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Career criminal admits murdering, raping young woman 37 years ago

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A man who raped and murdered a young Gold Coast woman he snatched from a shopping centre more than 37 years ago killed again less than two years later, a court has heard.

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Troy James O’Meara pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to murdering and raping Linda Reed, who was never seen alive again after taking a lunch break from her retail job in Pacific Fair shopping centre at Broadbeach on December 13, 1983.

She was 21 and building her first home with her husband.

She was eating lunch in her car when O’Meara forced his way into the vehicle.

He made her drive to isolated bushland where she was raped, dragged from the car and her face forced into a dry creek bed where she was drowned or smothered to death.

Her partly clothed and bound body was found three days later.

Her hands were tied behind her back with a cotton bikini top with the post-mortem examination finding dirt and mud from her last breath in her lungs.

O’Meara sat expressionless in the dock as the details of his crimes were outlined to the court.

Just 17 at the time of the killing, the now 54-year-old appeared wearing thongs and a striped shirt with his grey hair tied in a ponytail.

O’Meara is being prosecuted as an adult in line with legislation at the time of the murder.

Chilling details of O’Meara’s criminal history revealed that less than two years after Reed was killed, he brutally murdered a second woman.

In July 1985, Vanessa Joy O’Brien was collecting wedding rings for her upcoming marriage when she was forced at knifepoint into her car and made to drive to bushland, where she was raped and murdered.

During that trial, the court was told O’Brien died because O’Meara felt like “killing a woman” – the same motive he later claimed for Reed’s death.

O’Meara served 13 years in jail for her murder, and despite the “striking similarities”, continued to deny involvement in Reed’s death.

In 2015, cold case detectives sent DNA material to a New Zealand facility which gave police solid evidence that O’Meara murdered Reed.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Reed’s husband Robert addressed his wife’s killer directly.

“Troy James O’Meara murdered my wife, my future children and my chances of being a father,” he wrote.

“After Linda’s murder. I vowed never to have children with anyone else.”

Reed’s mother, Nancy Fein, described her as a “beautiful and loving daughter”.

“What can I say after 37 years, a thousand tears and many prayers wondering what my daughter went through in the last minutes of her life,” her statement read.

“Linda was a wonderful daughter, sister, and for a short time, also a wonderful wife.

My only regret is that Linda’s father never lived to see this day”.

Justice Glenn Martin has reserved sentence.

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