*Update - Bruce Burrell has been convicted of Kerrie's murder.
Kerrie's body remains missing.
Ransom note demanded $US1 million
By Nicolette Casella - The Sunday Telegraph
August 19, 2005
BERNIE Whelan nearly collapsed after receiving a ransom note the day after
his wife Kerry disappeared, according to Mrs Whelan's close friend.
Giving evidence at the New South Wales trial of Bruce Allan Burrell, who
denies kidnapping and murdering Mrs Whelan, Marjorie Minton-Taylor described
how Mr Whelan turned into "an absolute mess" as he read the note demanding
$US1 million for his wife's safe return.
"He became very agitated. He was an absolute mess. He nearly passed out,"
she told the Supreme Court.
The court heard Mr Whelan asked for Mrs Minton-Taylor and her daughter
Amanda Minton-Taylor, now Mrs Peters, to come to the family's Kurrajong
property on May 6, 1997 - the day that his wife went missing allegedly
wearing $50,000 worth of jewellery.
Mrs Minton-Taylor said she stayed at their home for the next 19 months to
look after the Whelan children, during which time she became their
When asked to describe Mrs Whelan's relationship with her children, she
said: "Oh, she was the mother of the year." She then burst into tears.
She said Mrs Whelan's relationship with Mr Whelan was "excellent" and that
she was "looking forward to going to Adelaide" with her husband the day she
The court heard that morning Mrs Whelan dropped by Mrs Minton-Taylor's
Glossodia home on the way to a 9.30am "appointment" and gave her $100
because she was going to be babysitting the Whelans' children while they
Mrs Minton-Taylor said she and Mrs Whelan had planned to take a holiday
together in London in July that year, but she never saw or heard from her
again after her visit on May 6.
When Mrs Minton-Taylor joined the family that had gathered at the Whelans'
home later that night, the court heard she rang her friend of 20 years,
"colourful character" Karl Bonnette.
"I was worried that Kerry might have been bashed and all her jewellery had
been taken," she said.
"I thought he might have known something or heard something."
In other evidence yesterday, Mark Mascari, a former Parkroyal Hotel
employee, said Mrs Whelan did not seem distressed before she exited the
Parramatta underground car park at 9.38am on May 6 - the last time she was
After Mr Whelan found his wife's car that afternoon, the court heard he rang
security consultant Stephen Benton, managing director of Intellisec, who
spent the next 2 1/2 hours scouring the area. However, at 11.40pm that night
he told Mr Whelan the search had been unsuccessful.
He returned with a private investigator the following day, when the police
investigation was also launched.
Nanny speaks at Burrell trial
By Nicolette Casella
August 18, 2005
FORMER nanny Amanda Minton-Taylor has denied having an affair with Bernie
Whelan while he was married to his now missing wife Kerry, telling a New
South Wales court she "likes younger men".
Ms Minton-Taylor, now Mrs Peters, yesterday told the Supreme Court "nothing
ever happened" between Mr Whelan and herself.
Her denial came under cross-examination from defence counsel David Dalton at
the trial of Bruce Allan Burrell, who is charged with Mrs Whelan's kidnap
The court heard Ms Minton-Taylor, who was employed as the Whelan's nanny and
horse trainer, sometimes stayed overnight in a one-bedroom cottage on the
Whelan family's Kurrajong property.
She said one of her two boyfriends at the time, either Damian Barker or
Damon Spackman, would occasionally stay with her.
But she never used "opportunities" to have an affair with Mr Whelan when
they were alone together on the estate.
"It wouldn't even enter my mind. It's ridiculous," she said.
The court heard the officer in charge of the investigation, Detective
Inspector Dennis Bray, asked Ms Minton-Taylor after Mrs Whelan disappeared
on May 6, 1997, if she had had an extra-marital affair with Mr Whelan.
She denied the suggestion at the time and told Mr Dalton yesterday her
position had not changed.
"I keep my first opinion," she said yesterday.
When asked by senior Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC what her reaction was
when Insp Bray raised the issue, she said she found it farcical.
"I actually laughed because if anyone knows me they know that I like younger
men. To me it was just an outrageous remark," she said.
The allegation of an affair was first raised in court on Tuesday when Mr
Whelan was under cross-examination.
The retired millionaire industrialist denied the allegation, describing it
as a "scurrilous suggestion".
