lawyers say forcing a child into a sex act wasn’t indecent assault in the 1970s


Former archbishop Phillip Wilson’s lawyers say forcing a child into a sex act wasn’t indecent assault in the 1970s

How disgusting is this, I cannot fathom why this is so apart from getting old disgusting pedophiles off. I wanted to be a lawyer once, until I discovered I might get clients like this wretched snake belly

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Lawyers appealing former archbishop of Adelaide Phillip Wilson’s conviction for covering up child abuse have argued that convincing a child to perform a sex act did not constitute indecent assault in the 1970s.

Wilson was convicted in May of concealing the indecent assault of a boy by paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the Hunter region of NSW.

The court found that in 1976 the victim confided in Wilson that he had been sexually abused, yet Wilson failed to report it to police when Fletcher was charged with other child sex offences in 2004.

Wilson is currently serving a minimum sentence of six months’ home detention, but is persisting with an appeal of his conviction.

Today in the District Court in Newcastle the defence argued that Wilson could not be convicted of concealing indecent assault, because the sex act described under 1970s law was an act of indecency and not an assault.

Wilson’s defence barrister Stephen Odgers SC said “unattractive as it is, there is no indecent assault” when you invite a child to perform a sex act.

“Under the law there is no assault in those circumstances,” he said.

The victim of the assault, Peter Creigh, has previously given evidence that he was “made” and “forced” to perform sex acts on Fletcher as a form of punishment while serving as an altar boy.

Mr Odgers argued this did not necessarily constitute assault in the 1970s.

But Newcastle District Court Judge Roy Ellis said that regardless of whether there was an application of force, the sex acts described would be deemed as assault even by the limited legal standards of the 1970s.

“I don’t think, in this case, that this is going to be a problem for the prosecution,” he told crown prosecutor Helen Roberts.

“You have some problems, but this isn’t one of them.”

Within its appeal the defence also argued Wilson may not have remembered the information in 2004, he may not have known the information could have assisted police and that he may have had a reasonable excuse not to come forward with the information.

The prosecution will finish giving its submissions tomorrow and Judge Ellis said he expected to deliver his verdict next Tuesday or Wednesday, at which time Wilson would be required to attend.

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Bourke St attacker shot by police


Bourke St attacker shot by police in Melbourne dies in hospital after one killed, two injured in stabbings – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


Bourke St attacker shot by police in Melbourne dies in hospital after one killed, two injured in stabbings

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Video: Police were confronted by a knife-wielding man after responding to a car fire. (ABC News)

A man shot by police after stabbing three people in Melbourne’s Bourke Street has died in hospital.

One of the stabbing victims died of his injuries, while two are in hospital.

Police shot the man in the chest after he charged at them with the knife.

He was taken to hospital in a critical condition and kept under guard before succumbing to his injuries.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told a press conference tonight the attack was being treated as an act of terrorism.

“From what we know of that individual, we are treating this as a terrorism incident.”

He said the attacker was known to “federal intelligence authorities” as well as to Victoria Police.

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Video: Police say the suspect has died in hospital and they are treating the attack as a terrorism incident. (ABC News)

“He’s known to police mainly in respect to relatives he has that are certainly persons of interest to us.

“For operational matters we now have the counter-terrorism command and the homicide squad dealing with this matter, and there are ongoing investigations being conducted by the counter-terrorism command,” he said.

Mr Ashton said police were conducting “security reassessments” in relation to several events in Melbourne scheduled for the weekend; an A-League soccer match between Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners on Sunday, and Remembrance Day events.

“At this stage we’re still encouraging people to go to those events, and it’s highly likely we’ll have additional police at all of those events,” he said.

Bystanders confronted attacker with chair, shopping trolley

Witnesses told the ABC a car sped down Bourke Street and crashed after missing a tram.

Video taken by witnesses shows a car on fire in the area and bystanders using a shopping trolley and chair to confront the attacker.

The video shows the man attempting to slash police officers with a large knife before falling to the ground.

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Video: Witnesses capture a car fire on Bourke St, Melbourne (ABC News)

One witness said the driver got out of the car and threw “something like a bomb” inside before it erupted into flames.

