On 27 January 1996, a secretary aged 18 named Sarah Spiers disappeared after leaving Club Bay View in Claremont and calling a taxi from a nearby phone booth. Her body was never found.
On 9 June 1996, Jane Rimmer, a 23 year old childcare worker, was last seen alive outside Claremont’s Continental Hotel on 3 August 1996, Her body was found in bushland at Wellard in Perth’s south on March 15, 1997.
Ciara Glennon, a solicitor aged 27, was last seen in Claremont after visiting the Continental Hotel on 3 April 1997. Her body was later found in bushland at Eglinton in Perth’s north.
A male driver, either in a Telstra vehicle or identifying himself as a Telstra worker, had been seen giving lifts to women in Claremont or neighbouring Cottesloe.
Edwards was subsequently raided at his home and charged with all three Claremont murders, as well as historical attacks on women in Huntingdale and Karrakatta. During a police interview, he denied being responsible for the Claremont murders, or the Huntingdale and Karrakatta attacks.
In a twist, Edwards later pleaded guilty to the Huntingdale and Karrakatta attacks, but not guilty to the Claremont murders.
In November 2019, a 95 day judge-only trial commenced, and it finally concluded on 25 June 2020 after delays caused by the Prosecutor suffering illness. It is believed to be the most expensive criminal trial in WA history.
Principles of sentencing
Section 6 of the WA Sentencing Act 1995 provides that:
(1) A sentence imposed on an offender must be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence.
(2) The seriousness of an offence must be determined by taking into account —
(a) the statutory penalty for the offence; and
(b) the circumstances of the commission of the offence, including the vulnerability of any victim of the offence; and
(c) any aggravating factors; and
(d) any mitigating factors.
(3) Subsection (1) does not prevent the reduction of a sentence because of —
(a) any mitigating factors; or
(b) any rule of law as to the totality of sentences.
Section 279 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 relevantly provides that:
(1) If a person unlawfully kills another person and —
(a) the person intends to cause the death of the person killed or another person; or
(b) the person intends to cause a bodily injury of such a nature as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, the life of the person killed or another person; or
(c) the death is caused by means of an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose, which act is of such a nature as to be likely to endanger human life,
the person is guilty of murder.
(4) A person, other than a child, who is guilty of murder must be sentenced to life imprisonment unless —
(a) that sentence would be clearly unjust given the circumstances of the offence and the person; and
(b) the person is unlikely to be a threat to the safety of the community when released from imprisonment, in which case, subject to subsection
(5A), the person is liable to imprisonment for 20 years.”
90 . Life imprisonment for murder, imposing
(1) A court that sentences an offender to life imprisonment for murder must either —
(a) set a minimum period of —
(i) at least 15 years, if the offence is committed by an adult offender (within the meaning given in The Criminal Code section 1(1)) in the course of conduct that constitutes an aggravated home burglary (within the meaning given in that section); or
(ii) at least 10 years, in any other case,
that the offender must serve before being eligible for release on parole; or
(b) order that the offender must never be released.
(2) Any minimum period so set begins to run when the sentence of life imprisonment begins.
(3) A court must make an order under subsection (1)(b) if it is necessary to do so in order to meet the community’s interest in punishment and deterrence.
(4) In determining whether an offence is one for which an order under subsection (1)(b) is necessary, the only matters relating to the offence that are to be taken into account are —
(a) the circumstances of the commission of the offence; and
(b) any aggravating factors.
Today, Justice Hall has sentenced Edwards to life imprisonment for the murders of Ciara Glennon and Jane Rimmer as well as the Huntingdale and Karrakatta attacks with a non-parole period of 40 years.
Whilst Edwards has already appealed his murder convictions, it is not known whether he will also appeal against his sentences.
Subject to Edward’s appeal, he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.