The Keli Lane tapes: From prison, a murderer breaks her silence


abc.net.au

The Keli Lane tapes: From prison, a murderer breaks her silence

By Caro Meldrum-Hanna with Elise Worthington, Jaya Balendra and Julia Pursche

It’s not every day you receive a handwritten letter from a convicted baby killer asking you to reinvestigate their case.

But that’s exactly what happened in 2016 when Keli Lane penned me a letter from Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre, where she’s currently serving an 18-year sentence for the murder of her two-day-old baby girl Tegan. The infant’s body has never been found and the case against Lane was circumstantial.

Lane, a former water polo champion turned private school teacher from Sydney’s affluent northern beaches, has never spoken publicly. She maintained her silence throughout a coronial inquest and her murder trial.

Her letter to me was entirely unsolicited.

An extract of the handwritten letter Keli Lane sent to investigative journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna

She wanted me to apply an investigative journalist’s blowtorch to her claims, warts and all.

Why? Because Keli Lane says she’s innocent, that Tegan would now be 22 years old, that she’s out there somewhere, and that the man who she handed Tegan over to is out there as well. But Lane has also been found to be a serial liar.

Do you know more? Contact exposed@abc.net.au

Investigative journalist Elise Worthington and I decided to delve into this confounding case for the ABC’s new documentary series Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane, to test her claimed innocence, and to analyse the police investigation and the murder trial.

Over the course of several months, Keli Lane rang us to discuss her life and her case. We never called her, and Lane consented to her calls being recorded and published.

No topic was off limits.

CONTEXT During the 1990s, Lane fell pregnant and gave birth to three secret children

CM-H: What was that like Keli those final moments with Tegan just mother and daughter alone?

KL: It was awful… because I’d been there before and I knew how much it hurt. It was just so difficult to just make this decision again and basically to write myself out of it.

CONTEXT During the 1990s, Lane fell pregnant and gave birth to three secret children

CM-H: Can you remember what she looked like…

KL: (cuts her off) I was kicking myself too, why am I here again?

These phone conversations were extremely difficult to manage.

Firstly, they were largely unpredictable. Keli Lane could call at any time on any day. Following confronting or upsetting conversations, would we ever hear from her again?

Prison rules also limited phone calls to a maximum of six minutes duration, meaning the pressure was high.

So what did we learn about Keli Lane? What were the forces that shaped her? Why did she do the things she did?

Lane grew up in the 1980s on Sydney’s northern beaches. Tall, tanned and athletic, she was known as the local golden girl and is about as far away from a murderer as you can imagine.

She came from a highly respected family, her father Robert Lane was a policeman and coach of the local rugby team while her mother worked at the local hospital.

Keli showed an early talent for swimming, beach sprinting and surf lifesaving competitions but became a talented water polo player, spending years competing on state and national teams during the 1990s.

But her private reality was very different to her public persona. Behind the champion athlete’s public image was a deeply troubled young woman who was terrified of disappointing her parents and was extremely secretive.

In one revealing conversation, she explained in her own words how she had been conditioned to compartmentalise and ignore physical and psychological pain.

CONTEXT Keli Lane’s parents told Exposed they were completely unaware of her pregnancies

CONTEXT In her murder trial, prosecutors argued Lane had an overriding ambition to represent Australia in water polo at the 2000 Sydney Olympics

I was excellent at putting things into boxes and parking them because I had been, from a very young age, able to be different things for different people and trying to please people and I trained from a very young age and so I was under coaches from a very young age and taking direction and being able to put my emotions aside.

CONTEXT In her murder trial, prosecutors argued Lane had an overriding ambition to represent Australia in water polo at the 2000 Sydney Olympics

When things hurt, when you are training at 8, 9, 10 years old and physically you’re hurting you put that aside because you want to please your coach you want to please your parents you want to please the people who expect everything from you and your emotions really don’t come into it.

