Mark Richard Lawrence in bygone days. The killer now has grey hair and is clean shaven.
Mark Richard Lawrence in bygone days. The killer now has grey hair and is clean shaven.

'I think she was dead before one of us set her alight'

A psychopathic sexual sadist and killer who has been behind bars for more than 36 years for a string of violent crimes - including a horrific murder - is set to be freed from prison.

In the Supreme Court in Brisbane this morning Justice Helen Bowskill ruled that she was prepared to make a 20-year supervision order enabling the conditional release of Mark Richard Lawrence, 58, who stalked and brutally killed 29-year-old Julie Ann Muirhead in Brisbane on Boxing Day in 1983.

Justice Bowskill stated in her decision that she was satisfied that the community can be protected from Lawrence provided he receives months injections of anti-libidinal medication and has regular appointments with his treating doctors and psychiatrists.

If Lawrence refuses or can no longer take the injections for medical reasons, he will be returned to prison, Justice Bowskill stated.

 

Mark Richard Lawrence stalked and brutally killed 29-year-old Julie Ann Muirhead in Brisbane on Boxing Day in 1983.
Mark Richard Lawrence stalked and brutally killed 29-year-old Julie Ann Muirhead in Brisbane on Boxing Day in 1983.

 

 

He has been taking the injection since October, 2018, and it has reduced his testosterone levels, the court decision states.

The medication is aimed at removing his sexual urges, because his offending is based on "deviant" sexual fantasies, the court heard.

Lawrence has previously been diagnosed as having an antisocial personality disorder with psychopathic traits and sexual sadism.

Julie Muirhead raped and murdered by Mark Richard Lawrence
Julie Muirhead raped and murdered by Mark Richard Lawrence

Justice Bowskill has only made a proposed order so far, but says she plans to make a final order for Lawrence's release soon, once staff from the Attorney General's department, the state's corrective services department have had a chance to consider the proposed order.

However no release date has been made public.

Lawrence killed Muirhead, a psychiatric patient by strangling her with a tea towel then cutting her throat when she continued screaming after he and his co-offender grabbed her from Wolston Park Hospital in Wacol, dragged her down to a river bank and choked her.

Lawrence was aged 22 and an involuntary patient at the prison-linked psychiatric hospital at the time of the attack.

He was there because he was convicted of assaulting three young children.

 

 

 

 

He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years' jail, telling authorities the killing was the fulfilment of a long-term rape and murder fantasy and he "couldn't remember" whether he had sex with her.

"I think she was definitely dead before one of us set her alight," he told police.

Lawrence was due to be released from jail on February 7, 2008, after serving a further seven-year sentence for the rape of a prisoner in 1999.

Since then his sentence has been extended under laws keeping dangerous sex offenders behind bars until it is shown the community can be protected.

He has twice taken his case to the High Court in a bid to overturn detention orders made by Queensland's highest court.

Bob Munt arrested killer Mark Richard Lawrence for the murder of Julie Muirhead in 1983. Picture: Annette Dew
Bob Munt arrested killer Mark Richard Lawrence for the murder of Julie Muirhead in 1983. Picture: Annette Dew

Forensic psychiatrists have previously told the court they are worried he may not control his deviant fantasies and stalk, rape and kill another woman.

One psychiatrist told the court hearing in March that the danger was that Lawrence "would most likely abduct, rape and kill an adult female".

In an interview with a ­psychiatrist in 2014, Lawrence said he had a fantasy of ­abducting a female in an ­isolated area and raping and killing her.

A trigger for a deviant thought was a television show that depicted a rape scene, ­according to another report filed in court in 2015.

Speaking after the decision was made, and from his Brisbane home, the retired police officer who arrested Lawrence for killing Muirhead said he feared Lawrence would end up back in prison.

"I'd say with his track record I have little doubt that he will reoffend within some manner within a short period of time," Bob Munt told The Courier-Mail.

Originally published as Psychopath killer set to be freed


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