Ross Bradley WARREN


TV presenter Ross Warren disappeared and his possessions were found in the same area as John Russell's body.Gay hate murders across Sydney in 1970s and 1980s to be targetted by police  | Daily Mail Online




Bondi’s memorial to gay and transgender hate crime victims

  Sex: Male  
Date of Birth: 1964      
Age at time of disappearance : 25 Height (cm): 175.0 Build: Medium
Hair Colour: Brown Eye Colour: Green/Hazel Complexion: Fair
    Racial Appearance: Caucasian    
Circumstances - Ross Warren was last seen driving his vehicle east on Oxford Street towards Paddington in Sydney about 2.00am on 22 July 1989. Extensive inquiries were conducted by police whereby Ross' vehicle was located in the vicinity of Marks Point, Bondi on the morning of 24 July 1989. Ross failed to attend work and family and friends have not heard from him. This behaviour is totally out of character for him. Grave fears are held for his safety.

*Editor's note - I highly recommend the book "The Beat - A True Account of the Bondi Gay Murders" by I. J. Fenn

This book provides extensive information about Ross and his disappearance and life before he went missing, and also very credible theories about what may have happened to him and other missing, murdered and assaulted young men.

Detective exposes apathy in gay murder cases

By Leonie Lamont - SMH
March 10, 2005

If not for the persistent letter-writing of a mother wanting answers about her son's disappearance, and the dedication of one detective reopening a cold case, the truth of Sydney's brutal cliff-top gay murders might never have emerged.

As then Detective Sergeant Stephen Page delved into the disappearance of the WIN Television newsreader Ross Warren in July 1989, he unearthed evidence of police investigative ineptitude.

He forensically dissected the activities of hate-filled gangs of teenagers - boys and girls - who as a pack bashed, robbed, and murdered men at known gay beats in Marks Park, Tamarama, and in Alexandria and Randwick.

Mr Warren's suspected disappearance at Marks Park was the tip of an iceberg. By the time Mr Page finished his investigation, another file had been reopened, that of John Russell, 31, a barman, found dead at the foot of the Marks Park cliff in November 1989.

And following a police re-enactment in which a dummy was thrown over the cliff, another name emerged: Gilles Mattaini, a 27-year-old Frenchman missing since 1985 and last seen on a regular walk which would take him across Marks Park.

The later investigation of Mr Russell's death was "inadequate and naive", she said. It was "disgraceful" that vital forensic material - a tuft of hair in Mr Russell's hand - had been lost. At the time, police closed the cases, saying both men died by misadventure.

Ms Milledge said "persons of interest" who appeared before the inquest - some of whom had served sentences for the murders of other gay men at eastern suburbs beats - might have been involved in the Russell and Warren murders. However, there was insufficient evidence to make a finding against any person.

"The wealth of evidence gathered by Detective Page and his team, however, will provide an excellent source of evidence should other matters come to light

... I cannot make recommendations to change community attitudes towards homosexuals or for homosexuals to abandon the use of beats.

"All I can do is urge communities ... to regard any victimisation of a gay man or lesbian as completely abhorrent and not to be tolerated."

Ms Milledge mentioned Ted and Peter Russell, the father and brother of John Russell, who had attended the inquest every day and heard "awful" evidence of violence and hate. "Mrs Warren never lost sight of her son as a valuable and important person who deserved better," she said.

The case had shown police at their worst, but in Sergeant Page they had been shown at their best. "I don't think anyone will ever follow in your footsteps," she said.

Ms Milledge will recommend that the Police Commissioner award a commendation.

Outside the court, Mr Page, who has left the service, said "I think if we'd managed it a lot better back then, we wouldn't have been giving evidence before a coroner.

"It would have been before a jury and we would have had true finalisation for the families."

Interview - Stephen Page

Read an edited transcript of an interview between Chris Masters and former NSW detective Sergeant Stephen Page.

Date: 16/05/2005

In 2001, NSW detective sergeant Stephen Page began Operation Taradale, a police investigation into a series of violent assaults and deaths of homosexual men in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in the late 1980s. In March 2005, handing down her findings after conducting an inquest into these deaths, the Senior Deputy State Coroner, Jacqueline Milledge praised Stephen Page – who has since left the police force - for his work, describing it as a shining example of how police investigations should be conducted, and recommended the former officer for official police commendation.

Q. So Steve, can you describe the beat scene in Sydney, as it existed in the late 80s early 90s?

S. With beats, they’re as unique as the gay men who go there. You have some beats that may be truck stops that will cater for truck drivers. You’ll also have the beats just as probably a lot of us know, toilet blocks which is a meeting point out of the public view. Also parks, opens spaces and it’s basically word of mouth that beats exist, and once they get their hold in the gay community, it can be pretty hard to shake that stigma. Gays will keep going to that place with the intention of getting sex.

Q. So what’s the profile of the participants? Are these typical Oxford Street gays?

S. No. Oxford Street gays will go to Oxford Street, meet their partners and carry on with life. What you’ll have is people who perhaps don’t want to be known as homosexual and they want to remain anonymous and they will go to beats. The attraction with beats, you’ve got anonymity. It’s free and there’s no long-term ties with whom you meet.

Q. So do the people who go to these beats, do they see themselves as gay necessarily?

S. You’ll get gay men going to gay beats but you’ll also get bisexual men going to gay beats. You’ll have other people such as - the term that we’ve used is in the closet. They don’t want to be known in the community as gay and they will also go there. Beats are known within the gay community where they go to pick up the less overt members of the gay community.

Q. So these are men that have very much crossed over? They may well have appeared to be perfectly heterosexual in another life?

S. Well and truly.

Q. How risky was it?

S. It was very risky. The period I was looking at was late 1980s. There was a lot of violence towards gays back in that era. There was a lot of phobia against gays back in that time. In the mid 1980s it was still an offence for men to have homosexual intercourse with other men and you also had the hysteria of AIDS when it first came out. And, if everyone can remember the Grim Reaper ads and the repercussions that sent through society, there was a lot of fear and loathing of gays at that time.

Q. Was there also danger from within the gay community? I mean, when they had sexual contact with one another, were they also at risk?

S. There were risks of violence with your partner. What we’ve got to remember is that adrenalin was running pretty high amongst the partners and if things didn’t go one way or the other you know violence could happen. One partner could flair up and strike out. I certainly became aware of violence upon gays at the beats I looked at.

Q. So they were fearful of gay bashers, of groups of young white men who would take them on? Also, they were fearful of running into a partner who, for one reason or another, might want to take it out on them, and they were fearful clearly of the police?

S. Yes.

Q. So tell me about the range of murders. I mean Wayne Tonks was murdered in May 1990, but before and since there were quite a few others. Can you set the scene for us?

S. We had one fellow, Richard Johnson, who was bashed to death at Alexandria Park. There was another fellow also who was bashed at Alexandria Park - made it home and subsequently died and had complained of being bashed and he was a member of the gay community. We had a Thai national in 1990 – he was bashed at Mark’s Park and subsequently fell to his death over a cliff. We’ve had two other murders of John Russell and Ross Warren again at Mark’s Park, where they’ve met their death purely because they were gay, and there’s another five or six that I could run you through, plus the other attempted murders that I’ve come across.

Q. So did you feel at the time that there was any likelihood that the perpetrators were much the same? That this was a gang operating or a series of gangs?

S. I came to the conclusion there was a series of gangs and to some degree there was crossovers between the gangs. The gangs weren’t static. They were mobile. They wouldn't just hit one beat, they’d be aware of all of them and they’d travel around until they were cashed up sufficiently to satisfy their needs and move on.

Q. Is there a typical motivation? Is there a particular reason why they were doing this?

S. There’s many motivators that I came across. What we had that I did see was pure greed. What we had were gangs of youths who just wanted to get some money. They saw the gays as being people who were reasonably well off in society. They hit them at a gay beat and they knew that they would be unlikely to report those offences to the police so they could literally get away with those crimes. You also had people who as children had been victims of paedophiles and had a misguided hatred of paedophiles directed towards gays, and they would strike out at anyone who they believed was remotely connected to what they were affected with.

