Adelaide SA (on secondment from Western Australia Police)
2 March 1994
Details of Death:
Murdered in Adelaide, SA whilst on secondment to the National Crime Authority. BOWEN was killed when he opened a letter containing a bomb at the Adelaide Headquarters of the NCA. He joined the Police Force on August 30 1976.
Plans for new medal to recognise slain, seriously injured WA police
Every slain and seriously injured WA police officer would be automatically honoured with a special commendation medal to mark their selfless community sacrifice, under a new plan to be mooted at the WA Police Union conference today.
The idea, which is modelled on an award offered by Victoria Police, has been raised by outgoing union deputy vice-president Jon Groves and has won support from the state opposition and families of officers killed in the line of duty.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan will unveil a proposal at the police union’s annual conference on Monday for a WA medal, similar to the Victoria Police Star and the US military decoration the Purple Heart, to acknowledge officers killed or seriously injured while on duty.
Under the concept, fallen officers including Constable Damien Murphy, who was run down and killed by a drunk and drugged driver in Craigie in 2007, would be posthumously awarded the medal, along with those who sustain life-changing injuries – like Senior Constable Matt Butcher, who was left partially paralysed by a “flying headbutt” during a brawl in Joondalup in February 2008.
It would apply to all work-related injuries, including psychological illnesses, regardless of whether the conditions first manifestedon or off-duty.
“The Victorian Government has struck a medal for police officers who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty and it recognises the sacrifice, valour and contribution of those police officers,” Mr McGowan told Fairfax Media.
“It’s only awarded rarely, but it is an appropriate recognition and certainly gives families of those who have died in the line of duty some additional recognition of their mother or father, husband or wife.
“It’s also for those who are seriously injured in the line of duty – so officers who put their lives on the line and get injured as a consequence…that they are appropriately recognised for that.
“It is rare recognition, but appropriate recognition and I think that should happen here in WA.”
Mr Groves said a medal that acknowledged officers killed and maimed in the line of duty – and not only acts of bravery – was needed to highlight their community sacrifice and the risks that police officers come up against every day of their working lives.
“We need a medal that recognises the police officers in this state who have paid the ultimate price – either with their lives or their health – in serving the community,” he said.
“It’s something tangible for those who have been kicked out the door of WA Police, due to work-related illness or injury, to have in their hands to remind them of the good times and the good work they did for the community.”
WA policeman Simon Bowen was five years old when his father WA Detective Sergeant Geoff Bowen was killed by a parcel bomb at the National Crime Authority in Adelaide in 1994.
Detective First Class Constable Bowen, who has served with WA Police for seven years, welcomed the idea saying a special medal would validate the ultimate sacrifice his father made.
“I think it’s a great concept in not only is it a keepsake, but it’s something else in the present that will identify the sacrifice and the memory,” he said.
“It’s a small token that you can just marvel at and look at it and say, for my situation, the memory of Dad is never going to be forgotten not only by me but by the blokes that he used to work with and generations to come.
“It’s a small bit of recognition. It would be humbling.”
Tracey Ball, who was widowed when her husband Constable Peter Ball was run down by a car and killed while chasing a suspected car thief in Cannington in August 1998, welcomed the police medal proposal.
The couple’s daughter, Brianna, now 17, was only 18 months old when her father died in the line of duty.
“Brianna was just 18 months old so she really has no memories of her dad,” Ms Ball said.
“She’s very proud of him but she never really knew him, she never got the chance. So to have something physical and tangible that links who he was as a police officer, I think would be extremely important to her.
“My granddad served in World War I and we have his medals. Having those medals, we used to do the Anzac Day parade and we were so proud and patriotic. To have chance to have that for someone in the police force, I think would be awesome.
“I know the defence forces award medals posthumously and with Legacy the kids go on camps with the armed forces kids who talk about their dads’ medals whereas the police kids don’t have that, they don’t have anything.”
A WA Police spokesman said the force already offered several Police Commissioner’s awards for bravery and conduct including the Cross for Bravery, commendations and a group citation for conduct.
In addition, there is also the WA Police Medal for diligent and ethical service, service medals, the Commissioner’s Medal for Excellence, a Certificate of Outstanding Performance and a WA Police Cadet Medal.
The spokesman said the Western Australia Police Cross for Bravery could be awarded to officers killed or seriously injured after a specific act of bravery and members killed in the line of duty were also recognised on the WA Police Memorial Honour Roll and the National Memorial Honour Roll.
He said the “existing awards and medals are quite comprehensive” but declined to comment about the proposal for a medal for officers killed or seriously injured in the line of duty.
“I am unaware of any proposals for new medals and the department does not make a habit of commenting on speculation or possible proposals,” he said.
Memorial location: outside of Hilton Hotel, George St, Sydney
[alert_green]PAUL IS mentioned on the Police Wall of Remembrance[/alert_green]
Constable Burmistriw was fatally injured in a bomb explosion outside the Hilton Hotel, George St, Sydney, on 13 February, 1978. At the time the Regional Conference of Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM), a regional off-shoot of the biennial meetings of the heads of government from across the Commonwealth of Nations. was taking place at the hotel.
The bomb, planted in a rubbish bin, exploded when the bin was emptied into a garbage truck outside the hotel at 1:40am. It killed two garbage men, Alec Carter and William Favell, and a police officer, Paul Burmistriw, guarding the entrance to the hotel lounge, who died of his injuries on the 22 February 1978.
The blast also injured eleven others. Twelve foreign leaders were staying in the hotel at the time, but none were injured. Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser immediately called out the Australian Army to guard the remainder of the CHOGRM meeting.
Also seriously injured in the blast were Sergeant Edward Hawtin, Senior Constable Rodney Wither ( Regd # 16376 ) and Senior Constable Terry Griffiths ( Regd # 13390 ). Two council employees, William Arthur Favell and Alec Carter, were also killed in the bombing.
The constable was born in 1946 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 20 September, 1971. At the time of his death he was stationed at Central Police Station.
Startling book unpicks story behind Australia’s first major terrorist attack
April 19, 20168:06am
ONCE upon a time, Australia was truly the carefree, “lucky country” of our imagination. Now, we walk around on edge, knowing we are by no means protected from people who would do us harm.
If you thought that started with the Sydney siege, you’d be wrong. What is seen as the first major act of terrorism on Australian soil took place 30 years ago, and it remains unsolved to this day.
Author and award-winning filmmaker Dr Rachel Landers has dived into the archive documents on the Hilton bombing, trying to make sense of all the contradictory testimony surrounding that black day.
On February 13, 1978, a bomb was planted in a rubbish bin outside the Sydney Hilton, which was hosting a Commonwealth meeting of Asia Pacific heads of government.
The device exploded when it was loaded into a garbage truck, blowing the vehicle to pieces, along with two rubbish collectors, Alec Carter and William Favell. A police officer guarding the entrance to the hotel lounge, Paul Burmistriw, died later. Eleven more were injured.
It was a day that left people physically and mentally scarred, tore families apart and was a devastating blow to the happy-go-lucky Australian psyche. It triggered years of finger-pointing, conspiracy theories and saw several innocent men locked away.
Dr Landers’ book, Who Bombed The Hilton?, takes us back to an event that helps explain our nation today.
As with terrorist attacks like 9/11, shocking claims emerged soon after the tragedy that Australian security forces had planted the bomb themselves.
One of the most vocal conspiracy theorists is policeman Terry Griffiths, who was badly mutilated by the blast, and questions the authorities’ story to this day.
The allegations, which have gained enough credence to be recorded in meticulous detail across the internet, centre on what some see as suspicious aspects of the story, including: why police outside the hotel didn’t see a bomber, why didn’t they search the bins, why they allegedly stopped garbage trucks emptying the bins, why a bomb squad was waiting, why a “warning call” wasn’t relayed to police outside the hotel and where the truck was dumped afterwards.
Dr Landers accepts that police made mistakes, and that the New South Wales police force had a problem with corruption at the time, but she says nothing she found in documentary evidence backed up Mr Griffiths’ claims.
She decided early on to eliminate witnesses’ recollections and instead focused on a forensic analysis reams of archival material made public 20 years ago. “Memory is an unreliable thing,” she said. “People misremembered basic facts. There was a huge discrepancy in what they recalled.
“There were appeals and counter-appeals. They tell a story about a miscarriage of justice that is not untrue, but covers up the question of who is actually the most likely person to have planted the bomb.”
MAKING THREE MURDERERS
Days after the bombing, a man named Richard Seary approached police and offered to infiltrate an Indian socio-spiritual organisation called Ananda Marga, who were demonstrating against the outside the hotel at the time.
In June, Seary told police that members Paul Alister, Tim Anderson and Ross Dunn had confessed to the bombing, and it was assumed Indian Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, was the target.
Seary said they were planning another attack on Neo-Nazi National Alliance leader Robert Cameron. The mole led police to the trio, in a car packed with explosives, and they were arrested. They were never convicted of the Hilton bombing, but were given 16 years each for conspiracy to murder Cameron.
