Julie Hutchinson.
Julie Hutchinson.

Skeletal remains could speed up parole bid

WIFE killer Michael Geoffrey Hutchinson could be released earlier from prison now his wife's body has been discovered.

In March 2017 Hutchinson was found guilty of the manslaughter of his wife Julie Hutchinson and sentenced to 15½ years in prison.

Queensland's "No Body, No Parole" retrospective legislation was introduced just months after his sentence, meaning prisoners convicted of manslaughter or murder would have to reveal the location of their victims if they wanted parole.

Yesterday, when police confirmed human remains discovered 100km west of Townsville on Herveys Range Rd were that of Julie Hutchinson, it was revealed her killer husband would no longer be bound by the legislation.

"My understanding is that those provisions no longer apply," Townsville Crime Services Group detective acting Inspector Phil Watts said. "Even though Michael didn't contribute to finding Julie those provisions only apply if there is no body found.

"So we found the body and he's entitled to parole."

Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan offered condolences to the family and friends of Julie Hutchinson and said the parole board would be responsible for determining when her killer was released.

"Though nothing can make up for her loss, we hope Julie's loved ones can find some kind of closure now," Mr Ryan said.


Police Minister Mark Ryan. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Police Minister Mark Ryan. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)


"I am advised by my department that if the prisoner does apply for parole his lack of co-operation with the authorities will be taken into account by the Parole Board of Queensland."

LNP spokesman for police Trevor Watts said the laws should ensure that everything possible is done to help the family of victims bury their loved one and find some closure.

"His lack of co-operation shows he clearly isn't remorseful for his crime and this should be taken into account.

"Hutchinson should not move a minute closer to parole just because the victim's remains have now been found."

When Hutchinson was sentenced, before the legislation was introduced, Townsville Supreme Court Justice David North ordered he be eligible for parole in 2027 after serving 80 per cent of his sentence.

Hutchinson did tell police, after his arrest in 2015, that he had dumped Julie's body at Herveys Range but could not indicate a specific location.

Parts of the Herveys Range Rd were searched, especially around Keelbottom Creek, but the remains were not found.

It wasn't until fire swept through an area about 100km west of Townsville and 3km east of the Burdekin River, that tall grass was burned, revealing Julie's skeletal remains only metres from the roadside.