Hate crime inquiry hears evidence ignored in William Dutfield murder


William Dutfield

An inquiry into NSW gay hate crimes has criticized original investigators for missing key evidence in the unsolved murder of bisexual man William Dutfield. 

Mr Dutfield was one of the four unsolved deaths which were reviewed at Wednesday’s public hearing in the Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes.

These latest hearings aim to asses whether 88 unsolved deaths between 1976 to 2000 were correctly investigated.

On November 19, 1991, the body of William Dutfield was discovered in the living room of his Sydney apartment.

Described as insular and battling alcoholism, Mr Dutfield suffered 16 lacerations to his head.

Police believed the murder weapon was a metal sticky tape dispenser.

He was found by his longtime friend and landlord, retired lecturer Arthur Ashworth.

At the time of Dutfield’s murder in November 1991, Mr Ashworth was aged 77.

Key evidence overlooked in initial investigation

Initially, investigators believed William was the victim of a violent robbery by a male sex worker.

However, a 2008 police task force set up to review the case suggested Mr Ashworth was the killer.

The current inquiry has found the initial investigation missed key evidence.

Mr Ashford’s fingerprints were on the tape dispenser and neighbors reported hearing a heated argument from the apartment.

Assisting Council William de Mars found Mr Ashworth’s involvement in Mr Dutfield’s death “should have been apparent to investigators at a very early stage”.

“The totality of the available forensic evidence supports the view that Mr Ashworth was responsible for the attack.”

He added that if Mr Ashworth was still alive, the inquiry would have referred the matter to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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