Telstra cars probed amid Claremont murders

Bradley Robert Edwards denies murdering three women in Perth's Claremont suburb in the 1990s.
Bradley Robert Edwards denies murdering three women in Perth's Claremont suburb in the 1990s.

Multiple women have told the Claremont serial killings trial about a Telstra vehicle circling the area and being mistaken for a taxi around the time of the murders, when police were already investigating the company's drivers.

Ex-Telstra technician Bradley Robert Edwards, 50, is on trial in the Western Australia Supreme Court, charged with murdering Sarah Spiers, 18, Jane Rimmer, 23, and Ciara Glennon, 27, in 1996 and 1997.

Natalie Clements, 47, testified on Tuesday she saw a Telstra car lapping the area five times in about two hours on the Friday night before Christmas in 1996.

It drove past the Ocean Beach Hotel twice and soon after, the group was walking towards the train station when she saw a ladder on the roof of the Commodore, mistakenly believed it was a taxi and tried to hail it.

But it was a white station wagon with a Telstra logo.

"It slowed and stopped. I said 'no, I didn't need a lift' and they kept going."

She said she saw the same car drive past two more times until they eventually found a taxi.

Ms Clements said she did not see the driver because he was "in the shadow of the car".

She spoke to police in June 1997 after a friend was picked up by a Telstra vehicle.

Jane Ouvaroff, 47, testified she also hailed a station wagon mistakenly thinking it was a taxi in late 1996 or early 1997.

She believed the same car had driven past her minutes earlier.

"It looked to me like the same shape as a taxi ... the driver stopped for me," she said.

"When I sat down, I looked at the dashboard and recognised that it wasn't a taxi."

She said she didn't feel threatened or unsafe, but something made her mention she had left her shoes at a park and asked the driver to stop.

She got out and retrieved her shoes - and two male friends - then returned to the car, which she noticed had a Telstra logo and tools in the boot.

"(The driver) was not particularly willing to chat."

Trilby Winsome Smith, 42, testified she and a friend got into a white "electrical van" while hitchhiking in the summer of 1996.

"I got into the back of it and noticed there was a lot of cables," she said.

"There were little holders that held certain electrical things."

Ms Smith said her friend was sitting in the front and talking to the driver but she did not see his face.

Her friend suddenly opened the door and "yanked" her out.

"She said 'That man was...'," but Ms Smith was prevented from finishing the sentence.

She repeatedly tried to elaborate but was shut down.

Ms Smith noted nothing about the van's exterior, saying it had no "obvious signage".

It also emerged that WA Police asked Telstra for information about its vehicles in late June 1996 after a witness claimed to have seen a car with the new logo in February 2015.

Edwards has admitted abducting and twice raping a 17-year-old girl after dragging her through Karrakatta cemetery that month.

"You mentioned the vehicle you were looking for had a Telstra logo on the side, as distinct from the Telecom logo, and that the witness was fairly definite about this," a fax from Telstra read.

"If this is the case, then you should be aware that we only started putting Telstra logos on our vehicles from about July 1995.

"If a vehicle was sighted in February 1995, I don't think that it was possible it could have had a Telstra logo."

The fax also said the driver's name recorded might not be correct because sometimes vehicles changed hands.

Edwards was not on the list of possible drivers.

Australian Associated Press