was fear that had a hold over Lewis, who was never the tough standover type of Hallahan or Murphy.

One can only surmise why Murphy attended every day of Lewis’s evidence to Fitzgerald and sat where he could be seen by the witness, and did the same at Lewis’s corruption trial.

He was also a most regular visitor to him in prison, and the two have kept up that relationship in recent years.

Lewis now lives a reclusive existence in Brisbane, and the passing of Murphy brings to an end an unsavoury, albeit unexplained, chapter in Queensland’s history.

Obviously the only one who could fill in the gaps and put history right is Lewis, but that is an unlikely event.


Cold case murder of mum and young daughters in Brisbane 40 years ago may have been sexually motivated

THE COLD case murder of a mum and her two young daughters may have been sexually motivated and not part of gang activity, police have revealed 40 years after the trio's disappearance.

On January 16, 1974, Brisbane snack bar attendant Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Vicki, 13, and Barbara, 11, disappeared without a trace from their home in Dorchester St, Highgate Hill.

The 34-year-old and her daughters were never seen again.

Investigations initially suggested the trio were killed to stop Ms McCulkin revealing information on gang activity but cold case detectives are now looking at other possibilities.

Acting Superintendent Mick Dowie said most murders against children were part of revenge in a domestic dispute or sexually motivated.

He said the former partner of Barbara McCulkin, Billy McCulkin, was not a suspect, leaving police with the latter option.

"We've spoken to someone who has caused us to focus on that as a motive and put aside all of the scandal and association of this murder with all the criminal activity occurring at the time," he said.

When the McCulkins disappeared, their home was left unscathed, with the family's two cats locked inside, lights still on, a blouse in the sewing machine and a purse left on the fridge.

"It is one thing to murder an adult - it is another thing to murder children who could never be considered a threat to a criminal organisation," he said.

"Someone, anyone will have to have had that on their conscience."

Supt Dowie said the two men who had been committed to stand trial over the trio's murder but had their charges dropped were still alive in Queensland but had not been spoken to recently.

He said police had not received any tip offs through Crime Stoppers in the past year but were hopeful the anniversary would spark new interest and information coming forward.

"What we have is a situation that this investigation has been hampered by the lack of willingness from the public to come forward with information," Supt Dowie said.

"What we're now hoping that after 40 years of carrying that on their conscience and with the knowledge they are carrying it on their conscience for the wrong reasons they may consider coming forward."

He said even to find the bodies of the missing mother and daughters would be an important step for the family looking for closure.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or 24hrs a day.

Garry Dubois found guilty over 1974 deaths of Barbara McCulkin and two daughters

By Andrew Kos - ABC


Garry Dubois has been found guilty of the 1974 murders of Brisbane sisters Vicki and Leanne McCulkin and the manslaughter of their mother Barbara.

A Supreme Court jury took almost three days to hand down its verdict, finding Dubois had also raped the two girls.

The family disappeared without a trace 42 years ago and the bodies have never been found, leading to what was one of the most high-profile cold cases in Queensland.

The three-week trial heard Dubois, now 69, was motivated to kill Ms McCulkin out of fear she would implicate him in a series of Brisbane nightclub fire bombings.

He was silent as the verdicts were delivered.

He briefly spoke to his wife and waved to his supporters as he was taken from the dock.

He had pleaded not guilty to all charges, but several witnesses told the court they saw Dubois at the McCulkins' Highgate Hill house on the night the victims disappeared in 1974.

Defence barrister Dennis Lynch had told the court in his closing statement that it was possible they were murdered by father and husband Billy McCulkin.

He had also attacked the reliability of key prosecution witness Peter Hall, who told the court Dubois confessed to him in the days after the family disappeared.

"It's abundantly clear that Peter Hall has told lies, it's abundantly clear that he continued to lie," Mr Lynch told the court.

"His reason for telling a lie was to save his own neck because it had been made painfully obvious to him that he wasn't believed. He simply fell into line."

Dubois' legal team said it would investigate the chances of an appeal, and would make a decision in the next month.

The McCulkin family did not speak outside court, but stood beside Detective Inspector Mick Dowie who talked to the media on their behalf.

"On behalf of the investigation team, and more importantly the Ogden and McCulkin families, we wish to advise that we welcome the verdicts of guilty delivered today by the jury," he said.

Indemnity offered to Dubois

Dubois' wife Jan, who has been in court for the entire trial, said her husband was not a killer.

"No, not a chance. He is not capable of that," she told Nine News.