Earlier yesterday, the jury visited the Park Royal Hotel in Parramatta,
where Mrs Whelan, 39, was last seen exiting the car park at 9.38am on May 6,
1997. Ms Minton-Taylor told the court Mrs Whelan visited her at her mother's
house earlier that morning and, reading from her police statement from the
time, said: "She appeared to be happy, bright and bubbly."
Why former friends fell out
From: By Nicolette Casella
August 17, 2005
BERNIE Whelan had fallen out with the alleged abductor and killer of his
wife Kerry in the months before her disappearance over some missing cattle
and a gun, it was revealed in court yesterday.
Mr Whelan told the Supreme Court he was annoyed with his former employee and
friend when he called on April 7, 1997, four years since their last contact.
Mr Whelan told the court Burrell had offered to take some of his cattle when
the Whelans' Kurrajong property was in drought.
But Burrell later told him the cattle had wandered off his Bungonia property
into the National Park and had not been found.
Mr Whelan was also annoyed with Burrell for not looking after a gun he had
Mr Whelan said Burrell rang him after he was retrenched as advertising
manager of Crown Equipment and asked if he would sell him a .44 magnum
semi-automatic rifle because he said he needed to shoot some wild pigs.
Mr Whelan said Burrell later told him the gun had been stolen from the boot
of his car while he was making a call in Redfern.
After Mr Whelan's evidence, Justice Graham Barr directed the jury that the
two incidents were not assertions that Burrell had committed a criminal act.
The Whelans' former nanny Amanda Minton-Taylor, now Mrs Peters, broke down
and sobbed in court as she recalled Burrell visiting the Whelan's Kurrajong
She said she gave Burrell the code that opened the electronic gates to the
estate after he told her he was a friend of Mr and Mrs Whelans.
Ms Minton-Taylor said she saw Burrell having a cup of tea and chatting with
When Burrell got up to leave, Ms Minton-Taylor said "he leant forward to
give Kerry a kiss. She turned her head and he kissed her on the cheek".
She told the court that when Mrs Whelan came inside she asked her "a
favour". Ms Minton-Taylor claimed Mrs Whelan said to her: "Please don't tell
anyone that he was here. I'll let you know in a couple of weeks why he was
Ms Minton-Taylor said she then looked strangely at Mrs Whelan, who said,
"Don't worry, I'm not having an affair", adding afterwards, "it was a
Ms Minton-Taylor told the court: "The night Kerry went missing it was the
first thing that popped into my head."
Copycats 'targeted Whelans after abduction'
From: By David King - The Australian
August 16, 2005
COPYCAT extortionists targeted the family of missing Sydney woman Kerry
Whelan after news of her alleged abduction became public, a court heard
Bernie Whelan, a wealthy industrialist whose wife Kerry vanished on May 6,
1997, told the NSW Supreme Court his family had endured several extortion
"There were a number of copycat attempts on my family after Kerry
disappeared because of the press statements referring to my wealth," he
"There were at least three attempts on my family ... to extort money. On at
least one occasion police had to take some pretty serious action."
Mr Whelan is giving evidence at the trial of Bruce Allan Burrell, a
52-year-old former advertising salesman, who is accused of Kerry Whelan's
kidnap and murder.
Mrs Whelan was last seen leaving the Parramatta Park Royal Hotel at 9.38am
on May 6, 1997. The next day, Mr Whelan received a two-page typed ransom
note demanding $US1million.
Police have accused Mr Burrell, a former employee of Mr Whelan, of luring
Mrs Whelan to the hotel and murdering her soon afterwards. They allege his
motivation was financial.
Mr Burrell denies the charges.
Under cross-examination from defence counsel David Dalton, Mr Whelan said Mr
Burrell had telephoned him on April 7, 1997 - a month before Mrs Whelan's
disappearance - and had a "pointless" conversation with him.
Mr Whelan said he had expected Mr Burrell to ask for a favour or a job, but
his former employee had done neither.
Mr Dalton asked Mr Whelan if he and Mr Burrell had agreed to meet for lunch
after the April7 phone call.
Mr Whelan said they did not make that arrangement.
The trial continues.
Whelan 'found wife's keys in car'
From: AAP By Kylie Williams
August 11, 2005
BERNIE Whelan choked back tears today as he told a New South Wales court how
he found the keys to his wife's car still in the ignition on the day she
Mr Whelan was giving evidence at the NSW Supreme Court trial of Bruce
Burrell, who has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and murdering Kerry Whelan
on May 6, 1997, somewhere in NSW.
