HOLDING ON: Doris and Jodie Hillier share three scrapbooks of newspaper clippings regarding the murder of brother and uncle Bryan Hodgkinson.
HOLDING ON: Doris and Jodie Hillier share three scrapbooks of newspaper clippings regarding the murder of brother and uncle Bryan Hodgkinson. Sarah Steger

OUTRAGE: Murdered cabbie's family slams bondage party claims

OUTRAGED family members have smacked down the controversial evidence a witness gave at this week's coronial inquest into the 1987 murder of a Bundaberg taxi driver.

More than 30 years have passed since Bryan Hodgkinson, 48, was brutally killed on September 10, 1987, at Goodwood.

And after more than three decades, sister Doris Hillier and niece Jodie Hillier are as committed as ever to finding who murdered the Bundaberg father of three.

But a major part of that loyalty involves making sure Mr Hodgkinson's name is not tarnished, with more details coming to light as the cold case investigation continues.

 

Gary Anthony Spann, a friend of Bryan Hodgkinson.
SADDENED: Witness Gary Spann said he was a friend of Bundaberg murder victim Bryan Hodgkinson and suspected the father of three saw something while photographing a bondage party in 1987. Sarah Steger

On Tuesday, friend of Mr Hodgkinson Gary Anthony Spann's testimony rattled some who attended the Coroners Court at Bundaberg.

The 74-year-old told Coroner David O'Connell Mr Hodgkinson had never gone anywhere without his camera and had used it to take photos at "special parties".

From the witness box, Mr Spann said he suspected his old friend had taken photos at bondage parties.

There were a lot of weird things going on in the Bundaberg area at that time. A lot of cults, satanism ... bondage parties," Mr Spann said.

He said Mr Hodgkinson was a good photographer and used to take photos for the police and others to earn extra money.

"Maybe being too good of a photographer was his downturn," Mr Spann told the court.

Coronial inquest into Hodgkinson murdie: Doris Hillier and Jodie Hillier said they could not let go of the murder of brother and uncle Bryan Hodgkinson, no matter how much time went by.
Coronial inquest into Hodgkinson murdie: Doris Hillier and Jodie Hillier said they could not let go of the murder of brother and uncle Bryan Hodgkinson, no matter how much time went by.

But Doris and Jodie slammed the former security officer's claims.

"He didn't need the extra money, things were going well," Doris said after the inquest was adjourned on Tuesday.

"They weren't friends."

Jodie said her uncle was a good person who didn't deserve to have the memory of him tarnished by falsities.

He didn't deserve this. Uncle Bryan was decent and kind. He was never involved in anything like (bondage parties)," she told the NewsMail.

The mother and daughter said they had been "fighting" for Mr Hodgkinson every day since his death - a sentiment illustrated in the three scrapbooks of newspaper clippings they have collected over the past 30 years and continue to treasure.

Coronial inquest into Hodgkinson murder: TRAGIC: Murder victim Bryan Hodgkinson's sister Doris Hillier and niece Jodie Hillier go through the scrapbooks of newspaper clippings they have collected on his 1987 death.
Coronial inquest into Hodgkinson murder: TRAGIC: Murder victim Bryan Hodgkinson's sister Doris Hillier and niece Jodie Hillier go through the scrapbooks of newspaper clippings they have collected on his 1987 death.

"People have said 'get over it' but we can't," Doris said.

Not a day goes by he isn't the first thing on our minds."

After the adjournment, Mr Spann told the NewsMail the inquest, which had fallen on his 53rd wedding anniversary, was the first time he had given evidence in relation to the murder.

"I don't think justice will be done. I think the motive was his silence," he said.

Mr Spann said he thought his friend was an innocent victim who had seen something, possibly in relation to the murder of Paula Peters, at one of the "bondage parties".

 

A young Bryan Hodgkinson taking part in a table tennis tournament, regular activity with he did with his sister Doris Hillier.  PHOTO: Submitted
MURDER VICTIM: A young Bryan Hodgkinson taking part in a table tennis tournament - a regular activity he did with his sister Doris Hillier.

"People want it covered up," he said.

Ms Peters's body was found in a freshly burned cane field a few hours after Mr Hodgkinson's, but police believe she was killed about a week beforehand.

Paul Vincent Sutherland was sentenced to 11 years in prison for Ms Peters's murder and another nine for sexual offences toward a different victim. He was released on parole in 2006.

Mr Hodgkinson and Ms Peters were two of three Bundy residents murdered within six months of each other between 1987 and 1988.

The third, like Mr Hodgkinson's, also remains unsolved.

Twenty-one-year-old preschool teacher Teresa Smith was found dead in her apartment after being bound, raped and left with her head in a bucket of water on February 1, 1988.

Mr Sutherland was initially charged with Ms Smith's death, however, he was acquitted.

 

Kerrie Anna Helme, the former partner of one of the two men (now deceased) in the taxi with driver Bryan Hodgkinson the day he died on September 10, 1987.
WITNESS: Kerrie Anna Helme, the former partner of the late Gary Rasmussen - one of the two men in the taxi with driver Bryan Hodgkinson the day he died on September 10, 1987. Sarah Steger

Witness Kerrie Anna Helme told the NewsMail she had always had her suspicions about who the murder was but was not surprised the case had yet to be solved.

The town was corrupt at that time ... Surely 30 years is enough to lay this thing to rest," she said.

Ms Helme is a former partner of Gary Rasmussen, who was one of the two male passengers in Mr Hodgkinson's taxi the night he died.

Mr Rasmussen died of a drug overdose in 1993.

The court was told all fingerprints and DNA found in the dumped vehicle were checked against several people including Mr Rasmussen and witness Anthony Bruce Beer, 47 - the other taxi passenger.

Mr Beer, who was subpoenaed to appear as a witness in the coronial inquest, was charged with accessory after the fact to murder, robbery with actual violence, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and wilful damage after former partner Rhonda Jeanette Chapman provided police with new information in 2009, which led to a breakthrough in the case.

On Tuesday Ms Chapman told the inquest that Mr Beer started telling her things that were "praying on his mind".

She said he spoke to her about Mr Hodgkinson up to 40 times and "seemed scared at times".

Ms Chapman said she went to police in 2009, after struggling to decide whether anything Mr Beer had said was true.

 

Bryan Hodgkinson.
Photo: Contributed
COLD CASE: Bryan Hodgkinson was killed on September 10, 1987. Contributed

Mr Beer's legal counsel, Andrew Hoare, told Coroner David O'Connell a police statement from Ms Chapman said Mr Beer was often "just living in a fantasy world", which is why she had not gone to police before 2009.

In 2010 a magistrate found there was not enough evidence to commit Mr Beer to trial.

From the witness box on Tuesday morning, Mr Beer asked to be excused from giving evidence in the inquest as his answers could incriminate him.

The inquest was adjourned to June 12 in order for "certain avenues" to be explored.

These lines or inquiry include the interview of further witnesses, which Senior Sergeant Scott Wiggins recommended happen in 2014.

A $250,000 reward for information regarding Mr Hodgkinson's murder still remains unclaimed.

People with information can phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Policelink on 131 444.