It later emerged that Seary was a paranoid schizophrenic and drug addict, who had planted the explosives in the car. Alister, Anderson and Dunn were released after seven years in prison. It remains one of Australia’s worst miscarriages of justice.
While they received compensation, Alister told the Sunshine Coast Daily in 2008 he was sick of being referred to as a Hilton bomber.
Most officials now believe an Ananda Marga member named Abhiik Kumar, living in Israel, is behind the bombing. But the trail has long since gone cold and is “besieged by contradictions and evidentiary problems.”
The authorities failed to share their plans with international colleagues working on possible related bombings and attempted attacks and “it was catastrophic for the case, it totally derailed it,” according to Dr Landers.
“Special branch, for understandable reasons, went rogue,” she said. “People were so shocked, they’d been thrust into the international age of terrorism. People do irrational things in that vortex of fear.”
LONG FIGHT FOR TRUTH
Like today’s acts of terrorism, carried out in the name of Islamic State or other jihadi groups, the Hilton bombing didn’t take place in a vacuum.
“A lot of things I thought I knew turned out to be untrue,” said Dr Landers. “I always thought it was a really Australian story, I didn’t realise we were at the centre of an international reign of terror.
“There was a huge mountain of evidence linking this with Stockholm, New York, Malaysia … There are letters from Afghanistan threatening India. It quickly stopped being about Australia.”
The bombing was politicised so early on, it is hard to dig down to what really happened, but it’s a story that needs to be told without the agenda.
Dr Landers has conducted a thorough investigation, and she believes she has some answers, but she wants those touched by the tragedy to have the public inquiry they deserve.
As the threat of terrorism looms ever larger, we have a real chance to learn from our past.
Who Bombed the Hilton? is officially launched on Wednesday April 20.
The Hilton Operation ran strictly according to plan up until 12.30AM on the Monday morning. Two garbage pick-ups were prevented by the NSW police. Whoever planted the bomb was well aware of the garbage collection times. Another garbage collection was due at 1AM Monday morning. At 12.30AM the warning phone call was made. (Terry Griffiths says another police officer told him the warning phone call was made by a Sergeant in Special Branch who had been observing the scene outside the Hilton in a red torana, a police observation car. The warning phone caller rang the police switchboard and asked to speak to Special Branch. It was 12.30AM Monday morning. Normally, Special Branch would not be there at that hour, though the phone caller seemed to believe they would be. (Indeed, the same person called back an hour later at 1.30Am and again asked to speak to Special Branch.) After the phone rang a few times, the police telephonist transferred the call to the sergeant in charge of the CIB, Cec Streetfield. The Hilton Operation had begun to unravel.
What Streetfield did on being informed of the bomb, is one of the mysteries of the Hilton. What he did not do is notorious: he did not warn the police outside the Hilton over the police radio. Streetfield testified before the Hilton Inquest in 1982. According to Terry Griffiths, he told a pack of lies. According to Streetfield, the phone caller said: “Dere is a bomb in der bin outside der Hilton Hotel.” The phone caller then rang the Sydney Morning Herald and told them they might be interested in what was about to happen outside the Hilton Hotel. The Hilton Operation continued to fall apart. The garbage collection truck was running twenty minutes early that night. They arrived outside the Hilton at 12.40AM before the bomb was found.
City of Sydney Re-dedicates Plaque Commemorating Hilton Hotel Blast Victims
Tuesday, February 12th, 2008
The City of Sydney is re-dedicating the plaque commemorating the victims of the Hilton Hotel bombing on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the event.
The bombing at the Hilton Hotel occurred in the early hours of 13 February 1978. The bomb was concealed inside a garbage bin and exploded when that bin was loaded into a City of Sydney Council garbage truck compactor.
Three people were killed (Alec Carter and Arthur Favell, City Council workers, and a NSW Police Officer, First Class Constable Paul Burmistriw) and seven more were wounded. At the time, Malcolm Fraser, the Prime Minister and eleven visiting heads of state were staying at the hotel for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Lord Mayor, Clover Moor MP said that the anniversary of the bombing served as a time to remember those whose lives were cut short and those who still bear the scars today.
“This terrible act killed three decent and dedicated men, two of whom were working for the City of Sydney. But now we can re-dedicate this plaque so that future generations remember them and remember the shocking crime that took their lives.”
Commissioner of Police Andrew Scipione APM said it was important that Australians not forget the terrible incident.
“This was the death of a policeman killed as he helped guard world leaders in Sydney. Constable Paul Burmistriw was a fine officer. That he and City Council workers Alec Carter and Arthur Favell should die doing their job was a terrible tragedy.”
The original plaque had stood on the site of the garbage bin but had been moved due to a City streetscape upgrade and the recent upgrade of the Hilton Hotel. The new plaque will stand at the original spot on the George Street footpath.
Hilton Hotel Bombing History
In February 1978, Prime Ministers and other heads of State and senior political figures from Commonwealth countries gathered in Australia for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, known as CHOGM, held at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel.
In the early hours of 13 February 1978, a City of Sydney garbage truck compactor set off a bomb that had been placed in a bin immediately outside the Hilton Hotel on George Street.
At the time Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and eleven visiting heads of state were staying at the hotel.
Three people were killed by the blast: two City of Sydney Council workers, Alec Carter and Arthur Favell and First Class Police Constable Paul Burmistriw.
Seven people were wounded by the blast, including police officer, Terry Griffiths.
The then Indian Prime Minister, Morarji Desai claimed that the blast was the work of a group known as Ananda Marga, protesting the imprisonment in India of their spiritual leader, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti.
In 1989, Evan Pederick came forward and claimed responsibility for the bombing. He accused a one-time member of Ananda Marga, Tim Anderson of helping to plant the bomb. The only other main witness against Anderson was notorious criminal Raymond John Denning. Anderson went on trial in 1990 and was initially found guilty.
Anderson appealed to the NSW Court of Appeal. On 6 June 1991 the court led by then Chief Justice Gleeson quashed the conviction, based on the inappropriate and unfair action by the crown prosecutor. His Honour noted: “It is well established that a Court of Criminal Appeal may treat a jury’s verdict as unsafe or unsatisfactory even if satisfied that it was, on the evidence, reasonably open to the jury to convict … The inherent strength or weakness of the crown case may be a factor relevant to such a conclusion. In the present case, for reasons just given, I do not regard the crown case as presented at trial as a strong one, and for the reasons discussed in relation to the first ground of appeal, there was one important respect in which, in my view, the proceedings miscarried. The crown was permitted, in an unfair manner, to obscure a major difficulty concerning the reliability of the evidence of its principal witness by raising an hypothesis that was not reasonably open on the evidence.This was compounded by what I regard as an inappropriate and unfair attempt by the crown to persuade the jury to draw inferences of fact, and accept argumentative suggestions, that were not properly open on the evidence. I do not consider that in those circumstances the crown should be given a further opportunity to patch up its case against the appellant. It has already made one attempt too many to do that, and I believe that, if that attempt had never been made, there is a strong likelihood that the appellant would have been acquitted.”
There has been controversy about the motives for the planting of the bomb and the handling of the case that surrounded it. Terry Griffiths has claimed that the bombing was a conspiracy and called for an inquiry. There have been persistent suggestions of ASIO involvement in the bombing.
Anderson subsequently lodged 52 complaints of professional misconduct with the New South Wales Bar Association against Mark Tedeschi, QC. All but one of the complaints by Anderson against Tedeschi were dismissed by the NSW Bar Association. The remaining complaint was dismissed by the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
In 1991, Peter Collins, the then NSW Attorney-General led a campaign to demand a joint State-Federal inquiry which culminated in a unanimous resolution by both houses of the NSW parliament. Mr Collins said in parliament: “The Hilton bombing cannot simply be relegated to the yellowing pages of history until we know the truth, however unpalatable it may turn out to be. It must also be said that we owe this to the memory of the three who perished, their families, and to those who survived… This issue, this weeping sore transcends political, constitutional and geographical boundaries. The answers may be alarmingly simple. But, whatever the truth, the people of Australia are entitled to nothing less.”
Hilton Hotel bombing victims remembered with plaque
By Shoba Rao
The Daily Telegraph
February 13, 2008
A PLAQUE, commemorating the victims of the Hilton Hotel bombing on the 30th anniversary of the event, will be re-dedicated in Sydney today.
The City of Sydney is re-dedicating the plaque, which pays tribute to three people who were killed in the blast, after a recent street upgrade and redevelopment of the Hilton Hotel.
City Council workers Alec Carter and Arthur Favell, and a NSW Police Officer, First Class Constable Paul Burmistriw were killed.
Seven others were wounded in the blast.
The bombing at the Hilton Hotel occurred in the early hours of 13 February 1978.
The bomb was concealed inside a garbage bin and exploded when that bin was loaded into a City of Sydney Council garbage truck compactor.
At the time, Malcolm Fraser, the Prime Minister and eleven visiting heads of state were staying at the hotel for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Lord Mayor, Clover Moore MP said that the anniversary of the bombing served as a time to remember those whose lives were cut short and those who still bear the scars today.
