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Double murderer walks free from prison

The double murderer has been granted parole.
The double murderer has been granted parole.

A convicted murderer sentenced to life in prison over the brutal killings of his partner and teenage daughter during a remote yacht trip has been granted release from prison.

Garry Douglas Whitsed was sentenced to a minimum of 19 years behind bars over the killing of Avril Croft and 15-year-old daughter Alahna in July 2001.

The pair had been on-board The Celt with Mr Whitsed during a holiday at Montague Sound off Western Australia’s Kimberley coast when an argument broke out.

A court was told in 2003 that Mr Whitsed, then aged 32, murdered the pair then threw their bodies into shark and crocodile infested waters, before cleaning the boat.

Alahna Croft with her mother Avril on yacht Celt in Darwin. They died while on yachting holiday with Garry Douglas Whitsed off the northwest coast of Australia. Whitsed is facing murder charges in the West Australian Supreme Court.
Avril Croft (left) and daughter Alahna on The Celt in Darwin. Picture: Supplied

The state’s Prisoner Review Board ruled earlier this month Mr Whitsed should be released.

Under the terms of his parole, which will run for three years, Mr Whitsed will be barred from leaving WA without permission or contact relatives of the deceased people.

According to the board, Mr Whitsed had presented a “viable parole plan” for his release, including professional community support and intention to find work.

Garry Whitsed accused of the murder in NW WA of mum and daughter Croft. Photo: CHANNEL 9 NEWS
Garry Douglas Whitsed murdered the pair then dumped their bodies in shark infested waters. Picture: 9 News

In 2021, Mr Whitsed undertook an 18-month resocialisation program at the minimum-security Karnet Prison Farm, as well as 21 counselling sessions.

A forensic report submitted in March found Mr Whitsed was considered a low risk of reoffending and he had “consistently maintained positive prison conduct”.

“Mr Whitsed proposed to reside with his sister, which has been deemed suitable for the purposes of Mr Whitsed’s release to parole,” the report stated.

OCTOBER, 2001 : Forensic officer aboard yacht The Celt moored in Cullen Bay, Darwin 10/01 after Avril Croft & daughter Alahna strangled & shot by Avril's boyfriend Garry Douglas Whitsed.\nCrime / Murder / Shooting\nYachting
Forensic officers pictured on-board yacht The Celt in Cullen Bay, Darwin in 2001. Picture: Supplied

“The Community Corrections Officer indicated he has the ongoing support of other family members and will benefit from ongoing engagement with Uniting WA.

“The Community Corrections Officer also recommended that Mr Whitsed be monitored in the development of any new intimate relationships.”

The killings made national headlines in the early 2000s.

Prior to his arrest, Mr Whitsed spent a month at sea before sailing to Darwin where he handed himself in to police.