Tele: Dubbo, western NSW: Crimes that shocked the region

Western NSW is renowned for its quiet, safe and peaceful country towns but there is a deadly underbelly. These are some of the most chilling crimes that rocked the region.

For Dubbo and towns in western NSW it’s often to rare to see serious crimes committed against community members. But when they do happen, those crimes strike at the heart of the every resident.

From the murder of Lateesha Nolan and Kristy Scholes by Malcomn Naden to young nanny Penny hill, who was bludgeoned to death, these are some of the crimes that sent shockwaves through the region.


Lateesha Nolan was murdered by Malcolm John Naden.

Kristy Scholes was found strangled in her Dubbo home in 2005.

Dubbo mother-of-four Lateesha Nolan was strangled to death while sitting in the front seat of her car at Sandy Beach in January 2005.

Her cousin, former abattoir worker Malcolm Naden killed her after he became enraged when she raised concerns about his indecent assault of a 12-year-old child.

Naden dismembered Ms Nolan’s body and disposed of it somewhere near the Macquarie River.

Five months later, Naden strangled his neighbour Kristy Scholes to death and had sex with her body while two children were in another bedroom of his grandparents’ Dubbo home.

In a story that made international headlines, Naden, a master bushman, was one of Australia’s most wanted men.

He was on the run from authorities for seven years and his hideouts included Taronga Western Plains Zoo, where he ate the insides of tortoises and stole bananas from elephants to survive.

Police finally caught the fugitive during a dramatic midnight raid on a remote property near Gloucester in 2012.

He confessed to both murders and was sentenced to life behind bars.


Allan O’Connor after an appearance at Dubbo Local Court. Picture: Sarah Crawford

The small village of Hermidale, located on the Barrier Highway between Nyngan and Cobar, was rocked to the core by a triple murder which occurred after Allan O’Connor became upset because his lover left the local pub with another man.

Rebecca Webb, 36, Stephen Cumberland, 59, and his son Jacob, 28, were shot dead by O’Connor on a rural property in 2015.

Police charged O’Connor three days after his killing spree and a jury found him guilty of three counts of murder.

Justice Robert Hulme said jealousy motivated O’Connor to murder Ms Webb and Stephen Cumberland, while Jacob was killed because he had to be eliminated as a potential witness.

“Allan O’Connor did not simply intend to kill — he intended to blast every essence of life from each of his victims by discharging his shotgun at their chest or head at close range, thereby to cause the most horrific injuries imaginable,” Justice Hulme said.

O’Connor was handed three life sentences for the murders.


Brendan Saul was killed in hit-run car accident in Dubbo in 2005.

Brendan’s Law now ensures anyone that fails to stop at a car accident that causes death faces up to 10 years in jail.

The life of nine-year-old Dubbo boy Brendan Saul was cut tragically short one afternoon in 2004 while he was riding his pushbike to a friend’s house.

A car driven by a 16-year-old unlicensed boy hit and killed Brendan.

The teen driver, who had consumed morphine and cannabis earlier in the day, fled the scene.

Dangerous and negligent driving charges police laid against the teen were dismissed in court and he walked free in 2005.

In the wake of the tragedy, Brendan’s father Kevin successfully lobbied the state government to amend the Crimes Act.

Brendan’s Law now ensures anyone who fails to stop and give assistance after a car accident which has caused death or grievous bodily harm faces up to 10 years in jail.


Margaret, Scott and Ian Settree at a family function before the elderly couple were shot dead by their son. Picture: Supplied

Scott Settree shot his parents Margaret and Ian dead in their Cobar home because of a dispute about a $40 bottle of wine.

“I walked into my bedroom, pulled the gun out of my closet, walked back into mum and dad, shot mum in the neck and shot dad twice,” Scott, a paranoid schizophrenic, told a local publican shortly after the killings.

Expert psychiatrists concluded Scott’s mental illness meant he could not determine right from wrong and he was found not guilty of the murders.

Justice Stephen Campbell ordered Scott be detained in a facility determined as suitable by the Mental Health Review Tribunal where he remains.

“The tribunal may not release Mr Settree into the community unless and until it is satisfied that he will not seriously endanger any person including himself,” Justice Campbell said.


