Sydney nurse Anita Cobby's killer Michael Murphy dies in Long Bay jail

| 22.02,19. 05:06 PM |

Sydney nurse Anita Cobby's killer Michael Murphy dies in Long Bay jail

Photo: Anita Cobby was a 26-year-old beauty pageant winner and nurse. (Supplied)

Photo: Michael Murphy was one of NSW's most notorious criminals. (Supplied: NSW Police)

A judge described Michael Murphy's crimes as "horrifying" while the crown prosecutor called them "savage".

Now, the man who abducted, raped and killed Sydney nurse Anita Cobby in 1986 has died in jail, aged 66.

Murphy was one of five men, including two of his brothers, given a life sentence over the infamous killing, which shocked Australia.

The media dubbed the 45-day court proceedings as "the trial of the century".

At the sentencing, Justice Alan Maxwell cried as he described the crimes as "one of the most horrifying physical and sexual assaults" he had seen.

He directed the file of each man be marked "never to be released".

Murphy was on the run at the time of Ms Cobby's murder, having escaped from Silverwater Prison where he was serving time for armed robbery.

On February 2, 1986 Cobby was seized after arriving at Blacktown Station in Sydney's west.

She had travelled from Central Station after having dinner with her friends following her shift at the Sydney Hospital on Macquarie Street.

The former beauty pageant winner was dragged into a car containing the five men and was sexually assaulted.

She was later dragged from the car into a paddock where she was subjected to further sexual assault, was almost decapitated and killed.

Her bloodied naked body was found two days later in a secluded cow paddock in nearby Prospect.

The farmer realised something was amiss as his cows had been gathered in the same spot for many hours.

After a three-week manhunt and a $50,0000 reward for information offered, John Travers, Michael Murdoch, and brothers Michael, Leslie and Gary Murphy were arrested and charged with a range of offences.

The group were "hated and reviled" by the community and some even called for the restoration of the death penalty, said then-public defender Bill Hosking.

The crime outraged the nation and led to demonstrations outside the Blacktown Police Station.

A dummy was even hung from a tree branch outside the Westmead Coroner's Court.

Michael Murphy, and the other four men, all pleaded not guilty.

However, one of the accused, John Travers, changed his plea before proceedings began.

During the trial the crown prosecutor labelled Cobby's demise as "one of the most savage and brutal murders the state has ever known".

Days after her murder, former NSW Premier Neville Wran set up an inquiry into Murphy's escape from jail and his low security classification.

The investigation found there was "evidence of a tendency in the prisoner to escape" but evidence that he was likely to commit crimes of violence was "not strong".

Murphy was the oldest of the five men convicted.


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