Toowoomba murder victim Tamara Smith.
Toowoomba murder victim Tamara Smith.

Son still searching for answers in callous killing

FOR 16 years Brodie Bailey has lived knowing that the person who murdered his mother is still out there.

When he was six years old, his mum Tarmara Smith, 24, was sexually assaulted with a beer bottle, strangled and had her wrist cut on Easter Sunday 2002 while walking home from a night out.

A resident who had heard screaming the night before found her body tied to a tree on Isabel St in Toowoomba's west, metres from where she was last seen alive.

Her killing was described as a heinous public display of cruelty and left the city of Toowoomba on edge for years.

Tarmara's ex-boyfriend, Paul Thomas Templeton, was charged with her murder and eventually convicted. But it was overturned on appeal in 2004.

16 years Brodie Bailey, 22, has lived knowing that the person who murdered his mother is still out there. Picture: Matt Loxton
16 years Brodie Bailey, 22, has lived knowing that the person who murdered his mother is still out there. Picture: Matt Loxton

For the first time, Brodie has revealed how Templeton threatened and attacked his mother multiple times in the weeks before her murder.

The Adelaide resident says he never gave the information to police at the time and believes a coronial inquest could give his family the answers they desperately seek.

"(Templeton) was incredibly aggressive," Brodie said.

"Obviously, I didn't have a say in court, but I have memories of having to leave home in the middle of the night because he was throwing chairs around the place at my mother.

"She pushed me in a pram with a cast on her wrist during the middle of the night to get away from him."

Templeton died in 2016, but always maintained his innocence.

His first trial in November 2003 ended in a hung jury.

His second trial took place in April 2004. He was convicted, but it was overturned on appeal in September that year due to a lack of evidence.

Both cases centred on shards of glass found on Tarmara. They matched pieces of a broken XXXX beer bottle at Templeton's house.

But police had little else to support their case.

There was no DNA or footprint evidence linking Templeton to the murder. And semen found in her underwear didn't match his DNA.

Brodie's recollection of his behaviour matches statements given to police by Tarmara's property managers, who said they broke up an altercation between her and Templeton two weeks before she died.

Templeton had drunkenly gone to Tarmara's home to question her about a man she'd been dating following the end of their relationship.

On the morning of the murder, two key witnesses - Janet Allen and Helen Moore - said they saw a formally dressed shadowy figure, aged in his mid 20s, with shoulder-length hair, crudely proposition Tarmara for sex.

She was walking up Clifford St and rejected his advances. The man was wearing a white button-up shirt with long sleeves and black dress pants with shiny black shoes.

Mrs Allen said the argument occurred just after 4am. Another witness heard screams about 4.30am.

Paul Templeton died in 2016 in his new home of Yeppoon. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Paul Templeton died in 2016 in his new home of Yeppoon. Picture: Kevin Farmer

Tarmara's body was found at 10am the next day, about 400m from where she was last seen alive.

"They had an awful argument. I got the impression they might have known each other from the way they were talking," Mrs Allen recalls.

Following his acquittal, Templeton told The Toowoomba Chronicle that he hoped Tarmara's killer would one day be brought to justice.

"I've seen the photographs (of the murder scene). It was a brutal attack. And whoever has done that is going to do it again," he told the newspaper.

"They (police) should be looking for that person … they should be doing a lot more."

But Brodie believes Templeton holds the answers to all of his questions.

"The thing that gets to me the most is this idea that if it's split pretty evenly down the middle, where people will either say he is 100 per cent guilty, or 100 per cent not guilty, surely that's a pretty big red flag, right?" Brodie said.

"If roughly half the people are accusing him of it and saying that … he most certainly had aggressive, evil tendencies, then isn't that enough to cause serious concern?"

Following Tarmara's death, Brodie moved to Adelaide with his father.

Tamara Smith’s father Greg Smith died not knowing what really happened to his daughter.
Tamara Smith’s father Greg Smith died not knowing what really happened to his daughter.

Tarmara's father and brother have since died. The rest of the family are scattered around the country.

Brodie's aunt Kathy Kulics now lives in Brisbane. She says the family always believed Templeton was responsible.

"We think (police) had the killer," Mrs Kulics said.

"The whole family thinks it's him. What could the police do? It's just sad."

Tarmara was seen drinking during the early hours of Easter Sunday at the Shamrock Hotel on Ruthven St.

She was later refused entry to Rumours International on Ruthven St about 3.30am after getting into an argument with security staff.

The man who propositioned her on Clifford St was wearing clothes similar to the dress code of an event being held at a restaurant several streets away from where her body was located.

This led to another man being listed as a person of interest.

That man was last seen wearing formal clothes, and friends said he attended the restaurant event that night.

A mannequin dressed like Tamara Smith stands where she was last seen alive in Clifford St, outside Grand Central Shopping Centre.
A mannequin dressed like Tamara Smith stands where she was last seen alive in Clifford St, outside Grand Central Shopping Centre.

Bizarrely, weeks after Tarmara's body was found, rumours emerged of the man selling his car and flying to Europe to live.

The man was described as being sexually aggressive - a trait shared with whoever Tarmara was speaking to on Clifford St the morning she was killed.

A former friend of the person of interest, who did not want to be named, said he hadn't heard from him since.

"He was living with me and moved out a couple of months before to live across town," the former friend said.

"Then after the murder he just disappeared and no one ever heard from him again.

"You would probably say (he) was a bit sleazy. But no more than what you or I were guilty of at age 21."

The person of interest did not return a request for ­comment.

Templeton, who moved to Yeppoon, near Rockhampton, following his acquittal, died in May 2016.

Toowoomba murder victim Tamara Smith.
Toowoomba murder victim Tamara Smith.

His family did not want to comment, but one relative said: "I just hope it wasn't true, but you never know. Life's strange.

"As far as I know (he wasn't capable of murder)."

In a statement, Queensland Police Service said "there was only ever one suspect".

"The Queensland Police Service Homicide Cold Case unit continues to investigate any new information that is provided to investigators," the statement read.

"There is Double Jeopardy Legislation in Queensland. Alternatively new information can be referred to the State Coroner.

"We would encourage any person who has new and compelling evidence to make contact with investigators."

Brodie intends to write to the State Coroner requesting an inquest into his mother's death.

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