Trial commences for the gentleman accused of the homicide of 17-year-old Michelle Bright following her birthday celebration in 1999.
Under the veil of the night, in central west New South Wales, two vulnerable teenage women fell prey to a ruthless man who unleashed his violent sexual desires upon them. Tragically, one of them lost her life, as disclosed by the jurors during the proceedings.
Craig Henry Rumsby stands before the NSW Supreme Court, facing allegations of murdering the young Michelle Bright. It was after she departed from her friend’s 15th birthday gathering in Gulgong, in the early hours of February 27, 1999, that this unfortunate incident took place. Michelle’s lifeless body was discovered three days later, concealed amidst the tall grass along Barneys Reef Road.
The perpetrators’ despicable act was evident from the state in which her blouse was pushed up, the clasps of her bra torn off, and her jeans and underwear carelessly discarded around her ankles. An autopsy could not conclusively ascertain the cause of her demise; the report simply stated that she fell victim to “homicidal violence of an undetermined aetiology.”
Not only does Rumsby face accusations of Michelle Bright’s murder, but he is also charged with choking another young woman, who was 18 years old at the time, with the intent of raping her. This incident allegedly occurred after she left a New Year’s Eve party on January 1, 1998. Rumsby has pleaded not guilty to both of these heinous charges.
In the hallowed halls of Dubbo Courthouse, crown prosecutor Lee Carr SC recounted an alleged confession made by Rumsby to the police. According to this confession, he expressed his desire to sexually assault the 18-year-old woman who ventured out alone from her residence. He shamelessly remarked about wanting to “try and f— her,” emphasizing her age and physique.
As for Michelle Bright’s tragic fate, Rumsby claimed that upon hearing her footsteps behind him, he attacked her. His merciless grip covered her mouth for a relentless ten minutes until her breathing ceased. The chilling revelation followed his twisted reasoning for killing her – to evade accountability for his actions.
Carr argued that striking resemblances connected the two attacks on young women, both falling prey to the same modus operandi – grabbed by the throat while being immersed in the darkness of solitude. The Crown contended that Rumsby harbored a sexual fascination for late-teen females and a dangerous inclination to act on these deviant desires through sexually motivated violence.
The final time Michelle Bright was seen alive was when she was dropped off at the Commercial Hotel on Gulgong’s main street on February 27, 1999. Her life ended tragically after leaving a 15th birthday celebration.
Despite NSW police questioning Rumsby regarding these grave allegations since 1999, the breakthrough arrest only came in 2019, thanks to the relentless efforts of the unsolved homicide team reopening the cold case. In their pursuit of justice, the police publicly announced a $1 million reward in August 2020, hoping to encourage anyone with relevant information to come forward.
Remarkably, Rumsby himself commented on the announcement post put up by the NSW Police, expressing sadness over the failure to apprehend the killer. Claiming a bond with the deceased, he wrote, “Michelle was like a sister to me. I feel sorry for her.”
Throughout the investigation, Rumsby offered a DNA sample to the police, although no scientific evidence has yet emerged to link him to either of the alleged crimes.