New Zealand-origin incest Colt clan: New details emerge of depraved patriarch

Warning: This article deals with sexual abuse allegations. Helplines can be found at the bottom of the page.

As Australia’s most notorious incest family is scattered at the end of a long police investigation, a bombshell secret about the family “monster” and his daughters’ secrets can be revealed.

The horrific family history of a sexually voracious patriarch who fancied himself as a travelling minstrel but really was a rapist of his own daughters and granddaughter can now be put in context.

Three of the late Tim Colt’s daughters have been dragged through court trials, assaulted in prison and ostracised in communities because they have inbred children – the products of rape and sexual relations with their own father and brothers.

But growing up in an isolated family in which they were groomed and preyed upon for sex by their male relatives, the women really never had a chance.

It had been stated in the original 2013 judgment by NSW Children’s Court president Judge Peter Johnstone that the Colts descended from a New Zealand brother and sister.

The siblings were the parents of June Colt, who was the wife of Tim Colt.

June and Tim, who married in New Zealand in 1966 and emigrated to Australia, had seven children, with Martha being the youngest.

Five of these would be charged, Betty, Charlie, Rhonda, Roderick and Martha.

The other three charged were the grandchildren of June, who died in Victoria in 2001, Derek, Cliff and Raylene.

One of the daughters – known as Martha Colt, a court-appointed pseudonym to protect the identity of the clan’s children – was given a maximum two years prison sentence.

This was because she lied about the paternity of her five children, who DNA testing proved all to be the product of sexual relations with a biological relative.

While it was assumed Martha, who openly shared a “marital bed” with her brother Charlie, had given birth to five of her brother’s children, a bombshell revelation emerged at her trial.

Not reported until now because of suppression orders on the Colt incest family matters, Martha’s trial heard that her children were likely fathered by Charlie, her own father Tim and another brother.

Further evidence at the trials of other Colt siblings attested that it was likely Martha’s father Tim Colt, also was the father of his daughter Betty’s 13 children.

He also likely fathered four of his daughter Rhonda’s children and probably fathered his granddaughter, Raylene’s child.

The complicated family history of the Colts is believed to go back generations, and will probably never entirely be told.

It is almost nine years since the infamous Colt family was first uncovered living in depraved circumstances in a squalid bush camp in country NSW and its abhorrent clan practices came to light.

Now broken apart, the once close-knit clan who had few friends outside the family, appear on social media today to still be socially isolated from anyone but one another.

Many Colts – now grown into adulthood – had showed marked improvement in personal hygiene and health since the day they were taken from the “incest cult” camp in the scrub.

But they are still overshadowed by deprivations from their childhood: no education, unfamiliarity with toilets, showers or toothbrushes, shuffling gait, and unintelligible speech.

Some have low slung ears or misaligned eyes as a result of inbreeding and they look decades older than their calendar age.

Few of the entire Colt clan are employed, and if so do menial jobs like fruit picking.

Suppression orders had remained on the family’s interbreeding practices and rampant sexual interactions as eight family members were before the courts.

However, now most of those among the 38-member clan found on the filthy, unsewered plot in the hills behind Boorowa, NSW in 2012 have had their charges finalised.

Three family members, Roderick, Martha and Derek Colt, have filed notices of intention to appeal in 2020, all of which have since expired.

Of the original 80 charges originally levelled against eight Colts – including incest, child sexual abuse, indecency against a child and perjury – many were dropped.

One member – Charlie Colt, who originally faced 27 charges – was found not guilty on two charges and acquitted, with the balance being withdrawn.

However his brother Roderick was found guilty of raping his niece Petra.

Niece was also his half-sister

And it emerged during his trial that Petra was also his half-sister by virtue of the fact she was the daughter of Roderick’s sister Betty and their father Tim.

Although all eight family members were imprisoned after their 2018 arrest, only half have subsequently received custodial sentences.

And at Martha’s sentencing last year, the tragedy of her life caught up in the intergenerationally inbred Colts was revealed and can now be disclosed for the first time.

Like Martha, her older sisters Betty and Rhonda and Betty’s daughter Raylene, were also charged with lying about who was the father of her children.

DNA testing would reveal all four women had children whose fathers were the mothers’ own father or brother, or a half brother, uncle, nephew or grandfather.

Rhonda received a 14 month intensive corrections order (ICO) for perjury which expires in August.

Raylene was sentenced to a 16 month ICO for perjury, which expires in October.

Betty was convicted of four counts of perjury, one of lying under oath and one of perverting the course of justice and jailed for 14 months.

Her maximum two years and four month term expires in August.

Martha, who was the youngest sister, pleaded guilty to five counts of perjury and one of making a false statement under oath.