CONTEXT Keli Lane’s parents told Exposed they were completely unaware of her pregnancies

So I was excellent at hiding how I felt and what was hurting me

The incredulous moments in the Keli Lane case are many and varied. She’d been found to have told a litany of lies over several years to hide the fact that she’d fallen pregnant five times, had two terminations and given birth to three children during the 1990s, all before she’d turned 24.

She put her first and third child up for adoption, but Tegan disappeared without a trace the day Keli Lane left hospital with her in September 1996.

The fact Keli Lane told so many lies about the birth of her children made it hard for us to separate fact from fiction. She sprinkled truth among the lies.

I set a bit of a litmus test at the very beginning, when she rang us.

The test was this: if Keli Lane arced up and denied that she’d told all those lies, then I knew we were dealing with someone who was largely incapable of telling the truth and unable to face up to her conduct.

But she did the opposite. She agreed and accepted she was a serial liar and gave her own reasons for her behaviour.

CONTEXT Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi told the jury in Lane’s murder trial that she told 95 lies to cover up three secret and unwanted pregnancies

CONTEXT Lane was found guilty on three counts of making a false statement on oath in relation to her adopting out two other babies

CONTEXT Lane was 17 years old when she fell pregnant for the first time.

I was hurting, it wasn’t an enjoyable time, I wasn’t doing it light-hearted.

Those decisions affected me and they still affect me and they were important decisions.

The lies were around the shame or the embarrassment or the humiliation of the life I was leading no different to any other young person that makes silly choices or is covering up a part of their life.

CONTEXT Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi told the jury in Lane’s murder trial that she told 95 lies to cover up three secret and unwanted pregnancies

CONTEXT Lane was 17 years old when she fell pregnant for the first time.

But certainly by the time the police were involved, I’d been accused of making numerous lies, and some of them were from fear, from being pushed into a corner and not knowing the position I was in, not understanding the seriousness of what I was involved in.

CONTEXT Lane was found guilty on three counts of making a false statement on oath in relation to her adopting out two other babies

Lane might have accepted she lied and made mistakes, but she strongly denies she harmed her baby daughter.

Those closest to Keli Lane think the bizarre chain of events which consumed her life began in 1992 when, in her final year of high school, she became pregnant and had an abortion.

The only person she told was her boyfriend at the time. After this experience, Keli Lane never told anyone again she was pregnant.

People have always wondered why Keli Lane kept falling pregnant and having babies, with her sex life and her “promiscuity” becoming public fodder.

But she’s never been asked to explain it.

CONTEXT A psychiatrist who reviewed Lane’s pregnancies for the court in her trial found her actions represented “an attempt to gratify underlying emotional and psychological needs”.

I think It was something that just got out of control. I don’t know whether it was almost like a sabotage thing, or a self-harm thing.

I don’t think I consciously did.

CONTEXT A psychiatrist who reviewed Lane’s pregnancies for the court in her trial found her actions represented “an attempt to gratify underlying emotional and psychological needs”.

I certainly didn’t think, “Oh, I’m going to go out and do that again.”

I’d be crazy, literally, but I just think it was a carelessness and a lack of self-protection, and wanting to be with someone and wanting to have a relationship, and then drinking a lot. Drinking, and not using the pill correctly, or not asking my partner to use protection, and not having control I think, is the biggest thing.

Is not having control of the situations I was in.

I really didn’t understand the long term consequences for anybody. Friends, family, especially myself. I just shut down.

Lane had three concealed pregnancies and births between 1995 and 1999. We know that concealed pregnancies aren’t a crime and they do happen. But multiple concealed pregnancies? That’s rare.

Just how a young woman could manage that without anyone noticing, is difficult to understand.

You’d think that the concealment was extremely difficult to do. But Keli Lane told us the opposite of what we were expecting to hear.

CONTEXT Lane’s former teammates who noticed she was pregnant have expressed regret for never having confronted her about it.