Q. And perhaps in some circumstances even fear and loathing about their own sexuality, taking it out on, on gay men?

S. Well and truly yes. These were very, very violent offences. I’ve seen a number of underworld killings and they’re clinical. They’re businesslike where someone is shot and we move away. These bashings seemed to be more pleasure orientated. There’d be a lot of violence involved and to some extent a lot of torture of the victims.

Q. They were cruel?

S. Very cruel.

Q. Can you give us a bit more detail of what happened to Richard Johnson?

S. Richard Johnson was a gay man who was lured to a gay beat at Alexandria Park. There he was met by eight youths and he was punched and kicked until he was dead. A very violent, bloody death.

Q. And what contact did Wayne Tonks have with any of those perpetrators?

S. He was a schoolteacher where the majority of them went to school. They knew him.

Q. And they went back to school after they’d been charged?

S. Yes.

Q. So he had regular contact with them?

S. Yes.

Q. It must have been considered at the time that was a clue that was too hard to ignore considering Wayne Tonks’ later death.

S. That’s right.

Q. But as it turned out they were unrelated.

S. Yes.

Q. You mentioned the Grim Reaper ad. Was there much understanding of the differentiation of contracting the AIDS virus through different forms of sex? I mean set the scene if you would a little bit to explain the hysteria that existed at that time.

S. At that time there was an understanding that the people who were most affected by the AIDS virus were members of the gay community getting the virus through unsafe sex and because they were potential carriers of the disease, everyone was trying to keep them at arms distance.

Q. So this was another excuse if you like to go after them?

S. Yes.

Q. What about this differentiation between homosexuality and paedophilia. Were the lines also blurred there?

S. They were blurred to the offenders. With my enquiries you’ve got paedophiles and you’ve got homosexuals. You don’t tend to have a crossover, but there was a misguided hatred between some of the offenders that if you had sex, consensual sex between men, you were still a deviate and still suffered their wrath.

Q. Steve I know this enquiry occupied a great deal of your life. You conducted a very thorough examination. Do you think that attitudes have changed since these murders occurred?

S. Yeah well and truly. Mid-1980s it was an offence for gay men to have sex and I know with the first Mardi Gras the police marched into it swinging batons and I think these days they march in the Mardi Gras twirling batons. Society’s come a long way since then.

Q. So how prominent was gay bashing at this time?

S. It was very prominent. Gay beats had victims seen as easy targets. Offenders would walk away cashed up and numerous people have called it the sport of the 80s. I’d probably lengthen it and call it the team sport of the 80s because there were no brave people in amongst that. They were all cowards and they would all act as a group.

Q. Thanks very much Steve.

Coroner criticises police investigation into gay men's deaths


PM - Wednesday, 9 March , 2005  18:39:34

Reporter: David Mark

MARK COLVIN: An investigation stretching back 20 years had an ending of sorts today, when the Deputy New South Wales Coroner handed down her findings into the deaths of three gay men in Sydney.

The three men died or went missing in the mid to late 1980s from a well-known gay haunt in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.

The cases were all investigated, inadequately according to the Coroner, and quickly forgotten.

But in a story that could come from the files of a television "cold case" program, a New South Wales policeman who wanted to know the truth re-opened the cases a decade later.

David Mark reports.

DAVID MARK: The late 1980s and early '90s were a dangerous time to be gay in Sydney.

Gay hate crimes were prolific around Sydney's inner city and eastern suburbs.

At least seven people were murdered, while others were brutally attacked in a violent spree dating from 1985 to 1990.

While some people were arrested and prosecuted, many of the crimes went unsolved.

STEPHEN PAGE: Gay bashing was seen as a sport, particularly for young single men, predominantly of Caucasian background. And it appeared with a lot of them that they couldn't differentiate the difference between paedophiles and homosexuals.

DAVID MARK: Detective Sergeant Stephen Page of Paddington Police began investigating one of those unsolved cases in 2000 when a letter came across his desk.

STEPHEN PAGE: Kay Warren, the mother of Ross Warren, had written numerous letters to the police service asking that an inquest be held into her son's death. One came across my desk, and I could sense the hopelessness in Kay Warren's words that she was using, and I felt for her.

She was a mother who'd lost her son. She didn't have the opportunity of burying her son. There was no body. And I wanted to help her by giving her a little bit of closure.

DAVID MARK: Stephen Page saw a link between the disappearance of Ross Warren in 1989 and the death four months later of another man at a known gay beat near Sydney's Bondi Beach.

STEPHEN PAGE: With Ross Warren he was a 25-year old man. He was homosexual, and he met his demise at Mark's Park at Tamarama. Four months later we had the death of another fellow by the name of John Russell, who was 31 years of age, also homosexual. And taking into account that both people met their demise at their location, taking into account victimology – both victims were homosexual men attending a gay beat. And there's the history of violence towards gay men back in that era. I just couldn't exclude the possibility that we had the potential for serial offenders.

DAVID MARK: And so in 2003 he presented a comprehensive dossier to the New South Wales Deputy Coroner Jacqueline Milledge. Two 11-year-old cases were being reopened and a third was soon added.

Gilles Jaques Mattaini was a 27-year-old French national and a homosexual who also went missing. He was last seen walking near Mark's Park in 1985.

One factor linked all the cases, apart from the victims' homosexuality and the location of their death or disappearance – they were all poorly investigated by police at the time.

Here's Stephen Page on the Ross Warren investigation – one the Deputy Coroner has described as grossly inadequate, naive and shameful.

STEPHEN PAGE: There was no crime scene photographs. There was no… there appeared to be no canvassing of witnesses. There were no witness statements. From my point of view it was almost as if the offence happened yesterday.

DAVID MARK: The Deputy Coroner's findings were handed down today.

Jacqueline Milledge found that Ross Warren and John Russel had been murdered and while she did find Giles Mattaini had died, she couldn't say how.

And she's launched a scathing attack on the New South Wales Police force for not only their handling of the investigations but also for the way the attitudes of some police alienated members of the gay community.

CORONER'S FINDING EXTRACT: It wouldn't be unreasonable for the gay community to believe that as a group they don't warrant proper police attention. It's hard for the New South Wales Police force to be seen as progressive and equitable when some officers fail in their duty to the community they're meant to serve.

DAVID MARK: Stephen Page has retired from the police, but was on hand at the Coroner's court this morning to hear her findings and was delighted.

STEPHEN PAGE: I'm extremely pleased with the findings, and also the opinion that the Coroner's put forward at the time of findings.

What we had, basically, was cowardly acts by groups of young men going out and bashing gays for no other reason than it being a sport and to chase money. You know, they're not mainstream society. They're people that should be despised.

DAVID MARK: Do you believe there will come a time when people are prosecuted for these crimes?

STEPHEN PAGE: It's not beyond the realms of possibility. I've been involved in matters before which have been cold for many many years, and then all of a sudden a witness comes out of the blue and we can just keep our fingers crossed.

MARK COLVIN: Former New South Wales Police detective sergeant, Stephen Page, ending David Mark's report

Following please find the Coroner's Report into Ross' death -

Inquest into the death of John Alan RUSSELL

Inquests into the suspected deaths of Ross Bradlev WARREN & Gilles Jacques MATTAINI


The Victims

On Thursday 23 November 1989, the body of John Alan Russell was discovered lying on rocks below the very popular Bondi to Tamarama walking path. The area

where Mr Russell was found is known as 'Marks Park'. It was also known to be a 'gay beat' frequented by men intending to meet other men for casual sex.

Mr Russell was 31 years of age and homosexual. He resided with his brother Peter at Bondi. He was hard working, engaged in two jobs and had the support of a loving and committed family. He was excited about his plans to build a 'kit home' on his father's farm at Wollombi near Cessnock, funded by a substantial inheritance from his grandfather. He also intended to use some of that money to travel around Australia.

The night before his death he was socialising with a friend at the Bondi Hotel. He was last seen alive at 11 pm.

