Katherine Knight was brought into the world on October 24, 1955 in Tenterfield, New South Wales.
Hailing from the town of Aberdeen in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley, Barbara Thorley (later Roughan) was forced to relocate to Moree due to the scandal caused by her affair with Ken Knight, a colleague of her then-husband Jack Roughan. The two families involved were well-known among their conservative rural counterparts, leading to the significant uproar. Roughan’s four children were split, with two of them remaining with their father and the two younger ones sent to stay with a relative in Sydney.
Born on 24 October 1955 in Tenterfield, New South Wales, Katherine Knight was the younger of twins, born to Barbara and her de facto partner, Ken. Jack Roughan, who had previously cared for the two children with Katherine and her twin, passed away in 1959. This prompted the two kids to move in with the Knight family. Barbara’s grandmother reportedly had Indigenous Australian ancestry in the Moree region, which was kept a secret due to the rampant racism during the time.
Barbara was proud of her family’s heritage and this became a source of tension for the children. Other than her twin, Knight shared a close bond with her uncle, Oscar Knight. Oscar was a champion horseman and his sudden suicide in 1969 deeply impacted her. As a result of his passing, the family moved back to Aberdeen the same year. Knight still believes that his spirit visits her.
Abused as a Child
Ken, Knight’s father, was an alcoholic and regularly abused and intimidated her mother through rape, up to ten times a day. Barbara shared with her daughters details of her sex life and her disdain for sex and men. Later, when Knight confided to her mother that one of her partners wanted her to do something sexual which she did not want to do, Barbara told her to “put up with it and stop complaining”.
It has been asserted that Knight was sexually abused by members of her own family between the ages of 4 and 11; though there are minor doubts about the exact details, it has been corroborated by all family members involved. Psychiatrists have accepted this account as fact.
Katherine Knight Was A Pleasant Girl With Fits Of Rage
A pleasant girl in general, Katherine would fly into uncontrollable fits of rage in response to small issues. As she attended Muswellbrook High School, she turned into a solitary and was recollected by her schoolmates as a bully who would range out at smaller kids. It is recorded that she physically attacked a boy at school with a weapon and was once harmed in a physical altercation with a teacher that was taken to have acted in self-defense. On the other hand, when not in a state of aggression, Knight was a good student and was frequently rewarded for her good conduct.
After exiting school at 15 without being able to read or write, she was given a job as a clothing factory cutter. After a year, she left to take up her “dream job”, which was cutting up offal at the nearby abattoir. She was soon after elevated to boning, and was given her own set of butcher knives. To ensure that the knives were always available to her in case of need, she kept them hung over her bed, a routine she stuck to until she was arrested.
In 1973, Katherine first encountered David Stanford Kellett, a hard-drinking colleague, whom she completely overpowered. Whenever Kellett got into a fight at the hotel, Katherine would come to his aid, firmly defending him with her fists. In Aberdeen, she earned her fame and notoriety by offering her combat skills against anyone who dared to cross her.
At Kellett’s request, Knight and Kellett got married in 1974. They showed up to their service on her motorcycle, Kellett being very intoxicated, sitting behind Knight. Once at the service, Knight’s mother, Barbara, offered Kellett wise counsel:
“The old girl said to me to watch out. ‘You better watch this one or she’ll fucking kill you. Stir her up the wrong way or do the wrong thing and you’re fucked, don’t ever think of playing up on her, she’ll fuckin’ kill you.’ And that was her mother talking! She told me she’s got something loose, She’s got a screw loose somewhere.”
On their wedding night, she attempted to choke him. He elucidated that it was due to the fact that he had dozed off following only having sexual relations three times. The marriage was incredibly abusive and at one point Knight, who was expecting a child in her womb, destroyed Kellet’s garments and footwear before smacking him in the neck with a frying pan because of his delay coming back home after making it to the finals of a darts competition.
Fearing for his life, Kellet raced away to a neighbour’s residence and was later taken to the hospital for treatment of a severely fractured skull. Law enforcement sought to accuse her of the offence but Knight had reverted to behaving appropriately and managed to talk Kellet into not pressing any charges.
