A family accused of incest going back generations were once country & western singers and the new generation of children is following suit.
In the decades before they were found living in a squalid bush camp and accused
of inbreeding and generations of incestuous sex, the Colt family were travelling musicians.
Now as eight members of the alleged incest family prepare to stand trial, starting in the NSW District Court next month, one member has gone back to his clan’s beginnings.
Looking uncannily like his uncle Charlie and his grandfather Tim, who police allege may be his biological father, Joe Colt has been pictured playing guitar and dressed up for performing as they did.
In the new photo, which news.com.au has not published for legal reasons, he is dressed in matching dark waistcoat and trousers and a white shirt with a guitar on his knee — just as the alleged incest clan was photographed as a band when they performed country and western love songs, playing the guitar, violin and mandolin around Australia.
Family patriarch Tim Colt (a court-appointed pseudonym to protect the identities of children) led a troupe of musicians made up of his children, including son Charlie and daughter Martha.
Tim and his wife June, who had emigrated from New Zealand, had seven children. Police allege four of whom would carry on the family tradition of interbreeding.
Tim is believed to have fathered several of his the 13 children of his daughter Betty, with whom he allegedly began to have sex after she turned 12.
June was the product of a sexual relationship back in New Zealand between a brother and sister.
In Australia, the Colt family travelled around the country to perform at town halls, festivals and country shows.
Tim led the band, which included his son Charlie and daughter Martha, who allegedly shared a “marital” bed.
The rest of the entire Colt clan led by June would set up and pack up musical instruments and equipment for the performing members of the family.
Travelling from state to state, they had lived in remote parts of Western Australia, South Australia when, in Victoria in 2001, June died.
They moved back to South Australia, then Western Australia where Tim Colt died in 2009.
The Colt clan’s world was torn apart on July 18, 2012 when a posse of police, and legal and welfare authorities arrived at the family farm and removed twelve of the Colt children.
By then, around 40 adult and child members of the family were living together on a remote and filthy plot in the hills behind the NSW rural town of Boorowa.
But it came to an end when one of the children attending the local school told classmates his sister was pregnant and they didn’t know which relative was the father.
Police and case workers visited the farm in NSW’s Hilltops region and were horrified by what they found.
The 40 Colts lived in putrid conditions in two caravans, a garden shed and a larger shed containing two tents on an unsewered block without running water strewn with hazardous wiring.
The living quarters and cooking facilities were filthy and strewn with rubbish, and the children were dirty, wore grubby clothes, were unable to make eye contact and spoke unintelligibly.
They had fungal infections, rotten dental hygiene, and used the bush as their toilet.
Some had facial misalignments, impaired walking and had never used a toothbrush or toilet paper.
Taken into care, the children began telling stories of highly sexualised activity back at the farm or disclosing disturbing pastimes such as mutilating the genitals of pet animals.
Colt family members moved to parts of NSW, South Australia and Western Australia.
Almost six years after the family was split up, police arrested eight of them in a three-state swoop.
Betty Colt is facing five charges of making a false statement on oath amounting to perjury, which relate to her allegedly trying to conceal the paternity of her children.
Betty’s sister Martha is charged with six counts of perjury.
Betty’s sister Rhonda and daughter Raylene also face one charge each of perjury.
Brother Charlie Colt will go on trial at a later date on 27 charges, including six of sexual intercourse with a child under 10 years and 12 of inciting aggravated indecency of a person under 16 while in authority.
Three of Charlie’s male relatives, including two men believed to be his nephews, will face court as his co-accused.
Cliff Colt faces 21 charges and Roderick Colt 19 charges, both accused of 12 counts of inciting aggravated indecency of a person under 16 while in authority.
Another male Colt faces two charges of incest with a person around 16 years old under the authority of the alleged offender.
The trials of four of Tim Colt’s children and four grandchildren will hear testimony of family members, many of whom were children at the time of the allegations.
Also giving evidence will be a sister who allegedly had three children with her brother.
Members of the divided clan, scattered by welfare authorities and legal orders preventing association, have struggled to adjust to the world outside their once isolated and secluded environment.
Despite reports that the children had made advances in their personal hygiene, health, education and speech, they missed their family.
Five of the boys made videos saying they had been assaulted or picked upon in care and that they had tried to escape.
In one of the videos, a teenage Colt said just being a (real family name) had made him a target.
A glimmer of hope for one of the now grown-up children, Joe Colt, is a return to his family’s musical background.
Posing with a guitar in a photograph posted on his Facebook page, Joe has dressed up in the same outfits his uncle Charlie and late grandfather Tim wore in the family band.
Wearing dark trousers, matching sleeveless vest and an open-necked white shirt, Joe appears to hold the guitar with ease.
Friends or relatives have posted comments like “holy f**k” and “holy f*** you look like (Charlie’s real name)”.
Like his aunts, uncles and mother Joe appears to be leading a similar lifestyle to the one they pursued as young people, working as itinerants on farms.
It was during these times, the Colt sisters would tell police, that they had casual liaisons with foreigners or fruit pickers.
Rhonda Colt said five of her six children were fathered by a man named Ron West, who had since died, and one by a Gerry Phelps, who she met in South Australia while harvesting fruit.
Betty Colt stated the father of all her 13 children was a Phil Walton, who worked in the wheat industry, but who had since died.
However it will be alleged genetic testing revealed that the parents of one of her children, Bobby, were closely related and the parents of Billy, Brian, Dwayne and Carmel were related.
Betty’s daughter Raylene said the father of her daughter Kimberly was a Swedish or Swiss backpacker named Sven, however genetic tests allegedly suggest Kimberly’s parents are related.
Martha Colt had five surviving children and one who died, whose fathers she said were men unrelated to the Colts named Martin Beach, Sam Wilmont, Barry Heath, and an American, Neville Chart.
Two of the fathers’ names she said she couldn’t remember.
However it will be alleged genetic testing showed her son Karl’s parents were related and the parents of her children Albert, Jed, Ruth and Nadia were closely related.
The female Colt family members charged with perjury will go on joint trial next month, while the males will be heard at a later date.