Soccer rapist thought he'd got away with it
The actions of two unlikely heroes led police on a global trail to catch a soccer star rapist who'd
been hiding his secret past. Billy Rule reports.
When Emma bounced into the video store it was about 5.30pm and there was still a fading light outside.
But after browsing the aisles and finally selecting Muriel's Wedding, the spring sky was darkening.
She left the store and took the path through Leeming High School, a route she'd walked with her best
friend countless times over the past three years.
The two girls had organised a sleepover for that night, October 4, 1999, and it was something Emma
had been looking forward to. At 16, she'd lived a happy but relatively sheltered life, focusing on
study and staying close to family. Her parents didn't believe teenagers should be allowed to drink
alcohol or go to parties, so a sleepover was a wholesome highlight.
She was approaching a section of the path that was isolated so she decided to quicken her pace. But,
just as she did, a force grabbed her from behind. Panic pulsed through her body as a huge arm locked
around her throat. With her heart hammering, she heard a man spit into her ear: "Be quiet or I'll slit
She was then thrown face down into the nearby scrub and the stranger behind her was forcing himself
upon her. She was being raped. Terror and fear shook her body. "Oh, my goodness,'' she thought.
"I don't want to die.'' Then the voice told her not to move for five seconds. And he was gone.
Emma tentatively got up and looked for her clothes, but she could only find her blue jumper. So she
clutched it around her waist and ran through bush tracks to a friend's place nearby.
Emma, who once lived a sheltered life, now lived a scarred life.
At the time, Emma wasn't the only traumatised girl in the area. She was the fourth victim of a serial
sex attacker in less than 14 months. The other three had been Murdoch University students, and all with
slight builds, like herself.
Two college girls from Europe had been able to fight off the attacker, but just five months before Emma's
ordeal a 22-year-old Asian student had been brutally violated while jogging alone about 6.30pm.
Her assailant had grabbed her from behind and lifted her off the ground, carrying her into nearby bushes.
He'd pushed her face into the ground and threatened to kill her. At that eerie moment images of her family
came to her as she accepted she was about to die and would never see her loved ones again.
She would later say: "I remember seeing flashes of my family (and then) playing dead so he would have
thought I fainted and would stop hitting me.''
But he didn't stop. He ripped off her shorts and raped her before running off.
That attack prompted police to set up Operation Guardian, located on university grounds, to try to catch the
Identikit posters were plastered throughout the campus. Hundreds of students and residents were interviewed
as an electric current of fear buzzed throughout a nervous Murdoch community.
Because the victims had said the attacker was tall, athletic and with a Spanish-like complexion, police investigated
a local Spanish sporting club, but it proved to be a dead end.
The attack on Emma prompted massive media coverage but the "Murdoch Rapist'' was never caught. The attacks also
stopped and, within a few months, Operation Guardian was disbanded.
The four young victims tried to move on with their lives. The two European girls returned to the northern
hemisphere after completing their studies.
Bianca*, the Asian rape victim, finished her degree and returned home, never to visit WA again.
And Emma went back to high school, showing a strength that surprised her proud parents and close friends.
The next year she was named school captain and for a drama assignment she would write a play about a young girl
brutally attacked by a man who seemingly gets away with his crime, only to be caught years later.
MARCH 17, 2011
St Patrick's Day is one day of the year when you might do something a bit stupid - have too much to drink,
talk to a stranger, make a bad decision.
But driving down from WA's north coast to Perth, there was nothing on Sonia's* mind but good times. After
competing in an Irish-dancing event she was keen to have a farewell drink with a friend who was heading
back to the UK.
She loved St Pat's Day. Her parents were Irish and she was determined to celebrate in style, dressed in
green T-shirt, shorts and with two shamrocks bouncing out of her hair band.
After dropping into Paddy Malone's bar in Joondalup, she arranged to meet friends at Rosie O'Grady's pub
"I got there about eight o'clock, but the queue was so long it would have taken me ages to get in, if at
all,'' she said.
"So I just thought, well, I'll go to the casino and meet them there. I texted my friends inside and they
agreed to link up at Burswood. I was in a good mood and just out to drink some 'green' beer and have a
night on the town.''