An eyewitness said someone walked up to the alleged driver and was stabbed directly in the chest.

Witnesses said the man began randomly stabbing people in the street. Two police officers were on the scene quickly and confronted the man.

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Video: Police say one person has died after the stabbing attack. (ABC News)

Victoria Police Superintendent David Clayton said when police arrived at the scene they were confronted by a man brandishing a knife and threatening them.

“At the same time, passers-by were calling out that members of the public had been stabbed.”

In a later statement, police said the man assaulted police, fled on foot, then was shot while lunging at police with the knife.

Officers said they were initially called to a car fire around 4:20pm (AEDT).

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade said the fire was contained within 10 minutes.

Twitter: Meegan May tweets: Chaos in #bourkest as a guy seems to have set his car on fire then attacked police with a knife. Police response was swift and overwhelming. I heard at least one gunshot initially.

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A caller to ABC Radio Melbourne, Meegan, said she saw the incident from a tram.

She said she saw two policemen trying to subdue a man as a car burned.

“He seemed to be waving something, people around me screamed that he had a knife, but I couldn’t see clearly from where I was,” she said.

“And then I heard one loud bang. It sounded like a gunshot.

“And someone said they could see someone doing chest compressions on someone as an ambulance started coming up the street.”

Another witness, Markel Villasin, told ABC Radio Melbourne he ran out of the store he was working in after hearing there was a fire and found himself next to an injured man.

“Turned out there was an old man in front of me, literally by my feet. He was facedown, facedown, and there was a lot of blood,” he said.

“I was already stepping on his blood.

“There was a lot of bystanders trying to help him out. They didn’t know what to do because obviously in that situation it is pretty crazy.”

Mr Villasin said bystanders were yelling out “just shoot him, just shoot him,” while police officers were trying to disarm the attacker.

Police are asking members of the public to avoid the area.

“Anyone with information or who witnessed the incident is asked to go to Melbourne West Police Station to make a statement,” a police statement said.

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Video: Witnesses describe how the attack unfolded. (ABC News)

Trams are not running along Bourke Street or Swanston Street in either direction.

Twitter: Daniel Andrews tweets: Thank you to the Victoria Police officers who responded so bravely

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Premier Daniel Andrews tweeted, urging people to avoid the area and follow the instructions of emergency services personnel.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy tweeted:

“Today, more than ever, we offer our thanks to Police and first responders for the unbelievable work they do for all of us.”

Topics: fires, disasters-and-accidents, melbourne-3000

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The Keli Lane tapes: From prison, a murderer breaks her silence


abc.net.au

The Keli Lane tapes: From prison, a murderer breaks her silence

By Caro Meldrum-Hanna with Elise Worthington, Jaya Balendra and Julia Pursche

It’s not every day you receive a handwritten letter from a convicted baby killer asking you to reinvestigate their case.

But that’s exactly what happened in 2016 when Keli Lane penned me a letter from Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre, where she’s currently serving an 18-year sentence for the murder of her two-day-old baby girl Tegan. The infant’s body has never been found and the case against Lane was circumstantial.

Lane, a former water polo champion turned private school teacher from Sydney’s affluent northern beaches, has never spoken publicly. She maintained her silence throughout a coronial inquest and her murder trial.

Her letter to me was entirely unsolicited.

An extract of the handwritten letter Keli Lane sent to investigative journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna

She wanted me to apply an investigative journalist’s blowtorch to her claims, warts and all.

Why? Because Keli Lane says she’s innocent, that Tegan would now be 22 years old, that she’s out there somewhere, and that the man who she handed Tegan over to is out there as well. But Lane has also been found to be a serial liar.

Do you know more? Contact exposed@abc.net.au

Investigative journalist Elise Worthington and I decided to delve into this confounding case for the ABC’s new documentary series Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane, to test her claimed innocence, and to analyse the police investigation and the murder trial.

Over the course of several months, Keli Lane rang us to discuss her life and her case. We never called her, and Lane consented to her calls being recorded and published.

No topic was off limits.

