“BOGGO” – EPISODE #5 –THE WHISKEY AU GO GO KILLERS – John Andrew Stuart and James Richard Finch – PART 1.
WARNING: Strong content and language.
31st October 2018 – Halloween – marks the 30th Anniversary of James Finch confessing to firebombing the Whiskey Au Go Go nite club at Fortitude Valley.
On Thursday, 8th March, 1973, at 2.08 am, a drum of petrol was rolled into the street-level foyer of the club and set alight with a book of matches. In ten minutes, 15 people – ten men and five women, were dead. It remains Brisbane’s deadliest crime. At the time it was Australia’s worst mass murder, eclipsed only by the tragedy at Port Arthur in 1996.
John Andrew Stuart and James Richard Finch were convicted of the firebombing. Both men were no strangers to prison, having extensive criminal histories for violent crime. However, from the moment of their arrest they protested their innocence, claiming they were setup by corrupt police. After Stuart was found dead in his prison cell on New Years Day 1979, Finch focused on getting out, marrying invalid Cheryl Cole, who tirelessly fought for her husband’s release. Finch was paroled in February 1988. Deported to his native England, having served 15 years for the crime, Finch vowed to return to clear his name.
In a shocking twist, on Monday 31 October 1988 – Halloween – Brisbane’s The Sun front page declared:
Finch confesses I DID IT
Whiskey Au Go Go: The Truth.
The Sun’s London Chief-of-Staff Dennis Watt spent 5 days with the convicted killer. The exclusive interview saw James Finch admit he and John Stuart had lied to their supporters. Finch claimed himself and boxer Tom Hamilton did the deed, while tattooist Billy McKulkin drove the getaway vehicle. Brisbane criminal Vincent O’Dempsey was named as the man who plotted the firebombing. Stuart was paid $5,000 to organise Finch’s involvement.
Listen to Episode #5 of ‘Boggo’ – the official podcast for Boggo Road Gaol.
In this episode, Gaol Director Jack Sim, author of “History of Boggo Road Gaol”, and former prison officer John, talk about Stuart.
Make sure to tune in next week for Part 2.
Visit www.boggoroadgaol.com to book history tours and events.