|Author: By JANE PARSONS
|Publication: Newcastle Herald
BILL Millward still carries the scars from his run-in with one of Australia’s most callous killers. Not that he cares.
He just wants to make sure that Kevin Crump is shown no mercy as he makes a final plea for freedom.
The bullet scar on his head speaks volumes about why Mr Millward, a young Cessnock police officer at the time of Crump’s murderous rampage, wants the killer kept behind bars. But it’s the impact felt by Crump’s victims that drives him most.
The former highway patrolman was shot in the face while in pursuit of the man he says should never be released from jail.
Crump and his co-accused Allan Baker were given life sentences for the murder of Ian Lamb and for the rape and conspiracy to murder mother-of-three Virginia Morse 38 years ago.
Crump, now 64, will make a final plea for freedom at a High Court hearing on November 16.
He argues that it is unconstitutional to stop him applying for parole after his 30-year life sentence expired in 2003.
“He shouldn’t be able to keep appealing like this and I think the pathetic creep should have been given the death penalty in the first place,” Mr Millward said.
“All this stirs up the emotions and sadness of everyone involved, particularly his victims’ family. It’s not right.”
In November 1973, Mr Millward was a senior constable and the father of two young children when he was put in the firing line of Crump and Baker as they tried to avoid capture for what police first thought was a break and enter and car theft.
But the day took a sinister turn when it was realised they were desperate men on the run from brutal crimes.
Crump and Baker were later charged with maliciously wounding a police officer [Millward] with intent to prevent lawful apprehension.
Mr Millward had known Crump, a Cessnock resident, from his highway patrol duties.
“Our paths had crossed, I knew him personally from when I had to defect his cars,” he said.
“I thought he was undesirable, a part-time crim you could say, but nothing like it all ended up.
“I was surprised like everyone else that he had this evil in him.”
Mr Millward’s work day had started like any other with little warning that fate would push the Bellbird man into the annals of one of Australia’s most darkest and gruesome criminal chapters.
“I had been on the highway patrol for seven years and a few fisticuffs and an irate drunken driver was the most I would have expected,” he said.
“We gave chase to the offenders from Stanford Merthyr to Maitland but before long a volley of shots rang out.
“One hit me in the centre of my forehead and I had to pull [the car] over.
“Blood was spurting out of this wound and also from where the bullet had passed out near my ear.”
Mr Millward said it “never entered his head” to think whether he would live or die.
“We had a job to do and I just thought whether they would get them [culprits] or not.”
He spent four days in hospital and was back at work in 12.
“There was no such thing as stress leave or counselling back then. The best thing I did was go back to work with my comrades,” he said.
“They told me the one that got me was number 13 fired from the gun, because of the empty shells.”
Police colleagues also told him of the “ghastly” injuries Mrs Morse received before she was killed, and of the “thrill-style” killing of Mr Lamb.
“You know it was so bad that the court wouldn’t even release the documents about how they tortured Mrs Morse before killing her,” he said.
“The judge called them obscene animals.
“How can they let this man out of prison?”
Now retired and living on the Mid-North Coast, Mr Millward has been reminded of the incident repeatedly over the past four decades and admits he was “a bit touchy” for a while afterwards.
“. . . but that was nothing compared to what Brian Morse [Virginia Morse’s husband] has had to struggle with,” he said.
“My heart goes out to all of them.
“Even now he faces this new appeal by Crump before the High Court. They really should put a finish to it once and for all.”
By 1981 Mr Millward had left the force to return to working in the coalmines. He has since been awarded both the Queen’s and police medals for his bravery in 1973.