1st Murder – Victim: Anita Cobby – 5 convicted killers sentenced to die in jail

There have been several exhaustive articles written about the gang rape and murder of Anita Cobby in Blacktown NSW in 1986, not limited to:

·                 The most savage, fiendish murder ever known’ – Candace Sutton – News.com.au

·                 ‘Innocent nurse gang raped and murdered on her way home from work’ – Kate Williams

Also a 215 page book, ‘Someone else’s daughter – the life and death of Anita Cobby’ written by Julia Sheppard – published by Macmillan.


Anita Cobby                     

The former beauty queen was walking home from Blacktown train station in February 1986 when five men dragged her into a stolen car.

They drove her to a secluded paddock where she was gang-raped and beaten before she was tortured with knives and left to die.

Angry crowds gathered outside Bankstown court when Anita Cobby’s killers were initially charged.  Some held banners demanding the death penalty, including parading an effigy of an adult hanging from a noose.

A young Leader of the NSW State opposition, Nick Greiner, presented 10,000 petitions to the Premier, Neville Wran, in 1987 demanding that the murderers of Anita Cobby be executed.

On 10 June 1987, in the Darlinghurst Supreme Court, a jury found Anita Cobby’s five killers (John Travers, Michael Murdoch, three brothers Michael, Gary and Les Murphy) guilty of sexual assault and murder in Feb 1986 in Blacktown. They were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Leslie Murphy was 22, his brothers Gary and Michael were 28 and 33, Michael Murdoch was 19 and John Travers was 18 at the time of Ms Cobby’s death.

The five men charged, who later all pleaded guilty or were convicted of the murder, had over fifty prior convictions for offences including armed robbery, assault, larceny, car theft, breaking and entering, drug use, escaping lawful custody, receiving stolen goods and rape.

In and out of children’s court, John Travers had previously been sent to a juvenile detention facility and expelled from school in year 10.

  1. John Travers, now 53, is Sentenced to life without parole.  He has already served 34 years.  Based on the average annual cost of Maximum Security Incarceration in 2020, should Travers live another 22 years to 75, his jail incarceration will have cost the NSW taxpayer $9.8 million circa ($175,000 p.a. X 56 years).
  2. Michael Murdoch, now 54, is Sentenced to life without parole.  He has already served 34 years.  Based on the average annual cost of Maximum Security Incarceration in 2020, should Murdoch live another 21 years to 75, his jail incarceration will have cost the NSW taxpayer $9.625 million circa ($175,000 p.a. X 55 years).
  3. Michael Murphy died of liver cancer on 22 Feb 2019 in Long Bay Jail aged 66.  He served 33 years.  Based on the average annual cost of Maximum Security Incarceration in 2020, Michael Murphy's jail incarceration have cost the NSW taxpayer $5.775 million circa ($175,000 p.a. X 33 years).
  4. Gary Murphy, now 63, is Sentenced to life without parole.  He has already served 34 years.  Based on the average annual cost of Maximum Security Incarceration in 2020, should Gary Murphy live another 12 years to 75, his jail incarceration will have cost the NSW taxpayer $8.05 million circa ($175,000 p.a. X 46 years).
  5. Leslie Murphy, now 56, is Sentenced to life without parole.  He has already served 34 years.  Based on the average annual cost of Maximum Security Incarceration in 2020, should Leslie Murphy live another 19 years to 75, his jail incarceration will have cost the NSW taxpayer $9.275 million circa ($175,000 p.a. X 53 years).

The aggregate cost upon the Public Purse of the above five inmates is $42.525 million dollars.

The laws surrounding murder in New South Wales are governed by the Crimes Act 1900.

Section 18 of the Crimes Act defines murder as causing another person’s death, inter alia, “with the intent to kill”.

Crimes Act 1900 No 40 19A ‘Punishment for murder’ includes:

(1)   A person who commits the crime of murder is liable to imprisonment for life.

(2)   A person sentenced to imprisonment for life for the crime of murder is to serve that sentence for the term of the person’s natural life.

Questions re 1st Murder – Victim: Anita Cobby

Q (i)

Should the Crimes Act 1900 No 40 19A ‘Punishment for murder’ have been altered in early 1987 to provide execution by hanging by the neck as the maximum penalty for murder due to:

·         $42.525 million circa cost to imprison Anita Cobby’s five murderers in Maximum Security Incarceration until they die.

·         10,000 petitions handed to the then Premier, Neville Wran, by Nick Greiner seeking the death penalty.

·         Protests outside Bankstown court.

Write response to Q (i) re 1st Murder on 'Peer Reviewer's Responses to Sentences Form' Word document

Q (ii)

Might Corporal Punishment, instead of slaps on the wrist, for the below array of prior criminal behaviour by the five convicted criminals have deterred those five from kidnapping Anita Cobby?

armed robbery, assault, larceny, car theft, breaking and entering, drug use, escaping lawful custody, receiving stolen goods and rape.

John Travers had previously been sent to a juvenile detention facility

Write response to Q (ii) 1st Murder on 'Peer Reviewer's Responses to Sentences Form' Word document

Q (iii)

Would the five convicted criminals have been less likely to have kidnapped and raped Anita Cobby, if One, Two or perhaps Three of the most monstrous convicted murderers had been executed by hanging each year in the early 1980s, after the following infliction of Corporal Punishment a week before being hanged by the neck?:
(three strokes of the cat ‘o nine tails and three strokes of the Australian Rattan)

Write response to Q (iii) 1st Murder on 'Peer Reviewer's Responses to Sentences Form' Word document