John Bowie sentenced over wife Roxlyn’s murder 40 years ago
A NSW man convicted of murdering his wife so he could have an unfettered relationship with another woman more than 40 years ago could die in prison.
Former ambulance officer John Bowie, 72, was found guilty by a jury in October of murdering his 31-year-old wife Roxlyn.
Roxlyn — a mother-of-two — disappeared from the family home in Walgett in June 1982. Her body has never been found.
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On Friday, Justice Dina Yehia sentenced Bowie to 24 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 18 years.
“The sentence that I impose does not and cannot measure the value of Roxlyn’s life,” Justice Yehia said.
“The reality is that he may die in custody.”
Justice Yehia said she was satisfied Bowie killed his wife — although her cause of death remains unclear — so that he could have an unfettered relationship with another woman.
At trial, prosecutors suggested Bowie may have disposed of Roxlyn’s body by feeding her to pigs.
Justice Dina Yehia said she did not accept that theory, but accepted Bowie disposed of her body to protect himself.
In a sentence hearing earlier this month, Bowie’s daughter Brenda Boyd pleaded with her father to reveal what happened to her mother.
Boyd was aged just six when her mum disappeared.
“Please reveal the truth … it’s all I want,” she told the court in a victim impact statement.
Bowie continues to deny involvement in Roxlyn’s disappearance.
“I find that the offender is entirely without remorse,” Justice Yehia said.
Roxlyn and Bowie married in 1971 and had three children together — Brenda, Charlene and Warren. Charlene died a few days after her birth.
The 31-year-old was a “doting” mum and was extremely close to her two young children, the court heard.
“(Roxlyn was) doing the best that she could in a relationship with a man who was a self-admitted womaniser who drank too much,” Justice Yehia said.
Warren, who was almost two when his mum disappeared, died without ever knowing what happened to her.
At the time of her disappearance, Roxlyn had been planning a birthday party for her son.
At trial, Boyd said she remembered her parents arguing before her mother put her younger brother to bed with her help.
“I remember saying goodnight to my mother and the next morning she was not there,” she said.
Justice Yehia said she was satisfied there was a level of planning in Roxlyn’s murder.
Bowie is believed to have killed his wife on June 5, 1982.
“No valid conclusions can be reached about the nature of the acts that caused her death,” Justice Yehia said.
Sometime before he killed her, Bowie coerced Roxlyn into writing two letters.
One letter, dubbed the “Dear John” letter, was written to Bowie and the other was addressed to Roxlyn’s parents.
The first letter said “I’m leaving you with the kids for good” and “I’ve thought about it for a long time now and tonight finally did it”.
The letter to Roxlyn’s parents arrived at their Sydney home on June 8.
It included “just a short note to say that I have left John and the kids for good” and “please don’t be hard on John because it wasn’t his fault that I left”.
The letters were part of a ruse to conceal his crime, Justice Yehia said.
In the days following the murder, Bowie applied to be transferred to an ambulance station in Sydney, close to where the woman he wanted to be with lived.
Investigation and eventual arrest
A 2014 inquest into Roxlyn’s death found she had died but her cause of death was undetermined.
The investigation into her disappearance and suspected murder was then renewed and, in 2018, a $1 million reward for information was announced.
The following year, in October 2019, Bowie was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder. He pleaded not guilty.
While being escorted by police at Sydney Airport, after being extradited from Queensland to NSW, Bowie told reporters: “I didn’t know she was dead”.
The murder trial commenced in the NSW Supreme Court last year.
Following the conclusion of the five-week trial, it took less than five hours for the jury to find Bowie guilty.
Bowie will be eligible for parole in October 2037.
– With AAP
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