August 31, 2006
SYDNEYSIDERS still wonder who killed CSIRO physicist Dr Gilbert Bogle and Mrs Margaret Chandler, wife of Dr Bogle's colleague, whose half-naked corpses were found by the Lane Cove River on New Year's Day in 1963.
It is a juicy story involving marital infidelity during the buttoned-up early '60s. It also had bizarre elements such as the dead couple being carefully covered with their clothes and strips of cardboard.
And there is the mystery, not only of who did it, but how. Extensive forensic testing found traces of a fast-acting poison but was not able to determine which one. After a long coronial inquest, no cause of death, motive or killer were identified.
Speculation over the years has involved everything from LSD to Cold War assassination, with Mrs Chandler's husband Geoffrey widely considered a suspect. Peter Butt, maker of the documentary Who Killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler? has come up with an explanation for a case he considers as big as the disappearance of the Beaumont children.
"It is the best-known Australian case in forensic circles and is described as the perfect crime," he says.
Narrated by Hugo Weaving, the documentary interviews Geoffrey Chandler and others. It re-creates the events surrounding the deaths with restrained acting, and costumes and art direction that meticulously re-create the era.
Butt is confident his documentary offers a conclusive answer. And NSW Police seem to think so too, because when Butt showed his research, he was allowed access to police forensic, crime scene and pathology files. The police are leaving it up to the documentary to announce its findings, because "the case was so old it was in a legal limbo".
Butt has kept his conclusions quiet: "I didn't want everyone to know what we had." Whether there will be a prosecution is entirely up to the legal system.
He believes that after the documentary goes to air the case will be referred for coronial review.
The only thing he will reveal about the ending is that it has "something to do with tissue samples. That's where the answer lies. It's the smoking gun."Who Killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler? screens on the ABC at 8.30pm on Thursday.