Joel Compton, previously known as Joseph Bebbington. Picture: Liam Kidston
Joel Compton, previously known as Joseph Bebbington. Picture: Liam Kidston

Revealed: First man charged under double jeopardy laws

THE man charged in Queensland's first double jeopardy case over the murder of young woman Janice Reid says he is not worried about being charged again because he had already cleared his name.

We can reveal for the first time that Joel Compton, previously known as Joseph Daniel Bebbington, was the first person charged under the new laws.

He was charged with the murder of Ms Reid, 21, in her Newmarket flat in 1987 when he was 24.

Mr Compton was acquitted by a jury in 1988 but investigators charged him with the murder again in 2018.

Details of the case can now be published after an application for the man's retrial was rejected.

In an exclusive interview with The Courier-Mail, Mr Compton said he would have fled if he killed Ms Reid. He was the last person known to have seen her alive.

"You only run if you've got something to hide," he said in 2018 after he was charged for the second time.

"I'm shitted off, but I've got nothing to hide.

"I'll be found not guilty (if it went to trial).

"Number one, I believe in the justice system. I've already proved myself not guilty. Totally innocent. And the same thing will happen again."

The Queensland Court of Appeal in December found there was insufficient evidence to retry Mr Compton.

Ms Reid was stabbed nine times in her Free St unit in 1987, with wounds to her chest and back.

She was found on her bed wrapped in bedding. Investigators said she was raped and her underwear, which was cut at the sides, was on the bedroom floor. There was no sign of a break-in, leading police to believe she knew her killer.

The Brisbane woman had been last seen on September 12 at the opening of a grandstand at Windsor Royals baseball club with friends, including Mr Compton.

He dropped her at her unit and said he was drunk at the time and stayed an hour to sober up to drive home.

Janice Reid was raped and murdered in 1987.
Janice Reid was raped and murdered in 1987.

"Had a cup of coffee, watched some TV, it was a black and white movie, I don't know who was in it or nothing," Mr Compton said.

"And, ah, then I went home. That was the Saturday.

"She wasn't worried about nothing, mate," he said, when asked if she had any concerns.

Mr Compton said he met Ms Reid through a CES (Commonwealth Employment Service) job.

Mr Compton said he could not remember what he spoke to Ms Reid about that night.

When asked if she appeared worried about anything he responded: "Nup, she was happy."

When asked if he killed Ms Reid, he said: "No I did not."

Mr Compton said he found out about her death while listening to the radio.

"I found out from the day before I was due to go back to her place to see her about a water bed she was selling for my sister-in-law," he said.

Detectives doubted Mr Compton's story.

Within about six weeks, Mr Compton, then known as Joseph Daniel Bebbington, was charged with murder.

A jury disagreed and he was acquitted at trial. After he was acquitted, he changed his name. He said he then tried to move on with his life.

"This time here I'll be cleared, completely and utterly," he said of the second murder charge. "I've rebuilt my life because they destroyed it and it's gone back that way again."

The Newmarket flats where Janice Reid’s body was found
The Newmarket flats where Janice Reid’s body was found

He said he was previously jailed for break and enters and released on home detention.

When asked if he was in a relationship with Ms Reid, he said they were "just good friends". He went to her house five or six times, he said.

"At the time I had three kids, I was flat out with them," he said.

"I just couldn't say I was going to go see someone … you can't do that when you are a single dad on your own."

New double jeopardy laws in Queensland allow a person to be charged again if there is new substantial and compelling evidence.

An application by the Crown to have Mr Compton re-tried relied on the emergence of new DNA evidence.

When Mr Compton went to trial in 1988, the court was told a pillow case had two areas consistent with his blood group that was not Ms Reid's blood.

Ms Reid's bloodstained underwear, which are now gone, had results inconsistent with her blood group but consistent with one in 500 members of the public, including Mr Compton.

After he was acquitted, samples from the pillow case were sent for DNA testing in Victoria in 1989.

The DNA profile of Mr Compton's blood matched a DNA profile on a pillow case sample and matched a partial profile on another sample.

Joel Compton was previously known as Joseph Daniel Bebbington
Joel Compton was previously known as Joseph Daniel Bebbington

But the court found that, while the pillow case had bloodstains of the same group as Mr Compton, and DNA extracted from the case matched his DNA, the DNA on the case could have come from his blood or could have come from cells, such as skin cells.

He had been there previously and the court that found when or how his DNA got there was unknown.

When interviewed two weeks after her death, there was no evidence of any injury to him, not supporting the theory the DNA on the pillow was his blood.

In refusing the application, the court said the fresh evidence did not prove any issue of significance.

"They reckon I did it, right?" Mr Compton said of the murder charge.

"Here's one question: how come I had no marks on me body? Did the blood just pour out of me skin? Number two, how come me clothes wasn't covered in blood? You tell me what's the go.

"I said that amount of blood, right, my clothes would have been covered in it. Even from her, she was severely stabbed several times.

"They reckon blood was splattered everywhere. My face should have had her blood on it."

Mr Compton disputed elements of the original case and said he had always stuck with his original statement.

Police talk to neighbours at the Newmarket flats.
Police talk to neighbours at the Newmarket flats.

"Then the second time they came back (in 2018) … they came back and they put on that I raped and murdered her," he said.

"When they said it, they weren't looking at me, they were looking directly at my wife. They looked shocked … that I had told my wife all about it before I started a relationship with her."

Police attempted to get his DNA which Mr Compton tried to stop in court.

"We were going to fight it and then they dropped it and arrested me for murder, so they got the swab," he said.

"They already had me DNA anyhow."

Mr Compton said he wasn't concerned about being re-charged but his wife was his biggest worry.

"I just said don't worry … the only evidence they've got is stuff that was in the trial in the first place."

Mr Compton claimed police made up parts of his original statement and said authorities "tried to set me up real bad the first time and they're trying it again".

He said he had already cleared his name. He said he wished he had never met Ms Reid or her friends.

Janice Reid’s father Jim Reid with her diary and most recent picture
Janice Reid’s father Jim Reid with her diary and most recent picture

"They tried to say I told to them about my brother and I going on a double date with Janice and her girlfriend," he said.

"I never told them that, at all. Then they said I pashed her on the lips. I didn't pash her on the lips, I gave her a kiss on the cheek. But that pash makes it sound like you were in a relationship. I wasn't in a relationship. I didn't want no relationship, I didn't want no more kids, nothing."

The media could not identify Mr Compton during the Crown application process.

His son committed suicide and his cremation happened while he was in custody.

He had tried to get work since he "beat" the charge in the '80s but had struggled.

"I'm still going through hell," Mr Compton said.

Despite a previous job in an abattoir, he said he couldn't handle seeing human blood.

"I think the only reason I become a suspect is because I was the only one she knew who had a criminal record," he said.

Mr Compton said he now used a wheelchair because he had arthritis in his hips. He hasn't spoken to his four brothers in the past 15 years.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath this week confirmed no appeal would be lodged.

Rape and murder victim Janice Reid
Rape and murder victim Janice Reid