01/06/2017 2:05 PM AEST | Updated 01/06/2017 2:07 PM AEST

Vincent O'Dempsey And Garry Dubois Handed Life Sentences For 1973 Murder Of Brisbane Family

Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters' bodies were never found.

Convicted killer Vincent O'Dempsey has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Brisbane woman Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters more than forty years ago.

His accomplice Garry 'Shorty' Dubois, 70, also received a life sentence on murder and rape charges.

The bodies of McCulkin and daughter Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11, have never been found since they disappeared from their Highgate Hill home in 1974, in what has become one of Queensland's most notorious cold cases.

Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicky, 13 (left) and Leanne, 11 (centre).

O'Dempsey is believed to have abducted the women from their home on the night of January 16, 1974 and taken them to bushland near Warwick, 130km south-west of Brisbane, where he and Dubois killed them.

Before his sentence was handed down, O'Dempsey protested his innocence to the court, saying "I never had the slightest reason to harm the three McCulkins in any way".

A jury found O'Dempsey guilty of the triple murder and of deprivation of liberty last Friday. The prosecution had argued that O'Dempsey, who knew the McCulkins, wanted Barbara silenced because he was afraid she would implicate him in two Brisbane nighttime fire bombings.

A fire bombing at Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub in 1973 killed 15 people.

The now 78-year-old had pleaded 'not guilty' to the murder charges, despite a witness telling the court that he had boasted to him of the murders.

His accomplice, Dubois, was convicted of the manslaughter of Barbara and the subsequent rape and murder of her daughters, Leanne and Vicki, in a separate case last year.

In sentencing the pair, Justice Applegarth said they were both remorseless killers who would likely die in jail, the ABC reports.

He said the last hours of Barbara, Vicki and Leanne's lives "must have been terrifying".

Justice Applegarth described O'Dempsey as "a cold-blooded killer", and said that while Dubois had no conscience and was a "coward", O'Dempsey was the prime offender.