First port of call at Burswood was Paddy Hannan's pub, which was roaring with patrons juggling pints of
Guinness. Sonia joined in the fun, but after a couple of hours she squeezed through the mob and headed
next door to the casino. Having worked as a croupier overseas she was keen to inspect the hopefuls hunched
over their cards.
"I was wandering around offering some advice here and there (to punters) and then I got kicked out,'' she said.
"I'm not going to say I didn't have a few drinks in me, but I was OK. In saying that, I was probably a bit of an
eyesore actually - in my shorts and shamrocks. Yeah, so security booted me.
"Out the front I met a man and a lady. They'd noticed what I was wearing and said 'what's going on?' I told them
I'd been kicked out and they said `follow us'. Anyway, they took me through a different way and we got back into
Her re-entry was short-lived.
"I wouldn't have had one drink before security saw me and turfed me out again.''
It was almost midnight and, this time, she knew her St Pat's Day was over. She was tired, tipsy and had to
head back up the coast the next day for work.
But as she tried to contact friends or contemplate taking on the taxi queue, someone approached her.
He was a tall, dark man with a Spanish-like complexion. Even though he was 40 he had the build of an elite
athlete, thanks to a fitness regime he had kept up since his days as a semi-professional soccer player with
Fremantle City in the late 1990s - a club that used to train at the Murdoch University sporting ovals.
That same St Patrick's night last year, businessmen Richard Elkins and Wayne McKenzie-Brown were also at
Paddy Hannan's, but were ready to head home. It was midnight and the two mates had been at the pub for
about three hours. They also had a long walk back to Richard's car.
"We went to Burswood about 8.30pm,'' Richard said.
"There was a concert on or something because the car parks were chock-a-block. We got the
last position. It was the furthest park at the dead end of the Burswood complex, towards the
Richard, 47, had had three drinks and Wayne, 51, was a teetotaller, so the pair were sober
in a crowd of shouting, slurring revellers. But as they battled their way through the mob,
two women started up a conversation and they stayed for another 25 minutes.
Outside the casino entrance, Sonia hadn't noticed where the tall, dark man next to her had
come from, but he seemed to have an answer to her transport dilemma.
She was heading to the northern suburbs and he said he was, too. She was wary about accepting
a lift from a stranger, but they'd been chatting for a while and he pointed to his nearby car
in the Burswood Dome car park, which was under lights. There were also plenty of people around,
which made her feel safe. So, she said yes.
They headed towards the main roundabout where, if you were travelling north, you would keep going
straight. But the stranger in the driver's seat took a right and Sonia felt a shower of pins and
needles wash over her body.
"I knew at that very moment something wasn't right,'' she recalls.
"I said 'What's going on? Why are we going this way?' It was totally the wrong way to go if we were
heading north. He just kept driving. He said `Oh, we'll go for a drive'. And that's when I thought
`this isn't right'.''
Seconds later the stranger pulled into a dark car park, near the Causeway. And, before Sonia could
react, he was on top of her.
"He lent over really fast and with his right hand pulled up the handle near the passenger door that
makes the seat go backwards,'' she said.
"The seat's gone down and I've gone down. I went straight back and he jumped over on top of me.''
The man started forcefully kissing her on the lips. She tried to push him off and screamed. Then his
hand reached between her legs. She fought. She punched. And she screamed even louder.
"By this stage I was going nuts,'' she said. "I was really screaming. And kicking and punching. I was
fighting for my life. I was scared in a way that I have never been scared before.''
At about 12.30am Richard and Wayne finally left Paddy Hannan's. And it took them another 10 minutes
to trek all the way to Richard's car. If they hadn't met the two women at the pub they would have been
long gone from Burswood by now. And they also wouldn't have heard the scream that seemed to scratch the night sky.
"A blood-curdling scream,'' Wayne said.
"(From a) lady in the darkened car in front of us.''
"Unlike anything you have ever heard before,'' Richard added.
"It was the sound of someone in fear of their life.''
Richard ran to the passenger side of the car and flung the door open.
"As he did, a young lady came out literally sideways - like someone had fired a
bullet - trying to escape,'' Wayne said.
That 'young lady' was Sonia.
