Murder of Celia Douty
Celia Natasha "Tasha" Douty (11 February 1943 – 1 September 1983) was a British resort worker who was murdered on Brampton Island in Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. The crime remained unsolved until 2001, when Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 motor industry finance manager, Wayne Butler, was found guilty. It was the first murder in Australia to be solved using DNA profiling. The prosecution relied heavily on DNA evidence and it became a case study for the use of the technique in court.


Tasha Douty was working as a waitress at the resort on Brampton Island in the summer of 1983. On 31 August, she took the ferry to the nearby town of Mackay
Mackay, Queensland
Mackay is a city on the eastern coast of Queensland, Australia, about north of Brisbane, on the Pioneer River. Mackay is nicknamed the sugar capital of Australia because its region produces more than a third of Australia's cane sugar....

 for a dental appointment and spent the night there. The following day, she travelled back to the island. Police began searching for Douty when she failed to show up for work on 2 September.

Douty had spent the morning of 1 September sunbathing naked in the secluded Dinghy Bay. She was found in scrub behind the beach, her body covered with a red towel which had blood and semen on it. Douty's clothes and personal possessions, including a handbag, were missing and were never found. She had been beaten on the head with a stone.


There were no witnesses to the crime and no confession was forthcoming. Police set about interviewing more than 300 guests and visitors on the private island. The Queensland government offered a $
Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is the currency of the Commonwealth of Australia, including Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu...

30,000 reward for information leading to a conviction, but no-one came forward to claim it.

Witnesses on the ferry back from Brampton Island on 1 September reported overhearing an argument between a couple in which a woman complained that she had been left alone for several hours on the island, and the man was heard to say that he did not realise the island was so large. However, the police were unable to identify the couple in question. A breakthrough then came when a man told Queensland police "I think I know that man who was having an argument with his wife on the Brampton Island ferry when that woman was murdered. He's my brother Wayne and he lives in Sydney".

Wayne Butler was originally arrested in 1988 for Douty's murder, but was released because of insufficient evidence. Butler's wife divorced him and in October 1997, went to a police station in Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 and told officers, "My ex-husband has committed a murder. He killed a girl on a beach in Queensland. I couldn't say anything while we were married. Now we're divorced and I want you to know the truth". Although Butler had long been a suspect, it was not until DNA testing techniques were advanced enough to establish the probability that the semen stain on the towel was his, that he was charged.


Butler was tried for the murder in 2001. His former wife, Vija Samite Duffey, told the court that on the day of Douty's murder, Butler had been away for four hours. She said that this was not unusual and his behaviour was not different on his return.

The court was also told that DNA evidence had confirmed that semen stains on the red towel covering Douty's body came from Butler and that the chances of another person having the same profile were 1 in 23 × 1015. Dr Kary Mullis
Kary Mullis
Kary Banks Mullis is a Nobel Prize winning American biochemist, author, and lecturer. In recognition of his improvement of the polymerase chain reaction technique, he shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Michael Smith and earned the Japan Prize in the same year. The process was first...

, who won a Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 for his work on DNA replication, advised the defence throughout the trial, but was not called to testify.

The defence suggested that the DNA evidence had been contaminated in the laboratory, but the claim was rebutted by the prosecution after they demonstrated that this was not possible. Butler was not called to give evidence. He was found guilty by the jury after only 90 minutes of discussion, after which Supreme Court Judge Justice John Helman jailed Butler for life without the possibility of release on parole, saying: “For this savage crime you will spend the rest of your days in captivity. Parole will always be out of the question.”


On 31 July 2001, Wayne Butler unsuccessfully appealed his conviction. His appeal was based on the grounds that the original verdict was unsafe and unsatisfactory, and that the judge failed to uphold the submission that there was no case to answer.

Butler was given a second chance to appeal in 2005, lodging a plea for pardon with Governor of Queensland Quentin Bryce
Quentin Bryce
Quentin Bryce, AC, CVO is the 25th and current Governor-General of Australia and former Governor of Queensland....

. Butler's application was based upon new evidence by forensic scientist and blood group specialist Professor Barry Boettcher, who said, "I can't say Wayne Butler is innocent. All I can say is that the laboratory results are wrong." A hearing for the second appeal was due in early 2007.
The appeal was eventually heard by the Court of Appeal in 2009, it was dismissed by Justice Pat Keane who did not regard Professor Boettcher's views as apt to cast doubt on the integrity or competence of John Tonge Centre staff - "There has never been any suggestion that the semen found on the red towel might reasonably be thought not to be that of the killer. I am satisfied there is no reasonable doubt Mr Butler's semen was on the red towel"
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