He said that on the day of his wife's disappearance, they were supposed to
have met at his office at Smithfield, western Sydney, at 3.45pm to catch a
flight to Adelaide and begin a holiday.
But Mrs Whelan never turned up.
"I thought something was seriously wrong because Kerry just didn't miss
aeroplanes," Mr Whelan said.
Shortly after 5pm, Mr Whelan said, he went gone to the car park at the
Parkroyal Hotel at Parramatta, where his wife normally parked her car.
The court has been told the 39-year-old mother of three was last seen at the
hotel at 9.40am that same day.
"I went back to the car and found the keys in the ignition, which alarmed me
greatly," Mr Whelan said.
He choked back tears as the court heard the 000 call he made from the car
park to raise the alarm.
The day after the disappearance, Mr Whelan received a ransom note at the
family's Kurrajong home in the Blue Mountains, demanding US$1 million for
her safe return.
"The rate of exchange means you will pay $1,250,000 Australian," the letter
Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi, QC, asked Mr Whelan if he had done anything
to secure the ransom money.
Mr Whelan said he had removed a letter from his personal safe which the
president of the company for which he worked, Crown Equipment, had given him
15 years earlier.
"It was highly confidential and it was only to be opened under special
circumstances," Mr Whelan said about the letter.
The court was then closed and nothing else was said about the letter in open
Mr Whelan said on April 7, 1997, he received a phone call out of the blue
from Mr Burrell after having had no contact with him for four years.
Earlier today, the court was told Mr Burrell had worked for Mr Whelan at
Crown Equipment for three years, but was retrenched in 1990.
"It was a long time since I had spoken to Mr Burrell and it was a strange
conversation because I was trying to think why he'd call me and there didn't
seem to be a purpose," Mr Whelan said.
By 1997, Mr Burrell was in financial difficulties having been unemployed for
seven years, recently divorced and facing a new mortgage of more than $1000
Mr Whelan said he thought Mr Burrell had rung to ask for a job or financial
assistance, but he had only inquired about his work and travel commitments.
"I remember him asking me about my movements," he said.
But Mr Burrell's counsel, David Dalton, said his client made the call only
to find out about work, and had also rung another former employer for the
"At the same time he initially approached Mr Whelan, he was speaking to at
least one other ex-employer asking for help," Mr Dalton said.
The trial continues tomorrow.
Burrell 'sought false alibi'
By Kylie Williams - Herald Sun
MURDER accused Bruce Burrell rang a man in an attempt to construct a false
alibi for the day of Kerry Whelan's disappearance, a Sydney court heard
The New South Wales Supreme Court today played a police recording of a
telephone call Mr Burrell made to his neighbour Kevin Cooper on August 8,
Mr Burrell asked Mr Cooper in the call if he could remember ringing him on
May 6 that year, regarding a visit by Canberra foresters to Hillydale, Mr
Burrell's property in the NSW Southern Highlands.
Mr Cooper said in court today that he could not remember when he rang Mr
Burrell regarding the foresters' visit, or if he initiated the call.
Mr Burrell has pleaded not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to kidnapping and
murdering Mrs Whelan, 39.
The mother of three was last seen in the car park of the Parkroyal Hotel at
Parramatta on the morning of May 6, 1997. Her body has never been found.
At the time of Mrs Whelan's disappearance, Mr Burrell lived on a property
called Hillydale at Bungonia.
The Crown has said that Mr Burrell's call to Mr Cooper was intended to
construct a false alibi for the day of Mrs Whelan's disappearance.
"Yeah mate, it was early May," Mr Burrell was heard saying in the taped
"And, mate, I've got a feeling it was the sixth of May that we spoke – that
you rang me."
Then Mr Cooper was heard to say he would check his diary, and he found Mr
"Oh, I've got it in the diary," he said.
Giving evidence at the trial today, Mr Cooper said he could not remember the
date of the call about which Mr Burrell had asked him.
Mr Cooper said the diary entry referred to the date he had organised for
foresters from Canberra to look at a few Southern Highlands properties.
"I remember contacting Bruce after inspecting (Hillydale)," Mr Cooper said.
"Whether is was immediately after or the next day I don't know."
Mr Cooper said he could not remember whether he called Mr Burrell, or Mr
Burrell called him.
