On the evening of June 23, 1975, Shirley Finn was murdered on a fairway of the South Perth golf club, left on display in her Dodge Phoenix sedan. She was shot four times in the head with a sawn-off .22 – a classic ‘bowling ball’ execution - two days before a meeting with the tax man who was pressing her to reveal the names of those she claimed she had been bribing – as one of only a few ‘greenlit’ brothel madams in the state of Western Australia. The taxman was also urging her to provide the identity of the true owner of 73,000 dollars in a Hong Kong trust fund held in Shirley’s name – money that Shirley claimed was not her own. Shirley Finn had previously told the taxman that to reveal the identity of the people she had been paying bribes to, and the identity of her mystery investor would put her life in ‘physical danger.’
Nine months after her murder the acting head of the CIB forwarded his final report, prepared by a detective-sergeant, to the coroner, citing his belief that he saw few ‘immediate prospects in the way of fresh information or new evidence.’ One month later the Crown Law Department felt that because of this the case was deserving of ‘no further action.’
But interest in the case has never waned, and fresh information was indeed forthcoming, including the statements of witnesses who have claimed that their initial statements were not included in this final CIB report, or who were too afraid to come forward at the time.
In the late 90’s I was working as a creative writing teacher in Casuarina Prison, where I met Shane Finn, Shirley’s youngest son. Shane suggested that, as a writer, I might make something of his mother’s story. It was around this time that I received the complete CIB file relating to Shirley’s murder, which came by way of a ‘sympathetic copper.’
I subsequently spoke to Shirley Finn’s lover at the time of her murder, and many others from that time, including ex-policemen, prostitutes and others significant to the case. Many are still too frightened, 35 years later, to speak on the record about what they know. I therefore decided to write Line of Sight as a crime novel, inspired by real events relating to the murder of Shirley Finn, but one whose characters are entirely fictionalised. It is an entertainment, of sorts (see reviews - http://www.davidwhish-wilson.com/reviews )
Only the people directly involved in Shirley’s murder know exactly what happened on that June night in 1975, and thus far they are not saying. After the passing of 35 years, there is probably little chance of new physical evidence emerging. The rumours have always been that certain police were either directly involved in her murder, or were involved in protecting the murderers. These rumours of course discredit the thousands of honest policemen and women who have served in this state. Without evidence to the contrary, these rumours are not likely to go away. Without such new evidence, there is also little chance of a proper CCC investigation being launched into the matter.
Shirley Finn was the mother of three children. To this day, her children have never known justice.
If you have any information relating to her murder, anonymously or otherwise – please leave it here.
MORE INFORMATION: Read Article from THE WEST by Gary Adshead: Death of a Madam - PDF 11.6Mb