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Double-murderer pleads guilty, eligible for parole next year

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A double murderer who raped and killed a Gold Coast woman snatched from a shopping centre almost 40 years ago will be eligible for parole in 2022.

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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.

Reed 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.

Reed’s 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 shit with his grey hair tied in a ponytail.

O’Meara was 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 was sentenced to life in prison, 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 during the hearing, 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”.

Although legally a juvenile at the time of Reed’s murder, O’Meara was sentenced as an adult.

Justice Glenn Martin said O’Meara had consistently denied any involvement in the murder and had a “deep hatred” for women.

“The manner in which he treated (Ms Reed) her in the short time before her awful death was sufficient to demonstrate the vile intent he held at that time,” Justice Martin said.

“The guilty plea does not indicate remorse.

“He must be punished, but not in a way that constitutes a crushing sentence,” he said.

He sentenced O’Meara to 20 years in prison but ordered he be eligible for parole in July, 2022.

“You will then have been in prison for 37 years. It will be for the parole board to determine whether you will be released.”

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