Slept with daughters, granddaughter

Her sentencing in the NSW District Court last June heard that Martha’s children were between 2.9 million and 60 million times more likely to have been fathered by Charlie.

But the court was told that another male relative, her father Tim or another brother Roderick, could have also fathered one of her children.

Martha gave birth to three sons and three daughters, one of whom died, between 1998 and 2006.

The older two sons were born in Victoria, the youngest children, two daughters, born in rural South Australia, and Adelaide.

Martha pleaded guilty to the six charges, but the 41-year-old still “steadfastly” maintained that unrelated men were her children’s fathers, Judge Gina O’Rourke told the hearing.

“She still maintains her children were born from five casual encounters which … is demonstrably untrue,” Judge O’Rourke said.

The court heard police intercepts of conversations between Martha and Charlie Colt revealed “giggling and a degree of sexualised banter”.

And in another Colt trial – of Martha’s 50-year-old older brother Roderick for the rape of his niece, who was also his half-sister – their father and patriarch Tim Colt’s legion of incestuous crimes was laid bare.

Derek, Cliff and Raylene were also Tim’s grandchildren, but as it was revealed at Roderick Colt’s trial last year, they were also his children.

Roderick’s trial before Judge O’Rourke in June 2020 heard that patriarch Tim had fathered all of Betty’s 13 children.

He had also fathered four of five children to his eldest daughter Rhonda as the family moved between rural Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory.

And Tim Colt led a troupe of musicians made up of his children, including his son and daughter Martha.

Incest ‘cult’

The Colt family travelled around the country to perform at town halls, festivals and country shows, and even produced records with album covers featuring the patriarch and three children.

Tim Colt had the audacity to name one of the albums a collection of family “love songs”.

At the trial of Roderick Colt, for raping his niece/half sister Petra, the court heard it was not in dispute that Petra was the biological child of Tim Colt and Betty Colt.

The trial heard Petra Colt told police in 2013 that she had never gone to school, she lived “in a cult” and that “all my aunts, uncles and cousins have all been sleeping together”.

Tim was also believed to be the father of Betty’s daughter Raylene’s daughter, Kimberly.

At Martha Colt’s trial, Judge O’Rourke said that despite “intergenerational incest in her family”, Martha Colt had spoken about “her childhood in idyllic terms and family harmony”.

“Clearly it was anything but,” Her Honour told the court, “[it was] isolated, insular, profoundly disturbing and dysfunctional with very little contact to the outside world.

“Incest clearly existed in this family unit.”

Judge O’Rourke said Martha Colt had “no friends outside her family [and] never formed close friendship bonds because of the closeness of the family”.

She had little schooling, and was “literate with difficulties”.

The family had moved from state to state, possibly to evade detection, always living in remote regions away from cities and large towns.

‘Keep your mouth shut’

The Colts avoided doctors, and were secretive about the paternity of their children.

When one of the female Colts became pregnant, and the infant showed clear signs of inbreeding, they were told to lie to the doctor.

After June Colt’s death in 2001, the extended family moved to a remote part of the Western Australian wheat belt where they lived until patriarch Tim Colt died in 2009.

Not all of the Colts would leave WA after that, with Roderick staying in WA, his lawyer later claiming he had “broken away” from his family’s “nomadic lifestyle”, married and got a job.

In late 2009, the Colts paid around $100,000 for a piece of NSW bushland, accessible by a series of roads which disintegrated into just dirt tracks, with no access to electricity or sewage.

Charlie Colt and his nephew Cliff partially cleared the land and the Colt women, principally Betty, then in her early 40s, Martha aged around 29, set up “house”.

The living quarters comprised of three old caravans, two sheds and two tents.

None of Martha’s children attended the local primary school, but some of her older sisters Betty and Rhonda’s 18 inbred children did.

In mid 2010, Roderick Colt drove 4000km from WA across the Australian desert for a week’s holiday at the Boorowa farm.

On this occasion he raped his niece/half-sister, Betty’s daughter Petra, who was then aged 17, a court would later find, hearing that all three shared a biological father.

The court was told that Petra had a fight with Betty, went for a walk and was dragged by Roderick into his car and forcibly raped as she fought him off.

He then threw her and her clothes out of the car and called her an “ungrateful b**ch and a pig”.

Petra would say her uncle Charlie had also sexually assaulted her from when she was a child, and had been told to “keep her mouth shut”.

Between February 2010 and mid-2012, authorities received seven risk of significant harm reports in relation to the children’s neglect, hygiene, lack of medical attention or truancy.

‘My sister is pregnant, my brother is the father’

Then one of the children who did attend school told a classmate “my sister is pregnant and we don’t know which of my brothers is the father”.

The Colt clan’s world was edging towards the brink of oblivion.

