1988 Sydney rape and murder case: Man found guilty after 27 years

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The handcuffs of inmates are seen during a play at a public theatre in Lima, June 20, 2012. Reuters/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

The cold case of murder-rape of Doris Fenbow had been reopened in 2014 by the Unsolved Homicide Team, which led to the arrest of a man, only known by the name BL, in Newcastle. BL was found guilty on Wednesday morning following his arrest last year. The man could only be referred to as BL because he was 17 years old at the time of the crime.

BL was arrested last year after his DNA matched evidence taken from the 66-year-old victim’s body.

Fenbow was assaulted and killed in her home, which was also set on fire, in 1988. In 2014, the case was reopened, and BL admitted to having sexual intercourse with the victim as his DNA was found in the scene; however, he denied setting the house on fire and inflicting the victim with injuries.

On Sep. 3, 1988, Fenbow’s body was discovered in billowing smoke at her flat in Sydney. Her feet and legs were charred, and she was naked from her waist down and had bruises in her eyes. Her body was slightly burned on the right side. Papers found on the floor suggest that those had been used to set the woman on fire.

Then-police officer Martyn Downs interviewed Fenbow’s then-17-year-old neighbour BL, who claimed that he heard or saw nothing during the time of the incident.

Trial on BL followed after his DNA was compared with the one found on Fenbow’s. When pressed, BL did not deny the sexual intercourse that took place but rejected the fact that he had anything to do with Fenbow’s murder.

BL said a man, known as Kevin Hayward, forced himself upon Fenbow. The now-deceased Hayward was reportedly sexually abusing the young BL. BL's defence claimed that Hayward took him to Fenbow’s place and sexually assaulted him before forcing him on Fenbow. While the defendant conceded that the account was “extraordinary,” BL maintained that he was not involved in Fenbow’s death, AAP reports.

BL, now 43 years old, was arrested in May 2014 and will face a sentence hearing in November.

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