CONTEXT During the 1990s, Lane fell pregnant and gave birth to three secret children

CM-H: What was that like Keli those final moments with Tegan just mother and daughter alone?

KL: It was awful… because I’d been there before and I knew how much it hurt. It was just so difficult to just make this decision again and basically to write myself out of it.

CONTEXT During the 1990s, Lane fell pregnant and gave birth to three secret children

CM-H: Can you remember what she looked like…

KL: (cuts her off) I was kicking myself too, why am I here again?

These phone conversations were extremely difficult to manage.

Firstly, they were largely unpredictable. Keli Lane could call at any time on any day. Following confronting or upsetting conversations, would we ever hear from her again?

Prison rules also limited phone calls to a maximum of six minutes duration, meaning the pressure was high.

So what did we learn about Keli Lane? What were the forces that shaped her? Why did she do the things she did?

Lane grew up in the 1980s on Sydney’s northern beaches. Tall, tanned and athletic, she was known as the local golden girl and is about as far away from a murderer as you can imagine.

She came from a highly respected family, her father Robert Lane was a policeman and coach of the local rugby team while her mother worked at the local hospital.

Keli showed an early talent for swimming, beach sprinting and surf lifesaving competitions but became a talented water polo player, spending years competing on state and national teams during the 1990s.

But her private reality was very different to her public persona. Behind the champion athlete’s public image was a deeply troubled young woman who was terrified of disappointing her parents and was extremely secretive.

In one revealing conversation, she explained in her own words how she had been conditioned to compartmentalise and ignore physical and psychological pain.

CONTEXT Keli Lane’s parents told Exposed they were completely unaware of her pregnancies

CONTEXT In her murder trial, prosecutors argued Lane had an overriding ambition to represent Australia in water polo at the 2000 Sydney Olympics

I was excellent at putting things into boxes and parking them because I had been, from a very young age, able to be different things for different people and trying to please people and I trained from a very young age and so I was under coaches from a very young age and taking direction and being able to put my emotions aside.

CONTEXT In her murder trial, prosecutors argued Lane had an overriding ambition to represent Australia in water polo at the 2000 Sydney Olympics

When things hurt, when you are training at 8, 9, 10 years old and physically you’re hurting you put that aside because you want to please your coach you want to please your parents you want to please the people who expect everything from you and your emotions really don’t come into it.

CONTEXT Keli Lane’s parents told Exposed they were completely unaware of her pregnancies

So I was excellent at hiding how I felt and what was hurting me

The incredulous moments in the Keli Lane case are many and varied. She’d been found to have told a litany of lies over several years to hide the fact that she’d fallen pregnant five times, had two terminations and given birth to three children during the 1990s, all before she’d turned 24.

She put her first and third child up for adoption, but Tegan disappeared without a trace the day Keli Lane left hospital with her in September 1996.

The fact Keli Lane told so many lies about the birth of her children made it hard for us to separate fact from fiction. She sprinkled truth among the lies.

I set a bit of a litmus test at the very beginning, when she rang us.

The test was this: if Keli Lane arced up and denied that she’d told all those lies, then I knew we were dealing with someone who was largely incapable of telling the truth and unable to face up to her conduct.

But she did the opposite. She agreed and accepted she was a serial liar and gave her own reasons for her behaviour.

CONTEXT Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi told the jury in Lane’s murder trial that she told 95 lies to cover up three secret and unwanted pregnancies

CONTEXT Lane was found guilty on three counts of making a false statement on oath in relation to her adopting out two other babies

CONTEXT Lane was 17 years old when she fell pregnant for the first time.

I was hurting, it wasn’t an enjoyable time, I wasn’t doing it light-hearted.

Those decisions affected me and they still affect me and they were important decisions.

The lies were around the shame or the embarrassment or the humiliation of the life I was leading no different to any other young person that makes silly choices or is covering up a part of their life.

CONTEXT Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi told the jury in Lane’s murder trial that she told 95 lies to cover up three secret and unwanted pregnancies

CONTEXT Lane was 17 years old when she fell pregnant for the first time.

But certainly by the time the police were involved, I’d been accused of making numerous lies, and some of them were from fear, from being pushed into a corner and not knowing the position I was in, not understanding the seriousness of what I was involved in.

