Two young women, sisters, were in the prime of their lives, working toward their dream careers as they lived together in the bustling city of Melbourne.
In a cruel twist of fate, Colleen, 23, and Laura Irwin, 21, were brutally murdered and raped in their own home by their quiet neighbour in a heinous attack that sent shockwaves across Australia,
Their attacker's criminal history spanned back well before they were born, but somehow he was walking the streets free to live, and free to kill.
The horrific deaths of the Irwin sisters in 2006 is the subject of a new Foxtel two-part series Wrongly Released: Free to Kill, which profiles two different cases of repeat offenders who murdered while on parole, in an attempt to highlight the failings of the Australian justice system.
The Irwin sisters were found dead in their home in Melbourne's west on Friday January 27, 2006.
They had moved to the suburb of Altona North, near the city, from where they grew up in Shepparton in 2002.
Laura was an aspiring filmmaker and graphic artist for Channel 10, and Colleen had a passion for photography, as an employee at Ted's Camera Store.
While they left their parents Allan and Shirley behind at their childhood home, about two hours away, Laura and Colleen were in touch with their mum and dad every single day, often multiple times.
So when Allan and Shirley didn't hear from them on January 28, they immediately knew something was wrong.
"Colleen rang me (on the day of her death) to say she was going to a house-warming, and Laura rang me and said she was staying home and was going to veg out as she'd had a big week at work," Shirley said.
"And that was the last that I heard from them."
The next day arrived and Shirley started to get concerned.
"I wasn't getting any texts or messages and I said to Allan, 'I haven't heard from the girls today.' As the day went on and on and on, I was still ringing and ringing and texting and texting …"
Colleen's best friend, Candice Osborne, had a key to their house and headed over to check on the girls.
"I walked into the kitchen, I called out and no one answered, so I think I was going to leave, it felt weird snooping through their house," Osborne said.
"Colleen's phone would make a beep if it had unanswered calls or text messages, and I heard it beep, so I knew her phone was there.
"I went to the top of the stairs and I heard the phone beep again, and it came from Laura's room. I pushed the door open and saw them both there.
"I could see Colleen was naked from the waist down and laying on her back, and Laura was beside her, she sort of was held up on her side.
"I just remember how she was curled up. She looked like she was sleeping."
Their murderer, who was killed three days later in a police shooting, was William Watkins, their private neighbour whom they had no idea was previously convicted of rape, serious assault charges and was given a minimum jail sentence of just two years in 2000.
The night of their murder, Colleen was on her way home from a party while Laura was in bed asleep.
When Colleen drove onto their driveway, at about 12.45am, she got out of the car and was grabbed by Watkins and forced inside her own home.
While little is known about what exactly happened, or how long their ordeal was, the pair were found stabbed and attempted to call triple-0 for help at some stage.
Telstra confirmed one of the two women had made a call to emergency services at 1.44am, one hour after Colleen got home, but hung up after five seconds.
Then Emergency Services Commissioner Bruce Esplin said at the time: "The call then terminated and Telstra advise that that call was terminated not by the triple-0 call-taker but by the caller herself.
"Telstra advised that there was no noise at all on the tape. It was quite silent … Where there's no voices, there's no noise on the tape according to Telstra, there's no opportunity to trigger any further action."
In June 2007, Coroner Dyson Hore-Lacy said Watkins managed to "overpower both girls, probably with the assistance of a knife, raping and killing both young women".
It was discovered one of the two women had attempted to dial someone in their contacts list, whose name began with the letter A.
This signalled to investigators they were desperately attempting to contact anybody they could.
"We know they fought for their lives. Big time," Shirley said.
"And to know that … that horrible thought of one watching one die.
"But then knowing they were together on the bed, they were close together on the bed, meant that their souls were …," she said through tears.
"It's a horrible thought. Just the thought of it. But at the same time, they're together. They were together."
After the attack, in a chilling insight into the predator's mind, it had been revealed Watkins had recently cut down a palm tree which was obscuring the view of the girls' bathroom from his balcony.
Initially, police had no leads.
They searched the neighbourhood, visited houses and spoke with neighbours and found nothing untoward.
And then luck struck. A man and his wife entered the Altona North Police Station to report their employee missing, saying he hadn't turned up to work on the Saturday or the Monday.
That employee was Watkins. Police searched his name in the database and discovered he was a convicted sex offender with an extensive criminal history, who lived next door to the sisters.
