VICTIM: Bundaberg taxi driver was found murdered in Bundaberg in Bryan Hodgkinson in 1987. On the same day, murder victim Paula Peters' body was also found in the Rum City.
VICTIM: Bundaberg taxi driver was found murdered in Bundaberg in Bryan Hodgkinson in 1987. On the same day, murder victim Paula Peters' body was also found in the Rum City. Contributed

CULTS, SATANISM: Shock evidence in murdered cabbie's inquest

**LATEST NEWS |  Murdered cabbie's family slams bondage party claims**

 

SATANISM, cults and bondage parties could be the answers investigators have been waiting more than 30 years for in their quest to solve the cold case murder of Bundaberg taxi driver Bryan Hodgkinson.

The coronial inquest into the then 48-year-old's 1987 murder was restarted yesterday, after being adjourned since 1998.

The Coroners Court in Bundaberg was told Mr Hodgkinson was one of three residents murdered within six-months of each other between 1987-1988.

Mr Hodgkinson's body, riddled with stab wounds, head injuries and cuts, was found by a bus driver at a quarry near Goodwood.

His taxi was found at Beatrice St by a newspaper delivery man, with what appeared to be blood spattered across its exterior.

Counsel assisting the Coroner John Aberdeen said it was a "savage assault".

BROKEN: Old friend Gary Spann thinks the case will never be solved because too much time has passed.
BROKEN: Old friend Gary Spann thinks the case will never be solved because too much time has passed. Sarah Steger

Gary Anthony Spann, a former security officer and one of five witnesses at yesterday's proceedings told Coroner David O'Connell he had known Mr Hodgkinson "practically all (his) life from (teens) onward".

Succumbing to his emotions, Mr Spann, 74, broke down in tears as he described the pair's close friendship.

The Coroners Court of Queensland heard Mr Hodgkinson had been a good photographer - a skill he had used in order to earn extra money.

"He never went anywhere without his camera. He used to go to parties to take photos," Mr Spann said.

He said he suspected it was one of Bundy's "special parties" which indirectly led to his friend's murder.

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.

Though uncovered a few hours after Mr Hodgkinson's murder, it is understood Paula Peters was the first of the three people to be murdered in the series of killings.

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

"(Paula) was found in a bondage position ... I think it was a bondage party gone wrong," Mr Spann said.

STAYING STRONG: Some of the many news clippings sister Doris Hillier and her daughter Jodie have collected in the 31 years since Bryan Hodgkinson's murder.
STAYING STRONG: Some of the many news clippings sister Doris Hillier and her daughter Jodie have collected in the 31 years since Bryan Hodgkinson's murder. Sarah Steger

The victim's body was found in a freshly burned cane field, which Mr Spann believed had been lit to "cover up" the party.

"People get their kicks in seeing photos of what they've gone through ... (Mr Hodgkinson) was there to take photos I think ... I think he knew something," Mr Spann said.

Unable to prove what he feared had happened when his friend was killed, Mr Spann said he could be certain Mr Hodgkinson had been out of character the night he died.

He said the two men typically ran into each other during their night shifts and, on such occasions, would give each other a friendly "hello" wave.

But on September 10, 1987, the only acknowledgement Mr Spann got from his friend as they drove past each other was a slight hand raise and an unwavering stare straight ahead.

He said he had seen two people in Mr Hodgkinson's cab at the time (about 12.45am) but was unable to make features.

DEVASTATED: Murder victim Bryan Hodgkinson's niece Jodie Hillier and sister Doris Hillier hold up three scrapbooks-worth of newspaper clippings they have collected during their quest for justice.
DEVASTATED: Murder victim Bryan Hodgkinson's niece Jodie Hillier and sister Doris Hillier hold up three scrapbooks-worth of newspaper clippings they have collected during their quest for justice. Sarah Steger

The court was told the two passengers in the taxi were Gary Rasmussen and Anthony Bruce Beer, 47.

Mr Rasmussen overdosed on a prescription and illicit drugs and died in 1993.

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

However, in 2010, Magistrate Neil Lavaring found there was not enough evidence to commit Mr Beer to trial.

From the witness box yesterday morning, Mr Beer requested he be excused from giving evidence in the inquiry as his answers could incriminate him.

Lawyer Andrew Hoare told the Coroners Court the Coroners Act 1958 allowed his client to claim privilege against self-incrimination, as Mr Hodgkinson's murder happened before the new Coroners Act 2003.

HOLDING ON: Some of the hundreds of news clippings sister Doris Hillier has collected in the 31 years since her brother Bryan Hodgkinson's murder.
HOLDING ON: Some of the hundreds of news clippings sister Doris Hillier has collected in the 31 years since her brother Bryan Hodgkinson's murder. Sarah Steger

The court was told the night Mr Hodhkins died, Mr Rasmussen told Mr Beer to count to 10 and cover his ears before getting out of the taxi about 30km south of Bundaberg.

Once he returned, he told Mr Beer to drive back to town.

In 2014, Senior Sergeant Scott Wiggins reviewed the case and prepared a 46-page review before handing it, a long with his recommendations to further speak to witnesses, to the Bundaberg criminal Investigation Branch.

Counsel to the Coroner John Aberdeen said these recommendations had yet to be acted on.


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