Mother wants life sentence for murderer

By court reporter Peta Carlyon

Rachael Betts was murdered while Coombes was on parole.

Rachael Betts was murdered while Coombes was on parole. (Victoria Police)

The mother of Melbourne woman Rachel Betts, who was killed and dismembered by a serial killer, wants him locked up for life.

John Leslie Coombes, 56, of Preston, was on parole for two other murders, when he strangled Rachael Betts, 27, in August, 2009.

He then dismembered her body in a bathtub and threw her remains into the sea off the Newhaven Pier.

Ms Betts’s mother, Sandra Betts, told the Supreme Court the justice system had failed her daughter.

Outside court, she said Coombes should not be allowed back into society.

“I don’t want him to walk free ever again. I don’t think society could ever feel there would be a time when it would be safe to actually have him out,” she said.

At Coombes’s plea hearing, the Victorian Supreme Court heard he was jailed for life with no parole in 1985, but was later granted a minimum term, allowing his release.

Prosecutors are now calling for a life sentence with no parole.

But Coombes’s lawyer says he client did not intend to kill Ms Betts.

The court heard Coombes became angry when Ms Betts told him she allowed the sexual exploitation of two teenagers.

A psychologist told the court the murder directly related to his own sexual abuse as a child.

Coombes will be sentenced at a later date.


The mother is very right. By releasing this violent man the justice system wronged her daughter, allowing her to be murdered. This is such a tragedy since Ms. Betts death was avoidable. If they had only kept him where he was, where he should have been this young lady would still be alive.

    • becky
    • February 7th, 2012

    sorry about your loss i hope you the best in life..

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