On June 6, 2012, caseworkers and police arrived to inspect the farm, and reported finding “very dirty and hazardous” living quarters including the tent in which Martha slept with Charlie.

They found a filthy makeshift kitchen, children who were “dirty, wore dirty clothing” and who were “unable to make eye contact, their speech was difficult to understand”.

The children, they observed, had “very poor dental health and hygiene”.

Wagga police inspector Stephen Radford would later describe smelling urine and faeces in living areas and said there were no toilets or showers.

The Colt adults were asked to fix exposed wiring, broken windows and dangerous stoves and the next day caseworkers returned with two camping toilets and a shower.

By the following day there had been “a significant clean-up”, but the game was up for the unknowing Colts.

Five generations of incest and hillbilly-style living was about to be dissolved.

On July 18, 2012, Boorowa farmers watched a convoy of police in four-wheel drives, a police bus and an ambulance drive up an old stock route out of town towards the scrub of old bushranger territory.

Dark secret in bush camp in the hills

Some of the 2000 citizens of Boorowa, which lies in the southwestern slopes of NSW, had seen members of the “odd” family when they drove into town to get supplies.

But no-one knew their dark secret, and for police and welfare workers what they found in the clearing in the woods would not be easily forgotten.

It was a social time bomb exploding before their eyes and as one police officer later told her colleagues, she would never get over it.

The authorities removed twelve of the Colt children and over the ensuing months, the adult Colts would abandon the camp.

One of them, Charlie Colt, would briefly flee to England, the others returning to the interstate regions where they had lived previously.

Police would interview Charlie’s sisters and a niece who would invent stories about phantom men they alleged were their children’s fathers.

But they hadn’t reckoned with the NSW Child Abuse Squad’s Detective Inspector Peter Yeomans, Detective Sergeant Kirsty Hales and officers from the newly formed Strike Force Hermoyne.

The children taken from the farm were placed in out of home care and with foster families.

They began to talk, however incomprehensibly, about life at the farm and act up in ways which betrayed the terrible truth about their sexualisation at a young age.

The most difficult to understand were Raylene’s daughter Kimberly, Betty’s daughter Carmen and all five of Martha’s children.

Some of them were extremely underweight, had hearing defects, fungal infections, limited reading, wet the bed and had never seen a toothbrush or toilet paper.

Five generations of inbreeding

Kimberly threatened to cut off the fingers of one caseworker and said “you wait till Charlie finds out. Charlie will come and get us”.

Kimberly told a psychologist that she had the same father as her mother Raylene and her grandmother Betty.

She also said she had oral sex with her brother.

Martha’s three sons, Albert, Jed and Karl and Betty’s sons Bobby and Billy told carers that they tortured animals including puppies and cats at the farm, mutilating their genitals.

Martha’s daughter Nadia told caseworkers that her uncle Charlie was her father, father of her brother and her sister, and that she had watched Charlie and Martha having sex in a tent.

Nadia and older sister Ruth, 9, told carers their brothers touched their breasts and had oral sex with them.

More graphic accounts by the children of sexual activity between the young Colt siblings and cousins, who were also one another’s aunts and uncles, were recorded in the 2013 NSW Children’s Court report.

One of Betty’s sons told carers it was a family rule not to tell anyone their father was in fact Betty’s father because Betty would go to jail as Tim Colt had started having “sex with her when she was 12”.

Betty Colt, now aged 52, had a daughter Tammy, now aged 36 who at the time of the raid on Boorowa, was living on the NSW Victorian border with her younger brother Derek who fathered her three daughters.

Thick short neck and low-slung ears

One daughter had died from Zellweger syndrome, which is a result of consanguinity or close relations between the child’s parents.

A rare and fatal genetic disorder, it is discernible by a thick short neck and lowset ears, which Sally presented with.

Tammy and Derek are both believed to have been fathered by their grandfather, Tim.

In 2013, NSW Child Abuse Squad officers from Strike Force Hermoyne charged Betty Colt with attempting to kidnap her sons Bobby and Billy, then aged 16 and 15, from foster care.

Police said Betty intended to take the children to live with her in South Australia and work as fruit pickers.

Betty, who was convicted in 2014, was recorded in hundreds of phone conversations with Bobby, some of which had a cloying, flirtatious tone.

When taken from the Colt farm, Bobby had a walking impairment, severe psoriasis, needed major dentistry, could not speak properly, wet and soiled the bed and had kindergarten level learning ability.

‘Sex talk’ between mother and son

On phone calls, Betty called Bobby “big boy” and “gorgeous” and told him his voice was “so sexy” and had become deeper since being apart from her.

Moss Vale magistrate Mary Ryan described Betty’s relationship with Bobby as “overbearing, immature and claustrophobic”.