CONTEXT Lane was found guilty on three counts of making a false statement on oath in relation to her adopting out two other babies

Lane might have accepted she lied and made mistakes, but she strongly denies she harmed her baby daughter.

Those closest to Keli Lane think the bizarre chain of events which consumed her life began in 1992 when, in her final year of high school, she became pregnant and had an abortion.

The only person she told was her boyfriend at the time. After this experience, Keli Lane never told anyone again she was pregnant.

People have always wondered why Keli Lane kept falling pregnant and having babies, with her sex life and her “promiscuity” becoming public fodder.

But she’s never been asked to explain it.

CONTEXT A psychiatrist who reviewed Lane’s pregnancies for the court in her trial found her actions represented “an attempt to gratify underlying emotional and psychological needs”.

I think It was something that just got out of control. I don’t know whether it was almost like a sabotage thing, or a self-harm thing.

I don’t think I consciously did.

CONTEXT A psychiatrist who reviewed Lane’s pregnancies for the court in her trial found her actions represented “an attempt to gratify underlying emotional and psychological needs”.

I certainly didn’t think, “Oh, I’m going to go out and do that again.”

I’d be crazy, literally, but I just think it was a carelessness and a lack of self-protection, and wanting to be with someone and wanting to have a relationship, and then drinking a lot. Drinking, and not using the pill correctly, or not asking my partner to use protection, and not having control I think, is the biggest thing.

Is not having control of the situations I was in.

I really didn’t understand the long term consequences for anybody. Friends, family, especially myself. I just shut down.

Lane had three concealed pregnancies and births between 1995 and 1999. We know that concealed pregnancies aren’t a crime and they do happen. But multiple concealed pregnancies? That’s rare.

Just how a young woman could manage that without anyone noticing, is difficult to understand.

You’d think that the concealment was extremely difficult to do. But Keli Lane told us the opposite of what we were expecting to hear.

CONTEXT Lane’s former teammates who noticed she was pregnant have expressed regret for never having confronted her about it.

CONTEXT Rugby player Duncan Gillies was Lane’s partner at the time. He maintains he was unaware that she gave birth twice during their relationship

CM-H: How did you conceal it? Was it a hard thing to do?

KL: Do you know what? I don’t even remember really putting that much effort into it.

It was like, of course, avoiding people was probably my biggest attempts. I was very good at isolating myself, so wherever everyone was going, I might only go for a little while, or I was going between training, work, home, Duncan’s, so I was really good at dodging everyone.

CONTEXT Rugby player Duncan Gillies was Lane’s partner at the time. He maintains he was unaware that she gave birth twice during their relationship

But I didn’t go and buy extra clothes, or I didn’t do anything outrageously different.

I don’t even know how it happened like that.

I don’t know how no one ever said anything to me.

CONTEXT Lane’s former teammates who noticed she was pregnant have expressed regret for never having confronted her about it.

To understand why she was making these decisions, we needed to understand the sort of community and society Lane was growing up in.

Girls who grew up with her have told us there was a lot of “slut shaming” back then in the northern beaches, it was a cliquey and gossipy place. On top of that was a highly competitive, sexually charged sporting and drinking culture, with some questionable dynamics between older men and younger women.

This phone call captured my attention because it felt like Keli Lane for the first time expressed some uncomfortable home truths about being a girl growing up in that environment.

CONTEXT Lane told us she would have 30-year-old men asking her out when she was 15 or 16

CONTEXT Lane went on to describe a culture of hazing, which she said was part and parcel of joining sporting teams in her time

As long as you won and you were successful, other things didn’t seem to matter.

It seemed that as long as you trained hard and played hard, you could celebrate hard, and that’s generally when these sort of incidences would occur.

CONTEXT Lane told us she would have 30-year-old men asking her out when she was 15 or 16

These out of control situations, especially getting into positions with men, or choosing to have sex with men, a lot of alcohol’s involved, and it all stems from being out of control.

CONTEXT Lane went on to describe a culture of hazing, which she said was part and parcel of joining sporting teams in her time

But none of this explains what happened to baby Tegan.