Near Mr Russell's body were a number of coins. On one of Mr Russell's hands were human hairs believed to be from another person. Whilst there is evidence that these crucial hairs were 'bagged' for analysis, they were lost well before the initial inquest and were never forensically examined as part of the investigation.

His death was investigated, however the Officer in Charge of the matter deemed his death 'accidental' and it was not further pursued as a possible homicide. Some police involved in the investigation, however, were suspicious of the circumstances of Mr Russell's demise and believed that he may have been a victim of a violent assault. An inquest was conducted on 2 July 1990. Unfortunately no transcript of that proceeding is available therefore what was made of the missing hairs remains unknown.

The cause and manner of death was recorded as " the effects of multiple injuries sustained then and there when he fell from a cliff to the rocks below, but whether he fell accidentally or otherwise, the evidence does not enable me to say."

Four months before Mr Russell's death, another young man, Ross Bradley Warren, was reported 'missing'. At the time of his disappearance he was 25 years old and was a television presenter with WIN 4 Television in Wollongong. He was homosexual. His last known contact was with a friend in Oxford Street, Sydney, when they parted company at 2am on 22 July 1989. Mr Warren had made plans to visit friends on that weekend and when he hadn't contacted them, they became concerned. After initially telephoning police, his friends presented to Paddington Police Station and formally reported him 'missing'. Mr Warren's friends gave considerable thought as to where he may have gone and began a search of the Marks Park Tamarama area. On 23 July 1989 they located his car in Kenneth Street Bondi, very near to Marks Park. The next day, the two men returned to the area and located Mr Warren's keys in a rock 'pocket' below the cliff near the water's edge. These keys were given to police. Police subsequently searched the car finding his wallet.

Evidence was given that police initially investigated Mr Warren's disappearance and were greatly assisted by his two friends. Mr Warren's mother and family also assisted with enquiries and an appeal for information concerning his whereabouts was made through the media. Within a week of his disappearance, without Mr Warren's body being found or his disappearance explained, the senior detective co-ordinating the investigation chose to sideline the investigation by concluding "Investigating police are of the opinion that the missing person has fallen into the ocean in some manner and it is anticipated that his body will surface and be recovered. I am not able to offer any explanation as to how he would have fallen into the water, only that the area near where the keys were located is a treacherous rock formation which at present time is secreting a lot of water and moisture from recent rains. There is extensive moss and slippery sections from where experience (sic) would not be difficult to envisage slipping onto the rocks, particularly after 2am on the morning of 22 July".

Mr Warren's suspected death was never reported to the Coroner.

Gilles Jacques Mattaini was 27 years old at the time of his disappearance. He was a French National. He was homosexual. At the time he went missing he had overstayed his visa and was concerned about his residency. Whilst he was worried about his future in that regard, he was also excited about a friend who was soon to visit from France and had purchased furnishings to decorate his apartment. He lived in a flat in Bondi with another friend who had returned to France in August 1985 for a brief holiday. His flatmate was contacted in France by another concerned friend. He had been made aware that Mattaini had not presented for work. When the flatmate returned to Sydney in September, both men undertook an extensive search for their friend but it proved fruitless.

Mr Mattaini was known to take long walks along the Marks Park walking track. He would wear earphones on his walks, this item was missing from his home as well as a yellow spray jacket and his keys. Mr Mattaini would not frequent the Mark's Park area for male companionship. He was said to be shy. He was last seen walking on the track at Bondi on or about 15 September 1985. One of his friends engaged in the original search, believed the other friend had reported Mr Mattaini 'missing' to the Paddington Police Station. No report of that could be found. No police investigation was undertaken at the time and that person who allegedly report him 'missing' is now deceased. Mr Mattaini' s father was not close to his son and his mother believed it was possible that her son had 'suicided'. There is no evidence before me to support the finding of 'suicide'.

The Area

Detective Sergeant Page describes it this way. "Marks Park at Tamarama is situated on a headland between Bondi Beach and Tamarama Beach. The Park is

predominantly open space with a walkway on its eastern side travelling adjacent to the ocean front. The park is bordered by Marks Lane to the west and the area is

residential with a mi.x of detached dwellings and unit blocks. The park itself is somewhat elevated. However there are several locations where steps have been

created for easy access to the coastal walkway". Marks Park was formally called MacKenzies Point. The area is a popular walking track during the day and at night gay men will 'cruise the coastal walkway rattling keys or coins as an indication of their availability for personal contact. Some vegetation and rock formations provide a screen for the men to engage in physical contact, but mostly once a person was 'engaged' the parties would retreat to cars or homes. It was well known to everyone in the community that this was a gay beat, including the police.

The 'Beat'

Expert evidence was given at inquest into the nature of men who engaged in sex in these areas. Gay men, and men who have sex with men, frequent 'beats' to engage in anonymous free sex. There are 'beats' in all areas including country NSW. 'Beats' can differ from place to place to suit the different needs of men who frequent them. Marks Park was known as a night time 'beat' and was very busy and popular.

The 'Gav Hate' climate at the time

The inquest was told:

Gay men are more likely to be victims of violence than other male members of the community. Homosexuals in that era were not likely to report crimes of violence against them because of shame and embarrassment. They also believed Police would not respond appropriately to their victimisation.

In NSW 22% of 'gay hate' homicides between 1989 and 1999 occurred at 'beats'.

There is a disproportionate level of 'gay hate' homicides perpetrated by teenagers.

Predominately the offenders are white, Caucasian, single and unemployed.

The common cause of death was beating.

The involvement of strangers as offenders in 'gay hate' crime is significantly higher when compared to other male homicides.

Offenders often admit to a long history of violent attacks against gay men.

Motives established through 'debriefing' of offenders include prejudice and homophobia, group initiation, proving masculinity, proving they are not gay, entertainment, robbery, 'alpha male syndrome', a belief that gay men are 'soft' targets and less 'legitimate'.

1989/1990 a number of gay men were attacked and some killed in the inner city and eastern suburbs, all victims of 'gay hate' violence. Whilst a number of offenders were arrested, many of the brutal attacks went unsolved. It is fair to say that only a percentage of the brutality would have been reported to the police at that time.

On 24 January 1990, Richard Nonnan Johnson was murdered. Eight persons were convicted, five for manslaughter, three of murder.

A Thai National Mr Kritchikom Rattanajurathapom, was murdered at Marks Park on 21 July 1990, three youths were convicted of that homicide.

A comparable assault on a male at South Bondi on 18 December 1989

Another brutal assault on a male at South Bondi on 21 December 1989

The murder of William Allen at Alexandria Park 28 December 1988

The murder of Wayne Rick Tonks at Marmon 19 May 1990

The murder of Raymond Kearn at Allison Park, Randwick on 13 January 1987.

All these victims were homosexual men. All assaults and killings were unprovoked and vicious. Whilst Mr Tonks was murdered outside the 'area' he had been a schoolteacher to many of the gay hate assailants and killers. There is no doubt his murder is linked to all the other incidents.

During the 1980's and 1990's police were aware of a number of gangs of youths that were systematically engaged in the assault and robbery of gay men in Marks Park and other areas. The gangs were given identifying 'tags' by the police, and the gangs themselves adopted names that were indicative of their foul mission. Side Killers is an example. 'PSK' for Park

These gangs of misfits saw homosexual men as easy targets. The victims' lifestyles often providing a shield for the perpetrators, as they believed that their prey would be reluctant to come forward and report their attacks. The gangs believed they were 'safe'.

While many did not report to police some victims did in the hopes of identifying and

stopping their assailants.

The Police lnvestil!ations -Past & Present

The disappearance of Ross Bradley Warren was reported to police within 48 hours of

his last sighting. The investigation was co-ordinated by Detective Sergeant Bowditch,

however within the week the Detective Sergeant had effectively 'closed' any further

investigation by concluding Mr Warren dead by misadventure.

