A MILLIONAIRE’S FATAL LOVE AFFAIR
WEDNESDAY 22 MARCH AT 8.40PM IN QLD AND NSW
THURSDAY 23 MARCH AT 8.30PM IN VIC, SA AND WA
The fifth instalment of confronting true-crime series Murder Calls Australia explores a puzzling Melbourne case involving torture, drugs, and greed.
The victim was 56-year-old multi-millionaire and father of three, Peter Shellard, whose partially clothed body was found bound and beaten on the bedroom floor of his North Caulfield mansion. A number of bondage items were found nearby.
His long-term girlfriend Shirley Withers, 38, made the gruesome discovery on May 7, 2005.
Her distraught call to Triple-0 set off a bizarre investigation that had many twists and turns.
Peter Shellard suffered from bipolar disorder and had been involved in many disputes with neighbours and councils. He also had a fetish for bondage and S&M, so there were many avenues to follow.
Then there was Peter’s Will.
While Shirley, his girlfriend of four years, was automatically a suspect, she did not benefit from his death.
In fact, she had witnessed the Will that gave everything to his daughters and a token dollar to each of his ex-wives.
Shirley, it seemed, had been well looked after – Peter had financed a fashion boutique and bought a house for her (although keeping it in his name).
However, when police secretly listened to a phone call made by Shirley they discovered that she had typed another will for Peter – a Will that left everything to her.
Homicide detectives had also looked at his phone records and discovered that only days before his death Peter had called a number of friends, saying that he thought Shirley had been stealing money.
“I got a call from Peter and he sounded scared, fearing for his life,” Peter’s second wife, Liz Shellard, reveals.
Shirley was definitely firming up as her lover’s killer. That was until a fingerprint at the crime scene pointed to someone else: a low-level drug user called Sophia Stoupas and her associate, Stanley Callinicos.
As police were preparing to bring the two in, they overheard another shocking phone call.
Not only did Shirley Withers know who killed Peter, she wanted to kill “the dirty little druggies”.
In a risky move, an undercover police officer took on the role of a hitman.
As a result, police learnt of Shirley’s willingness to have two people murdered, her dark secret, and her involvement in Peter’s death.
Peter’s greedy lover, Shirley Withers, was found guilty of murder but an appeal quashed the finding and she was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a maximum of 13 years with a non-parole period of nine years. She is now out of jail, released on early parole.
Her accomplices received a maximum sentence of six years for manslaughter.