More than 30 years after police concluded John Russell accidentally fell to his death near Bondi beach, it’s now believed the 31-year-old was a victim of a fatal gay hate attack.

His death is one of three being examined this week by a New South Wales special inquiry into LGBTQ+ hate crimes.

Russell, a barman, was last seen alive during farewell drinks with friends at Bondi hotel on the evening of 22 November 1989.

He was preparing to travel around Australia and build a home for his family in Wollombi in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney.

“In the words of his best friend, he was looking forward to the best time of his life and everything was looking up for him,” assisting senior counsel Peter Gray told the inquiry on Wednesday.

His body was found the next morning at the bottom of Marks Park between Bondi and Tamarama.

The reserve was well known as a gay beat and, from the mid-1980s, a place where gay men were assaulted.

Police considered the death as accidental and no attempts to further investigate the matter as a homicide were made after 1990.

Human hairs were found on Russell’s left hand, which could have suggested the presence of another person.

When his brother, Peter Russell, was called to Glebe morgue to identify the body, he said the hairs belonged to someone else given “they were too long and the wrong colour”.

The strands were taken for analysis but subsequently lost and no forensic analysis was ever performed.

Gilles Mattaini also disappeared near Marks Park. The 26-year-old Frenchman lived in Bondi and was last seen walking there in September 1985.

Walking around the beachside, including along the scenic coastal path from Bondi to Bronte, was one of his favourite pastimes.

skip past newsletter promotion

The track went around Marks Park but Mattaini was not a user of the gay beat, according to his partner, Jacques Musy.

Friends became concerned when Mattaini failed to show up to work at the Menzies hotel and went searching for him.

Musy was in France visiting his sick father at the time of the disappearance.

“The flight back to Sydney was the beginning of a never-ending nightmare,” he said in a statement. “Sleep was my only respite before waking up to the daylight nightmare instantly crushing my mind and my heart again.”

No report was made to police and no investigation was conducted. Mattaini’s body was never found.

Oral submissions will be presented to the inquiry regarding the death of newsreader Ross Warren, 25, on Thursday.

The NSW special inquiry has been examining the unsolved deaths of 88 gay men between 1970 and 2010. The 12th block of hearings in the long-running inquiry concludes this week.

The commissioner, supreme court justice John Sackar, will deliver a final report in August.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *