Bruce Preston, 67, charged with 1978 Spear Creek triple murder, acquitted by Supreme Court

Bruce Preston, 67, charged with 1978 Spear Creek triple murder, acquitted by Supreme Court

A man accused of three murders was acquitted after withdrawing all charges against him

Man accused of Spear Creek triple murder walks free Prosecutor could not continue in good faith

The man accused of the 1978 Spear Creek triple murders has walked free from the Supreme Court after all charges against him were dropped.

Bruce John Preston, 67, was charged in 2019 with the alleged triple murder of Karen Edwards, her boyfriend Timothy Thomson and their friend Gordon Twaddle – more than 40 years after their bodies were found.

Police allege the three friends were shot dead in the bush at Spear Creek outside Mt Isa in October 1978.

Their bodies were found two weeks later about 12 kilometers from Mount Isa.

They had just gone on a motorbike road trip around Australia.

Bruce Preston (pictured), 67, accused of the 1978 triple murder at Spear Creek, was acquitted in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday.

Mr Preston, a retired senior prison officer at Goulburn Supermax Prison in NSW, was arrested in 2019 after the Queensland Homicide Investigation Unit’s cold case team reviewed the case.

Mr Preston, who was on bail when he appeared in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday, was formally acquitted of three counts of murder.

A Nolle Prosequi (a formal notice of abandonment of a case) has been entered into the charges before the Crown Court, after determining it can no longer proceed with the case.

Mr Preston was acquitted of three counts of murder.

One of the reasons, the court was told, was that several key witnesses had died or were unwell to testify before the trial.

Prosecutors dropped their cases when key witnesses either had fathers or were in poor health, telling the Brisbane Supreme Court (pictured) they could not continue in good faith.

Police allege Tim Thompson (left), his girlfriend Karen Edwards (centre) and their friend Gordon Twaddle (right) were shot dead in Spear Creek, north-east of Mount Isa.

The Crown prosecutor told the court he was not sure when those key witnesses died.

‘There was (also) some information which was supplied (which) was incorrect and some essential evidence was overlooked … so a determination was that a trial, any trial, would be fundamentally unfair on public interest grounds. ,’ said the Crown Prosecutor.

‘Subjects are constantly reviewed and investigated so that critical analysis can be reviewed at the end.’

Mr Preston’s defense barrister, Russell Pearce, told the court his client had always maintained his innocence and co-operated during the investigation.

‘The prosecution is not proceeding because witnesses have died and or are unable to testify due to ill health,’ Mr Pearce said.

‘I would like to place on record that in all of these proceedings, the defense has been co-operative to ensure that all evidence is available prior to trial.’

Mundara Caravan Park, near Mount Isa, (pictured) where the trio of friends were last seen alive on October 5, 1978

Justice Peter Callaghan said there had been ‘appalling’ communication between the police and the Director of the Public Prosecutions Office over matters surrounding witness lists.

‘There seems to be a clear indication in this case that this did not happen,’ Justice Callaghan said, referring to the review process by the DPP.

The trio’s supporters were left to come to terms that their loved ones’ deaths remained unsolved.

Mr Twaddle and Mr Gordon were both originally from New Zealand, with Mr Gordon also living in Melbourne and Alice Springs.

Ms Edwards was from Dandenong in Melbourne before she started travelling.

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