POLICE took almost 25 years to lay charges over the brutal deaths of two women at a Portland hair salon and now their families are worried justice may never be served.
Margaret Penny and her hairdresser Claire Acocks were found in the Old London Coiffure Hairdressers with chest and throat stab wounds.
It remained one of the state’s most high profile unsolved killings until Robert Penny, 83, was charged this year with murdering his wife and Ms Acocks after police revisited the case.
On Tuesday, after months of delays, a committal hearing to be held at the Melbourne Magistrates Court was delayed for at least five months because one of the key witnesses is overseas.
Family and friends burst into tears and shook their heads when Magistrate Carolene Gwynn announced the matter would be delayed.
"He could die before then," a friend, who didn't want to be named, told AAP outside court about Penny.
"He's pretty old as it is."
Penny has missed several court appearances because of illness, including time in hospital for quadruple by-pass surgery.
Police will rely heavily on witness accounts and recordings of conversations Penny had with his children after his wife's death in 1991.
In those conversations, Penny shared information that police believe would have only been known to the killer – including the fact they had been stabbed with a metal tail comb, which was never publicly released at the time.
The case is now adjourned until April 2016.
Penny was not in court on Tuesday.