The Society Murders is the name given to the 4 April 2002 murders of husband and wife millionaire socialites Margaret Mary Wales-King, 69, and husband, Paul Aloysius King, 75, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, by Margaret's son, Matthew Wales. The crime and subsequent trial received widespread media coverage throughout Australia and later became the subject of both a book and a television film.
On 4 April 2002, the victims, Margaret Wales-King and her husband Paul King attended the home of Margaret's son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Maritza Wales for a family dinner engagement. On the evening of the same day, Matthew Wales killed the couple by striking them to the back of the neck after drugging their soup to make them drowsy. Autopsies also indicated that the couple had been strangled. The couple were initially reported missing and on 10 April, their vehicle was found abandoned in Middle Park. On 29 April, the couple’s bodies were discovered buried in bushland near Marysville, Victoria.
Confession and arrest
On 11 May, after confessing to police, Matthew Wales was charged with the murder of his mother and stepfather. His wife, Maritza, was charged with being an accessory after the fact to both the alleged murders. Wales had participated at the couple’s funeral just three days earlier and was photographed weeping and embracing his elder brother.
Guilty plea and sentencing
Matthew Wales pleaded guilty and was convicted of the murder of both Margaret Wales-King and Paul King. He was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 24 years. The trial judge found Wales murdered the couple because he resented his mother for using her wealth to manipulate him. His wife pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice and received a two-year suspended sentence. She was found not to have played any part in the actual murders.
Book and film
In 2003, Melbourne barrister Hilary Bonney wrote a book about the murder entitled The Society Murders: The True Story of the Wales-King Murders. The book was later adapted as a television film, Society Murders for Network Ten. It was written by Greg Haddrick and Kylie Needham for the production company Screentime, it starred Georgie Parker, Alex Dimitriades, Matthew Le Nevez, Terry Norris and Julia Blake.
The book was written without co-operation from the Wales-King family and was based largely on court evidence and police documents.
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