When police finally questioned Lane years after the birth of Tegan, she told authorities she’d given her daughter to her natural father, a man named Andrew Norris, with whom she had a brief affair.

She said after telling him she was pregnant he agreed, along with his girlfriend and mother, to take the baby. Keli’s version of events surrounding the birth of Tegan has changed over time but she says Tegan’s father, Andrew, came to the hospital and took custody of the baby in the foyer on September 14.

Lane said she remembered that crucial day very clearly. But the police and prosecution say her version of events was a fabrication and that she instead left the hospital and murdered Tegan in an unknown way and disposed of Tegan at an unknown place.

CONTEXT Lane initially told police the father’s name was Andrew Morris, a man from Balmain in Sydney’s inner west, who she claimed to have had an affair with for several months. She later said his name was Andrew Norris

CONTEXT Lane maintains she did not kill her daughter and says she hopes someone will come forward with her. Tegan would be 22 years old.

CM-H: Do you remember… What’s your last image of your daughter Tegan?

KL: She’s so beautiful and just, she’s asleep and she was tucked in this … she looked so little tucked in this capsule. I was very upset, I was crying, and Andrew was with …

CONTEXT Lane initially told police the father’s name was Andrew Morris, a man from Balmain in Sydney’s inner west, who she claimed to have had an affair with for several months. She later said his name was Andrew Norris

Mel and his mother were on the other …

When we went downstairs in the lift it was like a foyer area and there was a lot of chairs. They’d obviously been sitting in the chairs waiting and they stood up as we approached. And just as that feeling of, “Is this the right thing to do?”

I looked at them and, not to judge, but I didn’t know them. And I did have that moment of:

“Maybe I could just take her. Maybe I could just do it myself.”

But just so painful.

CONTEXT Lane maintains she did not kill her daughter and says she hopes someone will come forward with her. Tegan would be 22 years old.

Lots of people, including Keli’s own family, have found this story difficult to comprehend. A casual sexual partner, the girlfriend that he cheated on and his mother coming to take a baby from a hospital.

The phone had just cut out on our call, when she rings back it felt like there’s a different version of Keli Lane on the phone.

When she was describing saying goodbye to her baby she was emotional. But now, she’s composed and collected. It sounds like she’s recalling a story she’s thought about many times before with lots of detail.

CONTEXT Prosecutors argued Lane probably left via a fire escape and avoided the nurses station.

CONTEXT Hours later Keli Lane attended a friend’s wedding with her then boyfriend Duncan Gilles.

CONTEXT The taxi driver who Keli Lane says picked her up from Auburn Hospital has never been found.

CM-H: After you handed Tegan over to, you say, the natural father and his family.

KL: Yup.

CM-H: What did you do next?

KL: Well they left before me, they walked out and I stood there a minute, two minutes and I was very upset, and then I went out…straight out the…electronic doors or whatever they are. You know they pulled back. They pulled back, I walked out and just to the right I think it was there was sort of like a driveway type thing. And I just jumped in a cab and I said, “Venus Street, Gladesville”.

CONTEXT Prosecutors argued Lane probably left via a fire escape and avoided the nurses station.

CONTEXT The taxi driver who Keli Lane says picked her up from Auburn Hospital has never been found.

The cab was white.

I can’t tell you about like the signs or decals, but what I do know is that when we stopped at Venus Street I didn’t have enough money. And I had to run inside, and he said to me, “I’ll wait out the front love.” And I ran inside and took the money out of Duncan’s brother’s room. And it was all coins, it was in a cowboy boot he used to have. And I took all the coins out and ran it back.

CONTEXT Hours later Keli Lane attended a friend’s wedding with her then boyfriend Duncan Gilles.

Lane is clearly very good at compartmentalising and pushing down emotion and getting on with things.

So much was made in the media about Lane’s steely, emotionless demeanour when she’d come and go from court every day.

Her tough appearance seemed to defy what society expects of a woman and a mother and she was dubbed by the press as “the girl with the Mona Lisa smile”.

But Lane took me by surprise one day when she rang to discuss the years her life went off the rails, starting when she was 19 years old.

