‘Chilling’: Judge heading hate crime inquiry slams NSW Police

Hate crime inquiry head judge John Sackar, Police Commissioner Karen Webb and Crispin Dye
Images (clockwise from left): ABC News, Supplied, NSW Police

The judge heading New South Wales’ gay and trans hate crime inquiry has accused NSW Police of “shambolic” record-keeping and an unsatisfactory level of cooperation.

The landmark inquiry is examining unsolved deaths in NSW between 1970 and 2010 which may have been LGBT hate bias crimes.

After months of hearings, a final report from the inquiry is due at the end of August.

But the inquiry has been disrupted as hearings were delayed due to mismanagement of evidence and “eleventh hour” production of documents in some of the cold cases.

New evidence in ’93 murder of AC/DC manager

The unsolved bashing murder of longtime AC/DC manager Crispin Dye (above top right) in Darlinghurst on Christmas Day 1993 is one such case.

There’s a $100,000 reward for information on Dye’s death.

This week, the inquiry heard three police probes and a coronial inquest failed to send Dye’s jeans and shirt for forensic examination.

The inquiry heard bombshell new evidence had been found. Two pieces of paper were in the shirt. One had a name and phone number and the other had a blood stain.

But they sat in an evidence box for 30 years and investigators never considered them.

“Evidently these pieces of paper hadn’t been previously noticed,” Senior counsel assisting Peter Gray said.

“The police failure up to now to find these pieces of paper is very unfortunate to say the least.”

Moreover, a day before the Crispin Dye hearing, NSW Police provided 261 additional pages of documents the inquiry requested 13 months before.

Peter Gray claimed the “haphazard” handling and belated production of material was a continual problem and “a real concern to the community”.

“[It] does not permit the inquiry to have confidence that all available material in relation to the cases under consideration has been produced, even now,” he said.

“There is something seriously wrong with the way that cases and exhibits are managed by the NSW Police Force and by the unsolved homicide team within the NSW Police Force.”

He said the subsequent delaying of the hearings had an immeasurable impact on loved ones expecting to attend.

‘Intolerable and unprofessional’

Justice John Sackar also lashed NSW Police over the issue that he said was “undermining” the inquiry’s work.

The judge also formally ordered senior police to answer questions on the “extraordinary” delays and inadequate storage of material.

“It’s intolerable and it’s unprofessional,” he said.

He said a police letter only recently informing him of “the number of possible repositories where documents might exist” was “chilling”.

“Why couldn’t all of those repositories have been determined in April, May, June or July last year?” he asked.

“Is it a lack of imagination? Was it a lack of curiosity? Or is it just plain ineptitude?

“How can any member of the public be confident that unsolved homicides can be looked at, if need be, if you have no idea where the documents might be in relation to each case?”

Counsel for NSW Police Mathew Short said NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb acknowledged the significance of the issues.

A NSW Police spokesperson added to ABC News senior police would respond to the inquiry at the appropriate time.

“The NSW Police Force reiterates their full support of the Inquiry and has dedicated significant resources to the task,” a spokesperson said.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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