“This terrible act killed three decent and dedicated men, two of whom were working for the City of Sydney.
“But now we can re-dedicate this plaque so that future generations remember them and remember the shocking crime that took their lives.”
Commissioner of Police Andrew Scipione APM said it was important that Australians not forget the terrible incident.
“This was the death of a policeman killed as he helped guard world leaders in Sydney.
“Constable Paul Burmistriw was a fine officer.
“That he and City Council workers Alec Carter and Arthur Favell should die doing their job was a terrible tragedy.”
The plaque will stand at its original spot on the George Street footpath when it is unveiled at 2.30pm today.
Australian terrorism born in the Sydney Hilton bombing
December 21, 2012
IT was Australia’s first terrorist attack, but amid a string of plot twists many believe that more than three decades later, there are still many unanswered questions.
The terror that struck in the heart of Sydney began on a warm summer night in February, 1978.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and the leaders of 11 heads of state were staying at the Sydney Hilton Hotel the night before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Just after midnight, a garbage truck pulled up outside the front of the hotel to empty a bin overflowing with rubbish.
As the truck’s hydraulic ram dropped to compress the rubbish, it detonated a 6.5kg bomb that had been in the bin in a blast that tore through the early-morning serenity of the CBD.
In Melbourne’s The Herald, Peter Coster – who now writes for the Herald Sun – described the effect of the blast.
“Everyone in the vicinity was temporarily deafened. Blood is everywhere outside the entrance to the hotel …”
The blast shattered windows on both sides of the street, with debris flung 100m either side of the hotel entrance.
Garbage collectors William Favell and Alex Carter died in the blast. Police officer Paul Burmistriw died nine days later from head injuries, and nine others were seriously injured.
The autopsy report found Mr Favell’s body was “shattered”.
“The parts were badly shattered with hardly any bone left intact. Embedded in the body were large amounts of foreign matter such as cigarette butts, labels, etc. There was also shrapnel, glass, splinters and paint, The National Times reported.
When the blast hit, the nation’s leaders inside the hotel were shocked into action.
Australian Foreign Minister Andrew Peacock ran to the Prime Minister’s room.
Grabbing dressing gowns on their way out, the pair rushed to the scene of the explosion in their pyjamas
Mr Fraser told the public: “At this stage it must appear that the dead and injured are utterly innocent victims of a senseless act of violence.”
It was also reported a warning phone call was made to police minutes before the explosion, in the first hint that there was more to the story.
[blockquote]We will never be stopped. Ananda Marga will cleanse the world[/blockquote]
And so began the controversy.
Overnight, Sydney went into lockdown amid the biggest manhunt in Australia’s history.
Mr Fraser and the NSW Premier Neville Wran demanded support from the armed forces, and almost 2000 troops descended on the city for protection.
CHOGM progressed with armed forces and even a decoy train employed to protect heads of government on their way to a pretty NSW town, Bowral.
Mr Coster recalls Bowral was “transformed into a war zone” with helicopters flying overhead through the night and armoured personnel carriers along the road into town.
Police were now hunting three men “swarthy in appearance and in their early 30s”.
Within hours, suspicions emerged that a previously ignored religious sect known as Ananda Marga appeared to have played a role in the bombing.
Margis -as the sect’s members were known- had already been involved in worldwide protests for some years, demanding the Indian government release their spiritual leader Pabhat Ranian Sarkar who was serving a life sentence for murder.
But the breakthrough came after the three main suspects were charged in another political conspiracy four months later.
On June 15, Ross Dunn, 24, Paul Alister, 22, and Timothy Anderson, 26, were charged with conspiring to murder the NSW leader of the National Front – a professed Nazi – Robert Cameron.
All were members of Ananda Marga’s Australian branch.
The trio were sentenced to 16 years’ jail without parole.
But the trials also unearthed police informer, Richard Seary, 26, who implicated them in the Hilton bombing.
Mr Seary, a reformed heroin addict, revealed he had joined Ananda Marga as a paid police informer in March 1978 to discover any links between the sect and the bombing.
The men told him they had “fixed” the Hilton bombing, and Anderson had also declared: “You’ve got to be willing to die for your ideology.”
An arresting detective said Dunn had also told him: “We will never be stopped. Ananda Marga will cleanse the world.”
But despite a $100,000 reward and a team of 100 full-time detectives, no charges had been laid for the Hilton bombing a year after the blast.
Three early leads had been discounted, including a theory that a woman was suspected of trying to harm the New Zealand prime minister because she opposed the abortion laws.
Three years after the bombing, new evidence suggested a cover-up.
On March 30, 1981, newspapers reported that the NSW Attorney-General had received fresh information.
Among the new claims was that an army bomb disposal squad had been on its way to the Hilton when the bomb exploded. Another allegation was that the police hadn’t searched the garbage bins the night before the blast, in an otherwise comprehensive search.
Enter the Hilton bombing’s most vocal conspiracy theorist.
Retired senior constable Terry Griffiths had been just six metres from the blast and suffered extensive injuries.
The father of two, who had been battling for worker’s compensation for over two years, believed he was the victim of a cover-up involving Australian security forces.
Mr Griffiths said the NSW Government had deliberately blocked his efforts to seek compensation.
“I’m suggesting there is enough evidence for any person who wishes to go into the matter honestly to believe that there may well be a cover-up in this matter.”
Some evidence appeared to support his theory.
It emerged that three garbage trucks were diverted from the bin by police officers, despite the fact that it was overflowing with rubbish.
Mr Griffiths even claimed the explosion was the inadvertent result of a media stunt fabricated by ASIO, the military and the NSW Police Special Branch.
His theory was that the organisations had planted the bomb which they then intended to “discover” to make them look good – and justify broader powers, he told Sydney’s The Sun-Herald.
It was only when the ill-fated fourth truck slipped through and finally emptied the bin that the “plan” went badly awry.
Mr Griffiths suggested that the phone call police received just minutes before the blast was in fact a person involved who saw the truck approach the bin, and panicked.
Mr Griffiths said ASIO had benefited from the blast, gaining “unlimited powers” from legislation introduced in the wake of the blast.
Some politicians gobbled up Mr Griffiths’ allegations of conspiracy, including then-Senator and federal shadow Attorney-General Gareth Evans.
Within a month there were calls for fresh investigations into the Hilton bombing and the reward raised to $250,000.
Then, in 1982, a coronial inquest was announced.
The Sydney Hilton’s night receptionist at the time of the blast, Manfred von Gries told the inquiry he saw three men speaking to police just before the explosion.
Within days, he was approached by a man who threatened to kidnap his son if he spoke to police about what he saw, he claimed.
He later identified the man as Jason Alexander, Ananda Marga’s Australian leader, but there were doubts about his evidence.
Mr Griffiths added to his claims, suggesting a bomb disposal truck was stationed around the corner before the blast, and that several Special Branch officers were watching the police from a vehicle across the road.
He also said he’d been informed that a warrant officer with the armed forces had planted the bomb several days before the blast.
Mr Griffiths also said that Sgt Robert Jackson, his friend and fellow officer who had assisted with the initial murder investigation, had told him that the warning call was made to police 10 minutes before the blast.
Within days, Sgt Jackson denied the conversation.
Sgt Arthur Hawkin, on duty on the night of the blast, appeared to back the theory.
Mr Hawkin said when he arrived for his shift 90 minutes before the explosion he was told to expect trouble and “something about a bomb”.
The inquiry also heard a sergeant before the blast saw Timothy Anderson near the rubbish bin that later exploded, during a demonstration against the New Zealand prime minister.
And another witness claimed Anderson, a regular customer, had picked up a newspaper in her shop the morning after the blast and had said to another man: “We only got three.”
Then the police informant Richard Seary dropped powerful new claims, saying Ross Dunn had told him he’d planted the bomb in the bin an hour before the Indian Prime Minister’s arrival.
Why hadn’t Mr Seary shared this evidence with police earlier?
Initially, he said it was because he was upset with the way police had treated him. Later, he said it was due to concerns that Dunn had lied, confessing out of bravado.
He said on account of his doubts, he had drip-fed his evidence to police instead.
With the latest claims, coroner Norman Walsh decided there was enough evidence to charge Dunn and Alister of three counts of murder, and Anderson with conspiracy to murder.
The court erupted in shock and fury, and even the jury, which gave no official verdict raised lingering questions.
In 1984, the NSW Attorney-General Paul Landa on Crown law advice decided the three men would not be prosecuted.
Instead, a judicial inquiry was announced to investigate the Cameron charges.
This inquiry found Richard Seary to be an unreliable witness, and a psychiatrist diagnosed him as having a personality disorder.
Adding to his fall from grace, the Margis’ lawyer went so far as to accuse Mr Seary of bombing the hotel himself.
In 1985, after seven years in jail, the judicial inquiry quashed the trio’s convictions.
The three men were released in May, pardoned by the NSW government, and awarded $100,000 each in compensation.