"Could Mr Burrell have been returning a call as a result of a message your
wife left on Monday night," Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi, QC, said.
"Yes," Mr Cooper said.
Missing woman's stepson denies role
21sep05 - Herald Sun
THE stepson of Kerry Whelan has told a Sydney murder trial he had nothing to do
with her disappearance.
Trevor Whelan was giving evidence today at the New South Wales Supreme Court
trial of Bruce Burrell, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering and kidnapping
Mrs Whelan in NSW on May 6, 1997.
Mr Whelan, 46, was adopted by Mrs Whelan's husband Bernie and his first wife
Helen when he was a child.
He told the court he was initially upset that his father started a relationship
with Kerry Whelan but by the time she disappeared, his relationship with her and
his father was "good".
"Did you have anything whatsoever to do with the disappearance and or death of
Kerry Whelan?" crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC asked him.
"No I did not," Mr Whelan replied.
The day after Mrs Whelan's disappearance, Bernie Whelan received a ransom note
at the family's Kurrajong home demanding $US1 million for her safe return.
The body of Mrs Whelan, 39, has never been found.
It is the crown case that Mr Burrell, 52, was in financial difficulty at the
The trial continues.
Whelan questioned over missing wife
Kylie Williams - The Courier Mail
FOR the first time since Bruce Burrell went on trial seven weeks ago for the
murder of Kerry Whelan, her husband Bernie Whelan was yesterday asked if he was
involved in his wife's disappearance.
"No, I was not," Whelan said, after being recalled to give evidence at Burrell's
trial in the NSW Supreme Court.
Burrell has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and murdering Mrs Whelan on May 6,
1997, somewhere in NSW.
A mother of three and Whelan's second wife, Mrs Whelan was last seen in the car
park of the Parkroyal Hotel at Parramatta, in western Sydney, that morning. Her
body has never been found.
Whelan was questioned by Burrell's lawyer David Dalton.
"Were you involved in the disappearance of your wife Kerry Whelan?" Mr Dalton
Whelan denied he was involved in any way with his wife's disappearance, and said
under cross-examination that he did not have any financial difficulties at the
"It (my financial position) was extremely strong," he said.
The court was told earlier that Whelan had received a ransom note at the
family's Kurrajong property the day after his wife disappeared demanding $US1
million for her safe return.
Whelan said yesterday that as of May 1997, he and his wife had an overdraft
facility of about $250,000 and assets worth about $5 million.
The Crown alleges Burrell was having financial problems when Mrs Whelan
The trial continues today.
Case against accused killer 'only a theory'
By Nicolette Casella - The Sunday Mail
THE case against Kerry Whelan's accused killer "is but a theory" without any
concrete evidence to support it, a court heard yesterday.
In his closing address, Bruce Burrell's barrister David Dalton said a fitting
description for the Crown case would be: "Hypothesis upon hypothesis upon
Burrell, 53, who knew Mrs Whelan through her millionaire husband
Bernie, is charged with abducting and murdering the wealthy mother of three for
financial gain in 1997.
He denies all charges.
"There is not one item of concrete evidence connecting this man to Kerry
Whelan's disappearance. Not one," Mr Dalton said.
"Not any forensic evidence. No witnesses that saw Kerry Whelan on that day with
"In fact, the evidence is quite to the contrary."
Mr Dalton said Mrs Whelan's fingerprints were not found in Burrell's car "or
anywhere else associated with [him]".
He suggested police involved in the investigation "quickly lost sight" by
focusing their attention on Burrell.
He said the Crown's assertion that Burrell's "plan A" to kidnap Mrs Whelan when
he visited her family's Kurrajong estate on April 16, 1997, was "extraordinary".
The barrister added it was a ludicrous notion that Burrell would make himself
visible - by going to see her when he knew other people were there - if he had
planned to abduct her.
He also attacked the Crown's submission it was an "enduring mystery" that
motived Mrs Whelan to allegedly meet with Burrell on May 6, 1997.
"The Crown doesn't even have a rational hypothesis," Mr Dalton said.
A phone call to Crown Equipment on May 23, 1997, from an anonymous male caller
demanding police and media be called off could have been by an officer trying to
frame Burrell, he suggested.
The court has heard the call was traced to a phone box outside the Empire Hotel
Burrell admitted making a call from there that morning, but he said he rang his
Mr Dalton will continue with his address today.