KL: A lot of personal issues and emotions around that slice of my life, those choices I was making, and it probably sounds selfish, but I feel really sorry for that person.

[gasping crying]

CM-H: Like you see it as a different girl or?

KL: I just feel it just put myself through so much pain and I hurt a lot of people in the process and I don’t feel good about that.

There is no forensic evidence linking Keli Lane to the death of baby Tegan and her body has never been found, but circumstantial evidence led to the conviction for murder.

Keli Lane believes she’s been wrongfully convicted, but all her attempts to appeal against her conviction have failed.

The only avenue left for Keli Lane is a judicial review of her conviction, or if fresh and compelling evidence is found.

Watch the first episode of Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane on iview

Credits:

  • Reporting: Caro Meldrum-Hanna, Elise Worthington, Jaya Balendra and Julia Pursche
  • Digital Production: Mark Doman
  • Development: Nathanael Scott
  • Design: Alex Palmer
  • Header image: Dean Lewins, AAP

Frank Arkell-A look back at his murder and filthy secret life over decades


Frank Arkell: How a vicious murder unmasked a city’s darkest secrets

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WARNING: This story contains graphic details that readers may find disturbing.

It was the death that could have pushed Wollongong over the edge.

In the late 1990s, the New South Wales city had become a cesspool of corruption and abuse involving civic leaders and Catholic priests, and was in the grip of a heroin epidemic, its streets littered with needles.

Then, 20 years ago on June 26, 1998, the gruesome bashing murder of former Wollongong lord mayor and state MP Frank Arkell helped break the curse that had dragged the steel city to its darkest depths.

Known as Mr Wollongong, Arkell, who was lord mayor from 1974-1991, had proudly coined the phrase ‘Wonderful Wollongong’ to describe the place he loved to work and play.

To many in high places he was the city’s saviour, but to others who knew his dirty secrets, including his predilection for young boys, he was a ‘rock spider’ who deserved what was coming to him.

‘I wanted to kill someone that day’

Arkell’s murder at the age of 62 came exactly a fortnight after the garrotting and decapitation of 59-year-old gay man David O’Hearn.

O’Hearn happened to live a few houses away from 19-year-old unemployed man Mark Valera — who was found guilty of both murders — in Albion Park, south of Wollongong city.

Police evidence revealed Valera posed as a gay man to gain access to Arkell’s West Wollongong home.

Once his quarry turned his back, Valera picked up a lampshade and hit his victim over the head with it more than 40 times.

Valera, who was wearing work boots, also kicked Arkell hard in the ribs, attacked his head with a glass ashtray, and strangled him.

Once the former mayor was dead, Valera punctured Arkell’s cheek and eye with badge pins found inside the home.

O’Hearn’s murder had been similarly brutal, verging on satanic.

His head had been cut from his body and his arm sawn off and used to draw a pentagram and an inverted cross in blood on the wall.

His body was cut down the front with a knife and his intestines removed.

“I had it in my mind that I wanted to kill someone that day,” Valera later told police. “I was really angry.”

A ‘very horrible’ man’s sickening demise

When asked later why he killed Arkell, Valera said he knew he was a paedophile.

“He is a very, very horrible man,” he said.

Southern Highlands-based police inspector John Klepczarek was an acting sergeant at Lake Illawarra at the time and remembers going to both crime scenes.

“The O’Hearn murder is by far the most gruesome I have ever come across in my career in the NSW Police,” he said.

“Considering what kind of tragedies and murders we have seen in the Illawarra, that is saying something.

“The mental state of the person who committed those crimes I can’t even begin to imagine. The time and effort to commit those crimes, it was absolutely horrific.”

Valera was found guilty of the murders and sentenced, in December 2000, to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment, never

Dirty old town

Steen, a proud gay man who today runs a tea shop and theatre company in Wollongong, knew Arkell “quite well”.

“Being in the arts and community sector we came across Frank all the time and I have to say when you meet Frank, [he was a] charming, lovely person to talk to, very good at hiding what he was up to in his private life,” he said.

