Man admits to 'bodies in vault' serial killings

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On of four men accused of Australia's worst serial murders was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday after unexpectedly pleading guilty halfway through committal proceedings.

James Vlassakis, 21, admitted murdering four men whose dismembered bodies were found in barrels in the vault of a disused bank in Snowtown, a small town in rural South Australia. A total of eight bodies were discovered in the vault in May 1999; another two were found buried in the back garden of a house in suburban Adelaide, 90 miles to the south.

The victims are believed to have been tortured before they were murdered. Handcuffs, knives and a machine that administers electric shocks were recovered from the vault.

Vlassakis's lawyer, Rosemary Davey, told the South Australian Supreme Court that he admitted murdering his stepbrother, David Johnston, and three other men, Gary O'Dwyer, Troy Youde and Frederick Brooks, between 1998 and 1999. Vlassakis was given four life sentences by Judge Brian Martin.