CONTEXT Rugby player Duncan Gillies was Lane’s partner at the time. He maintains he was unaware that she gave birth twice during their relationship

CM-H: How did you conceal it? Was it a hard thing to do?

KL: Do you know what? I don’t even remember really putting that much effort into it.

It was like, of course, avoiding people was probably my biggest attempts. I was very good at isolating myself, so wherever everyone was going, I might only go for a little while, or I was going between training, work, home, Duncan’s, so I was really good at dodging everyone.

CONTEXT Rugby player Duncan Gillies was Lane’s partner at the time. He maintains he was unaware that she gave birth twice during their relationship

But I didn’t go and buy extra clothes, or I didn’t do anything outrageously different.

I don’t even know how it happened like that.

I don’t know how no one ever said anything to me.

CONTEXT Lane’s former teammates who noticed she was pregnant have expressed regret for never having confronted her about it.

To understand why she was making these decisions, we needed to understand the sort of community and society Lane was growing up in.

Girls who grew up with her have told us there was a lot of “slut shaming” back then in the northern beaches, it was a cliquey and gossipy place. On top of that was a highly competitive, sexually charged sporting and drinking culture, with some questionable dynamics between older men and younger women.

This phone call captured my attention because it felt like Keli Lane for the first time expressed some uncomfortable home truths about being a girl growing up in that environment.

CONTEXT Lane told us she would have 30-year-old men asking her out when she was 15 or 16

CONTEXT Lane went on to describe a culture of hazing, which she said was part and parcel of joining sporting teams in her time

As long as you won and you were successful, other things didn’t seem to matter.

It seemed that as long as you trained hard and played hard, you could celebrate hard, and that’s generally when these sort of incidences would occur.

CONTEXT Lane told us she would have 30-year-old men asking her out when she was 15 or 16

These out of control situations, especially getting into positions with men, or choosing to have sex with men, a lot of alcohol’s involved, and it all stems from being out of control.

CONTEXT Lane went on to describe a culture of hazing, which she said was part and parcel of joining sporting teams in her time

But none of this explains what happened to baby Tegan.

When police finally questioned Lane years after the birth of Tegan, she told authorities she’d given her daughter to her natural father, a man named Andrew Norris, with whom she had a brief affair.

She said after telling him she was pregnant he agreed, along with his girlfriend and mother, to take the baby. Keli’s version of events surrounding the birth of Tegan has changed over time but she says Tegan’s father, Andrew, came to the hospital and took custody of the baby in the foyer on September 14.

Lane said she remembered that crucial day very clearly. But the police and prosecution say her version of events was a fabrication and that she instead left the hospital and murdered Tegan in an unknown way and disposed of Tegan at an unknown place.

CONTEXT Lane initially told police the father’s name was Andrew Morris, a man from Balmain in Sydney’s inner west, who she claimed to have had an affair with for several months. She later said his name was Andrew Norris

CONTEXT Lane maintains she did not kill her daughter and says she hopes someone will come forward with her. Tegan would be 22 years old.

CM-H: Do you remember… What’s your last image of your daughter Tegan?

KL: She’s so beautiful and just, she’s asleep and she was tucked in this … she looked so little tucked in this capsule. I was very upset, I was crying, and Andrew was with …

CONTEXT Lane initially told police the father’s name was Andrew Morris, a man from Balmain in Sydney’s inner west, who she claimed to have had an affair with for several months. She later said his name was Andrew Norris

Mel and his mother were on the other …

When we went downstairs in the lift it was like a foyer area and there was a lot of chairs. They’d obviously been sitting in the chairs waiting and they stood up as we approached. And just as that feeling of, “Is this the right thing to do?”

I looked at them and, not to judge, but I didn’t know them. And I did have that moment of:

“Maybe I could just take her. Maybe I could just do it myself.”

But just so painful.

CONTEXT Lane maintains she did not kill her daughter and says she hopes someone will come forward with her. Tegan would be 22 years old.