Burrell found guilty of Whelan murder - Herald Sun
A JURY has found Bruce Burrell guilty of kidnapping and murdering Sydney mother
Mrs Whelan was 39 when she disappeared on May 6, 1997. Her body has never been
The day after she went missing, her husband Bernie Whelan received a ransom note
demanding $US1 million for her safe return.
The New South Wales Supreme Court heard Burrell kidnapped the mother-of-three
out of financial desperation.
But because Mrs Whelan knew Burrell, he killed her to prevent her identifying
him, it was alleged.
Burrell, 53, pleaded not guilty to both charges when his trial began in March.
The jury of eight men and four women deliberated for nine days before today
finding him guilty of Mrs Whelan's kidnap and murder.
Burrell did not react as the jury foreman handed down the guilty verdict. His
barrister, David Dalton, asked Justice Graham Barr to poll the jury members.
When the judge asked for further explanation, Mr Dalton said: "We'd like to
check that every juror agrees with the verdict."
Justice Barr asked the foreman whether the verdict was the verdict of all the
"It is," the foreman replied.
Burrell did not apply for bail and it was formally refused by Justice Barr, who
remanded him in custody for a sentencing hearing on June 23.
Burrell loses appeal against Whelan conviction
March 16, 2007 - 10:49AM
The man who was jailed for life for the kidnap and murder of Sydney mother Kerry
Whelan has lost an appeal against his conviction and sentence.
Bruce Burrell appealed against his conviction for the 1997 abduction and murder
of Mrs Whelan on 10 grounds, one relating to a note in which a juror indicated
the jury could not agree and further deliberations would serve no useful
The judge's decision to send the jury back after reading the note on June 5 last
year resulted in a unanimous guilty verdict the following day.
In his appeal, Burrell argued the note indicated the juror felt he or she was
But the Court of Appeal found the judge had not erred in sending the jurors back
to continue their deliberations.
''The fact that the minority juror felt pressure from the other jurors was not
surprising,'' the Chief Judge at Common Law, Peter McClellan, said in his
''Antipathy between individuals, however caused, is unfortunately an unavoidable
fact of life and must be expected to exist amongst jurors from time to time.
''It could not provide a reason to discharge the jury.''
Burrell was friendly with the Whelan family and had worked for Mrs Whelan's
The Crown alleged Burrell kidnapped Mrs Whelan out of financial desperation,
then killed her so she could not identify him.
Her husband, Bernie Whelan, received a ransom demand the day after his wife
Last year's Supreme Court trial was the second for Burrell.
A jury was discharged in November 2005 after one juror failed to reach a guilty
Mrs Whelan, a 39-year-old mother of three, disappeared on May 7, 1997. Her body
has never been found.
The cruellest of crimes
Twelve years after Kerry Whelan's kidnapping, details of
the case are finally revealed, write Ellen Connolly and
Bernie Whelan had never handled so much cash - huge
wads of $100 notes tied with rubber bands and packed into
calico bank bags. It was the million-dollar ransom for the
life of his beloved wife, Kerry, kidnapped from Parramatta's
Parkroyal Hotel four days earlier.
"Follow all instructions or your wife will die," read
the typed letter, which turned up in the mailbox at Bernie's
Kurrajong home in Sydney's north-west on May 7, 1997, just
24 hours after Kerry went missing. Bernie followed the
orders in the ransom note - all except the demand he not
contact the police.
The money was placed in a green garbage bag and
secured in Bernie's bedroom safe, under 24-hour protection.
The whole thing felt surreal to Bernie, as though he
was an unwilling character in a movie, not unlike Ransom,
which the Whelans had watched together only weeks
After 17 years of marriage, he could not fathom that
Kerry was gone and he was stuck in this awful reality.
Bernie Whelan, who was head of the Australian arm of
the multinational company Crown Equipment, and his three
children - Sarah, 15, Matthew, 13, and James, 11 - were now
on an active file of the FBI in Washington.
Confused and fretting for their mother, the children
were taken under police escort to a safe house while
Australia's biggest kidnap and ransom operation was played
Unbeknown to the public - police kept their manoeuvres
secret from the media - the Whelans' once tranquil rural
neighbourhood was now crawling with heavily armed members of
the State Protection Group, an elite corps of officers
trained to deal with hostage negotiations.
