Killer refused parole for 21st time


A murderer, 74, who has spent 45 years in jail for the 1975 killing of an elderly Toowoomba shopkeeper, has lost another chance for release on parole, after being knocked back 21 times. Mervyn James Rielly strangled Pearl Muriel Tilbury, 81, by tying a cord around her neck on November 29, 1975, and was sentenced to life imprisonment on March 30, 1976.

Ms Tilbury was found with fractured ribs, bruising to her face and body and cut hands and her underwear had been removed.

There was a suggestion that her genitals may have been interfered with, but there was no forensic evidence confirming it and he was not charged with a sexual offence.

Rielly, who first became eligible for parole in 1988, has had 21 parole applications refused.

After Queensland Parole Board rejected his latest application in January, he sought a Supreme Court review.

A psychiatrist who assessed Rielly's case said although he denied a sexual motivation for the murder, she and other assessors over the years could not rule it out.

Rielly claimed he removed the murder victim's undergarments so he could check the source of her bleeding before he strangled her with a piece of cord.

Dr Karen Brown said while information about the murder was limited, if it was sexually motivated, the risk of Rielly committing violent and sexual offences on parole would be high.

Even if the murder was not sexually motivated, his risk of violent reoffending and sexual offending was moderate to high.

Dr Brown said Rielly still had a number of outstanding and unaddressed treatment and risk management needs, and she would not recommend his release on parole.

She said Rielly said his sex drive was low, but he remained focused on his own sexual performance and intended to seek psychiatric support to address it.

Dr Brown said his intention to live with and marry a woman with whom he had a telephone relationship but had not seen in 11 years, demonstrated his relative lack of insight.

Risk factors, if he was released, included his anti-social and psychopathic personality, relative lack of concern for others and his limited response to sex offender treatment.

She said Rielly met the criteria for an anti-social personality disorder and had been diagnosed with alcohol abuse disorder.

Violent and sexual offending risk would be significantly increased if he was intoxicated.

"In my opinion, supervision by Queensland Corrective Services at the highest level possible, would still be inadequate to reduce the risk to a manageable level,'' Dr Brown said.

Rielly claimed his age and good prison record were not sufficiently taken into account by the Parole Board.

He has served 23 years in "open farm'' prisons and the Parole Board took into account his 50 successful leaves of absence, but also his inability to find suitable accommodation if released.

The Board said his criminal history demonstrated a pattern of repeated serious offending, with Rielly sentenced to four months' jail in 1974, for grabbing the breast of a girl, 14.

The Board decided parole conditions and suitable accommodation were insufficient to mitigate the risk he still posed to the community.

On Friday, Justice Helen Bowskill dismissed Rielly's application, saying the Board had not made any errors in its decision.

Originally published as Killer refused parole for 21st time