Robert John Adams lived as a free man for 30 years after his sick crime…

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When nurse Mary Louise Wallace, 33, vanished overnight, detectives knew just where to start their investigation. But it would be a very long time before justice was finally served…

Australian nurse Mary Louise Wallace was reported as missing in September 1983.

She hadn’t been seen since she left the Alpine Inn wine bar in Crows Nest, New South Wales in the early hours of 24 September.

Mary, 33, had spent the night with friends, and was last seen getting into local carpenter Robert John Adams’ car.

Adams had already faced three allegations of rape in the 1970s, and received one conviction.

In the first incident, in 1975, the court heard how he’d placed his hands around the alleged victim’s throat and strangled her until she almost lost consciousness.

The victim was so scarred by the attack that she fled Sydney before the trial ended, fearing for her life. So a verdict couldn’t be reached.

The following year, Adams tried to seduce a woman at a sailing club. But when she rejected his advances, Adams took her by the throat and threatened to choke her.

He then raped the woman, saying he wanted to ‘finish her off’.

After the sickening assault, Adams told his victim to take him to the police station, where detectives charged him with rape. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

On his release two years later, in 1978, in a North Sydney bar, Adams met a woman who was later raped. He was implicated in the crime but not convicted.

Knowing Adams’ history, police swooped to question him over Mary’s disappearance.

Officers search Lane Cove National Park (Photo: REX/Shutterstock)

He admitted he’d met Mary on the night she’d disappeared, telling detectives the couple had tried to have consensual sex in the car, but he’d fallen asleep, and, when he’d woken up, Mary had gone.

Adams’ flatmate told police that, the night after Mary was last seen, she’d seen Adams wash his car-seat covers and clean out the boot with a hose and rags. She’d never seen Adams wash the car boot before.

A forensic examination of Adams’ car was carried out 11 days after Mary disappeared.

Blood was discovered but, without DNA technology, police were unable to determine whose.

There wasn’t enough evidence to charge Adams with murder.

In the meantime, Mary’s family and friends desperately tried to find the beloved nurse. But, despite extensive searches in the Bush around Sydney, Mary’s remains were never found.

For over 30 years, her loved ones were devastated.

Adams thought he’d got away with murder. But, in 2013, the case was reopened. Modern technology matched two hairs found in Adams’ car boot to Mary’s DNA profile.

Adams was arrested and charged with the nurse’s murder. Mary’s body still hadn’t been found, however, so prosecutors controversially used evidence from Adams’ previous conviction and implicated crimes to bring him to justice.

At Adams’ trial, in September 2016, the 64-year-old pleaded not guilty to murder.

The Crown said that, based on Adams’ past, it was clear he had a predilection for strangling women for his own sexual gratification. His defence barrister denied Adams had tried to choke Mary, but the evidence was stacked against his client.

During the trial at New South Wales Supreme Court, a 2013 interview with Adams was played to the courtroom. In it, Adams described details of a game he used to play with two mates.

The three men used to pretend to be footballers, lawyers and police officers to attract women, scoring points for each woman they slept with.

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‘I was a sleazebag then and to get a lay, it was, you know, it was the purpose of getting laid and you just told them a pack of bullsh*t to get laid,’ Adams bragged to police.

Supreme Court judge Richard Button listened carefully to the evidence. After, he said he was satisfied Adams had choked or strangled Mary with the intention of having non-consensual sex with her, causing her death.

In reaching his verdict, the judge said he was persuaded by the proven tendency of Adams to rape and strangle women.

That, coupled with the DNA evidence, was enough to convict Adams of the nurse’s murder.

Judge Button said Adams’ method of raping and strangling women was chronic, repetitive and specific, saying, ‘The accused treated the deceased very much as an object, just as he had treated three other young women.’

Adams was finally convicted more than 33 years after Mary Louise Wallace’s tragic death.

In February, Robert John Adams, 64, will be sentenced for Mary’s murder. But, still, nobody knows where Mary’s remains are, except for her killer.