Australian charged with murder of two after 24 years

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Robert Penny, 83, yesterday was charged with the murder of his wife Margaret Penny and hairdresser Claire Acocks, twenty four years after their deaths at the Old London Coiffure hair salon in Portland, Victoria in Australia.

Mr Penny was charged by homicide detectives after a revived investigation found Penny had disclosed details of the women’s deaths to various people, that he could only have known firsthand. He allegedly told Mrs Acocks’s husband the morning after her death that she was killed with a comb, and “died very quickly”; police found no weapon at the scene in 1991.

The prosecution also alleges Mr Penny revealed details of the murders in phone calls to both his son and daughter in the hours following the attack, again referring to the use of a tail-comb as the weapon. Investigators at the time initially believed there may have been two weapons, and Homicide Detective Senior Constable Tom Hogan told the court “it would have been impossible for him or any of the police to understand the ¬≠nature of the injuries” before an autopsy was carried out.

The court also heard evidence of a covertly recorded phone conversation between Mr Penny and his granddaughter in February 2014, in which he said “Would a hitman pick up a comb and kill two women?”.

Mr Penny was released on bail due to poor health, under conditions including surrender of his passport. He is due to face court again in July.

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