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A review of cold cases going back to the late 1980s has delivered some shocking findings

Strike Force Parrabell, a joint initiative between New South Wales Police and academics from Flinders University, has concluded that at least 27 out of 88 suspicious deaths, some dating back to the late 80s, were as a result of homophobic hate crime.

This includes the case of Crispin Dye, the former manager of rock band AC/DC, who was beaten to death in December 1993. Although witnesses reported seeing three youths fleeing the scene with Mr Dye’s wallet, any suggestion of a hate crime being committed was not pursued by New South Wales Police.

Crispin Dye, beaten to death in 1993

Others who are now thought to have been victims of hate crimes include John Russell, 31, and 25 year old newsreader Ross Warren who were likely to have been severely beaten before being thrown off cliffs in 1989.

A host of other cases, variously attributed at the time to suicides, robberies gone wrong or accidents are now agreed to have been the result of homophobic assaults, many of which took place in the wake of the panic over the AIDS crisis.

French national Gilles Mattaini was last seen walking near Marks Park in Sydney’s east in 1985 before he vanished.

Scott Johnson, who was found dead on the rocks below North Head’s gay beat in 1988, is also a suspected victim.

His death, like many others, was ruled a suicide by an early inquest. But Strike Force Parrabell saw enough evidence to rule homophobic attackers may have thrown or chased him off the cliff.

News South Wales Police are currently considering issuing a formal apology.

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Rob Harkavy

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