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In 1963, TVW won the Television Society of Australia award for best “Television News Item – MANHUNT”.


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There was much public anxiety in Perth in 1963 as serial murderer Eric Edgar Cooke, nicknamed The Night Caller, terrorised the city. A man who had committed 22 violent crimes between 1959 and 1963, eight of which resulted in deaths. In the midst of this public concern, Brian William Robinson aged 23 years, caused the biggest manhunt in WA on February 9, 1963.

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Brian William Robinson

On the afternoon of that fateful day, Constable Iles of the Belmont Police Station, attended a disturbance at a house in Epsom Avenue, Belmont on his way home from duty. Robinson had gone berserk during an argument with his father at their home, after he had heard an incest rumour that his mother was also his sister.

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Constable Iles

As Constable Iles walked up the path to the front door of the house he was shot in the face by a shotgun, fired from a window by Robinson. Iles fell to his knees holding his face, and Robinson ran from the house, jumped the fence, pushing the kneeling Constable Iles over with his foot and then shot him in the head killing him instantly.

Robinson tried to commandeer a car, and when the passenger Andrew McDougall refused to get out, he shot him dead in the back seat of a Goggomobile. Robinson ran down the street jumped into a taxi and forced the driver to drive off, eventually arriving at the Gnangara Pine Plantation, where the taxi bogged.

TVW’s News Editor of the day, Darcy Farrell, explains the circumstances as he introduces this Today Tonight report by Seven’s Alison Fan.


Darcy Farrell introduces Alison Fan’s Today Tonight report

Bob Cribb was an integral part of this history making story.


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Bob Cribb

In Darcy Farrell’s tribute to Bob at- http://watvhistory.com/2009/03/bob-cribb-tribute/ he points out that Bob became quite famous in journalism for his comment and I quote “the man dog killer is holed up in this bush”.

Darcy continued, “In those days comments of that type were deemed to be sub-judice and contempt of court.

Needless to say, both Bob and Seven were both sued for contempt and the defence lawyer, Dr Marian I think it was, used Bob as the scapegoat to try to get an acquittal.

Today, reporters say pretty well what they like. By modern standards Bob’s words on that Sunday at the Gnangara pine plantation were quite mild.

Bob was reporting ad lib for more than three hours using primitive equipment which was the equivalent of flying a tiger moth compared to today’s F 18 jets.

He had to fly by the seat of his pants ad libbing his way through an event of enormous local interest.

Peter Kennedy referred to the manhunt on 720 this morning (the day of Bob’s funeral on December 5th, 2008) when he paid tribute to Bob.

I consider Bob’s on camera performance on that day almost half a century ago was a remarkable effort and few of today’s reporters could emulate it.


Lindsay Smith stimulated a lot of interest in this subject following his request “Lindsay Smith seeks feedback…” on this site at the web page- http://watvhistory.com/2009/10/lindsay-smith-seeks-feedback-on-hunt-for-murderer-brian-william-robinson-ob/ where former staff members gave their first hand impressions of the above drama.

We wish to thank Seven and Today Tonight for kindly making available Alison Fan’s interview with the late Bob Cribb, and archival coverage of this remarkable event.

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Monika Kos presents Today Tonight

Today Tonight, presented by Monika Kos, is a locally produced current affairs and community interest program tailored for Western Australian viewers.

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Alison Fan

Veteran Channel 7 reporter Alison Fan has had an extraordinary career. She has been tear gassed in California, shot at in riots in San Francisco and covered every major court trial in Western Australia since 1965. Alison is probably most famous for her coverage of the W.A. Inc Royal Commission and the Mickleberg Brothers related Perth Mint gold swindle, a local story that dominated the headlines for three decades.

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