"I would not be with him."

Ms Dubois said investigators had offered her husband a deal if he testified against another man, with an offer to put the family into witness protection.

It was an offer rejected by Dubois.

"It is just not the right thing to do," Ms Dubois said.

"Send someone to jail just to ... wrong wrong."

Dubois 'spoke in gruesome detail' about murder

A suspected connection between the 1973 fire which killed 15 people at Brisbane's Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub and a blaze at a second venue was motive for the murders, the trial heard.

Dubois, Mr Hall and two others were paid to burn down the Torino nightclub in February, 11 days before the Whiskey Au Go Go blaze, Crown Prosecutor David Meredith told the court.

Dubois worried if police found out about his involvement in the Torino fire he would be implicated in the one at Whiskey Au Go Go, and believed he needed to silence Ms McCulkin.

Mr Hall told the trial he and Dubois used to hang out and engage in criminal activity together.

He said he and Dubois had been involved in the 1973 firebombing of the Torino nightclub, along with two other men.

The court heard that on the day the three went missing, Dubois asked Mr Hall if he wanted to come to the McCulkins "to have sex with the girls".

Mr Hall said he declined.

He said Dubois had spoken in gruesome detail regarding Barbara McCulkin's murder.

Co-accused Vincent O'Dempsey will face a separate trial next year over his alleged role in the McCulkin killings.

Dubois faces a mandatory sentence of life behind bars, but a date has not yet been set for sentencing.



McCulkin murders: Vincent O'Dempsey guilty of killing Brisbane woman and daughters


Vincent O'Dempsey has been found guilty of murdering Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters, finally giving closure in a 43-year-old cold case.

After a four-week Supreme court trial, it took the Supreme Court jury in Brisbane a day to find O'Dempsey guilty of the killings.

They 78-year-old did not flinch when the verdict was read, and sat stony faced.

The prosecution successfully argued O'Dempsey, who knew the McCulkins, killed the trio to silence Barbara over her perceived knowledge of two nightclub fire bombings.

It comes after his co-accused, Garry Dubois, was found guilty last year of raping and murdering Vicki, 13, Leanne, 11, and the manslaughter of their mother, Barbara, 34.

They disappeared from their Highgate Hill home in Brisbane in January 1974 and their bodies have never been found.

It had long remained one of Queensland's most notorious unsolved murder cases.

Outside court today Barbara's nephew Brian Ogden made a statement, saying they had waited 43 years for justice.

The family have endured "endless rumours, victim blaming, mistruths and time wasters".

He remembered Barbara as an excellent mother, and a good and generous lady.

Vicky and Leanne were "nice kids with many friends, and were busy just being kids".

Brian said his father, Barbara's brother Graham Ogden, never stopped trying to understand what happened, and would call the police for new information each anniversary of their disappearance.

The family thanked the witnesses for testifying despite personal risk, and everyone involved in the case.

More than 50 witnesses testified, including three who said O'Dempsey had made admissions to them about the killings.

Hopeful bodies will be found

Detective Inspector Mick Dowie said they were still hopeful of finding the bodies.

"Unfortunately there's only two people we think that really know where they are," he said.

"And they're not assisting at this point in time.

"Hopefully they may assist in the future but I find that highly unlikely."

Detective Inspector Mick Dowie thanked the witnesses for their courage and willingness, and also thanked the police officers involved in the investigation.

"I'd like to acknowledge the outstanding work of the recent investigation team," he said outside court.

"They did an outstanding job in collecting fresh evidence presented at both trials.

"I'd also like to acknowledge the outstanding job done by investigators over the past 40 years.

"Without their work, we could not have been able to present such a compelling circumstantial case."

When questioned about other families' involved in cold cases, the commissioner continued: "I don't want to build hope for other families".

"As we've heard from the family there's lots of rumours and false info comes forward and builds people's hopes.

"We have a motto — they may be gone but they're never forgotten, and that's true and that's been proven here today."



McCulkin triple murder: The 40-year wait for justice

By Josh Bavas - ABC


The disappearance of Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters in Brisbane in 1974 looked suspicious to police right from the start, but it would take more than 40 years to convict their killers.

At one point in the late 1980s, Garry Dubois and Vincent O'Dempsey were charged over the murders — only to be let off because of a lack of evidence.

They were known associates of the family through Ms McCulkin's estranged husband Billy, who was a part of a Brisbane gang.