Lying in Bernie's horse paddocks in Kevlar helmets and
bullet-resistant vests, each carried two firearms: a Heckler
and Koch MP5, the 700-millimetre German submachine-gun that
was standard issue for counter-terrorist forces, and a Glock
22 .40-calibre pistol. The camouflaged officers had stun
grenades and canisters of tear gas and capsicum spray. Their
body armour added about 30 kilograms to each officer's
Inside the house, Bernie Whelan was also wearing a
The atmosphere was electric as Bernie sat in the
family lounge room with six hostage negotiators, his eyes
focused on the telephone, praying for it to ring, waiting
for the kidnappers to call and tell him Kerry was still
Civilians are usually excluded from major covert
police operations, but Bernie was needed. He had to talk to
the kidnappers and personally deliver the million-dollar
ransom. "Most importantly you've got to ask for proof of
life," the negotiator instructed Bernie. "You want to speak
to your wife and you must insist on hearing Kerry's voice."
Bernie's Mercedes-Benz was wired up with tracking
devices and radio equipment in preparation for the ransom
delivery. A helicopter was on standby and the snipers were
ready to shoot.
Day after day, and desperately tired and running on
adrenalin, Bernie sat waiting with detectives for the call.
It never came, and police decided Bernie should make a
public appeal to the kidnappers.
"Kerry, if you can hear what I'm saying, I want you to
know that we all love you and we will do anything to get you
back, but most of all, don't give up." Bernie stared into
the camera, his lip quivering.
At a media conference in Sydney, he told reporters: "I
will do whatever they ask and will go anywhere to ensure the
safety of my wife. The crime against us can only be
described as mental terrorism. The children and I have only
kept our sanity due to the love we have for each other and
the love from close friends who have been minding us. They
[the Whelan children] are very vulnerable at this time and
barely coping with this tragedy."
For weeks, the media camped outside the Whelan home as
the story of the kidnap of a multimillionaire's wife
captured front-page headlines across Australia.
But the media had found another focus - the prime
suspect, Bruce Burrell, who lived on a farm near the tiny
town of Bungonia, south-west of Goulburn. Burrell, who
worked for Crown Equipment before Bernie retrenched him in
1990, had made an unexpected visit to Kerry in mid-April
1997, three weeks before she vanished.
Burrell intended to abduct the mother of three that
day, but abandoned his plan after discovering her youngest
child, James, was at home from school.
When Burrell departed, Mrs Whelan asked "a favour" of
the children's nanny and horse trainer, Amanda
Minton-Taylor: "You never saw him here. Don't tell anybody.
Give me a couple of weeks and I'll tell you why. Don't
worry, I am not having an affair."
On the morning of May 6, Kerry Whelan drove to the
Parkroyal Hotel in Parramatta, telling her husband she had a
9am beautician's appointment. Closed circuit television
cameras captured her walking up the ramp of the underground
car park and disappearing from view.
In the ensuing weeks, police raided Burrell's house
and found a cache of weapons, a chloroform bottle and two
obscure - but revealing - notes which suggested a kidnap and
They searched the Bungonia state recreation area,
which backed onto Burrell's property, scouring vast tracts
of bush, abseiling down deep ravines, and diving in chilly
dams. After several exhausting months, the police packed up
Media attention waned, and the investigating team was
drastically reduced. Nevertheless the taskforce commander,
Dennis Bray, would not give up, persevering over the next
decade to nail Burrell for Kerry Whelan's murder.
Bray was driven for another reason: he was convinced
Burrell had killed the elderly widow Dorothy Davis after she
demanded repayment of a $100,000 loan.
It was too much of a coincidence that Burrell would
know two rich women, both of whom vanished without trace.
Dorothy, 74, vanished on May 29, 1995, after going to
visit a sick friend in Sydney's eastern suburbs, believed to
be Burrell's then wife, Dallas.
The case eventually made it to the NSW Supreme Court,
thanks to the efforts of Bray and the Senior Crown
Prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi, QC, who was convinced he could
get a conviction despite the jury not hearing much of the
incriminating evidence which had been ruled "prejudicial" to
Burrell getting a fair trial.
The suppression order was finally lifted last
November, allowing our book Ladykiller to publish
details denied to the jurors in the trials involving the
No juries were told of the damaging discovery by
police of the near-empty bottle of chloroform in Burrell's
house. Nor did they hear that Burrell had boasted to friends
he could hide a body in bushland where "no one would ever
Similarly, jurors did not hear of a UBD street
directory found in Burrell's car. He had used a highlighter
pen to mark the route from the Parkroyal Hotel in Parramatta,
where Kerry Whelan was last seen, to her husband's factory
Also excluded from the trial was Burrell's phone call
to the help desk at Canon about his typewriter, which police
believe was used to construct the detailed ransom letter.
