Operation Parrabell has begun, a taskforce of 8 police officers who have been given the duty of reopening just short of 100 files spanning from the 1980’s through to the 2000’s which may potentially have been gay hate crimes. The cases, which were all originally deemed to be suicides or accidents, are being reviewed with a fine toothed comb, looking for any indications of prejudice or bias in the investigation methods.
Among those noted is the death of Ross Bradley Warren, a 31 year old homosexual whose file was closed within a week of his disappearance, being deemed a “death by misadventure”. His friends had alerted police when he failed to show up at one of their houses as planned. His car was discovered, and his keys were eventually located amongst some rocks below a cliff. His wallet was still in his car.
The Coroner’s office noted that no information or evidence had been forwarded on to their department and questioned the Detective Sergeant investigating the matter. He insisted that he had forwarded all the documentation to the department in 1990 and that copies would have been sent to missing persons. No copies were found. Further, no photographic evidence of the crime scene exists, no call-outs by water or air were logged, despite the Detective-Sergeant’s insistence that there had been attendances by both. On the minimal documentation which was found, the three other officers that had been nominated as being involved denied involvement, with one of them even being on leave at the time of the investigation. All of this information was uncovered in a Coroner’s Inquest conducted in 2005. (see- http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2005/coroners-report.pdf )
There are plenty of other cases in which evidence was lost, misplaced or simply ignored or not collected from the victims in each case.
It will be interesting to see what new results the taskforce will bring to these cases and whether this will bring some small amount of closure to the families of the victims.
In a time where equality is of the utmost importance, it is crucial that if any past wrongs can also be corrected, then they should be looked into. The taskforce is a step in the right direction.
By Kaela Carter, Solicitor.