Persons unknown brutally bashed local socialite Gary Venamore after a night out, throwing him unconscious into the Brisbane River to drown in 1968. Was Gary bashed to death in an attempted robbery? Was it a poofter bashing? Did his gaydar fail him that night and he ended up dead because of an unappreciated advance? In the second part of our What Happened to Gary Venamore? series, QNews Magazine takes a deeper look at the circumstances surrounding Venamore’s death.
Gary Venamore came from a well known Kangaroo Point sporting family.
He still lived with his mother in the house he grew up in, while life events were celebrated in the nearby Wesleyan Methodist (Uniting) Church where he sang as the featured boy soprano as a child.
His father died earlier in 1968. Gary worked as a travel agent for Dalgetys, the multinational agricultural conglomerate.
Socially prominent as a committee member of the annual Bushwhacker’s Ball, a highlight of the Brisbane ball season (and distinct from the Bushwhacker’s Balls run by Dame Sybil Von Thorndyke in later years), a criminal might assume Venamore carried a lot of cash. He did not.
After a few drinks, he would, according to Detective Ross Beer, “make approaches to people,” people meaning men. Peter Cotterell, who knew Gary, said of him, “An amiable drunk, but all too fond of doing the beats pissed.”
But did more sinister forces play a role in Gary Venamore’s death?
One of the investigating officers was Detective Glen Hallahan. As documented by Steve Bishop in The Most Dangerous Detective: The Outrageous Glen Patrick Hallahan, Hallahan’s police career entailed more crime than crime fighting.
In a normal homicide investigation, an investigating detective reaches a conclusion as to potential suspects and motives.
But this was no ordinary homicide investigation and Detective Glen Hallahan examined evidence from a somewhat peculiar perspective. He came to an unorthodox conclusion.
Hallahan concluded, from information gathered during the murder investigation, that homosexuals were ideal blackmail victims.
According to his lover, former Brisbane sex-worker Shirley Brifman, Hallahan placed hidden cameras at the Figtree toilets and recorded the comings and goings.
“The businessmen who are homosexuals, you would not believe it,” he boasted.
(Top Story Bridge photo by Adam Kent/Flickr)