James Whelan's evidence about Burrell's secret visit
to his mother was struck out, as was some of Amanda
Minton-Taylor's account of the day. Burrell's defence team
had objected to the inclusion of Kerry's comment: "That
bastard, why did he do this to me?"
The judge ruled the words inadmissible at trial
because they were obscure and their target unclear.
Police deduced that Burrell arranged that day to meet
Kerry at Parramatta, although the reason for the meeting
remains an enduring mystery. With no obvious answer, rumours
swirled that Kerry was having an affair with Burrell; there
was never any evidence.
Instead, police believe Burrell was either
blackmailing Kerry Whelan or, being the generous woman she
was, Kerry had offered to lend the cash-starved Burrell some
Evidence of Burrell's arsenal of weapons was not
allowed, nor did the jury hear the videotaped interview with
Jennette Harvey, a wealthy widow who police believe Burrell
was also targeting.
In a dying deposition made in September 1997, Mrs
Harvey revealed how Burrell was pressuring her into
investing in a phony diamond scheme. She told Bray that she
too would mysteriously have disappeared had she entered the
After a hung jury and two trials, Burrell was
convicted of the Whelan and Davis murders, and is now
serving a life sentence.
The events took a heavy mental and physical toll on
Bernie Whelan. He looks every bit his 70 years; the pain and
enduring sorrow haunts his face and 12 years of hard labour
fighting for Kerry have left him frail and emotionally
unstable. "No one can understand what we've been through.
Kidnapping is the cruellest of crimes," Whelan said.
"Bruce Burrell was once my friend. He was welcomed
into my home. He cuddled my children, then he betrayed me in
the worst way imaginable. He's not an insane person - he's
just a cold-blooded killer who would do anything for money."
Bernie Whelan hopes Burrell will one day tell police
where the bodies are buried. A choice between Burrell's
conviction or the return of Kerry's remains for proper
burial is no contest, he says.
"The children and I would without doubt choose to
bring Mum home."
Candace Sutton's and Ellen Connolly's
Ladykiller will be
released by Allen and Unwin on Monday.
Convicted killer Bruce Burrell's
gun kept by his sister
SHE is the sister of Sydney double killer Bruce Burrell; a woman who
admits to hanging on to a gun he owned after he was jailed for murdering
But Tonia Pai wept yesterday as a magistrate assured her she would not be
punished for her brother's deeds.
The true significance of the weapon Pai was charged with keeping may never
be known - and the mystery surrounding just how Mrs Whelan died never resolved.
Police have long sought the Browning Buck Mark .22 which they suspected
Burrell used in the 1996 kidnapping and death.
But its whereabouts eluded police from the time it was reported stolen in
1996 until it surfaced in a northern beaches home earlier this year.
Ms Pai yesterday pleaded guilty to two firearms charges in Manly Local
Court, admitting she had failed to keep the weapon safely and had done so
without a licence.
The court heard Burrell had lived with her "on and off for many years" and
Ms Pai had found the gun in his belongings shortly after he was jailed for
murder in late 2008.
She told her father about the discovery, and he said he would tell
Burrell's legal team. But he died within weeks - and the gun stayed where it
Burrell loses sentence appeal
Pai even moved house with it in late 2009, stuffing it in the back of a
bedroom wardrobe in her next home.
She moved again late last year, with the new tenants finding the gun
months later and reporting it to police.
Pai's solicitor Ian Byrne told the court yesterday his client had made
"full and frank admissions" to police as soon as they spoke to her about the
discovery of the weapon.
He said she had merely hidden it from her children, and completely forgot
it when she moved house.
He urged leniency by Magistrate David Amati, saying the mother-of-five had
lost both her father and husband about the time she found the gun. "Despite what
she has been handed by life she certainly tries to do her best," he said.
Mr Amati initially told the court he was "troubled" by her conduct,
adding: "This is one of the most notorious murder cases in this state in some
years ... she found a gun, why didn't she hand it in?"
However Mr Amati said it was clear she had no knowledge of its importance
and sentenced her to an 18-month good behaviour bond.
Burrell is serving two life sentences for murder.
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