22nd Murderer: Ashley Mervyn Coulston - Victims: Kerryn Henstridge, Anne Smerdon and Peter Dempsey

Ashley Coulston, born 1956, is an Australian convicted triple murderer serving three consecutive sentences of life imprisonment plus seven years, without any possibility of parole for the 1992 murders in Burwood in Melbourne and the attempted abduction and robbery of a couple on St Kilda Road in Melbourne several months later.

Ashley Coulston shot to death three young flatmates

On 29 July 1992, two students advertised in the Herald Sun newspaper for a tenant to share their home in Burwood after a housemate decided to leave the premises and return home to live with their parents.  Kerryn Henstridge, 22, Anne Smerdon, 22, and Peter Dempsey, 27, the brother-in-law of one of the women, were forced into separate rooms and hogtied using cable ties before Coulston shot them execution style in the back of the head with a sawn-off .22 rifle fitted with a home-made silencer made from an oil filter.

Kerryn Henstridge, 22

Anne Smerdon, 22

Peter Dempsey, 27

On 1 Sept 1992, Coulston armed himself with the same weapon used to commit the earlier murders and some cable ties, then drove to St Kilda Road and parked his car near the National Gallery of Victoria.  He then approached a couple and attempted to abduct them. The couple offered Coulston their money, which he took. He then proceeded to restrain the couple using the cable ties. Whilst attempting to restrain the female he was overpowered by the male who had grabbed the rifle and threw it aside allowing the couple to escape and raise the alarm with two nearby security guards.  The security guards gave chase, however, Coulston fired at the guards, hitting one in the hip.  Coulston was eventually arrested by police at the scene and taken into custody. The rifle used in the abduction attempt would later link Coulston to the triple murders in Burwood several months earlier and in addition the cable ties were the same.

Coulston is now 64.  He has been in jail for 28 years.  Should he live until his mid-70s, he will have been in jail for 39 years.  Based on the average annual cost of Maximum Security Incarceration in 2020, Coulston will have cost the Victorian taxpayer $6.825 million circa ($175,000 p.a. x 39 years).