"It's pretty hazy for me because somehow I landed on my knees,'' she recalls.
"I had cuts all over my knees. It was then that I could hear voices. I knew someone was
Sonia had escaped the car, but she now found herself in a crawling position on the concrete
with her head facing towards the open passenger door. In a desperate move, her attacker tried
to get away, quickly reversing the car so the open door cracked Sonia across the head and
knocked her to the ground. As she lay there bleeding, crying and screaming, Richard
launched himself into the car and pulled the keys out of the ignition.
"It was a brilliant move by Richard,'' Wayne said.
"That locked the car, it couldn't move.''
"(But) at this stage the guy is hammering on my head,'' Richard adds.
"Trying to get me out of his car.''
Wayne was also worried about Sonia.
"I've got hold of the girl because she's non-stop screaming,'' he said.
"I'm assuming she's been stabbed.''
So Wayne held a distraught Sonia in his arms and quickly cradled her to a grassed area. But by the time
he turned around his mate was in serious trouble.
"Richard's lying on the grass literally getting his head kicked and stomped by this guy,'' Wayne said.
"I just leave the girl - and she's still screaming non-stop - and run around the two cars (to help Richard).
But this guy is so intent on stomping on Richard's head he doesn't actually see me coming at this angle, and
I just fly and get in a massive lucky punch right into the full of his face and lift him off Richard, and my
momentum carries both of us into the grass.''
The two mates held down the stranger until he seemed to submit. Wayne then raced to grab his phone from Richard's
car and called the police. In a tense standoff the three men eyed each other while Sonia, whose cries of fear
had turned to screams of anger, started kicking her attacker's car.
It was at that moment the stranger offered a desperate negotiation.
"He'd taken my iPhone,'' Richard said.
"And he said `if you give me the keys back I'll give you your phone back'. I said `well, that ain't gonna cut it mate'.
"Then, all of a sudden he's just leapt into action. He put his hand into my pocket (and grabbed the keys).
Then he's run into his car. I've gone after him, at which point Wayne has said `don't worry'. We didn't
know what he had in the car, he could have had a weapon.''
The stranger then drove off, but Wayne had taken his licence plate details and the men felt they had done
all they could. Sonia, realising her ordeal was over and she was now safe, broke down in huge lurching sobs.
"Richard and Wayne could have just heard my screams and thought it was some domestic and said 'we'll
leave it - we don't want to get involved','' Sonia recalls.
"But they said they could tell from the commotion going on that it wasn't just a domestic. They were
two guys who did actually care and, as far as I'm concerned, they really made it a different path from
what it could have been. They're heroes in my eyes.''
The men left the scene believing the attacker knew exactly what he was doing.
"It was one of the stark features of the night, that this guy was really cool, calm, collected,''
"He was working out how he was going to get out of this situation. The words we said between us (afterwards)
were 'he's done this before'.''
Police arrived soon after and took the battle-weary trio back to Belmont police station where they gave statements
and had photos taken. They left just after 4am.
Over the next few days, Kensington detectives followed the leads and discovered the tall, dark stranger who had
lured Sonia into his car was a man called Robin Gerald Dyers, a 40-year-old fly-in, fly-out supervisor who lived
in the southern suburb of Atwell. They arrested him, got his DNA, took his fingerprints and charged him in relation
to the frenetic night at Burswood. He was then released on bail.
In April, a month after the attack, scientists at the PathWest forensic laboratory got matches to a "historical
event'' from a new DNA entry. Following procedure, they alerted the WA Police Sex Assault Squad and an investigation
was soon under way.
The DNA belonged to Robin Dyers and it was linked to brutal unsolved rapes around the suburb of Murdoch in 1999.
The first attack was on a 22-year-old Asian student on May 13, 1999 at 6.30pm in the Murdoch University grounds.
The second was on a 16-year-old schoolgirl on October 4, 1999 at 6.30pm at Leeming High School, 1km from the university.
Two other cold-case attacks on uni students in 1998 and 1999 - but without DNA links to Dyers also became part of the
Det-Sgt Neil Barry would lead the team and report back to operations manager Det-Sgt Jim August. Four other detectives,
plus an analyst, would make up a taskforce named Operation Chesterfield.
