Catherine Birnie

Address: Perth, WA, Australia
Age: 70
Sex: Female


Date: 1987-03-03
Charges: Murder, rape, abduction
Category: Abduction/Stalking/Assault/Violence/Murder/Sex Offence
Court: Supreme Court of Western Australia
Judge: Justice Wallace
Penalty: Life in jail

When a half naked young girl staggered into a Fremantle supermarket on November 10, 1986 few people knew of the horrific story that would unfold as a result.

**Before the day was out David and Catherine Burnie had admitted to the murder, rape and torture of four women.**

The 16-year-old girl who got away and made it to the supermarket had been abducted the previous day as she walked along the street near her home in the Perth suburb of Nedlands.

She was taken to the Birnie`s house in suburban Willagee, where she was stripped, chained by the hands and feet to a bed and repeatedly raped by David Birnie while Catherine looked on.

**The teenager also told of how Catherine Birnie licked around David`s testicles and anus while the rapes took place. The pair also spoke of injecting cocaine into the head of his penis.**

The young victim was also forced to telephone her family and say she was fine and staying with friends.

She finally escaped through a bathroom window while the Birnie`s were meeting with a cocaine dealer in the living room.

The girl was able to lead the police back to the run-down house, where David and Catherine Birnie denied the allegations of rape, saying the girl was a willing participant.

**Police had suspicions the Birnie`s were responsible for the disappearance of four women over a period of four weeks.**

After hours of interviewing the couple, a throw away, half joking comment by Detective Sergeant Katich produced the confession the police were looking for.

**"It`s getting dark. Best we take a shovel and dig them up," Det-Sgt Katich said to David Birnie.**

**"Okay. There`s four of them," Birnie replied.**

The killings began after the Birnies had tried everything sexually and wanted a new sexual "adventure". David Birnie said it would be a real kick to abduct and rape a woman.

He told his partner - who was not his wife, she changed her named by deed poll to Birnie - that she would have incredible orgasms by watching him penetrate another woman who was bound and gagged.

**Catherine had fantasies of licking David`s genitals while he was having sexual intercourse with another woman and pulling his penis out of the woman`s vagina and take it in her mouth as he finished.**

__The First Victim__

21-year-old Mary Neilson turned up at the Birnie`s house on October 6, looking for cheap tyres after he told her at his work place he could organise a better deal for her from home.

As Mary entered the house she was forced to strip at knife-point before being bound, gagged and chained to the bed. David Birnie repeatedly raped her while Catherine watched, asking him what turned him on the most.

Later that night they took Mary to the Gleneagles National Park. He raped her again before wrapping a cord around her neck and slowly tightening it with a tree branch. She died at his feet.

**He then stabbed her through her body, before burying her in a shallow grave. He told Catherine the stab wounds allow the gases to escape from the body.**

__The Second Victim__

Two weeks later the couple abducted 15-year-old Susannah Candy as she hitchhiked through the suburb of Claremont.

Within minutes of getting into the car young Susannah was threatened with a knife as her hands were bound. She was taken back to the Birnie`s house, where she was chained to the bed and raped.

After they had satisfied their sexual needs David attempted to strangle Susannah, but she became hysterical and went berserk. She was force-fed sleeping pills to calm her down.

When she was finally asleep, David tied the nylon cord around her throat and told Catherine to demonstrate her undying love for him by killing her.

**She slowly tightened the cord until Susannah stopped breathing while David stood and watched.**

They buried her body near the grave of Mary Nielson.

__The Third Victim__

31-year-old Noelene Patterson was standing on the side of the road on November 1 after her car had run out of petrol.

She readily accepted the offer of a lift from the Birnie`s who had stopped to offer help. Once in the car she was tied up and taken back to the Willagee house and repeatedly raped.

Catherine hated Noelene from the outset, envious of her beauty and elegance. Catherine became enraged when David kept putting off killing her, believing she was losing her man.

Catherine even threatened to kill herself if David did not chose between them.

Noelene was kept a prisoner in the house for three days before Catherine got her way and was finally killed after being sedated and strangled.

**They took her body and buried it in the forest, where Catherine derived great delight from kicking sand in the dead woman`s face.**

__The Fourth Victim__

On November 5, twenty-one year old Denise Brown was abducted as she waited at a bus stop.

Like the other she was taken back to the Birnie`s house, bound, gagged, tied to the bed and repeatedly raped.

The next day Denise was driven to a pine plantation north of Perth, where David raped her again in the car while waiting for night to fall.

**She was finally dragged from the car. David again raped her, this time stabbing her in the neck while doing so.**

Denise didn`t die straight away. Catherine gave David a bigger knife and urged him to keep stabbing her. She finally lay silent on the ground.

**As they covered the shallow grave Denise sat up. David took an axe and struck her to the head, splitting her skull open.**

A psychiatrist report to the court stated that Catherine was totally dependent on David Birnie and almost totally vulnerable to his evil influence. The psychiatrist said: "It is the worst case of personality dependence I have seen in my career."

**Mr Justice Wallace told Catherine Birnie, a mother of six from a previous marriage,: "In my opinion you should never be released to be with David Birnie. You should never be allowed to see him again."**

David Birnie attempted suicide in prison after being repeatedly beaten up. He was eventually moved to isolation for his own protection.

During their first four years in prison, the Birnie`s exchanged 2600 letters, but their request to be married was denied.

David and Catherine Birnie both pleaded guilty to the charges.

**Note** Special thanks to Paul B.Kidd, author of __Never to be Released__ for material in this entry.


**David and Catherine Birnie, who were not married, shocked Western Australia with the sadistic abduction, rape and murder of four young women in 1986.** **All four women were subjected to repeated rapes by David Birnie while they were bound, gagged and chained to the bed. Catherine usually just watched on, but on some occaisons joined her lover in the sexual abuse of the women.** **Psychiatrists said Catherine Birnie could not have killed on her own. She wasn`t the type. But she was totally obsessed with David Birnie and would do anything for him, including murder.** The pair first met as teenagers and before long their rampage of crime would commence. In 1969 the pair were convicted of breaking into a drive-in theatre and stealing $3000. David was jailed for nine months, while Catherine was placed on probation. In June 1970 David Birnie escaped from prison and with Catherine committed crime after crime until he was captured 3 weeks later. They were charged with 53 offences. David Birnie was jailed for two and a half years and Catherine for 6 months. Birnie is eligible for parole in 2007 but is unlikely ever to be freed.In 2000 the Richard Court Liberal government said the pair should never be released unless they became too frail or senile. **Note** Special thanks to Paul B.Kidd, author of __Never to be Released__ for material in this entry **__In May 2001 Catherine Birnie was back in the headlines when it was revealed she had been thrown a surprise 50th birthday party at the Bandyup Women`s Prison - at taxpayers` expense.__** **__More than 20 inmates and former prisoners, who organised the celebration, partied with cakes and finger food.__** **__One of the `guests`was convicted con-woman Robyn Greenburg ( see separate entry for Greenburg), who had been released from jail in February 1999.__**