Des Campbell: The killer who preyed on women
Last month, a jury found Des Campbell guilty of murdering his wife, Janet. While she paid the ultimate price, Janet was not the only woman he lied to, manipulated and cheated out of large amounts of money.
June Ingham wishes that she had never met Des Campbell, the man at the centre of one of Australia’s longest-running criminal investigations. “I fell in love with him, but when he told me he didn’t want me anymore, he might as well have plunged a knife into my heart,” says June, now 60. “I gave up a life with my family and friends in England, and came halfway across the world to be with him, but then he discarded me like a piece of rubbish. To this day, I wonder how someone could be so cruel to another human being.”
June is one of a long list of women who found themselves swept up in the affairs of Desmond Campbell, a 52-year-old former ambulance driver found guilty last month in the NSW Supreme Court of murdering Janet, his 49-year-old wife of six months, by pushing her off a cliff in 2005.
The four-week trial was one of the most intensely watched prosecutions of the decade, not only because of the callous crime, but because of the disregard with which he held women. He was, the court heard, a serial philanderer – a classic love rat – carrying on affairs behind the back of his unsuspecting bride, who was “madly, passionately” in love with him.
The court found that Campbell pushed his wife from the edge of a 50-metre cliff during a camping trip to the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, around 7.20pm on March 24, 2005. He denied the allegation, claiming Janet had tripped and fallen over the cliff after leaving their tent for “a pee”.
Rescue teams found Janet’s lacerated body hours later at the cliff base. Campbell used a rope to clamber down a gully, telling police he’d tried to resuscitate Janet, though he “knew it was pointless, that she was gone”.
Read more of this story in the July issue of The Weekly on sale now.