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There was no trace of Trudie or any of her clothes or belongings. Divers were sent down an old coal mine.

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Waterways were searched. Also nothing. Each statement was consistent. Soon the Homicide detectives turned their attention to another suspect, and with good reason. A few days after Trudie disappeared, a teenage girl turned up at Mona Vale police station with a terrifying story. She told police that, three months earlier, two men in a car picked her up while she'd been hitchhiking on Barrenjoey Road.

Once she got in the car, they threatened her with a pistol, handcuffed her and taped her mouth and eyes. Afterwards, having gone through her handbag to find her address, they dropped her home, warning that if she told anyone they would come back for her. A few days later, another woman came forward to police with a startlingly similar story … then another … and another.

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With dawning horror, police realised that there had been a series of brutal rapes on the northern beaches between and The attacks usually happened on weekends, when the victims were hitchhiking home. Sometimes they were just grabbed while they were walking. The two men sometimes pretended to be police officers, handcuffing the victims, threatening them with a handgun and taping their eyes. It seemed they had a specific spot, in bushland near the northern beaches, where they would take the victims to rape them.

Sometimes, they took Polaroid photographs. They might also talk to the victims, offering them money, a beer, or a joint.

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The attacks had become more frequent in the lead-up to Trudie's disappearance in June. There was one in January ' Another in February. One in March. Then there were three in April. The reason they were coming forward now was that, while they had been sexually assaulted and scared beyond belief, at least they had escaped. Trudie had not.

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They wanted to help find her killer. One of the first women to be attacked, in the early seventies, reported her rape to Manly police the very night it happened. Tragically, police on the front desk of the station told her to go home, saying that because her clothes weren't ripped, nothing bad could have happened to her. The police report, obtained by Unravel, calls her complaint "doubtful" … twice.

Who was Trudie Adams?

If this first attack had been treated differently, could the rest have been prevented? Would Trudie still be here today? In the weeks after Trudie's disappearance in June , some women had identified Tween and an associate, Ray Johnson, to police. As Unravel has discovered, four months later, Tween and Johnson were arrested in Sydney in possession of loaded handguns, wigs and false beards.

It should have been a crucial clue, but it appears officers investigating Trudie and the rapes were not told this vital information. In those pre-computer days, those arresting Tween on these charges simply didn't know the men they had in custody were suspects for far more violent crimes. Neville Tween not only had a lengthy criminal history, he lived in Terrey Hills, just a few kilometres from the bushland where the attacks had taken place.

Also of interest was his car — he drove a light-coloured Holden panel van, similar to the one identified by Steve Norris. In , he and another associate, Gary Batt, committed a terrifying sexual assault on a year-old man who had ripped Tween off in a minor drug deal. The revenge plot involved Tween arranging to meet him in the national park at night, and it quickly spiralled into a nightmare scenario. Tween started by demanding the young man dig his own grave, while shooting bullets from a submachine gun around his feet. Tween then forced him to strip naked, dressed him in women's underwear and sexually assaulted him.

As local police investigated, they found parts of a safe — obviously from a robbery — at the site of the attack. Detectives from a NSW Police squad specialising in safe-breaking were called in, one of them a tough investigator named Bob Inkster. Interviewed earlier this year for Unravel, the former detective said Tween was a name that featured in unofficial criminal rankings as "right up there amongst them".

He had a disposition towards the most serious of crime. I could only really describe him as an extremely evil man. Armed with a sledgehammer and shotguns, Mr Inkster and fellow detectives burst into Tween's Terrey Hills home at dawn. Later, Tween went to jail for six months for the vicious assault on the year-old. More than 40 years later, the leniency of the sentence still disgusts Mr Inkster. Tween and his associate didn't have much choice but to plead guilty.

The Unholy Relationship

Police had found the Polaroids in his home. It's hard to know how to describe such a lengthy and varied criminal history — more than charges, spanning 57 years. For a fellow criminal, it might be "impressive". For a police officer, "extraordinary". But, for the general public, there are any number of words. The big unknown is: How many more did he get away with? He was a man of many names and many crimes which escalate in seriousness from his childhood break, enter and steal in Kalgoorlie to the one that finally put him away for good — conspiracy to import cocaine in His original family history and the reasons for him starting a life of crime are lost to time, or at least are not in any of the thousands of pages of police documents obtained by Unravel.

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At some stage he left the West and moved to Leeton. The football photo at the beginning of this story is from He appears in Leeton Petty Sessions for break, enter and steal in May , and again in at which point the patience of the law runs out and he is sent to an institution. That institution was almost certainly Mt Penang, a boys' home near Gosford on the NSW central coast, dubbed by one former inmate as "the monster factory". It was there he met Gary Batt, who would later become an accomplice in the sexual assault of the young drug dealer. We know this because, in , after Tween's trial on the cocaine charges, Batt struck up email communication with Fairfax journalist John Kidman.

Another man, Mark Merriman, who also went to Mt Penang though not at the same time as Tween, has horrific memories of the place. Working out of Bankstown in Sydney's south-west in the s, he investigated Neville Tween's drug dealing.


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Kennedy has no sympathy for Tween but has strong views about what places like Mt Penang did to the boys who grew up there. It left some of them beyond redemption. Whatever Mt Penang did to Tween, it appears he had no fear of, and no respect for, the police and the law and the normal rules of society. A criminal running his own race in Sydney's underbelly is one thing. But a criminal in league with one of the most powerful law enforcement officers in the state is a far more disturbing proposition. Intriguingly, Standen's name pops up in the pages of NSW Police running sheets from which recorded the day-by-day events of the unfolding investigation.

A running sheet from the Trudie Adams investigation, dated May 16, , says: Detective Mark Standen has been spoken to on a number of occasions at his office at the Narcotics Bureau. This was a time when it was common for local surfers to bring back 'buddha sticks' of marijuana in surfboards from overseas trips. The afternoon tabloid newspapers were full of stories about young women being recruited as drug mules. And there was talk on the northern beaches that Trudie's upcoming holiday to Bali was maybe not as innocent as it seemed.

But the documents show Standen poured cold water on the drug rumours, with an early investigator noting, He has informed me that he can find no association between the missing girl Adams and any of the Narcotic Bureau's inquiries. Since his arrest in , much has been written and said about Standen — in newspapers, on TV and in books. He confirmed his involvement in the case but said it was limited to investigating whether Trudie might be involved in the drug trade. Standen told Unravel that in he had never heard of Neville Tween, and there's no evidence to suggest otherwise.


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Some 13 years later, though, it was a very different story.

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