When questioned with regard to the detail of his investigation, (the now) Mr

Bowditch asserted all was done to detennine the circumstances of Mr Warren's


He was insistent that his brief of evidence was submitted to the coroner in 1990. No

brief of evidence was ever received by this office. When asked if he kept copies, he

stated copies of all documents would have been sent to Missing Persons to be kept in

a folder.

There are no photographs of Mr Warren's car, keys or crime scene. He assured the

inquest that the Scientific Section (Crime Scene) was called and attended, however he

could not nominate any officer, nor was there a record of the 'callout'.

Similarly he stated the Air Wing and the Water Police were called to examine the

area. Again records held at those Sections do not show any 'callout' to the Warren


On the one document that was located, he nominated three other officers as assisting

him in the investigation. Two of those officers deny any involvement in the

investigation, one was on annual leave at the time of being nominated.

When asked by Counsel Assisting Mr Lakatos why there were no notebooks, duty

books, statements or other documents from the earlier investigations, Bowditch

answered "After that period of time a copy would have gone to Missing Persons, I do

recall that in 1991/1992 a task force was set up by Missing Persons or the Police

Department to put on the TIM System, all records pertaining to previously missing

people. The originals that were taken by myself into Missing Persons and the Task

Force, I recall it was headed by a Detective Inspector Mal Cox. Now they put

everything on the TIM System. Records were left with them, plus a copy was left at

Paddington. Now where those records are sir, I have no idea and that included

dental charts, recent photographs of Mr Warren, which were brought down from

Queensland by his parents. Bank checks on his credit cards to see if his credit cards


had been used. All the nonnal stuff we do in an inquiry. Now where it is I have no

idea and I am appalled the department has lost it"

He's right! It is appalling that no documents allegedly struck during the course of the

investigation have been found. There were no records of any of the specialist police

Bowditch asserts he involved in the matter having been 'activated',

This state of affairs defies belief.

To this day, no documentsh aves urfaced,n or has their supposedd isappearancbee en


This was a grossly inadequate and shameful investigation. Indeed to characterise it as

an 'investigation' is to give it a label it does not deserve.

Bowditch knew that the area was a 'gay beat' even volunteering that he knew "the

goat track in Moore Park was a 'gay beat". However he paid little or no regard to the

possibility of foul play.

Almost 4 months to the day of Mr Warren's disappearance, the body of John Allan

Russell was discovered at the base of a rocky cliff at Marks Park.

Had police paid careful attention to the crime scene and the vital evidence that

presented to them, the perpetrator of that brutal act may have been identified or, at the

very least, Mr Russell's death would have been seen differently and not simply as a

result of 'misadventure'.

A 'better' investigation was undertaken for Mr Russell but it too was far from

adequate. Whilst it was known that Marks Park was an area where homosexual men

were bashed and robbed, little investigation regarding this type of activity was

undertaken into Mr Russell's death.

In fairness to the police involved, Sergeant Ingleby and Constable Scanlon had always

considered the possibility that these were more than just disappearances and more

than accidents.

Unlike the Warren case, good crime scene photos were taken of Mr Russell's body

and surroundings. In a number of the photo's a clump of hair can be seen in his hand.

Whilst evidence was given that those vital hairs were secured and bagged for forensic

testing, none was undertaken and the exhibit was lost. Disgraceful!

The police officers that should have been responsible for the safe storage of exhibits

blamed each other for its disappearance by stating the other should have been

responsible for it safe keeping. Not good enough!

Dr Alan Cala, Forensic Pathologist, gave evidence in this current inquest that it

appeared (from the photographs) that the hair did not belong to Mr Russell and

appeared to have been pulled from another person "tugged out".


When asked about the hair Dr Cala stated "MrRussell's hair is dark brown and these

hairs that I saw. but they looked, they did not look as if they would have come

naturally from M r Russell's head hair".

He continued "However I can't be absolutely sure and obviously I can't say that they

were definitively not from MrRussell, but they don't appear to be. That'sprobably

all I can say, but it's also unusual, in a case like this, and I've seen many people

who've jumped from great heights. The findings of hairs is unusual and would raise

questions with me ".

Unfortunately the significance of this appears to have been lost on the police officers.

Like the missing Warren brief of evidence, this important exhibit has never been

found nor has a satisfactory explanation been given as to the reason it was not

safeguarded at the time.

The positioning of Mr Russell's body should also have triggered some concerns for

the investigating officers.

Dr Cala was asked by Counsel Assisting, Mr Lakatos "What conclusions if any, did

you draw from the examination of the photographs which showed that Mr Russell's

head was towards the face of the cliff andhis legs were towards the sea if/can

put it that way? "

Dr Cala answered " Yes. That's an unusual position, most people that are found

around the Gap or North Head, around the cliffs of Sydney are not in that position.

They're head is facing towards the ocean and their feet towards the cliff So this is an

unusual position. What it means to me is that it's likely that this man, perhaps, his

body has twisted on the way down, rotated, in some way such that he's landed and

stayed in this position, because as I've said he hasn't moved. As soon as he's struck

the rocks he hasn't been able to move. That being the case would make me wonder

whether he's been deliberately thrown off the cliff perhaps ".

Toxicology examination of Mr Russell's system indicated a blood alcohol reading of

.255. This is a high reading and on its own could suggest Mr Russell could have met

his death accidentally, but decompositional changes in Mr Russell's body could also

account for an increased alcohol reading.

Dr Cala' s evidence supported the probability that Mr Russell was thrown from the


Mr Lakatos asked the Doctor about the sloppy-joe Mr Russel was wearing:

"Concerning the configuration of the fold in the jumper which lead you to certain

conclusion. Can you just tell us what that was?"

Dr Cala answers " Yes the sweater that he's wearing is pulled up at the back and at

the front and exposes his lower back and the lower front of his chest and abdomen. If

somebody even fell accidentally I would expect that the jersey, it looks very loose in

fact and would tend to be positioned over the belt line of the jeans, I would expect.


But it's not it is quite a long way up his body and that again makes me wonder

whether it's been actually forcible retracted in some other way by another person

The very limited earlier police investigation into Mr Russell's death does not take

these features into account.

In both Mr Warren's disappearance and Mr Russell's death there were similarities that

should have linked them in the early stages of the investigation and suggested to the

police the possibility of foul play in both deaths.

Both men were homosexual. The last place either man was prior to death was Marks

Park. Mr Russell had coins scattered near his body, Mr Warren's keys were found on

the rocks. These items were used by some men to attract attention in that area and

may have been used for that purpose by the victims. Marks Park was a known area

for brutal attacks on homosexual males. Yet investigating police believed Mr Warren

and Mr Russell met their death by 'misadventure'.

The earlier investigations into these men were inadequate and naIve. Not so the

current investigation that triggered the inquests into the death of Mr Russell and the

suspected deaths of Mr Warren and Mr Mattaini.

Not only was the investigation thorough, it was impeccable. Everything that could be

done was done. Extremely sophisticated police techniques and methodology were

used. The Detective in charge of the investigation Detective Sergeant Stephen Page

was committed and was an abundantly talented investigator.

I began my finding by stating Mr Russell's death had already gone to inquest in July

1990 and his investigation may have remained as it was.

Mrs Warren, Ross Warren's mother had continually written to the police seeking to

have the investigation into her son's death brought to a conclusion. She wanted a

death certificate to enable her to deal with his property and give the family a little

'closure'. This was never done until her last plea for action.

Her son's death could not be considered by the Coroner as the police had not reported

his suspected death. As no brief was available, his death needed to be re-investigated.

During the course of these enquiries, Detective Page noticed similarities between Mr

Warren's suspected death and a number of incidents of foul play against gay men. He

asked for appropriate resources to allow a full investigation into this and related

matters. To his credit and the credit of his Commanders, Operation Taradale was

established and an investigation plan was set in place.

I do not intend to reveal any of the methodology used during the course of the

operation, suffice to say valuable information was obtained that lead to arrests for

other matters and gave this inquest an opportunity of examining a number of persons

of interest in relation to these deaths.