Shortly after Melissa Ann’s birth in May 1976, Kellett abandoned their family for another woman and relocated to Queensland, allegedly due to Knight’s jealous and volatile demeanor. The next day, Knight was spotted pushing their little one in an infant stroller down the main street and shaking it harshly. For this, she was subsequently admitted to St Elmo’s Hospital in Tamworth, where she was diagnosed with postnatal depression, remaining therefor several weeks until her recuperation.
Upon being released, Knight set her two-month-old daughter down on a railway before its arrival, purloined an axe, and dangerously threatened several people in the precinct. Fortunately, “Old Ted”, a nearby forager, found and rescued Melissa just barely before the train passed. Knight was arrested and taken to St Elmo’s Hospital yet again, but apparently recuperated, and discharged the following day.
A couple of days after, Knight violently inflicted deep cuts to the face of a female with a knife and coerced her to take her to Queensland to search for Kellett. Despite the fact that the lady ran away as soon as they got to a service station, when police got there, Knight had already taken captive a small child and was waving the weapon against him. She was disarmed when the police struck her with brooms and was hospitalized in Morisset Psychiatric Clinic.
Knight told the nurses she had aimed to execute the mechanic from the service station because he had serviced Kellett’s vehicle, which had enabled him to escape, and then kill both her partner and his mom once she got to Queensland. When the law enforcement officers advised Kellett about the occurrence, he deserted his lover and, together with his mother, relocated to Aberdeen to support her.
In 1976, after being released, Knight moved to Woodridge with her mother-in-law and shortly after, welcomed her second daughter, Natasha Maree in March of 1980. Four years later, in 1984, Knight left her husband and moved in with her parents in Aberdeen. She then moved to a rented house in nearby Muswellbrook, where she got a job at the local abattoir. However, in 1985 she injured her back and was forced to apply for a disability pension. The government gave her a Housing Commission house in Aberdeen in response to her no longer needing to rent accommodation close to her work.
In 1986, Knight met David Saunders, a 38-year-old miner, and a few months later he moved in with her and her two daughters. Although he kept his old apartment in Scone, Knight soon became paranoid and jealous regarding his activities when she was not around, often leading to her throwing him out for days at a time. He would eventually move back to his apartment in Scone, only for Knight to follow and beg him to come back home. This cycle trapped David in a vicious circle of her insecurity and distrust.
In May 1987, she committed a horrifying act of violence against her partner’s two-month-old dingo pup. With no more reason than an example of what would happen if he ever had an affair, she cut its throat right in front of him. She then went on to knock him unconscious with a frying pan, making this a truly traumatic experience verging on the brink of unimaginable cruelty. Such relentless and unnecessary violence should never be tolerated, and there is no excuse for the kind of viciousness she exhibited.
In June 1988, Sarah was born into the family of Knight, prompting Saunders to put down a deposit on a house. When Knight’s workers’ compensation came through in 1989, she was able to pay off the remainder of the house. The interior of the house was a unique display of decorations: animal skins, skulls, horns, rusty animal traps, leather jackets, old boots, machetes, rakes and pitchforks. Knight made sure to cover every single space, including the ceilings, leaving no space uncovered. The inside of the house was truly a unique and rustic showpiece.
When Saunders returned home after the heated argument that ended with him being struck in the face with an iron and stabbed in the stomach with a pair of scissors, he was horrified to find that his clothes had all been cut up. Knowing that Knight was still out there and posed a potential danger, Saunders decided to take long service leave and go into hiding. Knight attempted to locate Saunders, but no one was willing to admit to knowing where he was. Months later, he returned to be with his daughter, only to discover that Knight had gone to the police, expressing fear for her safety. This resulted in an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) being placed against Saunders.
In 1990, Knight became pregnant with a 43-year-old former abattoir co-worker, John Chillingworth. They named their son Eric and the relationship lasted three years before an affair culminated in her leaving him for another man, John Price. Knight had been dealing with a complicated web of emotions and relationships, and ultimately chose Price with whom she felt an emotional connection lacking in her relationship with Chillingworth.
Reputedly a popular person amongst those who knew him, John “Pricey” Price was the father to three children when he began his affair with Knight in 1995. Even though his two-year-old daughter had remained with his former wife, his two older kids lived with Price. Although Price was aware of Knight’s reputation for being violent, their relationship was going well and he was earning a lot of money from his job in mines, leading the two to characterize their life as “a bunch of roses”.