Alister and Dunn moved to an Ananda Marga community in Queensland, and Mr Anderson was left to pursue a PhD on Australian foreign debt.
But on May 30, 1989, Anderson was again arrested and charged for the bombing amid new evidence.
Evan Dunstan Pederick, a 33-year-old Brisbane public servant Ananda Marga member admitted he had tried to remotely detonate the bomb when the Indian Prime Minister arrived at the hotel.
He said he was acting as a front man for Mr Anderson, who provided the explosives.
When the bomb failed to detonate, Pederick panicked and ran. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder the Prime Minister – but not guilty to causing the three subsequent deaths.
Nevertheless, Pederick was found guilty of three counts of murder, and sentenced to 20 years’ jail. The jury determined he had acted with reckless indifference by leaving the bomb in the bin.
Another prisoner who had met Mr Anderson while he was serving the Cameron sentence revealed Anderson had confessed his role in the Hilton bombing.
In 1990, Anderson was sentenced to 14 years’ jail. Supreme Court justice Michael Grove said Mr Anderson had been “brainwashed” by the Ananda Marga cult when he instigated the bombing.
Seven months later Mr Anderson was acquitted.
But the saga was far from over.
In May 1995, Pederick did a U-turn. After six years in jail for a crime he confessed to, it suddenly occurred to Pederick that he might be innocent.
Pederick accused police of failing to test his evidence and state of mind.
“Is it possible that in 1978, dominated by the influence of the Ananda Marga and yet in conflict with the demands of the sect, I had acquired a deep sense of guilt which expressed itself in an obsession with the cataclysmic events for which Ananda Marga was held responsible at the time? I do not know,” Pederick said in a News Ltd report.
In 1997, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed Pederick’s new claims, but six months later he was released on parole.
”As a naive young person, influenced by the teachings of Ananda Marga, I participated in a fatal act of political terrorism,” Pederick said, as quoted in The Australian.
But as he left the jail, Pederick indicated there were six others involved in the bombing, none of whom were ever charged.
More than three decades on, the question mark remains: Who bombed the Sydney Hilton?
SYDNEY — In evidence before the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption, it has emerged that state coroner Kevin Waller advised Detective-Inspector Aarne Tees, investigator of the Hilton bombing, on whether the testimony of police informer Raymond John Denning provided a strong enough basis for a prosecution of Tim Anderson.
Anderson was convicted in November 1990. His appeal was unanimously upheld by the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in May 1991, Chief Justice Gleeson ruling that “a jury, acting reasonably, would give Denning’s evidence little or no weight”.
The involvement of Waller in the Hilton case again highlights the links between the police and the judiciary in this state. In evidence, Tees stated that he didn’t trust crown law officers (who would normally make judgements on the reliability of testimony) and instead sought the opinion of Waller because he was “technically the head of homicide”.
Waller’s view that Denning’s evidence was trustworthy contrasts with his ruling in a previous case involving Denning, once known for his championing of prisoners’ rights.
In 1981-82 Waller heard a case brought by prisoners’ rights activist Brett Collins against certain warders at Grafton Jail. One of the witnesses called by Collins was Denning. In his adjudication, Waller said:
“In cross-examination he demonstrated a bizarre attitude to life … Mr Denning has been in institutions, in gaols, committing crimes or on the run for the last 15 of his 30 years and his attitude must have been affected by his life style. At other times he refused to answer questions in cross examination despite warnings that such refusals could reflect adversely on his credit. He was an unreliable witness.”
The revelation that Tees consulted Waller on using Denning also went against Tees’ own evidence to the committal hearing against Anderson, held in September 1989. There Tees denied having been advised by anyone before launching the prosecution.
In other evidence before the ICAC, it has emerged that the prosecution decided not to call five other prisoner witnesses against Anderson, even though all claimed that Anderson had confessed to the Hilton bombing when in jail. A coded message between two of these witnesses, which was intercepted by prison officers, read: “It’s nice to know we can get someone convicted even when he is innocent like Anderson is. They’re all gronks [dags].”
Someone on the prosecution side decided that such people wouldn’t make very reliable-looking witnesses for the prosecution.
Also of interest is the revelation that Anderson’s supposed confession to the five uncalled witnesses revolved around an alleged conflict between Anderson and fellow prisoner Alex Burmistriw, the brother of Constable Paul Burmistriw, killed in the Hilton bombing.
In her notes of an interview with Alex Burmistriw, Anderson’s solicitor wrote: “He said that the police had come to see him and they dared to say that he didn’t care for his brother. He [Burmistriw] asked about whether he is supposed to have got in a fight with Tim — I said in fact yes, that was one of the allegations. He said something like, if he had, Tim would have known about it.”
Little of this has appeared in the Sydney media. They have led with Denning’s challenge to Anderson to undergo a lie-detector test and Tees’ claim that Anderson and the Prisoners Action Group were involved in spiriting prison escapee Ian Steele out of the country in 1986.
Commissioner Ian Temby halted Tees’ evidence on this matter, saying he did not want the hearing to be “used as a vehicle for the bringing forth of material which is of no possible use to me and all it does is to titillate various imaginations“.
In a letter to the Sunday Telegraph, Brett Collins and Ian Fraser replied on behalf of the Prisoners Action Group: “Denning’s accusations elsewhere have been dismissed or totally contradicted by proven facts as in the Hilton bombing case. We regard his actions as sadly exhibiting the destructive influence of heroin, prison hopelessness and corrupt authorities.”
In his opening remarks, Tim Anderson said that his questioning of Denning would reveal a “a pattern of constructing evidence to make it incriminate people with the help of Aarne Tees“.
Will the ICAC hearings get to the bottom of the police informer system? Will anyone important be charged? The signs are not very promising. Already Commissioner Temby has refused requests for chief Hilton prosecutor Mark Tedeschi and Kevin Waller to appear before the hearing.
Awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal. The U.N. Secretary-General established the Dag Hammarskjöld medal for posthumous award to members of peacekeeping operations who lost their lives during service with a peacekeeping operation under the operational control and authority of the United Nations.
Born: 12 April 1949 at Ryde, NSW
Died: Tuesday 12 November 1974
Cause of death: Murdered – Land Mine Explosion
Event location: near Lefka, Cyprus ( 5 days after arriving in the country )
Funeral date: 26 November 1974
Funeral location: ???
Grave location: Rookwood Cemetery, Rookwood
On 12 November, 1974 Constable Ward was serving with the Eleventh Australian Police Element in Cyprus. Whilst travelling in a Land Rover near Lefka the vehicle hit a landmine in the buffer zone. As a result Constable Ward was killed and Constable 1st Class John Woolcott was seriously injured.
Constable Ward is the 3rd and last Australian to die in Cyprus.
The constable was born in 1949 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 12 April, 1968. At the time of his death he was stationed in Cyprus and an Acting Sergeant.
John Woolcott recovered from his injuries and ” Wooly ” later retired from NSW Police Force either as an Sergeant at Manly Police Station or an Inspector at North Sydney / Mosman. This, is yet, to be confirmed. ( 10 August 2017 ).
The closure of Nicosia Airport meant a circuitous route to Cyprus for the second half of the eleventh contingent led by Merv Beck.
Although it was not known at the time, conditions on the Island and consequent reduction in UNFlCYP strength would make this the
last November rotation.
The group left Sydney on 6 November and were welcomed some days later at Akrotiri after flying with Qantas to London then busing to
the Brize Norton RAF Base near Oxford and thence via Malta to Cyprus.
RAF flights were ‘dry’ and the seats faced the rear, so the Australians appreciated the traditional welcome at Limassol Headquarters.
The newcomers ‘pumped’ the old hands for news of the war while they themselves were pressed for information about events in Australia.
The new arrivals were soon split up. Ray Leister was assigned Control Room duties while others went to Ktima and Polis.
After only five days on the Island the unthinkable happened near a road-block approaching Lefka.
Ian Ward, a replacement from New South Wales, was killed and John Woolcott injured when their Land Rover detonated a land-mine in an unmarked field.
The Australians were conveying a Turkish Cypriot family from Ayios Nicolaos to the Turkish Cypriot controlled area at Lefka and one of the four passengers was killed and the other three seriously injured.
The fatality cast a pall over the contingent.
A number of moving ceremonies were held before his body was flown home to Australia.
Twelve months later a cairn was erected to commemorate the tragedy and each twelve months a short service is held near the memorial.
Geoff Baker was a member of the Board of Inquiry convened under British military regulations to investigate the incident.
Land-mines were the major component of fortifications along the confrontation zone. UNFICYP had lodged a number of protests about mine-laying procedures and the fact that many fields were neither marked nor adequately recorded. UNFICYP began a special programme to remedy the deficiencies, but two UNFICYP soldiers were killed in similar circumstances during the following twelve months.
Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), Wednesday 20 November 1974, page 3
LONDON, Tuesday (AAP). – Representatives of all United Nations peace keeping forces in Cyprus will take part in a memorial service today for Sergeant Ian Ward, 25, a Commonwealth policeman of Sydney, who was killed in landmine explosion last week. His body will later be flown to Sydney for burial.