“You can’t deny Frank did a damn good job at promoting the town, but you can’t deny that he also did a good job at smudging its name on the way out.”

For Steen, Wollongong in 1970s and ’80s was a dangerous place.

“I myself was beaten over the head and left for dead in a creek bed just for what I was wearing, so you kept quiet and you kept everybody else’s secrets,” he said.

There were well known gay beats operating where hoons would turn up to bash so-called ‘poofters’ for fun.

In a city peppered with many Catholic Church-run schools, there was also the dark scourge of child sexual abuse, which authorities all too often turned a blind eye to.

“I can tell you as an absolute fact that it did happen in one school because I was a victim of it, and I was only eight at the time,” Steen said.

“And all they did was just move the priest to another school where he did exactly the same thing all over again.

“Thankfully he is behind bars now.”

The royal commission that broke the stranglehold

Well before the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse came the Wood Royal Commission into Police Corruption, which was extended to investigate paedophilia.

It was a massive undertaking.

Starting in June 1995, it ran for 451 hearing days with evidence from 902 public witnesses, and cost an estimated $64 million.

The royal commission investigated claims Arkell and retired judge David Yeldham were potential paedophiles.

Arkell’s secret life preying on young boys did not become public until five years after he left public office, when state MP and anti-paedophile campaigner Franca Arena effectively outed him in state parliament.

She asked whether Arkell was W1, who was under investigation by the Wood Royal Commission for having sex with underage boys.

It set off a spiral of controversy that turned Arkell from a man who could do no wrong to a person widely despised and verbally attacked.

Yeldham took his own life in November 1996, while Arkell, who denied the allegations, was virtually forced into hiding before he had the chance to clear his name in court.

“Once the Franca Arena allegation became public, the charges then became public,” said Glenn Mitchell, honorary senior fellow in history at the University of Wollongong.

“Had he not been murdered in June 1998, some time in 1998 between June and December he would have been before a judge and jury in Wollongong Court defending the allegations and the charges against him.”

Probe uncovered rats’ nest

Some of the other names associated with paedophilia in Wollongong at the time included former mayor and businessman Tony Bevan, alderman Brian Tobin, parish priest Father Peter Lewis Comensoli and former Edmund Rice College principal Brother Michael Evans.

Bevan — reputedly known in paedophile rings as ‘Commander Hook’ — was investigated by the Wood Royal Commission three years after his death from cancer in 1991.

Tobin killed himself just two hours after being interviewed by investigators from the Wood Royal Commission paedophile team in 1996.

Evans also took his own life in Rockhampton in 1996.

“It was a sad time, a dark time, and with what was being uncovered in the Wood Royal Commission there was a feeling the place was pretty well evil,” current Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery said.

Current mayor counselled ‘delusional’ Arkell

After the Arena bombshell, Arkell’s life started to rapidly slide downhill.

“Several graffitists had put ‘W1 equals wanker’ and other words that I can’t repeat painted on his front fence,” Dr Mitchell said.

“He was the subject of several prank calls, one of whom was Mark Valera, his eventual murderer.”

It was around this time a new Uniting Church minister assigned to work in Wollongong’s Church on the Mall and its associated food kitchen catering for those living rough met Arkell.

That minister, Gordon Bradbery, who is now the mayor, said he found the retired politician “delusional”.

“I sat with him for quite a while and was convinced he was heading towards full-blown dementia.”

The Mayor said the Catholic Church had had an immense influence on the city when he arrived in 1996.

“There were locations in Wollongong where we had intense power in the Catholic Church. It could control the narrative,” he said.

He said the shackles of the past were thrown off in part by the Wood Royal Commission, but also the later ICAC inquiry into sex for development at Wollongong Council and the growing influence of the university.

Path to redemption

The city’s transformation, brought on by the necessity to progress past a narrow reliance on ever-shrinking industrial base, opened Wollongong up to greater scrutiny from the outside world.

“What I think probably opened it up more than anything else was the work of the university, just the fact that people were coming in here and asking questions and expecting a higher standard of accountability, transparency and good government,” Cr Bradbery said.

This extended to the moral behaviour of its citizens, with murder and paedophilia scandals doing little to enhance the image of Wollongong as a desirable location.