In 1998, Price and Knight had an argument due to Price’s refusal to marry her. In retaliation, Knight took video footage of items he had obtained from work and sent it to his boss. Despite the fact that the items were outdated medical supplies collected from the company’s trash pile, Price was let go from his 17-year job. On that same day, he forced her out of his home, and she went back to her own place. As the news of her actions quickly spread around town.
Several months later, Price revived their relationship, however he now wouldn’t permit her to stay with him. Their disagreements escalated and most of his associates chose to distance themselves from him as long as they remained together.
THE MURDER OF JOHN PRICE
THE FOLLOWING ENTRIES ARE FROM COURT RECORDS OBTAINED FROM Australasian Legal Information Institute
- 7 Mr Price was killed late on the night of 29 February 2000 or during the very early hours of the morning of 1 March 2000. His death was as a result of multiple injuries to various organs of his body, secondary to multiple stab wounds.
- 8 The post mortem examination revealed that Mr Price had been stabbed at least 37 times in various parts of both the front and back of his body. There may have been more wounds inflicted, but the extent of those found and the subsequent acts of the prisoner in relation to Mr Price’s body rendered it impossible to know how many more there may have been and in particular the number of wounds which may have been inflicted in the area of his neck.
- 9 Many of the wounds were deep, and extended into vital organs. These included the aorta, both lungs, the liver, the stomach, the descending colon, the pancreas, and the left kidney, the lower pole of which had virtually been sliced off.
- 10 The wounds inflicted on Mr Price and the injuries which they caused resulted in the loss of a great deal of blood. This was found splattered and smeared throughout various parts of the house and in a pool, which was quite deep, and measured 1 metre x 2 metres. This pool was in the hallway of Mr Price’s home. At the time the police arrived on the morning of 1 March 2000 the blood in it was not fully congealed and had dried only at the edges.
- 11 The blows which inflicted the injuries to Mr Price were in a pattern that spread from the upper part of his body to his buttocks and below and had been struck with some considerable force by a knife which had a long blade. A butcher’s knife which answered such a description was found adjacent to the Mr Price’s body. In addition, a butcher’s steel for sharpening knives was found on a lounge chair next to his body. A sharpening stone was also found. It was open on a bench in the kitchen, quite close to the sink and stove. It had clearly been used.
- 12 An examination of the blood stains, their differing characteristics and pattern of occurrence in various parts of the house, establish that Mr Price was first attacked by the prisoner in the principal bedroom of the premises at a time when he was in a recumbent posture. The wounds then inflicted were to the front of his body and it is clear that thereafter he got off the bed after, or as, some further injuries were being inflicted on him in the course of his attempts to escape from his assailant, the prisoner.
- He escaped from the bedroom and moved down the hall in order to get outside the premises but was pursued by the prisoner, who stabbed him in the back a number of times. Whilst in the hallway he tried to switch on the light. At that time he was heavily blood stained both front and back and appears to have then had further stab wounds inflicted to the front part of his body.
- In the course of his endeavour to escape Mr Price reached the front door and opened it and, as is apparent from the blood stains on the outside knob of the front door, he succeeded in getting outside the house. However, he did not remain outside and was either dragged or, as is much less likely, came back into the house and fell in the hallway quite close to the open doorway that leads into the lounge room in which his body was later found by police.
- 13 That he lay in the hallway for some time is manifest by the considerable volume of blood found in the pool in the hallway .
- 14 After he had been dead for some time his body was dragged by the prisoner from the hallway into the lounge room. That he had been dead for some time before this occurred is demonstrated most graphically by the photographs which show the smearing of blood caused by the moving of his body, especially by the thighs, buttocks and thoracic area of his back which were in contact with the floor.
- Those photographs and the evidence relating to them and the events surrounding the death establish without doubt that at the time Mr Price’s body was moved the blood in the pool was not fully fluid and thus did not flow in to fill the gaps caused by the movement of the body.
- 15 I am satisfied that at the time the prisoner dragged Mr Price’s body from the hallway into the lounge room it was, subject to the wounds which had been inflicted and to which I have already referred, still entire.
- 16 Thereafter the prisoner, who had for many years worked as a meat slicer in abattoirs, skinned Mr Price’s body. This was carried out with considerable expertise and an obviously steady hand so that his skin, including that of the head, face, nose, ears, neck, torso, genital organs and legs, was removed so as to form one pelt. So expertly was it done that, after the post mortem examination, the skin was able to be re-sown onto Mr Price’s body in a way which indicated a clear and appropriate, albeit grizzly, methodology. One small segment was left in place – the skin on the left upper chest.