Jailed for nine months, Betty was released in 2015.

Then in a three state swoop in April, 2018, Strike Force Hermoyne rounded up eight Colt family members including Betty, her daughter Raylene and sisters, Rhonda and Martha.

The women were all charged with perjury or lying under oath about the paternity of their children.

They claimed the children’s fathers were itinerants, foreigners or fruit pickers variously named Phil, Tim, Martin, Sam, Paul, Barry, Gerry, Jay, Neil, Neville, Ron or Sven.

Three of the four male Colts charged, Charlie, Cliff and Roderick, would face multiple counts of child sexual assault.

But in June last year, prosecutors withdrew a total of 48 charges against the three men, and further charges against them were dropped.

Derek was charged with two counts of incest and convicted in the District Court last year and sentenced by Judge O’Rourke to a maximum three years and ten months.

He was due for parole in March last year and an AVO is in place for Tammy against him.

Charlie Colt went before Judge Kate Traill in the District Court last August and was found not guilty of sexual intercourse with a person under ten and indecent assault of a person under 16 and acquitted.

Charges against Cliff Colt were dropped and “no further proceedings directed” by prosecutors, and costs awarded to him.

Roderick Colt, found guilty of raping Petra, is serving a maximum four year sentence, with the non parole period of two years four months due to expire in September.

‘Love makes a family’

The fractured Colt family members now live in South Australia, Western Australia and NSW and stay in touch via Facebook.

Betty Colt, who was born in New Zealand but came to Australia aged in her teens, faces potential deportation back here.

Some of the children underwent treatment programmes for sexualised behaviour and psychological trauma and ceased contact with their relatives.

But the pull of family ties is evident in their social media exchanges.

In 2016, Martha posted on Facebook a plaintive message with her mobile number and a photograph of son Albert saying she was “still looking” for him.

This accompanied posts of videos made by two of Martha’s sons, Jed and Karl, and three of Betty’s sons Billy, Brian and Dwayne, claimed they had been “bashed” and beaten” while in care.

One said he had been given “a hiding … for not washing properly”, another said he was threatened with “a bikie gang”.

On the recordings, which claimed the Colt family had been threatened with being stabbed or murdered, the young men’s speech is hard to understand.

In 2018, Betty Colt posted on Facebook a picture of herself with two female relatives with a superimposed message declaring “Love Makes a Family”.

‘Never had a bath’

Last August, a woman who had fostered Martha’s daughters Nadia and Ruth described how the little girls didn’t know what a toilet, a toothbrush, or a knife and fork were.

Weeping, she said the two girls had come to her filthy, illiterate and full of stories about sexual abuse by a relative.

This was at the trial of Charlie Colt, who had pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse with a child under ten.

Charlie’s daughter Nadia had just taken a bath at her new foster him in late 2012 when she told her carer Charlie had raped her with a “stick”, which the foster mother asked if it was his “wee stick”.

The little girl, who by 2020 was aged 14, had said “yes” and that it hurt.

During the trial, which acquitted him, Charlie denied either fathering the girl, raping her or sleeping with his sister Martha in a tent on the farm.

In finding Charlie not guilty, Judge Kate Traill cited inconsistencies in the girl’s police interviews and evidence.

Charlie Colt, whose original 27 charges had been reduced to one charge with an alternative back-up charge, applied for and was granted costs.

On his social media page, photographed beside a shiny new car, he looks as if he bulked up while in prison awaiting trial.

The family monster

Pursuing a life of intergenerational incest starting at least two generations before but probably even earlier than that, the Colt siblings were shaped by the powerful debauchery of Tim Colt.

The patriarch was the father of seven including Rhonda and Betty who he preyed upon and Charlie, Martha and Roderick who followed in his footsteps.

He probably also sexually abused Martha, his youngest child, who he was 36 years older than and Raylene his granddaughter, who was 40 years his junior.

When he died in 2009 aged about 66, Tim Colt probably thought he’d taken to his grave his secret from the world.

The incest taboo is one of the most widespread of taboos and crosses all cultures, the word coming from “incestus” in Latin which means impure or unchaste.

A historical reason for the taboo is that children of closely related parents are at greater risk of congenital disorders, developmental and physical disability and death.

But for a child’s comment in a playground, vigilant welfare authorities and the determination of skilful child abuse squad detectives, the Colt incest “cult” might still be going on in the hills.

Where to get help:

• If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334. (available 24/7)
• Male Survivors Aotearoa offers a range of confidential support at centres across New Zealand – find your closest one here.
• Mosaic – Tiaki Tangata: 0800 94 22 94 (available 11am – 8pm)
• If you have been abused, remember it’s not your fault.

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