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Witness details McCulkins' grisly deaths

AAP logoAAP 10/11/2016 Melissa Grant

A man on trial for the murders of Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters confessed to a friend he reluctantly raped one of the girls before they were killed in bushland, a Brisbane jury has heard.

Garry Dubois is accused of helping Vincent O'Dempsey, who is yet to face trial, to murder all three after taking them from their Highgate Hill home in January 1974.

Key witness Peter Hall told a Brisbane Supreme Court jury on Thursday that Dubois - who has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him - admitted involvement in the McCulkins' deaths days after they went missing.

Mr Hall said Dubois told him he and O'Dempsey drove the trio to bushland where Mrs McCulkin was murdered and Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11, raped and killed.

He said Dubois, nicknamed "Shorty", told him the girls were separated in the darkness from their 34-year-old mother, who he believed was strangled.

"He (Dubois) said there were gurgling sounds and he (O'Dempsey) seemed to be gone for what seemed like a long period of time," Mr Hall said.

"After the sounds stopped ... O'Dempsey came back and he raped one of the girls and he told Shorty to rape the other one, which he had trouble doing."

Mr Hall said Dubois had said he "didn't feel good" at the time but eventually complied.

"After that was over, O'Dempsey killed one and asked him (Dubois) to kill the other. He said he couldn't do it so O'Dempsey killed the second one."

Dubois didn't give details about how the children were killed but said they waited until dawn to bury the bodies, Mr Hall said.

"He said once the sun came up ... it was a horrific site."

The McCulkins' bodies have never been found.

Defence lawyer Dennis Lynch QC grilled Mr Hall about why he gave evidence to Queensland's crime watchdog in 2014 that Dubois had not told him about the McCulkins' disappearance.

"I lied," he replied.

Mr Hall said he, Dubois and two others were involved in the 1973 Torino nightclub blaze - an insurance job organised by O'Dempsey - and had feared they'd be linked to the Whiskey Au Go Go fire which happened 11 days later and killed 15 people.

The crown alleges the suspected connection between the two fires provided a motive for Dubois and O'Dempsey to silence Mrs McCulkin, who the court has heard had claimed knowledge of the fires.

At the start of the trial on Monday, Mr Lynch told the jury Mr Hall's credibility and reliability would be the essential issue for their determination in the case.

Queensland's attorney-general has granted indemnity to Mr Hall, which means he can't be prosecuted for perjury or his role in the Torino fire by giving evidence.

The trial continues on Friday.

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