NSW Government Inquiry into LGBTQ hate crimes seeks public information

NSW Government Inquiry into LGBTQ hate crimes seeks public information
Image: The deaths of Wendy Wayne Brennan, Ross Warren and Gilles Mattaini are among the 88 unsolved deaths of gay and trans women in NSW between 1970 and 2010. Photo: Star Observer.


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.

Some of the victims of gay hate crimes in Sydney between 1970 and 2010. Photo: Star Observer.

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.

Scott White (right, in handcuffs) was arrested in 2021 for the 1988 gay hate murder of American mathematician Scott Johnson (left). Photo: Star Observer.

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.

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