Claremont murder accused admits rapes

Accused serial killer Bradley Edwards has admitted five charges but denies committing any murder.
Accused serial killer Bradley Edwards has admitted five charges but denies committing any murder.

Accused Claremont serial killer Bradley Robert Edwards has pleaded guilty to five of eight charges against him, including twice raping a 17-year-old girl, but maintains he didn't commit the murders.

The 50-year-old is accused of slaying Sarah Spiers, 18, Jane Rimmer, 23, and Ciara Glennon, 27, who were all last seen on the affluent Perth suburb's entertainment strip in 1996 and 1997.

Edwards also faced allegations he broke into a Huntingdale home in 1988 and attacked an 18-year-old woman as she slept, then committed the rapes at Karrakatta cemetery in 1995.

On Monday, at the final directions hearing before a judge-alone trial slated to begin next month, a softly-spoken Edwards changed his pleas from not guilty to guilty for an aggravated burglary charge, two deprivation of liberty charges and two sexual assault charges.

Prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo previously told the Supreme Court of WA that Edwards' DNA was found on a silk kimono left behind after a struggle at the Huntingdale house, on the cemetery victim and under Ms Glennon's fingernails.

Edwards was arrested and charged in December 2016 after DNA on the kimono was re-tested.

Ms Barbagallo said on Monday it appeared the defence team would argue the physical evidence had been contaminated.

Edwards' main lawyer Paul Yovich confirmed previous plans not to call DNA evidence may be revisited.

Ms Barbagallo said the plea changes would slash the length of the trial, which was previously expected to last nine months, by at least three months.

During previous pre-trial hearings, it emerged Edwards was convicted of assault for attacking a social worker from behind at Hollywood Hospital, where he was working for Telstra in 1990.

Cable ties were later found in his pocket.

Ms Barbagallo, who argues the seriousness of his offending escalated over time, also revealed the Karrakatta rape victim was first grabbed from behind, pushed to the ground, had her hands bound with a cord and fabric forced into her mouth.

The remains of Ms Glennon, a lawyer, and Ms Rimmer, a child care worker, were discovered in bushland at opposite ends of Perth weeks after their murders, both with some form of neck injury.

But the body of Ms Spiers, a secretary, has never been found.

Australian Associated Press