- 17 At some time after Mr Price had been skinned the prisoner hung his pelt on a meat hook on the architrave of the door of the lounge room, where it remained until it was later removed by investigating police.
- 18 As is apparent from the fact that his head and neck were removed as part of one entire skin, Mr Price’s head was in place at the time he was skinned. However at some time between the time when the body was moved into the lounge room and skinned and about a time before 7.30 a.m. on 1 March 2000 the prisoner decapitated Mr Price’s body and at some stage arranged it with the left arm draped over an empty soft drink bottle, and the legs crossed. This was said in evidence to be an act of defilement demonstrating contempt for Mr Price’s remains.
- 19 The evidence of the Medical Examiner establishes that the decapitation was effected at the C3/C4 junction and was done with a very sharp knife. The removal was clean and left an incised type wound. To remove Mr Price’s head in such a way required skill, which was consistent with the skills acquired by the prisoner in the course of her work as a meat slicer. It also required a steady hand at the relevant time.
- 20 Not only was Mr Price’s head removed but parts of his buttocks were also sliced off. The excised parts of Mr Price were then taken by the prisoner to the kitchen and at some stage, after she had peeled and prepared various vegetables, she cooked Mr Price’s head in a large pot together with a number of the vegetables she had prepared so as to produce a sickening stew. The contents of the pot were still warm, estimated to be at between 40 and 50 degrees centigrade, when examined by police during the mid-morning of 1 March 2000. This supports the conclusion that the cooking of Mr Price’s head took place at a time into the early morning of 1 March 2000.
- 21 The pieces which had been cut from Mr Price’s buttocks were baked in the oven of the premises by the prisoner together with other of the vegetables she had peeled. The gruesome steaks were then arranged on plates together with the vegetables which she had baked and left as meals for the son and daughter of the deceased, accompanied by vindictive notes to each in the handwriting of the prisoner. A third piece was thrown on the back lawn, whether for consumption by dogs or for some other purpose is not revealed in the evidence.
- 22 In her record of interview taken late in the morning of 4 March 2000, the prisoner claimed that she had no recollection whatsoever of the events involving Mr Price’s death:
“Q.… Kathy, I am investigating the death of John Price, known as Pricey to a lot of people in Aberdeen, on or about Wednesday, the 1st of March this year. I have reason to believe that you may be the person responsible. Is there anything you can tell me about that matter?
A. I don’t know anything on it.
Q. Can you recall, recall the last thing that you remember.
A. The last thing I remember was going out for tea with me daughter and the kids, coming home.” (Q.44-45)
“Q… do you recall going into Pricey’s at all?
A. I really don’t know nothing.” (Q.52)
The interview then continued:
“Q. Right, was Pricey there?
Q. Do you, can you tell me where he was.
A. Not particularly.
Q. And do you remember anything else after that.
A. No.” (Q.185- 188)
- 25 The prisoner also claimed not to remember anything of the aftermath of the killing. However, somewhat later she gave a detailed description of events involving sexual intercourse between her and Mr Price on the night of and shortly before she killed him and on 2 March 2000 she gave a history of taking two of the nerve tablets that had been prescribed for her and some of Mr Price’s blood pressure tablets.
- This must have been before Mr Collison went to Mr Price’s house shortly after 7 a.m. and also before the police came at about 8 a.m. Nonetheless, she claimed in her record of interview on 4 March, 2000 that she has no recollection whatsoever of the events which resulted in his death or of the skinning she carried out or of in the decapitation she performed or of the cooking of parts of the deceased which she undertook. I shall return to this claim to amnesia later in the course of these reasons.
- 26 The circumstances of and surrounding the killing of Mr Price can thus be seen to be horrendous. Indeed they go far beyond the experience of any of the professional people, including experienced psychiatrists, that were involved in the case. A number of police officers who were highly experienced in examining crime scenes found the need to take stress leave because of the situation with which they were confronted when examining the crime scene at Mr Price’s house. Objectively the circumstances mark the killing and its accompanying incidents as being of the most gruesome kind, the murder as being in the most serious category of that crime.