Located within the Honour Precinct is an original ornate marble tablet featuring early losses of New South Wales Police Officers. The tablet is flanked by the New South Wales state flag and the New South Wales Police Force flag.
The Peacekeeping Display honours all members of the NSW Police Force who have served in peacekeeping operations throughout the world and houses the Dag Hammerskjold medal belonging to the late SGT Ian Donald Ward who died in UNFICYP. This was donated to the NSW Police College on the 29th May, 2010 from Mr Ken Ward, OAM, father of SGT Ward.
On the 12th November, 1974, a member of this Force, Constable 1st Class I. D. Ward, who had arrived in Cyprus a few days before, and Constable 1st Class J. Woolcott, also of this Force, were carrying out humanitarian work transporting refugees. The United Nation’s land rover in which they were travelling struck a land mine on a road between Limassol and Lefka resulting in the death of Constable 1st Class Ward and severe injuries to Constable 1st Class Woolcott, Constable 1st Class Ward was posthumously awarded the United Nations Medal, Cyprus Division.
Elizabeth COUSSENS nee McCampbell nee Gowing 34 old
Bruce James COUSSENS 7 months old
Funeral date: 31 July 1957
Buried at: Bega Cemetery
Anglican, Section 7, Row A, Grave 3
[alert_green] KENNETH IS mentioned on the Police Wall of Remembrance[/alert_green]
The constable, his wife Elizabeth and baby son Bruce were murdered by the offender Kelly who had placed a bomb on the front verandah of the constable’s home at Bega. The offender had become incensed at being spoken to by the constable regarding traffic offences and on 29 July, 1957 he placed a metal dairy container packed with over 200 sticks of stolen gelignite at the constable’s home. About 2am the offender lit the fuse to the bomb and the dwelling was almost obliterated in the resultant explosion.
Constable Coussens‘ stepson, eight year-old Roger McCampbell, was the sole family survivor of the explosion. The offender Kelly was arrested after a major police investigation and was later sentenced to life imprisonment.
The constable was born in 1926 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 18 October, 1948. At the time of his death he was stationed at Bega.
Senior Constable Kenneth Coussens; wife – Elizabeth Coussens; infant – Bruce Coussens 7 months old.
Killed by a bomb blast on July 29, 1957.
Senior Constable Ken Coussens moved to Bega in 1954 where the officer took up motor cycle traffic duties for the Public Safety Bureau (now known as the Highway Patrol).
He married a local girl Elizabeth who came from a well known local family and they had two children, Roger nine (from Elizabeth’s first marriage) and an infant son Bruce, seven months old.
Constable Coussens performed his police duties in a conscientious and professional manner in the Bega area attending to traffic duties, attending the scene of motor vehicle accidents and performing other police and community duties as required of a country police officer.
About 1956, in the course of his traffic duties Constable Coussens came into contact with a local man named Myron Bertram Kelly, 32.
The officer had cause to speak to Kelly regarding traffic offences and issued traffic fines to the man on a number of occasions.
Kelly appears to have become enraged when Constable Coussens issued fines and defect notices to Kelly’s tractor and rotary hoe.
As a result Kelly formed a grudge against Constable Coussens.
After this event Kelly went to a silica mine at Rock Flat between Nimmitabel and Cooma in his truck and removed five cases of gelignite and took it to Nethercote where he buried it.
He then stole a six gallon cream can from Curtis Brothers Creamery and took that to Nethercote.
He later built a home made bomb by placing 240 sticks of gelignite and a fuse into the cream can.
In the late hours of July 28, 1957 Kelly sneaked to the officers home while he was asleep in the house with his wife and young family.
He set the bomb at the front of the fibro and iron home situated in Girraween Crescent, Bega and ignited the fuse a few hours later.
Kelly left the scene and went home and at about 2am the bomb detonated causing a huge explosion which completely demolished the house.
The bomb also caused extensive damage to other homes and windows in the vicinity, up to a mile away.
More than 100 windows at Bega Hospital were shattered by the blast.
Constable Coussens and his wife and young baby were killed instantly.
The 9-year-old son Roger survived the blast as he was sleeping at the rear of the house.
Shocked neighbours saw him emerge from the wreckage dazed and confused.
Local residents did not know what had happened and due to the enormity of the blast rumours quickly spread that the gas works had exploded or a Navy plane from HMAS Albatross Nowra had accidentally bombed the town.
However, when it was learned a police officer had been killed by a bomb, police quickly recognised it had all the hallmarks of an assassination.
A criminal investigation swung quickly into action with detectives from Sydney travelled to Bega.
Forensic evidence from the crime scene indicated the explosion was caused by a home made bomb and fragments of a dairy can were located at the scene.
An intense investigation followed, lead by crack homicide squad detectives. Subsequently Kelly was identified as the prime suspect when his hatred of Constable Coussens became known as a motive.
Investigators later searched Kelly’s home and found explosives, fuses and gelignite and a demolition hand book.
Kelly was subsequently arrested and charged with the murder of Constable Coussens and his wife and baby.
He was also charged with the theft of six cases of gelignite, 800 detonators, 1000 feet of fuse, an army .303 rifle, 50 rounds of ammunition and possessing an unlicensed pistol.
The trial was conducted in Central Criminal Court and Kelly was convicted by a jury on the murder charges.
On December 6, 1957 he was sentenced to life imprisonment by Mr Justice McClemens who said at the time: “One could only hope for the sake of common human nature that a crime as terrible and devilish as the Bega bombing on July 29 sprang from some deep seated mental derangement. It is not a case where in the interest of the community one could recommend or hold out any hope for mercy”.
Constable Coussens was also a returned serviceman having served in the Royal Australian Navy.
(Research courtesy of David Gardner Australian Police Journal March 2005.Vol 59 No 1.)
Plaque commemorates a local policeman and his family who were murdered in 1957.
Senior Constable Ken Coussens, his wife and seven-month-old son were blown up by 240 sticks of gelignite. It was discovered that local man Myron Kelly had held a well-known grudge against the constable and in the absence of other leads this seemed worth following up. The offender had become incensed at being spoken to by the Constable regarding traffic offences and placed a metal dairy container loaded with the stolen gelignite outside the front door of the Constable’s home.
When Kelly’s house was searched, four and half sticks of gelignite, 20 feet of safety fuse and 58 detonators were discovered. The offender was arrested after a major Police investigation and later sentenced to life imprisonment. Myron Kelly was released from jail in 1980 and returned to the district. He died in Cooma in July 2007 aged 83.
The Canberra Times Tuesday 30 July 1957 page 1 of 12
SYDNEY, Monday. – Mystery still obscures the cause of the explosion which killed a police constable, his wife and their six-month-old son when it shattered their Bega home early to-day.
Police said to-night it would be several days before they could sift and examine the wreckage to determine the cause of the explosion, but they have found fragments of metal which appear to be from the casing of a high explosive shell.
Victims of the tragedy were: Constable Kenneth Desmond Coussens, 31, his wife Elizabeth, 34, and their son, Graham.
Their bodies were hurled from their beds and thrown 50 yds. into a neighbour’s garden. The sole survivor of the tragedy was Roger, 9, a son of Mrs. Coussens by a former marriage.
Detectives of Sydney Arson Squad were to-night uncertain of the cause of the explosion.
Fragments of metal which may be from the casing of a high explosive shell, will be examined by an R.A.N. explosive expert called in from Nowra Fleet Air Arm Base.
The explosion, shortly after 3 am. rocked Bega, damaging other houses and breaking 100 windows in Bega Hospital, almost half a mile away.
Awakened by the explosion, terrified neighbours rushed into the streets, which were blanketed by heavy fog.
Thick smoke hung over the Coussen’s house, which was shattered.
As horrified neighbours watched, young Roger Coussens staggered from the ruins, screaming, and slowly walked past torn down electricity and telephone wires which crackled and sparked.
He collapsed into the arms of a neighbour, dazed but uninjured.
The bodies of Constable Coussens and his wife were found near each other in a neighbour’s garden, 50 yards away.
It was almost five hours before the shattered body of the baby boy was found, behind a tree in the backyard.
As the explosion shattered windows of the four storey Bega Hospital, panic broke out among patients.
Men and women screamed and jumped from their beds as nurses ran through the wards, soothing patients.
Ambulanceman Keith Beresford said the house was like a scene in war time.
“Dense fog and hovering smoke hung over the wrecked building with sparkling electric wires on the ground,” he said.
At dawn, hundreds of people had gathered and Superintendent Mijch, officer in charge of the South Coast District Police to cordon off the area.
Pieces of furniture and personal possessions of the Coussens family were strewn over hundreds of yards.
The mattress from the bed on which the couple were sleeping together with bloodstained children’s clothing, were hurled many yards.
Supt. Mijch ordered that nothing be touched until Sydney. C.I.B. detectives, Sergeants Behrens and Bateman, and Det. Bradbury of the Arson Squad arrived.
