As a writer, I tell a lot of stories on Lifedaily. Stories of discovery and injustice, of miracles, and murders. Needless to say, it takes a lot to shock me. But every so often, a story comes along that shakes even this desensitized writer to his core. This is one of those stories.
This story is about a 14-year-old girl named Leigh. She was a typical teenager on the eve of a great party. She was sweet, outgoing, and excited, and she was ready to have the time of her life at that High School party. Unfortunately, it was not to be…
It was 10:50 at night when Leigh’s stepfather came to pick her up after her school friend’s sixteenth birthday party. She didn’t show. He and his wife wouldn’t find out until the next day, but the last time that anyone had even seen their daughter, she was bloodied, beaten and walking towards the beach.
Leigh was much like many other Australian teens. She and her cousin Tracey, best friends from the start, loved skating, going to the movies, and just hanging out. Whenever they were off from school, she’d spend time at her grandmother’s house in Kilaben Bay. When Leigh grew up, she wanted to be a veterinarian. She would never get the opportunity…
Leigh’s mom and stepdad went out searching for her. They asked everyone at the party, but no one appeared to have seen her leave. Finally, after a few hours, they returned home. They assumed she’d gone to stay at a friend’s house for the night and had just forgotten to call. The next morning, beachgoers near Stockton Beach found Leigh…
14-year-old Leigh’s nude body was found on Stockton Beach, not far from a row of beachside homes. Whatever had happened the night before, it was clear that she had been sexually assaulted, strangled, and bludgeoned across the head. They knew this, because the bloody rock was still nearby…
Leigh’s life up until that fateful night hadn’t been tumultuous. True, her parents had divorced when she was about seven years old, but she and her mother found a new place to live and eventually, she even had a baby sister named Jessie. Her stepfather came soon after and the new family began their new life.
Right away, rumors of what had happened to the poor teen began to spin about. The most popular among them was that she had been murdered by a sexually abusive stepfather with whom she had been having a sexual relationship for months. Unfounded though the claims were, police did consider him a suspect…for a time. Then, the truth of that night began to emerge…
Jason Robertston was turning sixteen and his parents had agreed that he could have a party. It wasn’t a small get together either. He was going to be having a birthday bash at the North Stockton Surf Club in New South Wales, Australia, and between 60 and 100 people were going to be in attendance: most of them his fellow teens.
One of those young people in attendance was none other than 14-year-old Leigh Leigh, one of Jason’s fellow students at Newcastle High School. Leigh had been positively giddy to have received an invitation: it was the first time she’d ever been invited to another teenager’s party. As far as she was concerned, it was going to be a night to remember…
Like any mother, Leigh’s mom had her concerns about this type of party. The birthday boy was a few years older than her daughter and so were many of the other boys. Still, she had been assured that responsible adults would be present at the party. Matthew Webster and Guy Wilson were both over 18 and they would be acting as bouncers at the party.
Most of the attendees were, like Jason Robertson, 15 and 16-year-olds. Though there were two 10-year-olds seen wandering around at some point. Luckily, the kids didn’t stay long, because bouncers notwithstanding, many of the partygoers began to get into some rowdy activities: drinking alcohol, smoking pot, and some were even engaged in dubious sexual activities…
“Boys Will Be Boys”
Leigh’s presumption that this was going to be nothing more than an innocent party amongst friends turned out to be nothing of the sort. Indeed, many of the young men in attendance had rather sinister motives for going, and for inviting young, naive girls like Leigh Leah. Their plan was to get those girls drunk enough to “convince” them to have sex with them.
Drunk and Pliable
The moment Leigh walked through the door, she was handed a cup of Coke and Jim Beam whiskey. The cups kept coming, and in no time at all, the fourteen-year-old innocent was drunk as she’d ever been in her life. As she slurred and stumbled, one 15-year-old boy came over to her and shouted to the crowd, “I’m going to go and fuck Leigh” before carrying her off to the beach outside…
She Looks a Mess
When Leigh made it back to the party, she was a mess. She was crying and bleeding between her legs. She tried to tell anyone who would listen what had happened, that the teen had raped her on the beach. Some people tried to console her, but many of them were drunk and with 100 some-odd people around, it was going to be hard to pinpoint her assailant.
A Secure Proposition
She went to the security guards, Wilson and Webster. Yet, rather than offer her assistance or even a caring word, 19-year-old Guy Wilson asked her, rather unabashedly, if she wanted to have sex with him next. Webster meanwhile, who had witnessed the exchange, leaned over to a group of boys saying, “she’s a bit of a slut and why don’t all of us have a go…”
Leigh refused, but it was too late. Wilson pushed her to the ground while ten other teenagers surrounded her and yelled abuse. They kicked her, spat on her, and beat her down. Worse than that, numerous people saw the attack taking place and not one of them thought to intervene in any way. No one offered to call the police or their parents.
If any of the dozens of witnesses had decided to do anything to help her or find help, Leigh Leah may have survived the night. But not one of them did, they just let it happen. Miraculously, the grievously wounded teen got to her feet and dragged herself back inside for help. Even there, in the crowded surf club, she was ignored…
Cause of Death
When they found her the next day, the autopsy report showed extensive damage. The real cause of death was one final strike to her already fractured skull. In addition to the broken brain and skull, Leigh had asphyxial hemorrhages, and multiple injuries to the jaw, ribs, liver and right kidney and there was evidence she had been choked before she died.
Afterwards, a team of 10 police officers were sent out to discover what happened. They interviewed around 40 teenagers and had expected to interview 20 more before the key suspects were brought to their attention: Matthew Webster, Guy Wilson and an unnamed teenage assailant, the initial rapist.
Eventually, Matthew Webster pleaded guilty to Leigh’s murder. His confession didn’t match up to forensic evidence however, so there was some controversy about the police just looking for an easy suspect. Eventually, Wilson pleaded guilty to assault and the unnamed teenager pleaded guilty to sex with a minor. Webster was sentenced to 20 years but was paroled in 2004 after serving 14.
The story of a young girl asking for help and receiving only abuse and callous indifference captivated Australia and the world as a whole. Eventually they even made a play and a movie inspired by the story called Blackrock. It is believed that the true murderer, the one who ended Leigh’s life on that beach has never been brought to justice.