As a result of media attention during the course of this inquest, a number of persons

volunteered information to police concerning the disappearance of Mr Warren. There

was an alleged sighting in South Australia and an alleged phone call to his place of


employment stating he was alive and well. Both accounts were investigated but found

to be unreliable.

No additional information was received concerning Mr Russell, however Mr

Mattaini ' s friends contacted police when they believed his disappearance my have

been related to their current inquiries. Fifteen years after Mr Mattaini' s disappearance,

his suspected death was to be investigated by police.

Given new material unearthed by Detective Page, the inquest into the death of Mr

Russell was re-opened pursuant to Section 23A of the Coroner's Act of 1980.

The Current Inauest

Evidence was taken from dozens of witnesses, police officers, victims and


The inquest was very much a 'work in motion'. Detective Page's investigation was

ongoing during the hearing. Statements were taken from many more witnesses as

they became known during the course of the inquest.

The brief of evidence as it stood at the beginning of the inquest comprised 6 lever

arched folders of statements and 276 annexures. Detective Pages original statement

was some 258 pages. Every page contained valuable and important information

crucial to understanding the circumstances of the deaths and disappearance of our


A number of witnesses were in custody, serving sentences for similar matters being

considered by the inquest. Some witnesses had been convicted of murder and served

sentences of up to 14 years. The killers of Mr Rattanajurathapom gave evidence.

Many of the witnesses were 'persons of interest' most denying any involvement in

violence against homosexual men. The evidence they gave was completely at odds

with the police intelligence gathered during the course of the investigation and whilst

it was 'possible' that some were involved in the deaths of Mr Russell and Mr Warren,

the weight of evidence was not there to support any finding in that regard.

General admissions were made by some 'persons of interest' during conversations

with family and friends. Details of Mr Russell's death and the disappearance of Mr

Warren were discussed. These brutes that prey on people are known to be cowardly

and boastful. Whilst a lay person could get quite excited about hearing one of them

boast they had some involvement in the matter, without any independent evidence

linking them to the event they could not be prosecuted successfully for any crime.

The wealth of information gathered by Detective Page and his team, however, will

provide an excellent source of evidence should other matters come to light. It is

always possible that someone will decide to tell police what they know about a

perpetrator if they feel the need. Relationships between these thugs do not always

remain 'solid'.


The NSW Police and its Gav/Lesbian Clients

Ms Sue Thompson, the former Gay and Lesbian Client Service Policy and

Programmes Officer, gave evidence the NSW Police Force had been a leader in

Gay/Lesbian Client relations in the 1990's. She established training programmes for

police and established a network of Gay Liaison Officer across the State.

She conducted training days to selected schools where issues of homophobia had been

identified. This provided a double benefit in that children were being educated to

tolerate 'differences' in others but it also provided a valuable source of 'feedback'

where police were given some insight into the thinking and actions of school based


The cuITent Gay/Lesbian Client Consultant, Mr Toolan, told the inquest that some of

the projects had stalled since Ms Thompson had been on sick leave, however he

tendered a number of documents supporting the cuITent position that the

Commissioner of Police is actively considering guidelines for the effective policing of

'beats' .

A Beat Working Group had been established to identify key stakeholders that could

be consulted when considering any policies that effect policing 'beats'. The focus of

the group was 'Beat Usage Reduction and Safety Improvement'.

The issue of 'beats' is contentious. There are many who support their existence, there

are those that cannot understand the need for them given the improving attitudes of

the community towards homosexual men.

One witness, a gay man, gave this evidence regarding 'beats': "My philosophy is very

simple. A lot of gay guys don't agree with me but I believe it's all over red rover.

You know the days of going and doing beats, searching for partners and that is

dangerous, risky business and I'm not saying that people who go there deserve any

sort of retaliation but I'm saying we need to take responsibility for our own behaviour

and I think the message needs to go out loud in the gay community, which I am a

part of. I believe that we need to look at these things and say okay these are the

problems, right, we need to send the message out that we shouldn't be going down to

these parks because its too dangerous. With all good intentions the police officers,

many of them, are trying to do their best with limited education on how to deal with

the problem. "

His sentiment is simple and sensible and I agree that homosexual men should be

discouraged from attending 'beats'. They are exposed to treacherous individuals that

prey on victims for 'sport'. Policing 'beats' is also problematic.

'Beats' are however a 'given' in any community. Police must be aware of the

problems associated with them and the violent criminal behaviour that they attract.

Policing 'beats' is not simply an exercise in gay client and police relationships, it

must have a strong operational focus for the reduction of crime and the safety of

individuals using those areas for whatever purpose.


Evidence was given that at the time of these disappearances and the death of Mr

Russell, police attitude to gay victims was far from satisfactory. In fact some offences

went unreported because it was felt that police would judge the victim and nothing

would be achieved.

The families of Mr Warren and Mr Russell were not pleased with the police response

to their own cases. Mrs Warren could not get police to deal with her son's

disappearance affectively. Mr Russell's family felt somewhat abandoned without

feedback as to the progress or otherwise of their own investigation. Neither family

would have been given the impression that their loved one was important enough to

warrant a proper investigation.

One witness gave an account of approaching the police after his own victimisation

only to be told that the police would not be involved in 'domestics'. He said there

was a commonly held view in the gay community that "If there was a homosexual

assault or a murder it wouldn't get the same privilege as so called heterosexual

assault or murder".

There is no doubt that that was the belief in the gay/lesbian community, hence the

reason for the NSW Police to set up policies and programmes to bridge any gap

between those communities and the operational police.

The same witness who is critical of some operational police acknowledges there are

some hard working and decent officers that do make a difference.

Given the disgraceful investigation into Mr Warren's suspected death and the

completely 'lack lustre' investigation into Mr Russell's demise, it would not be

unreasonable for the gay community to believe that as a group they do not warrant

proper police attention. It is hard for the NSW Police Force to be seen as progressive

and equitable when some officers fail in their duty to the community they are meant

to serve.

Detective Sergeant Page is a member of the same Constabulary and he is a shining

example of how investigations should be conducted and the sensitivity and

compassion that is often needed when dealing with persons who have been

'marginalised' .

As Counsel for the Commissioner of Police, Mr Saidi said in his closing submission:

"The climate which then existed, which was a climate I think no one in society could

really be proud of, and that is the culture of gay hate, a gay hate crime. The Police

Service, whatever defects it may have suffered from during that period, was no more

than a reflection of it (sic) was exhibiting the broader values and principles of the

then society. Much I think to the credit of the Police Service and other government

instrumentalities over the years, rather than being a mere reflection of society's

values, I think it fairly could be said that they're taking affinnative action to indeed

change society's view".

There is no doubt that the NSW Police has made significant improvements to the

many issues raised during the course of this inquest eg it attitude to gayflesbian crime,

case management and proper and timely investigations.


There is need, however, for recommendations to ensure the work currently being

undertaken continues.

As Coroner I can only make recommendations that can be implemented by a person

or organisation. I cannot make recommendations to change community attitudes

towards homosexuals or for homosexuals to abandon the use of 'beats'.

All I can do is urge communities, through my finding, to regard any victimisation of a

gay man or lesbian as completely abhorrent and not to be tolerated.

No one deserves to become a victim. A lack of judgement or discretion should not

invite brutality, nor should we as a decent society turn away from anyone needing

help and understanding.

Don't think for one moment that this type of crime is only visited on homosexuals.

One man gave evidence of his own brutal attack by a gang of young 'gay bashers'

when he was walking home from a night out with friends. He was not gay but very

much heterosexual. It was simply a matter of him being in the vicinity of North

Bondi, the wrong place at the wrong time.

Young thugs that gang up and visit their hate on any individual deserve to be 'brought

to heel' as quickly as possible.

One witness who had served 12 years for the murder of Mr Rattanajurathapom spoke

of his own victimisation as a child by a friend of the family, a paedophile. He said

"Basically what it was with me, ] was a victim for years, and then one day ] sort of -

you know when you turn into a teenager the honnones kick in, you fill out a bit, you

grow up and, sorry about the language, but] said' Fuck this, ] am never going to be a

victim again No one is ever gunna hurt me again' ] was filthy on the world.