Explosives expert, J. Parsons of the N.S.W. Mines Department and Det. Sgt. Ray Kelly of the C.I.B. Homicide Squad, were also rushed from Sydney.
Detectives are working on theories that the Coussens were the victims of a bomb plot perpetrated by a madman with a grudge, or that the explosions may have been caused by a war souvenir collected by Constable Coussens, who had served in the R.A.N, for a short time.
The theory of the bomb plot was strengthened this afternoon when police found a tunnel had been dug under the Coussens’ bedroom.
Police say the explosive could have been placed in the tunnel.
They have ruled out the possibility of a gas explosion.
Police are mystified at the escape of Roger Coussens.
Dazed and terrified, the boy said the only thing he remembered was a large piece of timber falling across his bed.
It was the boy’s second escape. His father, an American businessman, was killed in a car crash in the United States when Roger was still a baby.
Roger and his mother, then Mr. McCampbell, who were in his car, escaped unhurt.
Police said the only thing that saved Roger to-day was the fact that he was sleeping in a separate bedroom.
The explosion apparently occurred in or beneath the bedroom where his mother, step-father and step-brother lay sleeping.
Residents told police that after the first tremendous explosion, shock waves spread across the district.
Mr. Kevin Barham, a neighbour, said he rushed into the street and heard screaming.
“I saw Roger staggering towards me, dressed only in his pyjama top.
“He was bare footed and crying and had dirt in his hair.
“He kept screaming ‘The house is ruined – the house is ruined.’
“When Roger walked towards me, he was stepping through live wires brought down by the explosion,” Mr. Barham said.
Barham said there was a strange smell about the Coussens’ home after the explosion, but he could not identify it.
Constable Coussens had been attached to Bega for about three years.
He had been a member of the police force for 11 years and was attached to the Safety Bureau in Sydney before being sent to Bega.
He had been stationed at Kogarah and also Cooma.
Police to-night placed a guard over the wreck of the home.
They said it would “be several days before they could sift and examine the debris to determine the cause of the explosion.
Earlier to-day a giant mobile crane was used to lift huge blocks of reinforced concrete which had been scattered over a wide area.
Police to-night appealed to residents to examine their gardens for any strange fragments of metal which may have come from the seat of the explosion.
They said even the smallest fragment could play an important part in solving the mystery.
The Canberra Times Thursday 1 August 1957 page 4 of 16
BEGA, Wednesday. – Fragments of metal found at the site of the fatal explosion which killed a police constable, his wife and his young son on Monday, were sent to the C.I.B. to-day.
The fragments will be examined by the Scientific Bureau and metallurgists in the hope of identifying them.
Police are now certain that the explosion occurred from a container which was under the front verandah of the house. However, it is not yet known if it was a war souvenir or a home-made bomb planted by a maniac.
Victims of the blast were Constable Kenneth Coussens, 32, his wife, Elizabeth, 32, and his son, Graham Bruce, 7 months.
They were buried at Bega to-day. More than 1,500 people attended the funeral service and many wept at the cortege passed through the crowded main street. Shops and businesses were closed as a mark of respect.
Fifty police from all parts of the South Coast formed a guard of honour and police who had worked with Constable Coussens acted as pall-bearers.
The couple and their child were buried in a family grave two miles out of Bega.
Sole survivor of the explosion was Mrs. Coussens’ son by a former marriage nine-year-old Roger.
Roger’s father, a U.S., businessman, was killed in a car crash when Roger was a baby.
The Canberra Times Wednesday 16 October 1957 page 3 of 12
BEGA, Tuesday.—A man allegedly told police he planned and lit a home-made bomb which later exploded, killing a police constable, his wife and baby son, Bega Coroner’s Court was told to-day.
In a statement allegedly made by Myron Bertram Kelly, 32, of Gipps Street, Bega, Kelly said he and the policeman were “bitter enemies”.
Kelly has been charged with the murder of Constable Desmond Kenneth Coussens, 31, his wife, Elizabeth Coussens, 34 and their eight-months-old son, Bruce James Coussens.
The three died when an explosion rocked, their home in Girawheen Crescent, Bega, on July 20.
The statement alleged to have been made by Kelly was handed to the Coroner, Mr. Cobcroft, S.M., by Detective Sergeant C. Behrers.
It read “The first trouble I had with Constable Coussens was about three years ago. That was a series of defect notices about a Howard tractor and rotary hoe.
“Coussens was not very particular what he did.
“The first real trouble was two years ago when he overtook a taxi I was travelling in and arrested me for riding an unregistered motor cycle and then carried out a search of my premises, where I am now living. “I was fined £5 for that offence.
“The next incident was a collision in front of the Bega Police Station on April 13, 1956.
“I had been working on the river bank below the town. On my way home I saw him on the corner of Auckland and Bega Streets. I was driving a rotary hoe.
“He then followed me a fair way behind along Bega Street and up Gipps Street.
Opposite the police station, he closed in and collided with the tractor.
“He then charged me with everything, he could think of, although the accident was of his own neglect.
“I appeared before the Bega Court and I was fined a total of about £40.”
The statement also alleged several other traffic incidents between Coussens and Kelly, but no charges were laid.
“From these incidents, we were bitter enemies,” the statement said.
It continued: “About the middle of June this year, I went in my truck to Rock Flat and I took five cases of gelignite from there.
“A week before the tragedy when Constable Coussens was killed, I stole a six-gallon milk can from the platform at the Bega butter factory. It had ‘Curtis Bros.’ on the can.
“I took the labels off the can, dug up the gelignite and made a bomb out of the milk can and brought it back in my car to my home in Bega.
“That week I fitted it up with about 20ft. of fuse and a detonator and sealed it up with mud.
“About midnight that night, I put the bomb in the back of my car and drove into Auckland Street.
“I took it out of the car and put it on the verandah of Constable Coussens’ house, near the front door.
“At about 2 o’clock in the morning, I walked up to Constable Coussens’ house and lit the fuse on the bomb.
“After that I went back to bed. Not being a strong container, I expected very little damage to be done and a lot of noise.
“I thought it would go no further than to break some fibro off the walls and give the constable a bad fright, causing the Police Department to move him.
“I did not think that it would kill him, his wife and his child.
“It was the last thing in the world that I wanted to happen.
The Canberra Times Saturday 19 October 1957 page 6 of 16
BEGA, Friday,— An agricultural contractor was committed for trial to-day by the Bega District Coroner on a charge of having murdered a police constable, his wife and baby son.
The coroner, Mr. W. Cobcroft, found Constable Kenneth Coussens, 31, his wife, Elizabeth, 34, and son Bruce James, 8 months, died from injuries received on July 29 in an explosion, in their home in Girrawheen Street, Bega.
The explosion had been feloniously and maliciously brought about by Myron Kelly, he said.
He committed Kelly for trial at Central Criminal Court.
Mr. Cobcroft said a bomb had been placed on the patio of the constable’s home near his bedroom and detonated. The bomb had been housed in a cream can. It has been established that the cream can was stolen from the Bega Butter Factory shortly before the explosion and that the can was in the possession of Kelly.
Kelly was also found to be in possession of a quantity of gelignite, detonators and a fuse.
Mr. Cobcroft said he was not satisfied with the evidence of one of the 40 witnesses who appeared at the inquest, Edward Morris Williams, farmer, of Pambula, who said that he had seen and handled the bomb made by Kelly.
One would have expected that in these circumstances Williams would have gone to the police and volunteered information which probably would have led to the “frustration of Kelly’s intention,” said Mr. Cobcroft.
“I don’t believe Williams’ evidence where he stated he thought the whole affair was to be nothing more than a practical Joke,” he added.
Had Williams acted as a prudent man, the tragedy might have been averted.
The Canberra Times Saturday 7 December 1957 page 1 of 16
SYDNEY, Friday: An agricultural contractor found guilty of setting off a bomb which killed a police constable, his wife and child, was sentenced to life imprisonment by Mr. Justice McClemens in the Central Criminal Court to-day.
The contractor is Myron Bertrand Kelly, 32, of Gipps Street, Bega.
Kelly pleaded not guilty to the murder of Constable Kenneth Desmond Coussens, 31, of Girraween Crescent, Bega.
Coussens, his wife Elizabeth, 34, and their baby son, Bruce, 9 months, were killed when an explosion wrecked their home on July 29.
The Crown alleged that Kelly confessed to placing a home-made bomb under the patio of Coussens’ home and lighting the fuse.
The bomb was a milk can filled with gelignite.
In a statement from the dock yesterday Kelly said he had no intention of harming the Coussens’ family.
“I have thought the matter over day and night and still cannot believe that the explosive I had did that damage and killed three people,” he said.
TRAGIC incidents litter the Bega Valley’s long and proud history – fire, homicides and accidents cutting lives far too short.
However, very few incidents stir emotions, ignite debate and were more widely reported than a bombing that claimed the lives of a local police constable, his wife and infant son.
This coming Sunday (July 29) marks the 50th anniversary of this tumultuous event in 1957 when the town was rocked by the monumental explosion about 2.10am on that fateful day.
