Michelle Bright: The brave moment mother of murdered Gulgong schoolgirl stands up to her daughter’s killer after 24 years
After her teenage daughter is murdered on her way home from a birthday party, Lorraine Bright is tormented in her quiet country town.
His 17-year-old daughter Michelle Bright was murdered in the early hours of February 27, 1999, after leaving the party in Gulgong, in west-central New South Wales.
The teen’s body was found three days later hidden in the tall grass at the side of Barneys Reef Road.
A NSW Supreme Court jury found Craig Henry Rumsby guilty of her murder and a terrifying attack on another woman in June, more than 24 years later.
Ms Bright told the Rumsby sentencing hearing that she had to leave Gulgong exactly one year after her daughter’s murder because the constant reminders were too much to bear.
Craig Rumsby has been found guilty of the murder of Michelle Bright, who was last seen alive on Saturday February 27, 1999 in Gulgong, in mid-west New South Wales.
“It was too painful to keep driving by the place where Michelle had been lying for three days after she was so cruelly murdered,” he told the court in Dubbo on Friday, his voice cracking with emotion.
‘It was too hard watching different men walk past our local RSL where I worked, asking and worrying, ‘Was that you?’
Ms Bright said her daughter was a loving and caring girl, who dreamed of working with animals and wanted six children of her own.
I know she would have been a wonderful mother, but she never had that opportunity in her life.
All of her dreams were stolen and shattered and like her mother, my dreams were shattered too.
“Losing Michelle the way we did left a huge hole in my heart.”
After Rumsby’s arrest in August 2020, Ms Bright said she was overwhelmed to return to Gulgong to find it festooned with purple and yellow streamers in honor of her daughter.
“She has touched the entire Gulgong and Mudgee community, they have never forgotten her.”
Earlier this year, Craig Henry Rumsby was found guilty of the murder of Ms Bright in February 1999 and also of choking an 18-year-old woman with intent to rape her in January 1998. Both occurred in the town of Gulgong. , near Dubbo (pictured)
Ms Bright’s father and brothers told the court the horror of living two decades wondering what had happened to her and whether her killer would ever be brought to justice.
The woman who was suddenly attacked by Rumsby when she was 18 while standing outside her home on January 1, 1998, said she lived with terrifying memories and fear.
“I couldn’t stop reliving it,” he said in a victim impact statement, read aloud by crown prosecutor Lee Carr SC.
The murderer, Craig Rumsby, will be sentenced later
“I couldn’t stop the memories of his dirty face, his black teeth, and him choking me, even to this day.”
The woman reported the attack and police spoke to Rumsby, but she did not complete a statement for fear she would not be believed.
“As a result, I kept this attack a secret for 24 years,” he said.
Carr told the court that Rumsby’s crimes were sexually motivated and involved some form of planning.
Rumsby intended to kill Michelle, having admitted that he covered his mouth for 10 minutes.
“A 17-year-old girl has the right to walk home … safely and not be subjected to this type of behavior,” Carr said.
Acting Judge Robert Hulme will sentence Rumsby later.