Lots of people, including Keli’s own family, have found this story difficult to comprehend. A casual sexual partner, the girlfriend that he cheated on and his mother coming to take a baby from a hospital.

The phone had just cut out on our call, when she rings back it felt like there’s a different version of Keli Lane on the phone.

When she was describing saying goodbye to her baby she was emotional. But now, she’s composed and collected. It sounds like she’s recalling a story she’s thought about many times before with lots of detail.

CONTEXT Prosecutors argued Lane probably left via a fire escape and avoided the nurses station.

CONTEXT Hours later Keli Lane attended a friend’s wedding with her then boyfriend Duncan Gilles.

CONTEXT The taxi driver who Keli Lane says picked her up from Auburn Hospital has never been found.

CM-H: After you handed Tegan over to, you say, the natural father and his family.

KL: Yup.

CM-H: What did you do next?

KL: Well they left before me, they walked out and I stood there a minute, two minutes and I was very upset, and then I went out…straight out the…electronic doors or whatever they are. You know they pulled back. They pulled back, I walked out and just to the right I think it was there was sort of like a driveway type thing. And I just jumped in a cab and I said, “Venus Street, Gladesville”.

CONTEXT Prosecutors argued Lane probably left via a fire escape and avoided the nurses station.

CONTEXT The taxi driver who Keli Lane says picked her up from Auburn Hospital has never been found.

The cab was white.

I can’t tell you about like the signs or decals, but what I do know is that when we stopped at Venus Street I didn’t have enough money. And I had to run inside, and he said to me, “I’ll wait out the front love.” And I ran inside and took the money out of Duncan’s brother’s room. And it was all coins, it was in a cowboy boot he used to have. And I took all the coins out and ran it back.

CONTEXT Hours later Keli Lane attended a friend’s wedding with her then boyfriend Duncan Gilles.

Lane is clearly very good at compartmentalising and pushing down emotion and getting on with things.

So much was made in the media about Lane’s steely, emotionless demeanour when she’d come and go from court every day.

Her tough appearance seemed to defy what society expects of a woman and a mother and she was dubbed by the press as “the girl with the Mona Lisa smile”.

But Lane took me by surprise one day when she rang to discuss the years her life went off the rails, starting when she was 19 years old.

KL: A lot of personal issues and emotions around that slice of my life, those choices I was making, and it probably sounds selfish, but I feel really sorry for that person.

[gasping crying]

CM-H: Like you see it as a different girl or?

KL: I just feel it just put myself through so much pain and I hurt a lot of people in the process and I don’t feel good about that.

There is no forensic evidence linking Keli Lane to the death of baby Tegan and her body has never been found, but circumstantial evidence led to the conviction for murder.

Keli Lane believes she’s been wrongfully convicted, but all her attempts to appeal against her conviction have failed.

The only avenue left for Keli Lane is a judicial review of her conviction, or if fresh and compelling evidence is found.

Watch the first episode of Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane on iview

Credits:

  • Reporting: Caro Meldrum-Hanna, Elise Worthington, Jaya Balendra and Julia Pursche
  • Digital Production: Mark Doman
  • Development: Nathanael Scott
  • Design: Alex Palmer
  • Header image: Dean Lewins, AAP
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Published by

Robbo

I also love family, Photography, Cooking a great BBQ , Computers, Reading Crime Books, and solving crimes before the end of the show !

5 thoughts on “The Keli Lane tapes: From prison, a murderer breaks her silence”

  1. I watched this doco on the ABC this week. I am dumbfounded at her parents cold reaction. I think dad was a policeman. Anyone who watches the show will shake their head in wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a cold callous pyschopathic heartless killer.
    Daddy the former cop.seems to be pulling his every available string, pulling on favours.
    No-one can tell me the whole damned mib, family included, ate luig through their back teeth as they go all out in an attempt to ‘construct’ a believable, sympathic story.
    What a con job.

    I, for one, am not stupid.

    Like

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