James Dobbie jailed over rape, murder at Rowville park, Victoria
When James Patrick Dobbie met and married his wife, he was hiding a shocking secret.
He did not tell his daughter or his stepdaughter, either.
But last year, 35 years after he stalked young couples, raped two women and murdered a man in a series of late-night attacks, they finally learned the truth â he was the Loverâs Lane Killer.
Dobbie, 65, had been running from what Victorians will remember as some of the most disturbing crimes in the stateâs history.
Over a three-year period starting in 1980, he waited in the bushes near a reserve in Rowville, southeast of Melbourne â a popular spot for young couples to meet in privacy.
He approached their vehicles in a balaclava, carrying a sawn-off, double-barrelled shotgun. He demanded they do as he told.
He bound the men and tied them to trees. He made them watch as he raped their girlfriends and berated them for not âdoing it properlyâ.
On one occasion he told his victim she would âbe here all nightâ if she did not co-operate.
Three years after he started, he tried again. It was late on May 23, 1983, when he approached a vehicle in the same manner he had previously.
He stuck the gun in the window and in the face of Rodney Mitchell. But as Mitchell reached for the gun, it went off twice. He was fatally wounded under the left arm and died at the scene.
Dobbie fled to Cape Tribulation and the police case went cold. The killer met a number of women and had long relationships.
He had a child with one woman and married another. But in 2018, Dobbieâs old life caught up with him.
Police say an anonymous phone call led them to him. He was arrested after presenting himself to a police station in Cobram, on the NSW border with Victoria.
In the Victorian Supreme Court today, where Dobbie was jailed for 31 years, Justice John Champion revealed that on June 22 last year Dobbie told his daughter what heâd done and asked her to drive him to the station to confess.
To police, he said he was fed up with living the lie.
âIâd just had enough,â he told them. âI want to get it all out nowâ.
He said he just âwent wild on mushrooms and marijuanaâ and âdidnât consider myself part of the human raceâ.
âThereâs no excuse, Iâm not even going to try and make one,â he said.
Justice Champion said Dobbie would likely die behind bars for crimes he called âcompletely indefensibleâ.
âIf you live to be released, you will be an old man, unlikely to pose a threat to the community,â he said.
âAll of your six victims were innocent and unsuspecting. You prayed on them to satisfy your lust and domination.â
The court heard his victims still struggle with what happened to them. In victim impact statements, they revealed how their grief had been taken on by their own families.
One of his victims said she had lived âan ongoing nightmare for nearly 40 yearsâ. Another said he had âguilt for 35 years at not being able to protectâ his girlfriend.
Rodney Mitchellâs partner said she could not tell her children how their father died, and instead made up a story about a car crash.
The court heard graphic and confronting details of Dobbieâs crimes. Justice Champion read out what Dobbie said to his victims as he raped them with the weapon pointed at their heads.
Justice Champion said Dobbie was able to live a normal life after fleeing and had largely rehabilitated. Itâs not believed Dobbie committed any crimes after 1983.
The court heard he grew up in country Victoria, the second eldest of seven children. He was âpsychologically and sometimes physicallyâ abused by his father who forced him to live in a shed on the property and deprived him of food.
His parents later told a Childrenâs Court clinic that he was âuncontrollableâ and handed him over to become a ward of the state.
He stopped going to school aged 15 and worked a number of jobs, including as a slaughterman and a factory worker.
Despite his crimes, and despite his confession, Dobbieâs daughter and stepdaughter have stood by him. Justice Champion said they visit him in prison and are in constant contact.
Dobbie shielded his face and he entered the courthouse this morning. A packed courtroom that included school students, was told at the beginning of sentencing that graphic and confronting details would be read out.
Dobbie will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 25 years.
Originally published as âShocking secretâ this manâs family missed