Stephen Dempsey was killed by an arrow fired by Richard Leonard.
Stephen Dempsey was killed by an arrow fired by Richard Leonard.

‘Fall victim killed by serial sexual sadist’

THE suspected bashing death of a man by a serial sexual sadist is being reviewed following an investigation into gay hate murders.

The death of Bill Rooney, 35, which was originally written off as a fatal fall, is one of five gay hate killings and a possible 14 more now with NSW's Unsolved Homicide Squad.

They are among the 88 deaths that occurred between 1976 and 2000 which were highlighted by researchers as being potentially gay-hate motivated and have been investigated by Strike Force Parrabell.

The investigation came against a background of claims that the investigations may have been affected by homophobic attitudes among police officers.

The investigation, by police and academics from Flinders University, will be released today and has found no evidence that the murders were not properly investigated because officers were biased against the Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ) community.

Stephen Dempsey’s murder was identified by Parrabell as having no gay-hate links.
Stephen Dempsey’s murder was identified by Parrabell as having no gay-hate links.

But Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell said yesterday the initial investigation into the death in 1986 of Mr Rooney in Wollongong was flawed.

Police now believe he was the first victim of a serial gay rapist who was later convicted of bashing 12 men with rocks and then sexually assaulting them. The man was jailed for attempted murder, sexual assault, kidnapping and assault.

A 2002 reinvestigation by police ended when the Director of Public Prosecutions ruled there was insufficient evidence for the man to be charged with Mr Rooney's murder.

"I don't think that Mr Rooney's death was fully investigated. More could have been done (in 1986)," Mr Crandell, the force's corporate sponsor for sexuality and gender diversity, said.

The report found that while some pockets of cultural bias existed in the police, as it did in society at the time, there was no evidence that impacted on these investigations.

"We need to acknowledge that we do at times get things wrong and that's the only way we can move forward, Mr Crandell said.

'If we fail to have a thorough, ethical and professional investigation into even one death, we let down the entire community."

Of the 88 murders, 63 were solved with 30 of those identified by Parrabell as having no gay-hate links including the 1994 death of Stephen Dempsey who was killed by an arrow fired by Richard Leonard at gay beat off the Wakehurst Parkway on the northern beaches.

Jailed for life, Leonard, who as a boy mutilated and killed kittens, was found to have fired indiscriminately at other people.

Mr Rooney had suffered a fractured skull and was died in hospital six days after he was found semiconscious in Crown Lane, Wollongong.



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