Days after McCulkin and her daughters vanished, Brisbane was swamped by the 1974 floods and the suburban mother and her two children, Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11, did not make headlines for another two weeks.

McCulkin's estranged husband Billy told the press he believed his family had been targeted by a criminal gang.

By the late 1970s, speculation was surrounding O'Dempsey.

In a bid to quell the rumours, he gave a statement to the city's newspaper, the Brisbane Telegraph.

"I have never murdered anyone, nor do I have any intention of murdering anyone," he said in the article published on July 6, 1979.

O'Dempsey confirmed he had been questioned by police but denied any involvement.

"I will not be making any further comment to police nor to other members of the media," he said at the time.

The article described how he was working as a maintenance man for a church settlement in Gympie, north of Brisbane.

Insufficient evidence in 1975 for charges

The following year, an inquest heard both O'Dempsey and Dubois were seen leaving the McCulkins' house the night they vanished.

The pair was charged but the police case was eventually dropped on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

The investigation stalled but the McCulkins would not be forgotten.

While police had the pair flagged as suspects for years, politicians also raised specific concerns.

In 1988, while attempting to further expose the seedy underbelly of Brisbane, Labor MP Len Ardill addressed the case in parliament, linking O'Dempsey and Dubois to the family disappearance.

"In January 1974, the McCulkin family — except for Billy McCulkin — disappeared," he said.

"The name of O'Dempsey again emerged, together with one Gary Dubois.

"The cancer of corruption has so infested this state that so-called accidental deaths, so-called suicides and obvious murders no longer are cause for public concern.

"Cold-blooded hitmen can come and go with the connivance of crooked police and crooked politicians."

Cold case revisited in 2014

Then on the 40th anniversary of their trio's disappearance, detectives renewed their push to solve the cold case.

Detective Inspector Mick Dowie fronted the media in 2014 and elaborated on various possibilities.

He said while previous investigations speculated Barbara McCulkin was targeted for what she thought she knew about the fatal Whiskey Au Go Go bombings, it may have been a sexually motivated crime.

The prosecution successfully argued in the four-week trial that the family was silenced over her perceived knowledge about the fire bombing, which killed 15 people.

"It has been raised before, it was talked about at the inquest way back when — so we're focussing on that," Detective Inspector Dowie said.

"We're appealing to anyone who has such information and has been sitting on it to examine your conscience and get in contact with us and provide us with information that may solve this case."

Detective Inspector Dowie would not confirm at the time whether O'Dempsey and Dubois were still suspects.

"If the opportunity presents or if there is a need to we will, as we will speak to anyone who may be able to assist us," he said.

Then finally, a real breakthrough came when witness Peter Hall told a secret Crime and Corruption Commission hearing that Dubois confessed to him in 1974.

In October 2014, O'Dempsey was arrested at his Warwick farm, west of Brisbane, while police swooped on his old acquaintance Dubois, who was living on the Fraser Coast.

Billy McCulkin killed own family, second wife said

But as police were preparing for the trials, one final twist would almost undo the prosecution's case.

Billy McCulkin's second wife, Fe McCulkin, went to police with claims that her ex-husband was responsible for murdering his own family.

She told a pre-trial hearing that she had discussed the allegations with her friend Tony Bellino before going to authorities.

Fe McCulkin claimed her ex-husband confessed before his death in 2011.

"He said to me, 'I did it, I did it'," she later told ABC News.

"He said that he brought them to Toowong [cemetery in Brisbane], the three of them, and he put some gravel and then cement on the top.

"I want to tell the truth because my conscience is telling me I cannot sleep some times in the night — as far as I know, these two boys are not guilty."

Prosecutors would later strike down her evidence as false before the trial began.

There were twists and turns but after 43 years, one of Brisbane's most infamous crimes has finally been put to rest.




McCulkin murders: Cold-blooded killers Vincent O'Dempsey, Garry Dubois sentenced to life in jail

By Andrew Kos and Candice Prosser


Convicted killers Vincent O'Dempsey and Garry Dubois have been sentenced to life in jail for the deaths of Brisbane mother Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters, Vicki and Leanne, in 1974.

The 34-year-old mother, 13-year-old Vicki, and 11-year-old Leanne, have not been seen since the night of January 16, 1974, when they disappeared from their home at Highgate Hill in Brisbane.

Their bodies have never been found.

Last week, 78-year-old Vincent O'Dempsey was found guilty of murdering the trio and deprivation of liberty.

