A FORMER wardsman at Macquarie Care Centre told at least three people he murdered Janine Vaughan by slitting her throat and burying her under a pile of rocks.
The startling claims were made yesterday during the inquest into Ms Vaughan’s disappearance in 2001.
Peter Barker, Janine Wheatley and Julie Cleave (nee Heydon) all gave evidence before Coroner Mary Jerram.
Mr Barker told the court that Denis Briggs relayed murdering Janine Vaughan after she resisted a sexual advance.
Mr Barker said he met Briggs while watching a game of football at the Bathurst RSL in 2002. During their conversation the pair realised Briggs used to work with Mr Barker’s girlfriend Janine Wheatley at Macquarie Care Centre.
“Janine Vaughan was on the news and he piped up ‘I did that’,” Mr Barker said yesterday.
“It was a sick thing to say but I didn’t think anything of it.”
Mr Barker admitted be began “dodging” Briggs and did not want to associate with him, but not long after he said he confronted Briggs about the missing woman.
“I just said to him ‘did you have anything to do with Janine Vaughan?’,” Mr Barker said. “And what he said was horrible, and I’m sorry I have to repeat it [in front of the Vaughan family].
“He said he picked up Janine Vaughan out front of Livewire. He picked her up to get her handbag, and then drove her home.
“She went to get out of the car and he said ... I pulled her back in, took her to White Rock where I tried to [expletive] her.
“He said she tried to fight him off so he got out his knife and stabbed her in the side.
“He said he stabbed her another 14 times then slit her throat.
“He told me he buried her under rocks, went and got a shovel and tried to dig a hole but the ground was too hard, so he took her across the river and buried her there.”
Mr Barker’s girlfriend Janine Wheatley also took the stand yesterday, saying while she can’t remember how Janine Vaughan came up it was something she had discussed with Briggs.
“He was sitting at the table talking about Janine Vaughan. He had in interest in the lady ... he went to Ed Harry [where Ms Vaughan worked] all the time,” Ms Wheatley said.
“He told me he had to buy stuff he didn’t want because she kept getting annoyed at him.”
Ms Wheatley said she recalled Briggs saying he picked up Janine Vaughan at Livewire and went to her home but she didn’t invite him in.
“He said he pulled her back into the car by her hair and she was screaming ... he couldn’t stop her from screaming,” she said.
“He said he took her out to White Rock Lane near the river, raped her and pulled a knife to try and shut her up.
“He told me he stabbed her six times. He said eventually she did die and he buried her in a shallow grave.
“In all the times he spoke about it he never changed the story, and he talked about it many times over a lengthy period.”
Ms Wheatley said her boyfriend, Mr Barker, had an uneasy feeling about her getting involved and told her never to be alone with Briggs.
But she felt the family should know what she’d been told and contacted police.
Briggs’ former girlfriend, Julie Cleave (nee Heydon), was the third person to tell the inquest of Briggs’ confession.
Mrs Cleave, also a nurse who worked at Macquarie Care, said Briggs spoke about Vaughan shortly after she vanished on December 7, 2001. She said the conversation took place some time in December.
“He said she’s near water and said her throat had been cut with a knife,” Ms Cleave said.
Mrs Cleave said she asked Briggs how he knew Janine Vaughan was dead, and he replied: “Because I killed her.”