From their cramped detective offices sitting above a takeaway shop in Northbridge, the men and women began their quest
to put Robin Dyers behind bars.
Even though the schoolgirl rape was the last of the cold cases, it was decided to look at her case first because she
was still living in WA. It had been 12 years since the "Murdoch Rapist'' terrorised the area and the other three women
had returned overseas long ago.
The priorities for the investigation were: unmasking who Dyers was; where he was in 1998-99 during the offences;
what he was doing now.
"Part of the investigation is to create a profile of who we're dealing with because we want to develop a timeline
of where he is at certain times,'' Det-Sgt August said.
"(Just) so we can cover any later alibis where he may say he wasn't here or that he was in South Africa or was
flying out, etc, so you've got to build that timeline.''
The investigation led to some amazing details:
* Dyers was born in South Africa in 1971 and played top-level sport.
He came to Australia in 1996 as a semi-professional soccer player, joining
Fremantle City in the WA State League and representing WA in one match.
* Fremantle City trained at Murdoch University on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
The three cold-case attacks on uni students occurred on a Tuesday or Thursday night.
* Dyers had a wife and two young children, who had no idea of the secret life he was hiding.
The detectives knew his DNA link to Emma gave them a strong case and his
soccer-training schedule meant he was at Murdoch University. But Emma was
attacked on a Monday night in Leeming, something that gnawed away at the team.
"We couldn't work out what the link was to Leeming,'' Det-Sgt Barry admits.
"But then we went back out there and spoke to more people and found out the Fremantle soccer players used
to go to the Leeming Recreational Centre to do laps at the swimming pool. The rec centre's next door to Leeming
High School where the teenager was attacked so, bingo, the pieces came together.''
The next step was arresting Dyers. Police had been monitoring him since the DNA hit came through and knew his
routine to the minute. They could move on him at his work site in the mine up north, out among the public or
at the family home. After weighing up the pros and cons the decision was made to arrest him at home. He was
flying in from the mines on the Friday night so Saturday morning would be D-Day.
Just after 8am on Saturday May 21, 2011 four of the sex assault detectives arrived at Dyers' Atwell address.
When he answered the door he was read his rights and told he was being arrested on suspicion of a number of
offences relating to the 1999 rape and assault of a 16-year-old schoolgirl. He denied the charges as his wife
and children stood nearby in shock.
Two days later he had changed his mind. On Monday May 23 in Fremantle Court he pleaded guilty to rape and
deprivation of liberty. He was led away to await sentencing in September.
Box one ticked, three to go.
The next step of the operation would go global. The three other victims were back in their home countries
which made locating them difficult as the detectives battled with time zones, foreign embassies and red tape.
"We had to do research into where the victims were now,'' Det-Sgt Barry said.
"They'd returned overseas so it was a matter of using Interpol, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the
Australian Embassy and foreign embassies. It was a long process to get permission to go to other countries
and interview their citizens.
"We soon found out that the other DNA-linked victim (Bianca) had never been back to WA after the attack.
She's from an Asian country and her surname is a very common name where she lives. We got the relevant
country's police involved and tracked down passport details to find out when she'd been in and out of Australia.
"But that wasn't straight-forward either because her passport number had changed, which meant we had to
deal with another country's Department of Immigration. The local police then visited her and told her we
were trying to get hold of her so she gave them her details and I was able to ring her up and tell her
what we were doing over here. She was ecstatic.''
Tracking down the two other victims in Europe the detectives turned to social media.
"The women had moved on with their lives,'' Det-Sgt Barry said.
"So it comes down to trying to get in contact with them and this time we used Facebook. Both women are
now in Europe and there's a language barrier - they speak their native tongue, but they also speak English.
So when we contacted them they picked up our accent and they then talk to you in English.''
But only so much can be done through a telephone line so, in August last year, Det-Sgt Barry and Det-Sen-Constable
Stuart Barter were given authority to fly overseas to interview the women.
When Det-Sgt Barry sat across from Bianca and told her of the overwhelming evidence they had against Dyers
for what he had done to her she broke down.
"She cried and cried,'' he said.
