Radio personality Lauren Phillips has been asked to apologise to the mother of a murdered child after she made a sick on-air joke about her horrific murder.
Aspiring dancer Rachel Barber was just 15 when Caroline Reed Robertson strangled her to death with a telephone cord in a plot to steal her identity in 1999.
Last week, Phillips told listeners on Melbourne’s KIIS 101.1 she had used a podcast discussing Rachel’s tragic murder to cheer herself up.
Rachel Barber, a 15-year-old dance student, was murdered by strangulation in Melbourne in 1999
Lauren Phillips used the horrific murder of a Melbourne child as part of an on-air skit
Caroline Reed Robertson was 19 years old when she murdered Rachel Barber, pictured here after her arrest
Phillips cackled with laughter in the segment, which was later posted on the radio station’s own social media platforms.
The 34-year old explained she had just had an argument with her boyfriend when she decided to listen to the true crime podcast.
Phillips, who is described as a ‘genuine and relatable Melburnian’ on the KIIS 101.1 website, said she chose the podcast to clear her mind and ‘try and fix (her) mood’.
The podcast, which was not named but found to be part of the CASEFILE series, clearly outlines the episode to be about a murdered teenager from Melbourne’s inner-city suburb of Richmond.
Phillips is seen laughing as a section of the podcast was played describing how Reed Robertson cruelly slaughtered Rachel before placing her body in a bag.
Her co-host Jason ‘Jase’ Hawkins could be seen smiling uncomfortably as Phillips continued in hysterics.
‘Am I a psychopath?’ Phillips chuckled to Hawkins, who suggested she needed a welfare check.
In response, Channel 9 newsman Clint Stanaway – who walked the beat as a crime reporter for years before moving onto sport – told the show Phillips was indeed in need of help.
Lauren Phillips upset the friends and family of murder victim Rachel Barber with an insensitive segment on Melbourne radio
Clint Stanaway (left) was once a Melbourne crime reporter before moving onto the news desk to read the sport. He is pictured with Channel 9’s Alicia Loxley
The murder of Rachel Barber will never be forgotten in Melbourne.
Caroline Reed Robertson (middle) walked from jail 16 years after strangling a 15-year-old girl to death in a plot to steal her identity
Rachel’s mother Elizabeth Barber told Daily Mail Australia she had been alerted to the vile discussion by her daughter’s then boyfriend, who was left distraught after hearing it.
‘For Rachel’s peers and family nothing less than an explanation and an apology on air will be sufficient so they can learn from their mistakes,’ Ms Barber said.
The long suffering mum had called-up the radio station on Monday, but was not able to go to air.
Instead, the show’s executive producer claimed she had given the all-clear for the discussion because they all believed the clearly labelled true crime podcast had been fictional.
‘They said they were not aware Rachel was a real person or her murder was a local case. And she explained how dreadful they feel about it and have taken it off TikTok and any other live footage,’ Ms Barber said.
She described Phillips’ behaviour as ‘reprehensible’.
‘I said Lauren should apologise on air out of respect, so that maybe another occurrence of a similar situation does not arise again,’ Ms Barber said.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted KIIS 101.1 for comment, but at time of publication had not received a response.
The station has since pulled the offensive video of the discussion from social media, which was aptly titled ‘Am I a psychopath’.
Rachel’s boyfriend at the time she was murdered, Manni Carella, took to social media to express his disgust at Phillips.
‘I am actually really shocked and FKN ANGRY by what I heard this morning on the radio (which I must add driving on the freeway, almost lost control of my car by the shock) by Jase and Lauren on 101.1 KIIS FM!!!,’ he wrote.
‘THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!!!!! HOW ON EARTH WOULD YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY????????? THINK BEFORE YOU DO STUPID JOKES LIKE THIS!!!!!!!!’
Rachel Barber was a beloved daughter and just starting out in life when she was murdered
Rachel’s disappearance was big news in Melbourne as detectives hoped to find her alive
Manni Carella is pictured behind Rachel in one of her last photographs before she was murdered
Rachel Barber was a talented dancer when her life was snuffed out by a crazed wanna-be
Ms Barber told Daily Mail Australia the cruel discussion could not have come at a worse time, with the disappearance of Chloe Smith making national news.
‘I have found the last two weeks difficult with Chloe Smith missing. It is so sad and brings back memories. I hope their ending is a better story,’ she said.
It is understood the radio station was bombarded with complaints, but the social media posts were only pulled down on Monday after being contacted directly by Ms Barber.
‘This was so reprehensible not to have done their research. Tardy and inconsiderate. Rachel’s friends who have contacted me and her sisters were disgusted by the appearance of hilarity on her face,’ she said.
‘Accountability is important. Compassion is too. The executive producer apologised on the phone this morning but that is not the same. Rachel’s peers and family need to hear an apology online.’
In 2000, Reed Robertson, then 19, was jailed for 20 years after pleading guilty to the murder of Rachel, with a non-parole period of 14 and a half years.
She would be released from jail in 2015 with the forgiveness of Ms Barber’s parents.
Caroline Reed Robertson, pictured in 2013, was released from jail on parole on January 20 2015
Rachel Barber had been a talented dancer and was adored by all who knew her
The murder of Rachel Barber will forever present a stain on Melbourne
It was a case so twisted that it inspired a star-studded 2009 Australian film, ‘I Am You’ (also known as ‘In Her Skin’), starring Guy Pearce, Miranda Otto, Sam Neill and Rebecca Gibney.
Robertson was the victim’s former babysitter, a trusted family friend and neighbour, who lured the teen to her death by manipulating her trust.
No one realised that she was plotting to kill her beautiful neighbour and assume her identity for a new start.
Robertson’s diary entries were used by police as evidence in the trial.
‘How to change in nine weeks’ was written by Robertson on the front of her journal; the pages inside detail her sick plans.
They revealed the disturbed woman’s terrifying obsession with the beautiful dancer as she plotted to kill and ‘disfigure’ the teen.
The journal and emotional letters to her father also exposed the intense self-loathing Robertson felt, which fed her to assume the identity of Rachel, a pretty, talented, well-liked dance student.
The Supreme Court heard that Reed Robertson had convinced herself that after killing Rachel she could in some way assume her identity.
As Rachel’s devastated family desperately searched for their daughter, Reed Robertson wrapped the body in two rugs and took a taxi to her father’s Kilmore farm, telling the driver she was moving a statue.
Rachel’s body was buried in a shallow hole, bizarrely positioned next to the grave of the murderer’s pet.
Not long after, Reed Robertson was arrested by police. She confessed to the murder and 12 days later Rachel’s body was found – the cable used to kill her still tightened around her neck.
Lauren Phillips has offended the family of slain Melbourne teen Rachel Barber
The grizzly death and bizarre circumstances were depicted in an Australian film, starring Ruth Bradley (left) as the murderer Caroline and prominent actor Sam Neill (right) as Caroline’s father, David Reid
The parents: Miranda Otto (left) starred as Elizabeth Barber and Guy Pearce (right) starred as Mike Barber
Caroline Reed Robertson, aged 19, is pictured speaking with police after her arrest for the premeditated murder of Rachel Barber. Robertson confessed to the crime before Barber’s body was found