SAD SCENE: The smouldering aftermath of the Oakdale Guest House fire in 1990.
SAD SCENE: The smouldering aftermath of the Oakdale Guest House fire in 1990. Supplied

$250,000 reward still on offer for 29-year-old crime

TWENTY-NINE years after a fire gutted the Oakdale Guest House in Milford St, Ipswich, killing five people, a $250,000 reward is still on offer for the arsonist's arrest.

Desmond William Bemi (59), Trevor Joseph Ganter (64), Salvatore Mario Tusa (41), Edward Turner Boyne (80), and Eldred Frederick Glode (68) died in the early-morning blaze on December 29, 1990.

In 1992, a 22-year-old Churchill man was charged with murder and arson. But, two years later the Director of Public Prosecutions discontinued the charges.

Police then re-opened the cold case in December 2007 and made a new push for information. In May of 2008, the State Government announced the $250,000 reward.

The reward notice states: "The Minister for Police, Corrective Services and Sport has approved a reward of $250 000 be offered for information which leads to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the arson of the Oakdale Guest House, Ipswich on 29 December 1990 which resulted in the deaths of five occupants.

"In addition, an appropriate indemnity from prosecution will be recommended for any accomplice, not being the person who actually committed the crime, who first gives such information. The allocation of the $250 000 reward will be at the sole discretion of the Commissioner of the Police Service.

"Any member of the public with information which could assist Police or know the identity of the offender is asked to contact Criminal Investigation Branch, Yamanto, Phone (07) 3817 1365 or Crime Stoppers, Phone 1800 333 000."

 

PLEA: Relatives and police appeal for information after the reopening of the case in 2008.
PLEA: Relatives and police appeal for information after the reopening of the case in 2008. Supplied

Police had hoped the reward would break down the "code of silence" surrounding the tragic case but 11 years on the families of the deceased are still seeking some resolution.

At the time it was one the largest rewards on offer for an unsolved crime in Queensland, in line with the rewards offered for missing persons cases for the Sunshine Coast's Daniel Morcombe and Ipswich's Sharron Phillips.

These amounts have since been surpassed by $1 million rewards that are now on offer in cases like the disappearance of William Tyrrell in 2014.

Today there are 115 cases in Queensland offering rewards, ranging from amounts of $10,000 to $500,000. The total value of rewards on offer in the state is more than $26 million.

Police are reluctant to comment on the information rewards might bring to an investigation, or how much is paid.

However, in response to a Government Information Public Access request, 7NEWS.com.au found that, in 2018, seven reward applications were made and $300,000 paid.

It was a dramatic increase from just one application in 2017 and a payout of $60,000.



CLOSING IN: Furious storm, hail less than hour from Gympie

premium_icon CLOSING IN: Furious storm, hail less than hour from Gympie

Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce damaging winds and hail

Gympie company that went bust owing $8m to be 'laid bare'

premium_icon Gympie company that went bust owing $8m to be 'laid bare'

The financial affairs of the company will be laid bare in court

GALLERY: Gympie lads shine in 34-7 thrashing of Coolum

premium_icon GALLERY: Gympie lads shine in 34-7 thrashing of Coolum

'The black and gold outfit scored five tries in the first half'