In a separate trial last year, his co-accused, Dubois, now 70, was deemed responsible for Barbara's manslaughter and the rape and murders of Vicki and Leanne.

At today's sentencing hearing in the Supreme Court in Brisbane, the court heard modern laws allowing the court to set a parole eligibility date could not be applied retrospectively.

Justice Peter Applegarth told both offenders they were cold-blooded, heartless killers who showed no remorse and would likely die in jail.

Justice Applegarth said O'Dempsey had boasted about killing the McCulkins and getting away with it.

"You are a hardened killer and a criminal who has no conscience," he said.

The killers were known associates of the family through Ms McCulkin's estranged husband Billy, who was a part of a Brisbane gang.

McCulkin's estranged husband Billy told the press he believed his family had been targeted by a criminal gang.

Justice Applegarth said O'Dempsey murdered a defenceless woman, was a child killer and beyond redemption.

Last hours of family 'must've been terrifying'

Justice Applegarth said Dubois had no conscience, was a coward and now a callous old man who had aided killer O'Dempsey and continued to do so out of fear.

He said O'Dempsey used intimidation and traded on his reputation as a "mad dog".

Justice Applegarth said like a coward, Dubois had obeyed O'Dempsey and aided in killing and raping the girls.

Dubois began talking over the sentence and Justice Applegarth told him to shut up. When he did not, he had Dubois removed from the courtroom.

Justice Applegarth said the last hours of Barbara, Vicki and Leanne's lives "must've been terrifying".

He said Dubois was a coward but O'Dempsey had been the prime offender.

Justice Applegarth said it was clear that Barbara McCulkin knew enough about each of the pair's roles in nightclub bombings at the time for them to want to silence her.

He said Dubois and O'Dempsey had escaped justice for decades.

"Luck was on your side. So was the fear you instilled in others," he said.

"At least three things have ensured justice at last. First, the dedication of police. Second, the testimony of dozens of witnesses. Third, the conscience and courage of some key witnesses at each of your trials.

"You can have no expectation of early parole. If you maintain your silence over where the bodies are buried you could not reasonably expect to ever be granted parole."

Killers profess innocence

Earlier in the hearing, Justice Applegarth had allowed O'Dempsey to read a handwritten note to the court, where the killer said he had been wrongly convicted on false testimony and never had any reason to harm the McCulkins.

Dubois also requested to speak but had not prepared anything in writing so was not able to address the court directly.

Outside court, O'Dempsey's lawyer Terry O'Gorman said his client was innocent and had been convicted on unfair testimony, including statements from Billy McCulkin, who had since died.

"I would like to acknowledge the grief and the angst that the McCulkin family have been through," Mr O'Gorman said.

"[But] what sort of a system allows a person to be convicted on the evidence of a person who the defence said was an even greater suspect than us, when in fact the system and the law allows him to give evidence from the grave and not be cross-examined.

"I extend my sympathies to the McCulkin family, while at the same time repeating what Vince O'Dempsey has said: he is innocent of these charges."

'The world had passed my family by'

Barbara McCulkin's nephew Brian Ogden read a victim impact statement to the court on behalf of his father Graham Ogden.

Mr Ogden said his father had mourned the loss of his "kind and bubbly" sister and his "happy, well-behaved" nieces for more than 40 years.

He said he had not been aware of Barbara's former husband Billy McCulkin's criminal activities and the threat he had put Barbara under by his associations.

Mr Ogden said when the leads ran cold for 30 years he had "felt particularly helpless … it seemed the world had passed my family by".

"My sister was a kind and bubbly person with an often wicked sense of humour," he said.

Mr Ogden said the family wanted the murdered trio's remains found.

"It is my fervent wish that someday, the remains of our loved ones will be found so that we can finally lay them to rest," he said.

"General speculation over the years has made Barbara and the girls public property.

"This has led to all sorts of rumours, victim blaming, misinformation and lack of respect.

"By seldom casting a light on their personalities, it has made them seem like secondary and shadowy figures.

"I have mourned the loss of my sister and nieces for nearly 43 years."

Mr Ogden said the defendants did not deserve sympathy because of their ages.

"They have made their choices and had all the benefits of a long life," he said.

"These things have been brutally denied to my sister and nieces — they should be with us still, leading rich and vibrant lives.

"In spite of the upsetting and graphic detail often revealed in court, it has been a positive experience for us, representing accountability and justice for these heinous crimes at long last."

The hearing adjourned with McCulkin relatives embracing and wiping away tears in the court room.