Cold Case: What Happened To Brisbane Man Gary Venamore?


Gary Venamore QNEWS

A recent review of suspicious deaths in Sydney found that 27 of the 88 were probable gay hate crimes. Now, QNews Magazine looks back at the unsolved 1968 murder of Brisbane gay man Gary Venamore.

Despite a $250,000 reward for information, this crime remains unsolved.

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At the age of 35, Venamore still lived at home with his mother in Kangaroo Point.

On Tuesday 5th November 1968, Venamore went out drinking after work. He met friends and work colleagues in some of the better city bars from 5pm until 8.30pm. At 8.30pm he declared he should head home, but at least one friend suspected he would not. Richard Billington noticed Garry paid for his drinks from a large roll of notes. He also knew that once Venamore started drinking he usually continued.

Detective Ross Beer said, “[Venamore] was sort of a Jekyll and Hyde… He was a ladies man when he was sober, a playboy and very dapper. He’d mix with the social set. But when he got on the drink he was a raving homosexual.” Departing the genteel inner city, Venamore headed for the racier Petrie Bight.

The risque reputation of Petrie Bight served well to tempt customers to the venues there. It also camouflaged the seedier underbelly.

There is no confirmed sighting of Gary until he showed up at the door of the Playboy Club at 10.30pm. He may have stopped at the National Hotel on the way there or perhaps at the Fig Tree. For decades, men met at the public toilets under the Fig Tree.

He spent the next four hours in the Playboy. He sat talking for a while to Dorothy Knight, a sex worker who knew him from about town and enjoyed his company. Dorothy knew Garry was gay, she believed everyone knew he was gay.

After a while, Dorothy left on a job and at 2.25am Venamore himself left the club in company with two men. They caught a taxi from the Playboy to a block of flats in Maxwell St, New Farm. Sometime between 2am and 3am a neighbour heard a man scream.

To read more about the case of Gary Venamore, pick up issue 458 of QNews Magazine, out today. To find out where to find QNews near you, click here or read the latest issue online here.