They were issued a search warrant to check his flat and found blood-soaked sheets and underwear, all but confirming he had committed the heinous crime.
Little did they know Watkins had fled across the country, and was 4000km away in the town of Karratha, Western Australia.
He made the fatal error of fleeing from a fuel station without paying, with police in the area put on alert.
Local officer Shane Gray spotted the vehicle in question and pulled Watkins over, before engaging in what he thought was a civil, well-mannered conversation.
"He was polite, he handed his licence over," Sergeant Gray said.
Fortunately for Watkins, WA police did not have access to his criminal history in their data base as the states didn't share this information with each other at the time, so Sergeant Gray had no idea he had a suspect in a double murder on his hands.
"I advised him he had to come back to the station to sort the fuel issue out and he said 'Yeah no problems'," Gray said.
"Then I saw a flash of white, which was obviously his fist, and I fell to the ground.
"While I was on the ground he told me I was a 'dead c**t', at which point he kneed me in the face, ribs, and launched a blitz attack on me.
"I got up and I received another blow to the chest, he knocked me toward my patrol car and his voice lowered and he said, 'Now you're a dead c**t.'"
Watkins went to hit Sergeant Gray but the officer, remarkably considering his injuries, managed to pull his gun and fired. Watkins was killed.
"I drew my service pistol and fired one shot into him. I managed to get onto the radio and call my base," he said.
"I just laid on the road until help arrived.
"Then I found out about the [Irwin] girls the next day."
Very soon after, community outcry broke out over how Watkins was on the streets when he had prior convictions for rape, assaulting police, aggravated burglary and theft, among several other alcohol-fuelled crimes that dated back to 1985.
After raping a woman in her own home, Watkins was apprehended and appeared in court on charges of aggravated burglary and rape, which both carry maximum sentences of 25 years.
He pleaded guilty, and was given a concurrent sentence of four years for a string of crimes beginning in 2000.
Watkins was paroled in 2004, and went straight back to his job he had before he was locked up, with his employers vouching to the parole board for him and arranging him a place to live – a flat next door to Colleen and Laura.
"If we had have known he was there [next door], our girls would not have been in that house," Allan said.
"But you don't get a chance because no one lets you know.
"Police don't come and say on the quiet, 'You've got a known rapist next to your daughters.'
"I just went through his rap sheet and it went on and on and on. I just couldn't help but think, 'What were they thinking? Do they know what a rapist is?'"
It's a question that deserves an explanation, and is unfortunately one that hasn't properly been answered for Allan and Shirley.
But according to former Victorian Chief Crown Prosecutor Gavin Silbert QC, the Court of Appeal at the time was following a bizarre practice when applying sentences.
"Sentencing in Victoria at the time was off the rails," he said.
"There was a case called Dalgliesh where a man was convicted of impregnating his 13-year-old daughter and was sentenced to three years.
"The maximum at that time was 25 years.
"The Court of Appeal said it can only be three years because that's all anyone who has committed that crime before has been sentenced to."
Allan and Shirley have since been campaigning for a public register for sex offenders.
"It's like the girls have died in vain because the situation of a parole person being out and murdering, it's happened multiple times again, so nobody is learning," Allan said.
"I reckon the parole board, the sentencing board, even the judges, get out and see crime scenes," Shirley added.
"Go and see what our girls' crime scene looked like.
"They're not in the real world of crime. They get a piece of paper and say, 'This Joe Blow has done this, yeah put him away for two years.'"
It's been almost 15 years since they lost their girls, but Shirley said time hasn't healed her wounds. In fact, they've got deeper.
"As the years go on for us it's getting harder and harder," she said.
"We're living in the past when the girls still existed and were still living.
"I close my eyes and they're still in the house."
William Watkins' criminal history includes
1987 Convicted of his sixth burglary.
1993 Convicted of assaulting police.
1998 Convicted of assaulting police, sentenced to 10 months' jail.
1998 Breaks into the home of a blind invalid pensioner and bashes her.
1999 Enters neighbour's home, steals $40, rapes woman occupant.
2000 Convicted of assault.
2000 Sentenced to four years and three months' jail, with a minimum of two years after pleading guilty to rape, aggravated burglary and theft.
2000 Sentenced to one year's jail after pleading guilty to intentionally causing serious injury over the 1998 bashing of blind pensioner.
SEXUAL HARM - DO YOU NEED 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 contact Safe to Talk confidentially:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email email@example.com
• For more info or to web chat visit www.safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station -