As Coroner Jacqui Hawkins announces her finding on June 30th regarding whether the accused, Robert Penny had any involvement in the brutal murder of his Scottish wife Margaret Penny and hairdresser Claire Acocks, granddaughter Aphra Williams prepares to share her families story of the infamous 1991 Portland, Vic. murders on the big screen.
Aphra Williams, a key witness in her grandmother’s murder inquest, is a writer and an award-winning actor. The feature film based on the Portland murders is currently in pre-production with plans to shoot in and around rural Victoria, staying true to the locations and events surrounding the murders and homicide investigation.
Australian investigators sought assistance from Doctor Nathaniel Cary, one of the most respected pathologists in the UK. Doctor Cary provided a report in 2016 detailing his professional opinion, and gave evidence at the Coroners Court of Victoria via video link on February, 1st, 2017.
Every family has its secrets. Through this personal journey, we experience the rare opportunity to see what it was like growing up alongside one of Australia’s most gruesome murder investigations and the impact a harrowing event has on everyone involved. Ms. Williams, a five-year-old at the time of the murders, was meant to be with her grandmother at the hairdressers the very day the attacks occurred, yet, a last-minute decision to stay at home with her grandfather, Robert Penny may have saved her life.
“This story captivates what it is to lose a loved one in such a horrific way, the thousands of questions left unanswered and the determination to never give up” said Ms. Williams.
“Human behaviour has always fascinated me and it’s something I believe was important to explore when writing this script. What drives a person to commit such a horrible crime? We are capable of surviving and overcoming almost anything and through my own personal experience, I have learned we do not have to be victims, we can choose to be survivors and we can actively stand up against these brutal acts. This is still an open investigation and the last thing we want is to jeopardise the integrity of the case. I have been very mindful about what and what not to include in the film. Of course, there is always the hope that someone watching this film may hold a missing piece of information and come forward”.
Aphra Williams is an Australian writer and an award-winning actor based in Los Angeles, California. Studying theatre at Victoria University, she graduated in 2006 and shortly thereafter, moved to North America to pursue her career. Since that time, Aphra has found success working on multiple projects that have received critical acclaim, and has had the opportunity to work alongside award-winning directors such as Xavier Dolan and Kyle Portbury.