Note: Article is © copyright The Australian 1999

Accused often spoke of Mackay murders

`He offered to take us for a drive to show us where the bodies were found'


The man accused of murdering the Mackay sisters offered to take two of his female relatives on a trip to the murder site just weeks after they were killed, Townsville Supreme Court heard yesterday.

Arthur Stanley Brown, 87, often talked about the murders of Susan Mackay, 5, and her sister Judith, 7, and claimed he knew the girls' father, relatives told the court.

Mr Brown has pleaded not guilty to the murder of the sisters, whose bodies were found in the dry bed of Antill Creek, 25km south-west of Townsville, on August 28, 1970.

The girls had disappeared two days earlier while waiting for a bus to school near their home in the Townsville suburb of Aitkenvale.

Merle Martin-Moss and her sister Christine Millier, who were cousins of Mr Brown's late wife Hester, said Mr Brown discussed the murders with them a few weeks after the girls were killed.

"He offered to take (Merle) and I, and Hester, for a drive to Antill Creek to show us where the bodies were found," Ms Millier said.

"We declined."

Ms Millier said Mr Brown also told them he knew the Mackay sisters' father William Mackay.

But Mr Mackay gave evidence yesterday that he had never heard of Mr Brown until he was arrested in December last year.

Another relative, Valerie Porter, said that while the family was discussing the Mackay murders, Mr Brown had said: "I could have done that."

Ms Porter said that on another occasion, Mr Brown had said he had taken a door off his car, buried it, dug it up again and taken it to the dump.

The prosecution case is that several witnesses who saw a man driving across Townsville with two young girls on the day the Mackay sisters disappeared reported that the driver side door of his car was a different colour from the rest of the vehicle.

A heated exchange erupted yesterday between defence counsel Mark Donnelly and arresting officer David Hickey over comments Mr Brown allegedly made in the Townsville watch house on December 3 last year, the day he was arrested.

Sergeant Hickey said that after he was formally charged, Mr Brown had said: "Those Mackays have got me stumped you know."

Asked what he meant, Mr Brown had said: "Well I've lived in this town over 30 years and I've never heard of any Mackay murders."

Mr Donnelly accused Sergeant Hickey of making it up.

A tape recording of an interview Sergeant Hickey conducted with Mr Brown at his home earlier that day was played to the court.

During a tea break in the interview, Mr Brown and his second wife Charlotte are heard talking about one of the dead girls after seeing her name on a search warrant police had served them.

"Who's Susan Deborah Mackay?" Mrs Brown asks.

"I don't know," Mr Brown says. "I'm supposed to have murdered her."

The case continues.

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