Because] was raped and bashed by a man for years, so therefore] thought, okay this

bloke here was a man he had sex with another man even though it was another

human as a male, so me not having the social skill or the education back then, or the

mentality or whatever to differentiate -] couldn't differentiate between paedophilia

and homosexuality" Of gay men he said "] hated them with a passion. "

When he spent time in prison he made friends with some gay prisoners and realised

that, as he put it "Sexuality doesn't make someone who they are ".

I have deliberately not named civilian witnesses in my finding. These courageous

individuals who had been victimised came forward to tell their stories at inquest.

Unlike many of the 'persons of interest', they were honest and forthright and their

accounts were chilling.

Compare the accounts of a victim and the accounts of the 'suspects'.

The Victim: "They grabbed me and they started to call me names, 'poofter' and all

the rest of it and they just started bashing me and they kept saying to me 'Don't look

at our faces'. And I was actually face down at the time. The best, to my knowledge I


remember is trying to protect my face' cause I had an interview the following week"

"them just attacking me, hitting me, kicking me ". " Two main people and I remember

them. They were the ones doing a lot of talking and everyone else in the group was

like standing around watching and I remember the girls, I remember seeing the girls.

Watching and laughing and still to this day it runs through my mind that they could

sit there and do that".

He believes the assault lasted 15 to 20 minutes. They were pulling his shoes off and

his clothes. His earring was ripped out and his signet ring was lost. "They started to

drag me around. I was on the ground and they were literally dragging me. I don't

remember much, I blanked a lot of that part of it out. I remember from when it started,

the bashing and everything started, I don't remember much. I remember at the end, I

remember getting away, I remember running, I remember screaming for help, I

remember the comments coming from the units They had a stick in their hand

and they kept saying that they're -excuse my expression -'shove it up my arse', and

that petrified me even more"

As he was being dragged, one of his assailants said 'I'm going to throw you over the

side" At the time that was said the victim had been dragged to the top of the cliff face.

The victim escaped to his unit where he waited for police and a friend to arrive.

When he was running for his life and screaming for help a voice from a nearby unit

yelled back at him "['m not helping no poofter".

The Offenders:

These are accounts of some of the 'persons of interest' for gay hate related crime.

"I threw a fag off the cliff at Bondi I've jumped on blokes head you wouldn't

believe were always going out bashing fags"

"We were walking jump up and look in the bushes, just see em going for it. Oh

you dirty man. And they would just keep going. 1 went Doh, screamed at them. They

just have been that involved in it they blocked out all the noise. The waves were

heaps big and it was freezing l had my new Boks from America on that day too, 1

had blood all over 'em went up and 1 go Oooo come up and grabbed a

handful of hair and went, Dirty fuckin' maggot He should have gone went off the

cliff that night but he didn't we went down and put a cigarette butt out on his


When asked why he 'bashed fags' one assailant said "Something to do mate. Mate [

made fuckin one, one guy [ bashed [got fuckin 1300.. .he was doing a bank run, bank

run, taking money to the bank. Stopped him, smashed him, fuckin jumped on his head,

went out to his car, looked at his briefcase.. it for the fucking money mate. ['ts

not's a sport in Redfern Oh it's a fuckin hobby mate. What are you doin

tonight boys? Oh, just going fag bashin "

Further accounts of assault on gay men "Them cunts copped a bad hiding, two of em

did anyway we were jumping off the roof of his car onto his head, mate. His head

was on the gutter"


Many of the Marks Park victims that reported to police told of hearing their assailants

threatening to throw them off the cliff face. There is no doubt that at the time of Mr

Warren's and Mr Mattaini' s disappearance and Mr Russell's death that this was a

Modus Operandi of some gay hate assailants. This strongly supports the probability

that Mr Warren, Mr Mattaini and Mr Russell met their deaths this way.

To make a finding that each of these men were victims of homicide, I must be

satisfied to the 'Briginshaw' standard of proof that one or more persons were

responsible for their deaths. That standard of proof is slightly higher than the usual

'balance of probabilities'.

I am comfortably satisfied that I can make the finding of 'foul play' in relation to Mr

Warren and Mr Russell, but I cannot make a finding that Mr Manttaini met his death

at the hands of another person or persons. The persons of interest that may have been

responsible for the deaths of Mr Warren and Mr Russell would have been far too

young at the time of Mr Mattaini' s disappearance in August 1985.

I can however bring in a finding of 'death' for Mr Mattaini, but where and how he

died remains unknown although there is a strong possibility that he died in similar

circumstances to the other men.


I find that Ross Bradley Warren died in Sydney on or about 22 July 1989. Whilst

the causea nd manner of death are unknown, I am satisfiedt hat the deceasedw as a

victim of homicide perpetrated by person or persons unknown.

I find that John Alan Russell died at Marks Park, North Bondi between the 22 or

23 November 1989. The cause of death is multiple injuries sustained when he was

thrown from the cliff onto rocks, by a person or persons unknown.

I find that Giles Jacques Mattaini died on or about the 15 September 1985 in

Sydney. The cause and manner of his death remain undetermined as the evidence

before me does not enable me to say.


That the Minister of Police and Police Commissioner:

.Ensure that all Missing Person reports are investigated in a timely and

proper manner

.Ensure that Missing Person cases considered 'suspicious' deaths are to

be referred for criminal investigation

.Ensure that all Missing Persons be reported to the State Coroner after a

reasonable period of time after all routine investigations have been


.Undertake a review of the current case management and monitoring

systems to ensure that all investigations are pursued with due diligence


..... .

Review procedures in relation to the collection and retention of physical

evidence and exhibits relating to unsolved homicides and any deaths

reportable to the coroner

Review procedures in relation to tracking exhibits sent to other areas for

forensic testing or examination

Consider training Rescue Squad personnel in the use of crime scene

cameras and techniques for securing bodies and exhibits in rock

creviceso r other areasi naccessibleto other police

Review procedures in relation to the recording of possible causes of

death at early stages of any investigation in order to minimise erroneous

or lazy conclusions based on incomplete information

Reinforce the requirements of the Charter for Victims Rights where

Victims of Crime are entitled to be given information concerning their

investigations in a timely fashion, and that all Victims of Crime are to

be dealt with compassionately

Audit outstanding homicides and suspected deaths to ensure

investigations are active and ongoing. Where investigations have stalled

these matters are to be referred to the State Coroner for his


Reintroduce the Gay Liaison Officers 'in service training' programme

Ensure all Local Area Commanders are aware of 'beats' in their areas

and promote the needfo r crime prevention strategiest o minimise risk

Promote the use of 'Standard OperatingP roceduresfo r Policing Beats'

within each Local Area Command

Develop and implement the 'Beat Usage Reduction and Safety

Improvement Project'

MagistrateJ acquelineM . Milledge

Senior Deputy State Coroner

9 March 2005



MATTHEW WADE   - Sydney Star Observer

There was a dark time in Australia’s recent history when same-sex attracted men were assaulted and killed while cruising for sex at beats at an alarming rate. And while many perpetrators were convicted and sentenced, a handful of cases remain unresolved to this day. Matthew Wade revisited the murders and spoke to those who were closely tied to them.

It was night.

The jovial banter between eight teenage boys pierced Sydney’s summer air like a cast of falcons. They were shooting hoops on an inner-city basketball court.


When the air grew stale, one member suggested they visit the public toilet in Alexandria Park to find a telephone number that had been crudely scrawled on one of the cubicle walls – gay men looking for discreet sex were easy prey.


A phone was dialled, the call was answered.

And like clockwork, as Richard Johnson parked his car nearby and walked over to the toilet block in search of his mystery hook-up, the group of teenage boys ran towards him and knocked him to the ground with one blow.

The boys, now known as the Alexandria Eight, then took turns punching and kicking his head and body until he was left fatally wounded on the ground.

It was 1990, and when interviewed by detectives the following month and asked why the attack was carried out, the eldest of the boys simply replied: “because he was a fag.”

