Blossoming Criminal Love 05/12/2008
David Birnie was the eldest of six children, he was born in 1951. Both of his parents were alcoholics, who spent their money mainly on liquor and had little left over for raising their children. They divorced when he was 10 years old and neither parent wanted custody, so he became a ward of the state. In the 1960s, David was hired at a stable as an apprentice jockey. He was fired after a short time when he approached a female customer wearing nothing but a stocking over his head. As he moved into adolescence, he had already spent time in jail for misdemeanors and felonies. A sex and pornography addict as well as a paraphiliac by adulthood, he had a childless first marriage before his common-law marriage with Catherine.
Catherine was born in 1953. Her mother died before her first birthday and she moved to South Africa with her father. At the age of two she returned to Australia to live with her grandparents and then was sent to live with an aunt and uncle a year later. She was a melancholy sort with few friends. It had even been reported that parents in the neighborhood had forbidden their children to play with her. This cultivated in Catherine a strong need to be loved. She met David Birnie as a child, their families lived next to each other. When she was 15, they began a casual sexual relationship which lasted until her marriage to Donald McLaughlin on her 21st birthday. McLaughlin was the son of the family who had engaged her as a domestic. She had six children with McLaughlin, one of whom died in a car accident as a baby. Shortly after this accident, she abandoned her husband and began living with David. She changed her legal surname to Birnie and became completely dependent on him.
In their late teens, they were engaged in quite a crime spree. In 1969, the two were charged with eleven counts of theft along with breaking and entering. David received 9 months in prison. Catherine was pregnant at the time, so she only got probation. A month later, an additional eight counts of theft were brought before the Supreme Court. David's sentence was increased by an additional three years and Catherine's probation was increased by four years. In July of 1970, David Birnie escaped from prison and reunited with Catherine. Shortly afterward, the couple was arrested again and charged with 53 counts of theft, breaking and entering, trespassing, and illegal operation of a motor vehicle. They had wigs, radios, dynamite, detonators, and fuses, with them when they were apprehended. David was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and this time Catherine had to serve six months of hard time. Her baby was taken by the state.
A Matrimony Made for Murder 05/12/2008
David Birnie had some interesting sexual habits, the least of which was an excessive collection of brutal pornography. He was also known to use a hypodermic needle to inject localized anesthetics into his penis prior to engaging in intercourse. When the extreme measures he employed to achieve sexual excitement no longer worked, David suggested that it would be invigorating for Catherine to watch him rape someone. She believed him and relented.
Two weeks after the abduction of Mary Neilson, 15-year-old Susannah Candy was picked up while hitch-hiking on Sterling Highway. She had been an honors student at Hollywood High School. The couple held her for several days and raped her repeatedly. After David finished raping Susannah, Catherine would get into bed with them, knowing this would stimulate her husband. The Birnies made Susannah write two letters to her parents so they would not worry about her. She was to explain that she was safe and just wanted some time to sort out her problems. When they had finished having intercourse with each other on the last night, David attempted to strangle Susannah without success. He then stuffed her mouth full of sleeping pills and waited for her to fall asleep.
Noelene Patterson was on her way home from her job as a bar manager at Nedlands Golf Club who had been acquainted with the Birnies to some degree. The couple had helped to wallpaper the 31-year-old's home on a previous occasion. Noelene was having trouble with her car, and the Birnies came along to help her push it to a service station. Then they forced Noelene into their car at knifepoint and took her back to their home. They had planned to kill her the first night, but David kept putting it off. He raped her for three days before Catherine pointed a knife at her own chest and threatened to use it on herself. She forced David to choose between his favorite victim and his devoted wife. Catherine kicked sand in her face once she was dead and when Catherine took police to Noelene Patterson's grave, she spat on it.
Twenty-one year old computer operator Denise Brown was a social butterfly who spent most of her spare time dancing at clubs. She had just left the Coolbellup hotel and was headed home to the apartment she and her boyfriend shared with another couple when the Birnies abducted her at knifepoint on November 4, 1986. She had been waiting for a bus on Stirling Highway. She was raped for two days and then raped in the car while being taken to a pine plantation, where David stabbed her in the neck while raping her again. The stabbing failed to kill her and she sat up, screaming, while they buried her. David then hit her in the head with an axe. When she sat up again, he turned the axe head around and split her skull open with his final blow. Even Catherine was disturbed by the brutality of this final attack on Denise.
The afternoon after the couple had picked up Denise Brown, a 19 year-old girl was offered a ride by two people she later identified as the Birnies. She had been walking home from the university that day and remarked that there had been a third person in the back seat of the couple's car. She was upset to later discover that the third person in the car was probably Denise Brown, who would still have been alive.
Caught and Convicted 05/12/2008
Their intended fifth victim was a 16-year-old girl whose name was never released to the public. She into a grocery store on November 10, 1986, naked and crying. When police got there she told them she had been abducted at knifepoint by a couple who then chained her to a bed in their house. She had been dragged into a car by them while she was walking in the suburbs alone. The woman stood by and watched as the man raped her repeatedly. The couple reportedly spoke about the possibility of injecting cocaine into David's penis to heighten his experience. The next morning, Catherine made the girl call her parents and tell them she had spent the night at a friend's house and was okay. The woman then took her back to the bedroom, but left her unsecured to go answer the door for a cocaine dealer. The girl then took off running out a window. She was able to give authorities the address and phone number of the couple who had kept her captive.