Qld triple murder accused to fight charges

Karen Edwards, Gordon Twaddle and Tim Thomson were murdered while holidaying near Mount Isa in 1978.
Karen Edwards, Gordon Twaddle and Tim Thomson were murdered while holidaying near Mount Isa in 1978.

A man accused of murdering three friends on a motorcycle adventure in outback Queensland more than 40 years ago will fight the charges, his lawyer says.

Bruce John Preston, 63, has been charged with the 1978 murders of Karen Edwards, 23, Timothy Thomson, 31, and Gordon Twaddle, 21.

The trio were last seen on the morning of October 5 after they arrived at the Moondarra Caravan Park in Mt Isa.

Mr Thomson and Mr Twaddle were family friends from New Zealand and shared a passion for motorcycles.

They planned to ride from Alice Springs to Melbourne with Ms Edwards, who was Mr Thomson's girlfriend.

Once they reached Cairns, the three friends planned to head south and spend Christmas in Melbourne with family.

They never made it.

Their bodies were found 19 days later in bushland near Spear Creek, 12 km north of the outback mining town.

All three died from gunshot wounds.

On Saturday, Preston faced court for the first time after being charged with three counts of murder on Friday.

The former Goulburn prison guard wasn't required to appear in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court and was remanded in custody.

Outside court, his lawyer Russell Pearce said Preston would fight the charges.

Following his arrest, Detective Senior Sergeant Tara Kentwell said Preston had been "surprised" by his arrest.

She would not comment on a motive but said he was known to the victims.

Preston became a person of interest in 1978 after he was convicted and fined $300 for stealing Mr Thomson's motorcycle.

Detective Kentwell said the families of Ms Edwards, Mr Thomson and Mr Twaddle had been told of the charges and were "relieved" by the outcome.

"We believe that there are still witnesses out there who hold vital information and we appeal for those persons to come forward," she said.

A $250,000 reward remains on offer for any information which leads to a conviction, along with indemnity from prosecution.

Preston is due reappear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on May 20.

Australian Associated Press