Between 1989 and 1999 there were 46 known gay hate murders that took place in New South Wales, with an additional 30 that remained unsolved and have only been revisited in recent years.

Assaults were even more frequent, with 1990 seeing 38 gay-related beatings reported to the Surry Hills and Kings Cross police in one month alone.
Same-sex attracted men were hunted by bigots as sport.

They were mainly carried out at beats in places like Bondi and Tamarama. Beats provided an ideal site for the violent perpetrators: they were secluded, they were often frequented after the sun had set, and they had a magnetic pull for many same-sex attracted and curious men.

Opening a queer rag and reading an article about a gay hate crime became commonplace, a morbid signifier of the increasingly dangerous times gay men and lesbian women were living in. And each new case was no easier to digest.

Thai student Kritchikorn Rattanajaturathaporn was found wedged in the rocks at the bottom of a sea cliff at South Bondi.

John Russell was similarly found dead in a rock pool at the bottom of a 12 metre cliff at Bondi Beach, a popular beat at the time.

And Garry Webster was found dead in a Campbelltown motel with the word “poof” cut into the bloodstained mattress.

Rattanajaturathaporn was murdered by the Tamarama Three, comprising brothers David and Sean and their friend Matthew, who were all sentenced to twenty years in prison.

A school friend of theirs made a statement at the committal hearing, saying one had boasted about what he’d done shortly after the crime.

“[The defendant] came up to me and said, ‘guess what? We beat up this slap [Asian],’” she said.
He continued on, saying “see the blood on my shoe – I was kicking him in the head.”

When Peter Rolfe discovered his missing partner Stephen’s car, empty and parked at a beat he used to frequent, he was mortified.

“Stephen used to do beats quite often and I used to do them with him, but it did surprise me he was murdered at one – he’d always been so fearless,” Rolfe told the Star Observer.

“After I’d discovered he was missing I was driving past Deep Creek Park and I remembered that Stephen used to go there, so I drove in to check.”

As soon as he found the car he phoned the police, who took Rolfe to the station before searching his house to make sure he hadn’t been keeping Stephen tied up somewhere himself.

For months Stephen’s body had vanished, until 21-year-old Richard Leonard stabbed a taxi driver at Collaroy Plateau, not far from the beat where Stephen had gone missing.

“The detective in charge was looking over into Deep Creek which you could see from there and he made a comment to his partner about that,” Rolfe said.

“Soon after a torso washed up at Pittwater, and through a DNA test they discovered it was Stephen, and that he’d been shot with a bow and arrow.”

Witnesses then came forward to tell police that Leonard used to hang around Deep Creek with a bow and arrow.

Leonard had fired an arrow into Stephen, killed him, dismembered his body, and kept it in a freezer for four months.

He then dumped the body parts into the sea.

Rolfe said finding his partner that way and being surrounded by so many assaults and murders at the time was horrifying.

“I was threatened at a beat in Collaroy in the early eighties,” he said.

“I was always very careful, you had to be careful.

“Five or six kids came in, led by a much older kid and I just told them to fuck off.”

Despite his partner’s case being resolved, and the perpetrator caught early on, Rolfe said he can’t express just how important it is now for the police to work on resolving the unsolved cases.

He currently runs a support group for homicide survivors called Support after Murder, through which he also does a lot of lobby work.

“We’ve been lobbying the NSW Police Force and the government to increase the rewards for unresolved homicides,” he said.

“It currently averages around $150,000 but we’re aiming to push them to $1 million.

“It’s very important… we just want to be able to pay anyone with information around the identities of the people who committed these murders.”

The beat murders had begun to amplify by the time Ulo Klemmer became a beat officer with ACON in 1988.
His role was to hand out condoms and chat with men that were cruising about sexual health and HIV at the beats around Western Sydney.

He said despite the gay hate murders becoming more prevalent at the time, there were still a number of people at risk who may have been unaware.

“Some people knew, and some people didn’t, it depended how attached to the community you were,” he said.

However, Klemmer said when it came to beats, an awareness of the risks or danger involved in cruising at night wouldn’t deter many same-sex attracted men from visiting.

“I think testosterone takes over at a beat, the worry goes out of it and the need [for sex] becomes more important than the worry,” he said.

“You take risks you wouldn’t normally take, it’s kind of dangerous.

“One of the conditions of our job was that we worked in pairs, because we were working day and night.”

As the nature of his job involved going from beat, to beat, to beat, Klemmer naturally had a small handful of dealings with the tragic murders that occurred.

The year that he started working as a beat officer, the body of Scott Johnson was found at the base of a cliff at Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches.

He had been completing his PhD, happily living with his partner in Sydney, and had made an amazing leap forward with his research that he was ready to tell his professor, whom he’d booked in a time to see.

The NSW Police ruled his death as a suicide.

“The sergeant with Manly Police at the time brought up that the area was a beat when we spoke about it, but publicly always denied any knowledge of it being a beat at the time,” Klemmer said.

“They dismissed it as a suicide.

“That’s why years later when I got a call from a U.S. investigator asking me if I’d put that knowledge in a stacked deck, I did.”

A street watch violence monitoring project in undertaken by the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and Counselling Service found that children as young as ten were hunting in packs, and responsible for some of the assaults against gay men and lesbian women.

It found that in six per cent of beatings, the age of the attackers was between 10 and 15, and 43 per cent were carried out by people between 15 and 20.

It was the many beatings and murders perpetrated by young schoolchildren that motivated Sue Thompson to reach out to high schools in her role co-ordinating the gay and lesbian liaison program in the Sydney Police in the nineties.

Gay teacher Wayne Tonks was brutally murdered by two 16-year-old students from Cleveland Street High School, after he had received threats and school and had his house ransacked.

In response Thompson and the Sydney Police’s gay and lesbian liaison officers ran three full days of workshops at the school the students were from.

“I took in a panel of 20 gay and lesbian people and kids could ask questions,” she told the Star Observer.

“It was the first time anything like that had ever been done in a school, it was an incredibly huge step forward.

“It had only been six years since homosexuality was decriminalised in NSW so there was a lot of resistance to dealing with these issues… I’d always bring it down to violence, and say you’re encouraging a culture where violence is okay, where teenagers are picking on innocent gay men.”

Thompson does admit that huge changes have taken place since then, and she hopes justice will be brought to the many unresolved cases to ensure families and loved ones can be brought out of the dark they’ve been in for the past two decades.

“It’s incredibly important that justice has been done when the most injustice has been done,” she said.

Unsolved murders in spotlight

The Unsolved Homicide Unit has introduced new strategies to increase their capability to revisit and reinvestigate.

Mr Warren, 24, was last seen driving along Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, on 22 July 1989 after socialising with friends. His keys were found two days later on rocks below the cliff top at Marks Park, Tamarama, and his car was located nearby. 

His body was never found but police believe he was likely the victim of gay hate-related crime.

Also among the first 20 cases to be reopened is the investigation into the death of 23-year-old Rachelle Childs, whose partially-burned body was located in a shallow ditch near Gerroa On June 8, 2001.

The fresh probes come after the Homicide Squad reviewed the way it approaches and prioritises unsolved cases.

State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mal Lanyon said the squad had since consolidated all matters and reclassified their investigations dating back to 1972 into four categories: unsolved, unresolved, undetermined and resolved. 

The matters in the first three categories are being assessed under a new framework, which then provides clear guidelines for prioritising to undergo the new review process, Mr Lanyon said. 

That allows for a bi-annual follow-up and indefinite monitoring for developments in the case, new lines of inquiry, and partial and full re-investigations. 

Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, said the new process will draw on the expertise of specialist detectives from across the Force to conduct formal case reviews. 

“While the Unsolved Homicide Unit is a finite resource, the Force has a wealth of investigators whose skills can be harnessed to increase our capacity to put fresh eyes on cold cases,” Det Supt Cook said. 

 “All matters, including new matters as referred by the Coroner, are classified into the respective category for prioritisation on a database, before being referred to a reviewing officer. 