Later in the interview when he asked her if she would return to Perth to testify there were no more tears,
just a steely glint. "Yes,'' she said without hesitation.
The detectives' trip to Europe was just as successful with both women determined to fly back to WA to give evidence
against Dyers if their cases went to trial.
Back in Perth the detectives presented the cases for the two European victims to the Office of the Director of Public
Prosecutions. There were no DNA links but the Sex Assault Squad team felt they had strong cases. After lengthy
consideration the DPP decided not to proceed.
"The DPP weigh up various options like the likelihood of a conviction,'' Det-Sgt Barry said.
"It may have been different if the two European girls had been the only two charges. Who knows.''
While Dyers wouldn't face charges in relation to the two European girls, he was about to face sentencing for the
1999 rape of Emma. And on September 15 last year he was given six years jail for the brutal attack that stole
a teenager's innocence.
In January this year he pleaded not guilty to assault and aggravated indecent assault in regard to the St Patrick's
Day attack in Burswood. The magistrate didn't believe him and gave him another 12 months jail.
And last Wednesday in the WA District Court he was sentenced to four more years for the 1999 rape of Bianca.
The judge called him a "violent, sexual predator'' who had "subjected that young lady to a horrifying ordeal
(using) considerable violence and threats to kill.''
He said: "You present a danger to females.''
All up Dyers faces 11 years in jail.
For the detectives who pursued Dyers and for those who knew him in the soccer community who have since learnt
of his contemptible crimes, there were three common questions:
1. Were there any attacks between 1999 and 2011?
"No, nothing,'' Det-Sgt Barry said bluntly. "We've done all the research.''
2. Why did he go to Burswood on that St Patrick's night last year, a decision that exposed his secret life?
"That's something he's probably sitting in jail thinking about right now,'' Det-Sgt August said.
"In saying that, we're grateful he went to Burswood because it's brought an end to an investigation that has been unsolved for such a long time and given some closure to those victims from 12 years ago.''
3. Did he think he got away with it?
"I think he would have a feeling that he got away with it after that period of time,'' Det-Sgt August said matter-of-factly.
"But he didn't.''
Victim 'played dead' while brutally raped
"I remember fearing for my life, as he threatened to kill me if I didn't shut up.
"I remember seeing flashes of my family, and that my life could have ended that day.
"I don't know what and how I did, but I mustered the strength to dress myself and walk to the road
and flagged cars for help.
"I broke down and cried in the car from shock, fear and an awful sense of self-disgust.
"I wanted to drain it [my body], punish it so bad, because I did not want to live with the fact that
it is an unwanted body and it was used.
These are the words of a rape victim, a woman violated by violent serial rapist, Robin Gerald Dyers.
Yesterday, 41-year-old Dyers was sentenced to four years jail for a second brutal historic rape, which
occurred in 1999 as the victim ran around Murdoch University.
Earlier this month, he pleaded guilty to rape, threatening to kill and deprivation of liberty.
Last year he was sentenced to seven years jail for the horrific rape of a 16-year-old girl in Leeming,
also in 1999, and the indecent assault of a woman in 2009.
On October 4, 1999, Dyers attacked the victim, a university student.
He grabbed her from behind, dragged her into the bush, then bashed and raped her.
A former professional soccer player, Dyers, who was in his late 20s at the time, was in peak physical
condition and was training when the attack occurred.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said she "played dead" so Dyers would stop hitting her.
She suffered bruising in the attack and, despite almost 13 years passing since the rape, said: "I
still feel dirty".
Judge Simon Stone described Dyers as "predatory", "callous", and "sinister".
He said Dyers poses a real risk to females in the community, who need protection from violent sexual
Judge Stone said Dyers' offending was driven purely by his need for instantaneous sexual gratification
and noted he had shown no remorse for the attacks or empathy towards his victims.
Dyers, who was born in South Africa, moved to Australia in 1996. He is married with two children.
Dyers was arrested in May after police renewed their investigations into the 1999 rapes.
At the time of the attacks he was suffering marital problems and claimed his sexual needs weren't being
met at home.
He said he was also under the influence of amphetamines at the time and claimed he has "self-rehabilitated"
in the 12 years since the last rape.
Dyers will be eligible for parole in nine years.