The mysterious death of Penny Hill in 1991 horrified Coolah residents. Picture: NSW Police

Mystery still surrounds the horrific death of nanny Penny Hill.

In 1991, three days after she moved to Coolah to start her first job as a nanny at the Black Stump Motel, she was found unconscious on the side of Cassilis Road with severe head injuries on July 8.

Two weeks later, on July 21, the 20-year-old died in John Hunter Hospital.

No one has ever been charged in relation to her death and the state government has offered a $1 million reward for anyone with information which leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever was responsible.

Penny’s mother Jeanette Hill said there was “no way to describe the immense agony of losing a child”.

“Every day I am reminded of Penny, of the tragic way in which she was taken from us and the life she never got to live.

“Our family and our Penny need peace.”


Domestic violence victim Maleeta Hart had her life ahead of her.

Darryl Biles was routinely violent towards 18-year-old Maletta Hart during their three-year relationship and his cruelty eventually proved fatal in 2015 at Brewarrina.

The young mum died in the bedroom she shared with her boyfriend after he repeatedly punched Maleeta in the head, breaking her jaw.

When police arrived, Biles was covered in blood and Maleeta was found lying on her back with a doona and hoodie covering her body.

Darryl Biles was jailed for a minimum of 18 years. Picture: Supplied

During court proceedings, Justice Des Fagan said Maleeta’s blood was spattered on every wall of the bedroom and on the ceiling.

“The assault simply followed a reflex which had become part of the offender’s relationship with Ms Hart, whereby disagreements with her or feelings of dissatisfaction towards her were routinely resolved with violence,” Justice Fagan said.

“Maleeta Hart was only five months past her 18th birthday, barely more than a child, when she was killed.

“The offender’s brutal attack has denied her the whole of her potential adult years.”

A jury found Biles guilty of murder and his appeal to have the conviction overturned was dismissed.

He was jailed for 24 years and will be eligible for parole in 2034.


Mark and Gino Stocco remain behind bars.

A dispute about the operation of a rural property at Elong Elong, about 50 kilometres north-east of Dubbo, led to the shocking murder of 68-year-old Rosario Cimone in a murder which made national headlines.

After he was encouraged by his son Mark, Gino Stocco shot 68-year-old Mr Cimone twice in the stomach on October 7, 2015.

The father and son were sharing a property with Mr Cimone and had been on the run from police for eight years, with both wanted in relation to alleged fraud and robbery offences.

The pair dumped his body in scrub, removed his clothing and covered it with leaves and branches.

Nine days later, the pair shot at police who were trying to arrest them near Wagga Wagga.

Police arrested the Stocco’s on October 28, 2015, at the property where they killed Mr Cimone.

Both were sentenced to 40 years in jail, with Gino given a non-parole period of 28 years and Mark 30 years.


The murder of Narromine mother Nancy McKenzie remains a mystery. Picture: NSW Police

Narromine woman Nancy McKenzie was asleep in her home when she was bashed with a golf putter in 1997.

The 58-year-old died from head injuries while on the way to hospital and the case remains unsolved.

It’s believed Ms McKenzie’s home appeared to have been broken into and that she could have been attacked after disturbing intruders.


Catherine Page’s death rocked the community of Coonamble.

Known as ‘Aunt Kate’ to children in Coonamble, 82-year-old Catherine Page was a devout Christian and much-loved member of the local community.

But in a crime that rocked the community in 1971, Ms Page was murdered in her home.

A post mortem revealed she suffered multiple blows to the back of her head with a blunt object.

Persons of interest were identified by police, including a transient man who was in Coonamble at the time of the murder, however no one has ever been arrested.

A $100,000 reward for anyone with information remains on offer.


Janine Perrin was sexually assaulted and murdered. Picture: NSW Police

When police found the bludgeoned body of 73-year-old Janie Perrin in Bourke in 1990, locals were mortified.

A number of Ms Perrin’s personal items had been stolen and she was sexually assaulted before she was killed in her home.

Police described Ms Perrin as a “frail old woman” and said the crime was particularly heinous.

Despite hundreds of interviews and extensive other inquiries, police have not been able to arrest anyone in relation to Ms Perrin’s murder.

Anyone with information which leads to a conviction has been offered a $100,000 reward.

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