The rapist and killer who terrorised the Gold Coast of Queensland from 1979 to 1980 was believed to be responsible for numerous attacks, and because his identity was obscured by a ski mask balaclava, he was never identified. His victims were usually couples, and he would bind the male and then proceed to rape the female before making his escape. The primary intention was the sexual assault of his female victims, and one incident resulted in murder when a male victim resisted and fought back. Despite a thorough investigation, the New South Wales police force made little progress in apprehending the perpetrator. A leading suspect has been identified in connection with these and other unsolved crimes.
The first attack attributed to the Balaclava Rapist occurred on 15 December 1979 when a 30-year-old Tugun woman was kidnapped at gunpoint and bundled into the boot of her car and driven to the Gold Coast Hinterland and then raped. The woman was the bundled back into her car and driven to Tugun beach where the man abandoned the car and the victim was eventually found. She would describe police that she couldn't see the man's features because he wore what appeared to be a custom made balaclava, but she did recall his eyes, which were "evil steely blue". She also commented on the weapon he used, which was determined to be a Glenfield 22. rifle. It was later learned by detectives that an unidentified man purchased a Glenfield 22. rifle from a store at Burleigh Heads, giving the name Mark Chapman. This happened five days before the assault of the first victim.
Just under two weeks later the man struck again, this time ambushing a couple in a parked car on Christmas Day at Cabarita. The masked gunman restrained the man's hands by winding up the window and turned his attention to the woman, who was indecently assaulted. The couple described their attacker as having worn a crude homemade balaclava, which only showed his blue eyes and bushy eye brows. One thing that perplexed investigators was the polite manner with which the man dealt with his victims. They described him as apologetic and his voice as soft and well spoken.
On 28 December 1979, a couple were attacked inside their isolated Cudgen farmhouse by a man they described as wearing a balaclava. The man was armed with a 22. rifle and ordered the woman to bind her partner's hands with tape before she was raped as the man was forced to watch. Their description of the attacker being similar to those of previous victims, which described him as being of athletic build, aged 20 to 27 and with blue eyes and bushy eye brows. They also noticed an unusual chemical smell on his clothing, something previous victims had recalled, as well as his polite demeanour and apologetic nature towards his women victims.
Another incident occurred on 25 January 1980, when a married couple from Burleigh Heads were confronted in their home by a masked intruder. He followed his usual MO and ordered the woman to bind her husbands hands, which she did but then pleaded with the man not to harm her as she was pregnant. Because of this the intruder left. The next encounter would prove far more deadly when on 03 February 1980, 33-year-old British national Jeffrey Parkinson drove his 29-year-old girlfriend to Twin Towns to celebrate their relationship. In the early morning hours at 01:30am Parkinson opened the passenger side door for his girlfriend to enter when a masked man forced his way into the car armed with a 22. rifle. He demanded they drive him to a secluded location at Cobaki Creek, and Parkinson acquiesced.
When they arrived at Tweeds Head West the man attempted to bind the victims, but Parkinson lunged at him and a fight ensued. This gave Parkinson's girlfriend the opportunity to escape and run for help. As she fled the car and flagged down a passing motorist, she heard three gunshots. When police arrived they found Jeff Parkinson dead, slumped alongside his car and the killer had escaped leaving little evidence. Authorities soon announced a $50,000 reward for information that led to the apprehension of the rapist and killer, and despite the formation of a special task force set up at Tweed Heads, there were few leads in the case.
Only one more attack was attributed to the Balaclava Killer, which happened on 31 October 1980 when a Gold Coast woman was threatened by a masked man at her Burleigh Waters residence and raped at gunpoint. The attacker then fled from the scene on a motorbike. Police now followed every lead and tip sent in by the public in an attempt to stop the rapist and killer. It was believed he was a factory worker or tradesman, that he was proficient in the use of motorcycles as either a hobby or part of his job and that he was probably arrested shortly after the October 1980 incident for an unrelated crime because the attacks ended abruptly.
Former New South Wales Police Commissioner Eric Strong believed the man responsible was imprisoned for similar crimes and that the reason he wasn't captured was because of his ability to hide his identity behind the balaclava. Strong later recalled the polite nature and apologetic of the suspect towards his victims in contrast to his heinous actions, commenting; "It was cold-blooded and evil". Despite a lengthy investigation and thousands of man hours, detectives were unable to charge anymore with the Balaclava crimes. However there is a strong suspect who police believe could be connected, despite only circumstantial evidence linking him to the crimes.
On 01 September 1992 a man was taken into custody when he attempted to abduct a couple a gunpoint. 35-year-old Ashley Coulston armed himself with a 22. rifle and drove to St. Kilda Road where he parked near the National Gallery of Victoria where then confronted a couple and attempted to abduct them. When they tried to offer him money, Coulston took it and then attempted to restrain the couple with cable ties he brought with him. However, when he began to restrain the female, the male then overpowered him and grabbed the rifle, which he threw to the ground. Both the victims then escaped and alerted two nearby security guards who came to their aid. Coulston then attempted to make his escape and was pursued by the security guards, firing at them and hitting one in the hip.
When police arrived Coulston was arrested and taken into custody. Investigators would later connect the 22. rifle to a triple murder in Burwood on 29 July 1992. Two female students and the brother-in-law of one were found hogtied with cable ties and shot execution style in the back of the head with a sawn-off 22. rifle which had been fitted with a home-made silencer. For these crimes Coulston was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences and was detained at HM Prison Barwon. Coulston is considered a prime suspect in the Balaclava crimes because of his use of a 22. rifle, and his Modus Operandi of targeting couples who were restrained. He had moved from Brisbane in 1979 or 1980 and then lived in Kingsgrove, Oatley and Bexley between 1980 and 1987.
Detectives are also attempting to link Coulston at a series of rapes which occurred in Sydney's southern suburbs in the 1980's. The Sutherland Rapist was active from 1985 until 1987 and is believed to be responsible for attacks on couples in lover's lanes at Sutherland Shire and Hurstville, during which a masked man armed with a sawn-off shotgun accosted and bound the male partner and then raped the female. The man wore several disguises during these attacks and police believed the perpetrator is a blood group type A secretor, the same as Ashley Coulston and the Balaclava Killer.
Written by Nucleus
Written by Nucleus