“The formal reviews will be conducted by – or under ongoing liaison with – the Homicide Squad.” 

“The rolling reviews will allow us to continually strengthen relationships with victim families through regular and informed communication,” Det Supt Cook said. “We are committed to ensuring the most effective and efficient allocation of resources in order to maximise our capability to provide justice for victims and answers to their families.”





'Violence towards gay men accepted': inquiry reveals details of Ross Warren's suspected murder

Justice was not carried out during the investigation into the suspected death of Wollongong television presenter Ross Warren because of an acceptance of violent crime towards gay men at the time, the finding from a Parliamentary inquiry has revealed.

An Upper House committee inquiring into Gay and Transgender hate crimes between 1970 and 2010 released its report on Tuesday.

Mr Warren, 24, was last seen driving along Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, on 22 July 1989 after socialising with friends. Mr Warren's keys were found two days later on rocks below the cliff top at Marks Park, Tamarama, a known gay beat. His car was located nearby. Mr Warren's body was never found but police believe he was likely the victim of gay hate-related crime.

From the 1970s gay men were found slain in parks, homes or washed onto sharp rocks below Sydney's secluded gay beats during a violent and dark period of the city's history. 

Chair of the inquiry Shayne Mallard, said the report provided the families, friends and community members of victims with the opportunity to share their experiences with the Parliament and seek a sense of justice for the victims.

The committee found that "a prevailing acceptance of and indifference towards violence and hostility directed at gay men principally during the period prior to the mid-1990s impacted on the protection of and delivery of justice to victims of hate crime, including but not limited to Alan Rosendale, Scott Johnson, John Russell and Ross Warren".

The committee has requested the new NSW Parliament re-establish the inquiry.

The report follows calls from the community for a parliamentary inquiry into at least 88 murders of gay and transgender people between 1970 to 2010, of which almost 30 remain unresolved.

During the inquiry, the committee received evidence that within a week of Mr Warren's disappearance that the detective sergeant investigating the case chose to ‘sideline’ the investigation, concluding that Mr Warren had likely fallen or slipped into the ocean given the ‘treacherous’ rock formation in which his keys were found.

The committee also heard that in 2001, former NSW Police Force Detective Sergeant Steve Page, found the notes in the police incident's record appeared to have been written after the initial report, ‘almost [like] a response to the [media] attention it was getting back in that era’.

In 2005, a coronial inquest was held into Mr Warren's suspected death. No copy of the documents sent to Missing Persons, nor any photographs of Mr Warren’s car, keys or the crime scene were included in the detective sergeant's brief of evidence given to the Coroner.

The Coroner ruled Mr Warren's death a homicide and found the police investigation into it to be ‘grossly inadequate and shameful’.


‘Break your silence’: Gay hate crime inquiry appeals for information


Q News

A New South Wales inquiry into dozens of historical hate crimes against LGBTIQ+ people has called for anyone with information to come forward.

Led by Supreme Court judge John Sackar, the Special Commission of Inquiry is looking at the unsolved deaths in the state between 1970 and 2010.


The deaths occurred during a spate of brutal bashings and murders across Sydney that terrorised gay and trans people for decades.

The inquiry is set to start its first public hearings in October.

Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Gray SC says it’s vital any family members, friends or members of the public with information make contact.

“Any recollections or pieces of information that you might have, however major or minor, could provide a vital link in understanding what happened,” he said.

“In some cases, it may ultimately lead to arrests and prosecutions.

“Justice in these cases has been long-delayed, and long-awaited.

“This may be the last chance for the truth about some of these historical deaths to be exposed. We need to hear from you.”

Gray also called for anyone who may have committed crimes, or been involved in them, to come forward.

“If you’ve had something weighing on your mind for years about these things, now’s your chance to do something to make some amends,” he said.

“Now is the time to break your silence.”

Information can be submitted anonymously by email, post or through the commission’s website.

Hate crime inquiry has reviewed 100,000 documents

The NSW government launched the Special Commission of Inquiry in April. It has extensive powers including the authority to compel witnesses to give evidence and also obtain documents.

A team of barristers, solicitors and investigators has obtained and analysed more than 100,000 documents from 40 years of police files, coroners’ files and other sources ahead of the first public hearings.


Justice Sackar will deliver a final report in June 2023.

The Special Commission of Inquiry was a key recommendation of an earlier parliamentary inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes.

That inquiry acknowledged a “prevailing acceptance of and indifference” to violence against gay men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s led to failures of justice for many victims.

NSW Police Force also “failed in its responsibility to properly investigate cases,” the inquiry found.

Earlier this year, Sydney man Scott White was convicted of the murder of gay man Scott Johnson in 1988 in a stunning breakthrough.

In some other cases, police have offered rewards for information on other suspected “gay hate” deaths, including newsreader Ross Warren (pictured above), barman John Russell and French national Gilles Mattaini.

In June a permanent memorial to victims of gay and trans hate violence was launched with a ceremony at Mark’s Park in Bondi.

NSW Government Inquiry into LGBTQ hate crimes seeks public information

 Posted on  by  in City Hub



Gilles Mattaini, a French national living in Bondi was last seen by a neighbour near Marks Park, a well-known gay beat in Sydney, in September 1985. He was not reported missing until 2002. In 2005, a coroner determined that Mattani was dead and was probably murdered like television presenter Ross Warren and gay bar man John Russell, who were killed at the same gay beat some years later.

Wendy Wayne Brennan, a transgender drag performer, was found dead in her Darlinghurst Road apartment, hit over the head with a heavy object and shot twice in the head in April 1995.

These are just a few of the 88 unsolved murders of gay men and transgender women in a 40-year period, with many of the incidents dating back to the early 1980s to mid-1990s.

A Special Commission of inquiry into LGBTQI hate crimes, that was set up by the NSW government in April 2022, issued a public appeal for information on Tuesday. The special commission headed by Justice John Sackar is looking at the 88 unsolved deaths that were considered by NSW Police Force in its 2018 Strike Force Parrabell report and by a 2021 Parliamentary committee.

Unsolved Deaths And Missing Persons Cases

“As well as looking into those cases, the Special Commission is also assessing many other unsolved deaths and missing persons cases over the same period, in order to cast more light on a dark period for LGBTIQ people in this state,” the commission said in a statement.

The inquiry commission has its task cut out for it and is presently analysing over 100,000 documents, comprising police files, coroners’ files, and other information spanning over 40 years.

According to Peter Gray, senior counsel assisting the inquiry, the commission is also looking for any information from the public, including, family and friends of the victims and witnesses.

“Any recollections or pieces of information that you might have, however major or minor, could provide a vital link in understanding what happened. In some cases, it may ultimately lead to arrests and prosecutions,” Gray said in a statement.

“Justice in these cases has been long-delayed, and long-awaited. This may be the last chance for the truth about some of these historical deaths to be exposed. We need to hear from you.”

Last Chance to Speak Up

In May 2022, Scott White was convicted and jailed for the murder of US national Scott Johnson, who was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near Manly’s North head in December 1988. White was arrested last year after his ex wife came forward to report that he had boasted about bashing gay men in the 1980s. White admitted his guilt before the court.

Earlier this month, 76-year-old Melbourne man Stanley Early was charged with the suspected “gay hate” murder of Raymond Keam in a Sydney Park in 1987.

The commission is hoping that its public appeal for information will lead to witnesses or even the accused coming forward with information out of guilt.

Gray appealed to anyone who might have witnessed or participated in these killings of LGBTQI people to come forward.

“If you have had something weighing on your mind for years about these things, now is your chance to do something to make some amends. Now is the time to break your silence,” said Gray.

The commission is scheduled to hold public hearings in October-November 2022, with further hearings in the first half of 2023. Justice Sackar is expected to deliver his final report to the Governor on or before June 30, 2023.

If you have any information about the anti-gay and anti-trans hate crimes that occurred between 1970 and 2010 in NSW, you can contact:

If you feel distressed reading this story, you can reach out to support services. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.