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Parents of murdered teenager Michelle Bright confront ‘monster’ killer Craig Rumsby in court

Parents of murdered teenager Michelle Bright confront ‘monster’ killer Craig Rumsby in court
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Read Time:4 Minute, 11 Second

The family of a NSW teenager murdered by a “monster” more than two decades ago have told a court they live with the pain of her violent death every day.

Michelle Bright, 17, was killed after leaving a friend’s 15th birthday party and her body was found hidden in long grass by the side of the road in Gulgong in February 1999.

The 17-year-old’s blouse had been pushed up, the clasps of her bra ripped off, and her jeans and underwear were around her ankles.

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A jury found Craig Henry Rumsby guilty of murdering her in June this year, 24 years after the crime was committed.

He was also found guilty of choking an 18-year-old woman with intent to rape her in January 1998.

In an emotional sentence hearing in the NSW Supreme Court in Dubbo on Friday, the court heard of the profound impact of the murder from Michelle’s family.

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Michelle’s mother Loraine Bright told the court her daughter was her “greatest joy”.

“Michelle grew into a beautiful, kind girl who loved animals,” the court heard.

Loraine told the court her daughter was caring and nurturing and wanted to have children of her own one day.

“All her dreams were stolen and shattered and as her mum, my dreams have been shattered too,” she said.

“I’ve lived with this for 24 years and there will never be any closure for me.

“I can never have the one thing I want — my daughter back with me.

“Losing Michelle in the way we did has left a gaping hole in my heart.”

Michelle was found dead on the roadside after attending a birthday party. Credit: AAP

Michelle Bright’s father Gregory Bright had his statement read to the court by crown prosecutor Lee Carr SC.

In it, he described Rumsby as a “monster”.

“You treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed like a piece of rubbish,” he said.

“It’s terrifying that you have such disregard for human lives.

“There is no punishment that you could receive that could ever repay the pain you caused for our family.”

‘We miss her every single day’

Michelle’s older brother Leslie Bright told the court he watched his dad’s heart shatter into a million pieces at the news of his sister’s murder.

“I knew then that you were gone — that I‘ll never get to hear Michelle’s voice again or get to give her a hug,” he told the court.

“The first few months were the hardest, and the hard months rolled into years.

“To this day, 24 years later, Michelle’s murder still has a profound effect on our lives. We miss her every single day.

“We all know we can never get her back but to finally know her killer is not free is a huge weight off our shoulders.

“Finally we have justice for Michelle.”

Craig Henry Rumsby. Credit: 7NEWS

Michelle’s brother Phillip said losing Michelle tore the family apart.

“I’ll never have another day with my sister,” he told the court.

“I’ll never have another day where her loss doesn’t affect me.”

The woman who was suddenly attacked by Rumsby when she was 18 as she stood outside her house on January 1, 1998, told the court in a victim impact statement read by the crown prosecutor, she lived with terrifying flashbacks and fear.

“I couldn’t stop reliving it,” she said.

“I couldn’t stop the flashbacks of his dirty face, his black teeth and him choking me, even to this day.”

The woman reported the attack and police spoke to Rumsby, but she did not complete a statement out of fear she would not be believed

“As a result, I kept this attack secret for 24 years,” she said.

The court heard Rumsby’s violence was sexually motivated and that he had continued to demonstrate similar behaviour as recently as 2019, when he was caught performing a sex act in a Sydney suburban park.

Defence barrister Nicholas Broadbent said Rumsby’s crimes were “very grave”, though he had a history of low intellectual functioning.

The court also heard Rumsby has been assaulted several times during his time in custody, most recently on Tuesday.

Acting Justice Robert Hulme will sentence Rumsby at a later date.

– With AAP

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

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