Investigator feels for family as Caroline’s killer walks
EIGHTEEN years ago police received calls reporting the screams of a young girl from the area of the Burnett Traffic Bridge.
When officers arrived on the scene, the body of Caroline Stuttle was found and an investigation into her death was launched. After 11 months of investigations, police had their man, Ian Douglas Previte, and he was sentenced to life in jail with a non-parole period of 15 years.
Now, as Previte is being released from jail, one of the officers involved in the investigation has reflected on the case.
Bundaberg Police Sergeant Russell Williams was attached to the Bundaberg CIB as a detective and was one of the investigators on call that night with David Batt, who is now a state MP.
Sgt Williams said from the moment they were tasked to the investigation they knew the death of Caroline was possibly unlawful.
"From the very first moment when David and I were assigned this case, we knew it was a death and there was the possibility it was an unlawful death, so we were investigating it as a murder pretty much from the get-go," he said.
"It wasn't until after a short time we arrived that we realised it was a young British backpacker who had lost her life while she was here in Bundaberg on the holiday of a lifetime."
Sgt Williams said the case had a personal and emotional effect on him.
"It was a young girl whose life was cut short for no apparent reason," he said.
Sgt Williams said he felt for the family knowing Previte was being released.
"After all these years, I'm still a believer that once you've paid your debt to society, you've paid your debt," he said.
"But at the end of the day a young girl on the holiday of a lifetime had her life cut short because of this person.
"I feel for the remaining family who have to deal with the fact the person convicted of her murder is being released from prison; their personal feelings will be he should stay in prison for the rest of his life.
"He was given life imprisonment. While that doesn't necessarily mean you'll stay in jail for the rest of your natural life, he has spent the last 18 years in prison."
Sgt Williams and Mr Batt have stayed in contact with Caroline's brother Richard in the years since her death.