The Wood Royal Commission and association media publicity helped bring the skeletons out of the closet, but many still feel even now it remains a work in progress.

“[Royal commissions] are a wonderful part of the process, but unfortunately I don’t think they go far enough, because there are still people at the top covering their tracks,” Steen said.

The murders of Arkell and O’Hearn at the hands of Valera were not the only murders going on at the time — they were simply the worst of a very bad lot.

A bizarre additional chapter of the double murder played out when Valera’s sister, Belinda Van Krevel, pleaded guilty in 2003 to soliciting her boyfriend Keith Schreiber to murder her father Jack Van Krevel while she was pretending to sleep in the adjoining bedroom.

Schreiber, now imprisoned for life, was also the best friend of Valera.

The murder triangle serves as a reminder of how things have changed for the better and the need to remain vigilant against secrecy and complacency.

For Dr Mitchell the journey has been a difficult but necessary one.

“We have come along a very gut wrenching and torturous journey, but I think the destination we have reached is probably a better destination than anyone could have dreamed of,” he said.

Topics: murder-and-manslaughter, history, crime, wollongong-2500

RSL Thieves deep in the pig trough-Now the inquiry


  • File photo: NSW Veterans’ Affairs minister David Elliott (left) and NSW Police Superintendent Mark Walton (AAP)

Allegations of financial misconduct in the NSW RSL’s fundraising arm will be investigated by an independent inquiry.

Retired Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin will head the inquiry, to be announced by the NSW government later on Monday.

The NSW branch has been plagued by a series of financial scandals and allegations of fraud.

In December the state government referred former NSW RSL president Don Rowe to police over claims he used his corporate credit card to withdraw $200,000 in cash.

NSW Veterans Affairs Minister David Elliott made the referral after reviewing a damning interim report into claims senior figures at the NSW branch were stockpiling millions of dollars in consultancy payments instead of spending it on veterans.

The allegations had already sparked NSW Police fraud and Australia’s charities watchdog inquiries.

On Monday Mr Elliott told Fairfax Media: “Based on the emails, letters and conversations I have with veterans around NSW, as well as their sub-branches, there is overwhelming support for the government to intervene.”

“We want to clean up the mess and make sure it never happens again,” Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said.

Mr Elliott and Mr Kean will address media on Monday afternoon


RSL NSW chief defends Anzac attendance
RSL NSW president John Haines has defended his decision to defy a state government request to not participate in Sydney’s Anzac Day commemorations.

NSW RSL spent $93,000 defending ‘homophobic attack’
The chief executive of the NSW RSL has described a decision to spend $93,000 defending a senior executive accused of vilifying a gay veteran as disappointing.


Ex-RSL NSW boss ‘spent $475k on expenses’
Senior RSL NSW figures received more than $2.5 million in “consultancy fees” from the organisation’s aged-care arm, an auditor’s report has confirmed.


Our site still under threat by pathetic anoms


Struggling with attack

IM A BLOGGER NOT A SOLICTOR. ANY HELP WOULD BE GREAT.

i HAVE THE ENTIRE SITE SAVED UP TO THE DAY…Sorry about caps I look down to type.

Our 3 sites are

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Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale charged with extortion amid CCC investigation


Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale has been arrested and charged with extortion amid an investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).

Mr Pisasale was arrested by the CCC this afternoon in Ipswich and was taken to the Brisbane police watch house where he was formally charged with extortion and two other offences.

The CCC said the investigation was ongoing.

Prior to being charged, acting Ipswich Mayor Paul Tully said he and his colleagues were shocked by Mr Pisasale’s arrest.

“As I understand it, these are strictly personal matters — have nothing to do with the Ipswich City Council,” he said.

“It is a matter for Paul and his legal advisors and the Queensland judicial system.

“We had no warning that this could happen, but the city must go on and we’re going to provide positive leadership into the future,” Cr Tully said.

“Our sympathies do go out to Paul’s family who are obviously very concerned at this difficult time.

“I think people will still remember Paul whatever happens as the person who put Ipswich on the map, did a lot of economic development for the city.