Something to THINK ABOUT …
The death in Long Bay prison last night of one of the murderers of Anita Cobby, Michael Murphy, brings back chilling memories of one of the most cold-blooded and brutal homicides in Australian history.
The public outcry following the crime and the subsequent court case was so visceral that it led to calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty.
Murphy was the oldest of a gang of five sub-humans who abducted, beat, raped, tortured and murdered 26-year-old Sydney nurse, Anita Cobby, at Prospect in February 1986. On conviction, their papers were marked “never to be released”.
Murphy, 66, was joined in the crime by two of his younger brothers Leslie and Gary and two teenagers, John Travers and Michel Murdoch. Michael Murphy was the oldest of the group but the youngest, Travers, was regarded as the ringleader
Murphy is the first of the gang to die, the rest remain in remain in high-security cells in undisclosed locations in the NSW Corrective Services system. The abhorrence of their crime still lingers among inmates and over the 33 years of their incarceration, rumours have periodically emerged of ‘rough justice’ being dealt to them by prisoners.
None of the gang has ever expressed remorse. Indeed, in 1916, Channel Seven aired an audio tape in which Travers confessed to the murder and laughed after saying: “I said she’s got to be done … and they said go on Johnny do your bit, so I just cut her.”
Each of the gang was a product of deprived upbringings and they were all of below-average intelligence. Travers was an alcoholic by the age of 14 with a history of sexual violence and bestiality.
Many experts have pointed to the gang’s antecedents as an example of the depths to which humans can descend without the civilising influence of familial love and community care.
When told of Murphy’s death, Anita Cobby’s widow John Cobby, said he hoped his death “was painful for him. One down, four to go.”