Lower Plenty Attack

At about 4am, Saturday August 22, 1987, a family of four were fast asleep when Mr Cruel entered through a lounge room window at the front of their Lower Plenty home, by picking out the glass he had broken with a brick.

Wearing a brown tweed jacket over a blue waterproof zip up jacket, he was well prepared with a small black handgun, a 20cm long kitchen knife with a black handle, at least four sets of handcuffs, red and white nylon cord, a small grey material bag similar to a child’s library bag, three rolls of red, green and blue adhesive electrical tape and a roll of elastoplast surgical tape.

Diamond Valley News, Tuesday September 1 1987

He went straight to the parents’ bedroom, forced them onto their stomachs and handcuffed their hands and ankles to immobilise them. “Be quiet and don’t move or I’ll hurt someone,” he said.

Mr Cruel then roused the frightened 8-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter from their bedrooms and herded them into their parents’ bedroom. Wearing yellow surgical or dishwashing gloves, he replaced the parents’ handcuffs with nylon cord, tied the son to the bed and tied up the daughter’s hands. He gagged all the victims with electrical tape and blindfolded the children with the surgical tape.

“All I want is money, food and clothes. How much money is in the house?” With his victims under his control, he told them he was going to rob them, demanding cash, a first aid kit, clothes, a shower, food and a shave.

The man asked the father’s clothes size, saying he was about the same size. He was around 178cm to 183cm tall – slim to medium build. His close-fitting blue jeans and blue runners were in good condition, but dandruffy greyish brown hair protruded from beneath his open-faced navy blue balaclava and his oval face was unshaven. Some kind of material was covering his eyes and greyish bushy eyebrows.

Police sketch of the attacker in the Lower Plenty Attack

“Get into the wardrobe and sit down. Get into the closet and kneel down.” Mr Cruel forced both parents inside the cupboard and covered them with a blanket. He then pretended to use the bedroom phone to make a call to someone. He called them ‘bozo’ and threatened their children. His voice was gruff, deepish, nervous. He sounded uneducated.

As he shut and secured the wardrobe with a shoe rack he turned his attention to the 11-year-old girl. “What’s your name? How old are you?” She told him, but he called her ‘Kate’ or ‘Cate’. He went to fetch a radio and turned it loudly to 3KZ to drown out the noise before assaulting her – according to one source her brother was forced to watch.1 .

“Clean your teeth.” After making her clean her teeth and bathe, Mr Cruel led his victim into the kitchen and ate some cold lamb, biscuits, milk and orange juice, before assaulting her again – this time in the lounge room. His breath smelt musty. His hands felt soft.

He left her there while he checked on the parents and brother. When he returned, he led the girl to another room where he tied her ankles together with nylon cord. “I’m going out now so count to 100 slowly then you can free your parents.” Before he left he picked up the broken glass from the lounge room floor and ripped the telephone from the wall.

When she heard the front door close the victim freed herself and her family. It was about 6am. The intruder had stolen a men’s red, black and yellow tartan shirt, Roger David trousers 82-85cm, Ecuadorean Shirt Company parka with fake black fur collar which was the only one of its kind in Australia, $250 cash, a gold diamond engagement ring with the number 4132 stamped inside, a Gillette safety razor, a dark brown vinyl bag, classic gold record set by London Philharmonic Orchestra.

He was gone, but perhaps not for good… After the attack, clothes belonging to another 11-year-old neighbour started disappearing from their clothesline.

‘Victoria Police and FBI dossier on shocking Mr Cruel child attacks’ Herald Sun Keith Moor, April 8, 2016
‘Task force to hunt rapist’ Diamond Valley News, Sept 1 1987
‘Police seek a new Mr Stinky rapist’ The Age, May 12, 1988
1. ‘The Innocence Thieves’, Police Life, October 2007

Further reading:

Mr Cruel 2 – The Lower Plenty Attack – Melbourne Marvels (melbinmarvels.com)

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