Murder of Sian Kingi
|Died||27 November 1987 (aged 12)|
|Cause of death||Murder by stabbing|
|Nationality||New Zealand Australian|
|Known for||Murder victim of Barrie Watts and Valmae Beck|
Sian Kingi (16 December 1974 – 27 November 1987) was a 12-year-old New Zealand Australian girl of Māori descent who was abducted, raped and killed in Noosa, Queensland, in November 1987. Barrie John Watts and Valmae Faye Beck, a married couple, were convicted in 1988 of the much-publicised crime. Watts was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole; however, his wife would have been eligible for parole after 14.5 years, but died while she was still incarcerated.
At around 4:30 pm on Friday, 27 November 1987, Sian Kingi, a 12-year-old schoolgirl, was last seen riding her yellow 10-speed bicycle home after school near Pinnaroo Park in Noosa Heads, Queensland. Just prior to entering the park, she had been shopping with her mother, and took her regular route home afterwards through the park. When her mother arrived home and Kingi was not there as expected, it was imagined that she had met school or volleyball friends and was delayed. Soon, when Kingi still did not return, she began calling the homes of Kingi's friends without success. By 8 pm, her parents began retracing her steps, and, after retrieving her abandoned bicycle from the park, visited the local police to report the disappearance.
Despite the late notice, police were able to assist in having a missing person's report for Kingi inserted into the next day's newspaper. Police also began collecting information about people who had been in the park at the time of the disappearance. Police had little to go on until the discovery of Kingi's body on 3 December 1987, 15 km away near Castaway's Creek in the Tinbeerwah Mountain State Forest.
Attention then turned to a dusty unidentified white 1973 Holden Kingswood station wagon, with interstate registration, that had been seen in the general area. In the weeks that followed, as police gathered evidence, numerous other incidents were linked to the vehicle (although exact details of the vehicle often varied), including the suspicious behaviour of the driver and three other assault incidents. The owner of the vehicle, confirmed as Victorian registration LLE-429, was finally identified as Valmae Beck. Beck and her husband, Barrie Watts, who had married a year earlier, had been living in Perth, but had moved to Victoria before renting a property in Lowood, Queensland. Both had extensive criminal records and were out on bail.
When police visited the Lowood property on 11 December, evidence indicated that Watts and Beck had last been there on 4 December (when news of the discovery of the body broke). Cut hair and dye kits indicated that both had changed their appearance. Fortunately, the owner of the property had received a money order for the rent from the couple on 10 December from The Entrance, New South Wales. Plain clothes police were then able to locate and arrest the couple there on 12 December, and they were extradited to Queensland on 14 December.
The couple were charged on 15 December with the abduction, rape, and murder of Kingi. During questioning, Watts refused to speak, but Beck was more talkative. Between Beck's comments and secret recordings from their adjacent holding cells, investigators were able to recreate the crime. Beck explained how Watts, unsatisfied with her because she was 10 years his senior, had fantasised to rape a young virgin. After a number of previous attempts on other victims in Ipswich, they noticed Kingi, and Beck stopped her on the premise that she was looking for her lost poodle. After dismounting to help, Watts then grabbed Kingi from behind and forced her into the back of their car where she was bound and then driven by Beck to Tinbeerwah. Kingi was then raped by Watts before being stabbed, strangled, and abandoned.
At a committal hearing in April 1988, Beck pleaded guilty to the abduction and rape, and not guilty to the murder, while Watts pleaded not guilty to all charges. The couple were tried separately at the Noosa Magistrates Court primarily on Beck’s testimony. Beck's trial commenced in October 1988 and Watts's in February 1990. Beck was found guilty on 20 October 1988, and given three years, five years, and life for the three charges. Watts, who remained unresponsive during trial, was found guilty on 28 February 1990, and given three years, 15 years, and life for the three charges.
Barrie John Watts
1954 (age 64–65)
|Spouse(s)||Valmae Beck (1986–1990; divorced)|
|Criminal penalty||2 × life imprisonment without parole|
During trial, it was revealed that Watts was an orphan with a long criminal record who had met Beck in 1983 and married her in 1986 in Perth. In 1995, Watts was tried for the murder of Helen Mary Feeney who was last seen alive on 29 October 1987, one month before the murder of Kingi. The case failed due to lack of evidence. In 2007, in a failed effort to promote his parole chances, he finally confessed to his involvement in the murder of Kingi.
Valmae Faye Beck
|Died||27 May 2008 (aged 65–66)|
|Other names||Fay Cramb|
|Spouse(s)||Barrie Watts (1986–1990; divorced)|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 14½ years|
Beck had three older brothers, and as a 12-year-old, began working in a clothing factory. By 15, due to parental neglect, she became a ward of the state, and spent much of the period from 1961 to 1972 in and out of jail. While in prison in Perth, she met and was influenced by Catherine Birnie. Prior to her relationship with Watts, Beck had six children from two previous marriages.
In prison after the trial, she was targeted by fellow inmates and was assaulted frequently. At one point, she was struck in the head with a tin can in a sock, causing serious injury. She eventually had to be transferred to the Townsville Correctional Centre. She was also said to have converted to Christianity during this time. She divorced Watts in 1990 saying she regretted everything she had ever done with him. In 1993, she began a romance with Robert John Fardan, a convicted rapist, and in 2003 she met and befriended Pauline Hanson during her time in custody for electoral fraud.
Beck unsuccessfully applied for parole three times, and in 2007, it was reported that she had legally changed her name to Fay Cramb. In May 2008, she was placed in an induced coma in Townsville Hospital following heart surgery. Police hoped to obtain a deathbed confession regarding three other unsolved Brisbane-area murders of young women, but she died on 27 May 2008 without regaining consciousness.
- Murder of Daniel Morcombe
- Murder of Ebony Simpson
- Bega schoolgirl murders
- Wanda Beach Murders
- David and Catherine Birnie
- Sian Kingi, Sydney Morning Herald, by Adrian McGregor, published 10 February 1990, retrieved 30 April 2011
- Child Killer Witness Haunted, Sunshine Coast Daily, 11 May 2008
- Valmae Beck, Sian Kingi's killer, is 'close to death', Courier Mail, 7 May 2008
- "Case 101: Sian Kingi". Casefile: True Crime Podcast. 24 November 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
- Letters of a child killer, Courier Mail, 7 July 2007
- "How a surfing icon took down Sian Kingi's sadistic killers". www.weeklytimesnow.com.au. 30 January 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
- "'I killed Sian Kingi'". NewsComAu. 9 June 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
- 'I killed Sian Kingi', Courier Mail, 10 June 2007
- "Pauline Hanson's jail tales". 17 November 2003. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
- Agencies (20 August 2003). "Pauline Hanson jailed for electoral fraud". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
- Let Noosa child killer die, says MP, Sunshine Coast Daily, 8 May 2008
- "Child killer Valmae Beck dead". www.theaustralian.com.au. 26 May 2008.