The cold air of the winter’s night was pierced by the noise of the explosion that woke everyone in town and many in the surrounding farming districts.
Hundreds of windows were smashed by the concussion, more than 100 in the hospital alone, and some up to a mile away from the explosion site.
Residents initially were confused as what exactly had blown up.
The obvious culprit, the gasworks, was still standing as were Slater’s fuel depot and the various service stations.
As emergency service personnel fumbled for their boots and warm clothing the initial cacophony was replaced by an eerie, yawning silence.
It took several minutes of fruitless searching before the source of the blast was identified.
It was the two-year-old home of Constable Kenneth Coussens and his family on the northern side of Girraween Crescent that had borne the brunt of the explosion.
The entire front of the house had been blown away, with the remainder barely standing.
Vast sections of the roof were missing and supporting wooden tresses had fallen into the void.
Such was the force of the blast, that Constable Coussens, his wife Elizabeth (nee Gowing) and infant son Bruce, who had all been sleeping in the front bedroom at the time, were flung large distances through the air.
All three sustained devastating injuries and were killed instantly.
Horrified and instantly sickened by the war-like scene they found when arriving at the house, those who converged were stunned when, incredibly, Mrs Coussens’ elder son Roger (9) crawled physically unscathed from the hotchpotch of metal and wood that only minutes earlier had been his family’s home.
While the cloak of night may have hampered emergency workers in their efforts, it enabled neighbours to shield the boy from the horrors that lay only metres away.
As daylight greeted investigators, reminders of the horror of the incident continued to emerge, with soiled children’s books and bloodstained booties among the items that littered the lawn and street.
Superintendent Mitjch of Wollongong, along with detectives Bevan, Bateman, Clark and Davenport, arrived in Bega shortly before noon on the day of the blast to commence investigations.
The chief explosive expert of the Department of Labour and Industry, Mr Parsons, followed shortly after.
Accident or murder?
The house had been destroyed and apart from a vast hole and the devastation there were precious few leads.
With inquiries leading nowhere, speculation an innuendo continued to mount throughout the community.
One popular story (which was quickly disproved) was that planes from the Nowra naval base had mistakenly dropped a bomb during a flyover.
The subject of gossip also turned to Constable Coussens who had served in the Navy during World War II prior to joining the force.
The story went that he was a souvenir hunter and had stored a mortar bomb on the landing – this theory was also kyboshed.
It wasn’t until detective Bob Bradbury suggested: “I wonder if those bits of metal could have come from a cream can which might have been used as bomb” that things started to fall into place for the investigative team.
A number of checks were made and the investigators scored a hit: the Bega Creamery Society confirmed that a six-gallon cream can had been stolen from the factory recently.
The owner of the can, the Curtis family, was contacted and it was ascertained that the stolen item was one of two bought years previously.
The second can was subsequently examined and the metal was found to be identical to that located at the explosion site.
Further investigation revealed that a substantial quantity of gelignite had been stolen from a mine at Rock Flay (between Nimmitabel and Cooma).
The detectives continued to pore over Constable Coussens’ life in an attempt to discover a reason for such a malicious act and it was quickly discovered that local man Myron Bertrand Kelly, 32, had held a well-known grudge against the constable.
In the absence of other leads it seemed worth following up.
So on August 7 a search was made of Kelly’s house and a safety fuse and an unexploded detonator in a tobacco tin were found in a tool shed on the property.
Also located was an empty landmine, and brass nameplates bearing the name ‘Curtis Bros, Brogo’ – the plates from a dairy cream can.
In a cabinet in the main bedroom four and half sticks of gelignite, 20 feet of safety fuse and 58 detonators were discovered.
There was also an empty hand grenade, powder tins and equipment for loading rifle and gun cartridges, together with a demolition handbook.
A search of Kelly’s Dodge vehicle revealed a circular marking on the floor mat in the back that matched up perfectly with the identical cream can the police had procured from the dairy.
Two weeks later, upon receipt of further information, five cases of gelignite were located under a rock on a property at Nethercote frequented by Kelly.
Constable Coussens had been stationed at Bega since 1954 on motorcycle traffic duties for the Public Safety Bureau (now known as the Highway Patrol).
He was praised by his fellow officers and a large proportion of the local community for his vigilance in dealing with hoodlums and ‘hoons’, but it was his zeal that had him offside with some – including Myron Kelly.
Kelly had been booked of a number of occasions by the constable and harboured palpable ill-will towards him.
In an interview at Bega Police Station on August 14, Kelly outlined his dealings with Constable Coussens.
He said he had received a number of defect notices on his tractor and rotary hoe and had been stopped frequently for licence checks by the officer.
He also made the accusation that Constable Coussens had instigated a collision between the pair in order charge him with a number of offences.
“It was April 13, 1956… I saw him on the corner… I was driving the rotary hoe. He followed me and opposite the police station he closed in to collide with the tractor. He then charged me with everything he could think of, although the accident was mainly of his own neglect. I appeared before the Bega Court and was fined a total of 40 pounds,” Mr Kelly said.
Minor incidents also had occurred in May and July 1957 (just before the bombing), no breaches were issued but there were words between the pair.
There remain some people in the community who are sympathetic to Kelly and who speak of the constable “having it in for him”.
In the same interview with police, on August 14, Kelly also outlined how he made the bomb.
On Sunday, June 16 he had gone to Rock Flat in his truck, entered a silica mine and removed five cases of gelignite. He then returned to a property at Nethercote and buried it.
Then about a week before the bombing he stole the six-gallon cream can and also took that to Nethercote.
Kelly told investigators, “A few days after, instead of going to work, I removed the labels from the can and dug up the gelignite. I packed 240 sticks into the can like cigarettes and made a bomb. I took in my car home and put it in my shed. Later, I fitted it with about 20 feet of fuse and a detonator and sealed it with mud.”
Then, just before midnight on July 28, he sneaked over to the Coussens residence and set the can down on the front landing, then hurried home to bed.
Two hours later he returned, lit the fuse and walked away – he was at his home again by the time the blast shook Bega.
After being charged with the murders of Constable Coussens, Elizabeth and Bruce on August 9, Kelly appeared in the Bega Local Court of Petty Sessions before being remanded to reappear at a later date.
The coroner’s inquiry into the three deaths began on October 14 before William Cobcroft, JP.
During the lengthy inquiry, Mr Cobcroft heard evidence from a large number of witnesses, including the detectives involved in the case, family members of the deceased, and Kelly, among others.
During his time in the stand, Kelly reiterated his accusations that the constable had unfairly targeted him and that his intention had been simply to frighten the officer after his requests to councillors and high ranking police for Constable Coussens to be transferred fell on deaf ears.
“I have all the regrets in the world for what happened,” Kelly said.
The following is an extract of Mr Cobcroft’s findings, handed down on October 15:
“Kenneth Desmond Coussens, Elizabeth Mary Hamilton Coussens and Bruce James John Coussens died from injuries received on July 29, 1957, in an explosion felonously and maliciously brought about on that date by Myron Bertrand Kelly, and I further find in the manner aforesaid that the said Myron Bertrand Kelly did felonously and maliciously murder them.”
Mr Cobcroft committed Kelly to the Central Criminal Court, Sydney.
After five days of evidence the jury retired and after just one hour they returned with a guilty verdict.
Justice McClemens asked Kelly if he had anything to say. Kelly shook his head and said loudly, “No!”
In sentencing the then 32-year-old farming contractor to life imprisonment on December 6, 1957, Justice McClemens said: “One could only hope for the sake of common human nature that a crime as terrible and devilish as the Bega bombing on July 29, sprang from some deep-seated mental derangement.
“It is not a case where in the interest of the community one could recommend or hold out hope for mercy.”
When being led away Kelly turned to his elderly father, waved his hand and simply said in a loud voice: “Goodbye!”
The miracle boy
Amazingly, this hideous event was not the first time that nine-year-old Roger’s (the sole survivor) life had been touched by tragedy.
Eight years earlier his American father (Elizabeth’s first husband) was killed in car accident in the United States.
The youngster had been in his mother’s arms in the car at the time and somehow, miraculously, both had survived.
Upon returning to Australia and the Bega Valley, Elizabeth met, fell in love with, and married Constable Coussens.
Roger, who now lives in Sydney, has a family of his own and is returning to Bega this weekend for the memorial service.
Myron Bertrand Kelly
After being sentenced to life imprisonment on December 6, 1957, Kelly was released in 1980 and returned to the district.
In the ensuing years he lived a quiet life at Austral Farm, Nimmitabel, before moving to the Sir William Hudson Memorial Centre in Cooma where he died, aged 83, on July 4 this year. He never re-offended.
Kelly was married to Viola and the father of two sons – David (dec) and John – and a daughter, Jeanette.
There are still some in the community who believe Kelly was provoked and others who believe his version of events that he didn’t intend to physically harm Constable Coussens or his family.
Senior Sergeant, Garry Nowlan, of Bega Police disputes this.
“It is easy to see from the evidence the man had a fixation with explosives,” Mr Nowlan said.
