Keep this serial killer behind bars forever, victims’ families plead

Published by The Australian on 25 May 2021


By Angelica Snowden

A campaign has been launched to keep a man – who claimed to “hate all females”, killed three young girls and abducted a fourth – behind bars forever.

Dubbed the “Frankston serial killer”, Paul Denyer was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he brutally killed three young women – Natalie Russell, Elizabeth Stevens and Deborah Fream – in Melbourne’s southeast in 1993.

He was 21 at the time and secured a non-parole period of 30 years on appeal one year later.

On Monday, family and friends of Russell – including her former partner now Victorian MP David Limbrick – called on the government to issue directions to the parole board through legislation to take away his chance at freedom in June 2023.

“Back in 1993, the city of Frankston was terrorised by a man who had fantasised about murdering women since he was 14 years old,” Mr Limbrick said.

“Natalie was the daughter of Brian and Carmel Russell … and she was my girlfriend. What we’re asking the government to do is to make sure Paul Denyer stays locked up forever,” he said.

Mr Limbrick said he was “devastated” after Russell was murdered but he eventually figured out “how to get out of bed in the morning”.

“She was very independent and strong minded and adventurous. She had dreams of seeing the world and having experiences, a career and an education,” he said.

Russell’s father, Brian, said he did not think Denyer had “much chance” of being granted parole but the possibility he would remain locked up would bring relief.

“That would be the first time in 28 years we have had peace. It’s just not something that has ever gone away,” the 79-year-old said.

“We think this bloke could do it (murder again) if he is ever let out. We would be very, very happy if he is locked up and the key is thrown away.”

Former supreme court judge Frank Vincent sentenced Denyer – now 49 – to three life sentences without parole after he showed “no remorse” for his “horrendous conduct”.

“For many (women), you are the fear that quickens their steps as they walk alone or that causes a parent to look anxiously at a clock when a child is late,” he said.

Denyer stalked his victims before violently stabbing them and discarding their bodies between June 11 and July 30, 1993.

An online petition to keep him in jail, launched last week, has had more than 13,000 signatures.

Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said society with a free Denyer would be “far less safe for women”.

“Three women died needlessly because Paul Denyer decided their lives were worth nothing. He should never get the chance to make that decision again,” he said.

“This petition has our full support and no doubt the full support of the community.”

Corrections Minister Natalie Hutchins said: “This is entirely a matter for the independent Adult Parole Board."

Hoddle Street killer Julian Knight and Russell Street bomber Craig Minogue were denied parole after the Victorian government issued directions to the parole board through legislation.