Korumburra publican’s death still unresolved
VICKI Wyhoon, the Leongatha woman accused of murdering Korumburra publican Mike Lowry in 2001, said the stigma had never gone away.
Last Friday (February 8), Melbourne coroner Audrey Jamieson ruled that the murder “remains open”. Twelve years on from the shooting and eventual death of the businessman and politician, there are no new leads in the case.
Ms Jamieson, delivering her finding in the Melbourne Coroners Court, said the evidence against Ms Wyhoon was circumstantial.
But, despite not being convicted of the murder, Ms Wyhoon said little had changed for her.
“I’m still the suspect. But I don’t mind talking about it, because I’m innocent,” she told The Star.
Ms Wyhoon was charged with the murder, and was committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court of Victoria on November 16, 2002. But the case against her was dropped, with a successful argument mounted that she would be at risk of self-incrimination if she took the stand.
While Ms Jamieson noted Ms Wyhoon’s “history of harassment and hostility” toward Mr Lowry in the lead up to the murder, she also said: “I am unable to find on the evidence, to the requisite standard, the identity of the person who fired the gunshot at Michael Lowry on 18 January, 2001.”
Mr Lowry’s death was slow. Hospitalised at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, he succumbed to his injury – a single gunshot wound to the left side of the head – almost six months after the shooting, on July 14, 2001.
The attack occurred at the Korumburra Hotel, where he was the publican. It was about 11.45pm on a Thursday, and he was in a top floor office.
Mr Lowry was 52 at the time of his death, and was found to have died as a direct result of the shooting. An autopsy would discover a “deformed metallic fragment” in his brain.
Ms Wyhoon said that if Mr Lowry had recovered from the attack, her life would have been far different.
“I just wish he’d woken up, so he could have told everyone who shot him. It’s been a horrible life since the shooting,” she said.
“You can move on to a certain extent, but it’s hard. I don’t go out anywhere. I just stay in the house all the time.”
Ms Wyhoon said she suffered harassment in those “early days” preceding the crime, but people had left her alone in recent years.
She said she had not spoken about her arrest for years, until calls came in the past few days from a Melbourne journalist and The Star.
But Mr Lowry’s death, and the consequences for her, were never far away from her thoughts.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about going to jail and how it ruined everything. It ruined my life – no husband, no kids, no house. I had to start all over again. It was hard,” she said.
“They locked me up for nothing. Fourteen months in jail is tough.”
The only witness to the shooting was Mr Lowry’s son, Eddie Inthong, who was six at the time. The shooter, who was wearing a red Coca-Cola baseball cap, fled the scene, running past Mr Lowry’s wife, Nunta.
She would later testify that she was “90 to 95 per cent sure” the assailant was Ms Wyhoon.
A lack of forensic evidence hampered the investigation, and the description of the killer – 35 years old, 173cm to 175cm tall, of a solid build with long, dark hair, cut into a layered V-shape at the back – did not match Ms Wyhoon’s appearance.
“I was very thin at that time,” she said.
While the identity of the killer remains unproven, Homicide Squad’s Detective Inspector John Potter said police would always welcome leads in the case.
“Victoria Police are aware of the finding into the death of Michael John Lowry. The investigation remains inactive pending any further information being received by Victoria Police or Crime Stoppers,” he said.
Contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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