Killer rapist jailed

Page 1 of The Journal, 26 May 1983 reports on the then-unsolved murder in the Police Paddocks.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A murderer and rapist who preyed on couples in the Police Paddocks in Dandenong North more than 35 years ago has been jailed.

James Patrick Dobbie, now 65, had been “motivated by lust and a violent need for domination” over his victims parked in the ‘lovers lane’ in March 1980, April 1983 and May 1983.

His “despicable” and “completely indefensible” behaviour had “no place in the civilised community”, Supreme Court of Victoria Justice John Champion said during sentencing on 29 April.

In his first two episodes of terror, a masked Dobbie pointed a sawn-off shotgun at couples aged just 18-21 years, tying up the males and sustainedly raping the females nearby.

In May 1983 attack, Dobbie pointed the gun through a car at a 37-year-old man and 26-year-old woman inside.

The man fought back and briefly struggled with Dobbie until he was fatally shot twice.

Dobbie left the dead man behind, binding the woman and driving her away in her lover’s vehicle.

She escaped from the moving vehicle – despite Dobbie warning he would shoot her if she tried.

Dobbie dumped the car at Caulfield railway station, caught a train to his Boronia home and fled for a new life in Queensland.

The crimes were quickly reported to police but remained long unsolved.

That was until an anonymous Crime Stoppers call led to Dobbie handing himself in for arrest at a police station in Cobram, NSW, in June 2018.

At the time he had been married for 15 years, and a father, stepfather and grandfather of eight.

“I just had enough,” Dobbie told police during his admissions.

“I want to get it out now.”

He claimed he had been affected by cannabis and hallucinogenic mushrooms during the crimes.

Eight victims told of the “tremendous pain, suffering and trauma” in statements to the court, Justice Champion said.

They included the surviving couples, and the shot man’s wife and two young children left behind.

“No sentence I pass can undo the severe pain and suffering you’ve caused multiple people.”

The “horrifying” rapes and indecent assaults of Dobbie’s victims were of the highest gravity, marked by a high degree of violence, intimidation and humiliation, the judge said.

There was no evidence to show Dobbie had intended shoot or harm his victims. However the circumstances elevated the murder charge to a high level, the judge noted.

Justice Champion noted Dobbie’s guilty plea, admissions and stated remorse after long concealing his involvement in the crimes.

Dobbie had lived a law-abiding life since the crimes but still harboured misogynistic views, the judge said.

The court was told of Dobbie’s dysfunctional and abusive upbringing by alcoholic parents. At 12, Dobbie had himself been sexually abused by a trusted elder, the court heard.

He was jailed for up to 31 years, with a minimum non-parole period of 25 years. He had served 311 days in pre-sentence custody.

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