“He knew what they could do. You don’t use 240 sticks of gelignite to scare somebody. You don’t murder a family because you got a few traffic tickets.
“Kelly was judged by a jury of his peers and they got it right. He was a cold, reckless killer.”
Whatever the truth is, there is no doubt Myron Bertrand Kelly will always hold an infamous place in the history of Bega.
Around 150 people gathered alongside police officers in Bega to remember the tragedy that claimed the lives of Constable Kenneth Coussens, his wife Elizabeth and baby son Bruce, who were murdered by Myron Kelly, who had placed a bomb outside the Constable’s home in Bega.
Fifty years ago a policeman, his wife and baby were murdered in Bega in south-east New South Wales.
Around 150 people gathered alongside police officers to remember the bombing tragedy that claimed the lives of Constable Kenneth Coussens, his wife Elizabeth and baby son Bruce, who were murdered by Myron Kelly, who had placed a bomb outside the Constable’s home in Bega.
NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney stated, “This was a very important occasion, not only for the Coussens family who had gathered from as far as Adelaide and Sydney. It was important for people in the Bega Valley to come together, with members of the NSW Police Force to acknowledge the 50th Anniversary of when Senior Constable Ken Coussens his wife Elizabeth and their seven month old son Bruce were murdered in Bega.”
“It’s was an occasion to reflect, to remember but also acknowledge that which is good about this community. These are always occasions for sadness and reflection but they also give you optimism for the future, said Commissioner Moroney.”
He continued, “Mr Coussens is one of 280 officers in NSW who have lost their lives in the execution of their duties. It’s a reflection on the legacy that people like Ken Coussens leave us and on the proud history and traditions of the NSW Police.
Locals recall the enormous explosion at about 2am as hundreds of windows were smashed close to the Constable’s home and some up to a mile away from the explosion site.
The home was almost obliterated by the explosion with the entire front of the house being blown away and the remainder barely standing. Much of the roof was missing and Constable Coussens, his wife Elizabeth and infant son Bruce, who had all been sleeping in the front bedroom at the time, were flung through the air and killed instantly.
I can think of no greater breach of civil liberty than the taking of another life
In search of a suspect, detectives intimately examined Constable Coussens’ life in an attempt to discover why such a violent act had occurred in the usually quiet town.
It was discovered that local man Myron Kelly had held a well-known grudge against the constable and in the absence of other leads this seemed worth following up.
The offender had become incensed at being spoken to by the Constable regarding traffic offences and placed a metal dairy container loaded with over 200 sticks of stolen gelignite outside the front door of the Constable’s home.
When Kelly’s house was searched, four and half sticks of gelignite, 20 feet of safety fuse and 58 detonators were discovered. The offender was arrested after a major Police investigation and later sentenced to life imprisonment.
Myron Kelly was released from jail in 1980 and returned to the district. He died in Cooma in July 2007 aged 83.
Commissioner Moroney said, “This was a terrible act of evil…from my reading of the historical documents, Mr Kelly stated he only ever intended to frighten the constable. However, I can think of no greater breach of civil liberty than the taking of another life.”
Incredibly, Mrs Coussens’ elder son Roger who was 9 years old at the time was physically unharmed by the attack.
For the Commissioner, being able to meet Roger who was the sole survivor from that day was very inspiring.
Commissioner Moroney said of Roger, “He had a bit of a tear in the eye as he reflected on his mother, brother and step-father. I think it was also an opportunity for him to catch up with family and to reflect what I believe was the honour that his step-father holds in terms of service Kenneth Coussens gave to the NSW Police Force and the community.”
Embarkation: 201014 at Sydney on H.M.A.T. A14 ‘Euripides”
Age at embarkation: 25 yrs 10 mths
Occupation: Mounted Police Trooper
Next of kin: Father: George Edward WHITELEY – A farmer
Religion: Roman Catholic
Single / Married: Single
Returned to Australia: 191018 from Plymouth, England on D24, “Sardinia”
Awards: 1914 /15 Star, Returned Solider badge # 87105
Injuries: gunshot ( shrapnel ) wound to lower lip – 130515. 9 days under treatment. Gunshot wound to left leg, left foot & right side of head. He stated that while serving in Gallipoli, he suffered from indigestion for the first time and has suffered on and off whit it ever since. In the past twelve ( months ) the attacks of pain with occasional vomiting have been more frequent…. Twelve days before admission and on the 5th July, he vomited about a couple of pints of blood.
Attributable to service during war and active service conditions in Gallipoli.
Discharge #: 56009
Previously Served in the Colonial Force.
Description: 5′ 8″ tall, fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. Chest = 34.5 – 40″. 11 stone 12 lbs. No marks on body.
Sgt George Thomas WHITELEY ( 29 old ) of 1st Division H.Q., ( The Hutment Camp, Abbotsbury Rd, Wyke Regis, U.K. married Kate HARPER ( 22 old ), Spinster of 2 Block A, The Flats, Tidworth, England ( occupation: Clerk ) at St. Augustine’s Chapel, Dorchester Rd, Melcombe Regis, Weymount, England by Roman Catholic Priest Thomas Sheehan on the 3 October 1918. Registrar’s Reference # 80.
In 1936 – after the explosion, his wife was living at 134 Railway Pde, Carlton, NSW. This address ( 2019 ) is / was the Westpac Bank, Kogarah.
About 4am on 25 March, 1931Sergeant Whiteley and Constable McRae attended a fire at the Momalong Hotel, Berrigan.
During the fire both police officers were standing on the roadway outside the hotel when a gas cylinder exploded and a piece of flying metal struck the sergeant in the face, causing “injuries of a terrible nature” and killing him instantly.
Three bystanders (of an estimated two thousand who were watching the blaze) were also badly injured in the blast and another five were hit by flying steel, however all others recovered.
The sergeants faithful dog, which was standing beside his master, was also struck by flying debris and killed instantly.
The Canberra Times of 26 March, 1931 carried the following account of the incident.
FATAL EXPLOSION IN FIRE AT BERRIGAN. Police officer killed by flying steel.
The explosion of a gas cylinder occurred during a fire at the Momalong Hotel, Berrigan. Within a few minutes the entire population had turned out. The flames spread with great rapidity. The occupants of the hotel made a speedy exit. When the cylinder exploded with a terrific roar, Sergeant Whiteley and Constable McRae were standing in the centre of the roadway. A piece of steel became embedded in Whiteley’s head. He was quickly conveyed to a local surgery where life was pronounced extinct.
Michael Hurood, Elsie McGee, and Elaine Dawson were struck by flying steel and badly injured about the body. They are expected to recover.
A bucket brigade did splendid work.
More than two thousand persons turned out to watch the fire, but when the explosion occurred there was a wild dash for safety.
Whiteley, who was 41, suffered injuries of a terrible nature, while a dog standing beside him was killed instantly.
Five other men were hurt by flying steel.
Whiteley was married with five children.
The sergeant was born in Bega in 1886 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 15 March, 1910.
At the time of his death he was stationed at Berrigan.
Western Argus ( W.A. ) Tuesday 31 March 1931 page 13 of 36
GAS CYLINDER EXPLODES POLICE SERGEANT KILLED. DISASTROUS FIRE AT BERRIGAN. Sydney, March 25.
A police sergeant was killed, three people were hurt and nearly 1000 others scattered in terror when, during a fire at the Momolong Hotel, Berrigan, a gas cylinder exploded. The dead man is Sergeant C. George Whitley (41) married, with five children.
Whitley saw service at the war, and was at the Gallipoli landing. Mick Hurwood, Miss McGee and Miss Elaine Dawson ( was a former Echuca girl, living in High Street ) were injured by flying fragments of steel and wood. The two girls were taken to hospital.
The entire population of 2000 turned out when a fire engine rushed up the main street at 4.30 a.m. Hundreds of people assisted the firemen in trying to quell the outbreak, but the hotel was burned to the ground. In the hotel was a 40 lb. gas cylinder, which exploded during the height of the blaze. With a terrific roar it burst into flames, and sparks shot high in the air. The crowd scattered in terror. Whitley and Constable McRae were standing in the middle of the roadway assisting the fire fighters when there was a yell from the crowd. “Look out,” shouted a number of men, and they and the police ran for safety. McRae tried to catch hold of Sergeant Whitley and threw himself flat on the ground. A piece of steel, became embedded in Whitley’s head. McRae was not injured. Pieces of steel and wood cut their way into Hurwood’s leg, and the two girls were hurt about the body. They are expected to recover. The cause of the fire is unknown. Residents of the hotel hurriedly left the building, which was a single storied one, when the outbreak occurred.
Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936), Thursday 26 March 1931, page 9
POLICE SERGEANT KILLED BY EXPLOSION
FIRE BURSTS CYLINDER.
Police-sergeant George Thomas Whitley, 41, married, with five children, was killed, three persons hurt, and about 1000 others scattered in terror this morning, when, during a fire at the Momolong Hotel, Berrigan, a gas cylinder burst.
A fire broke out at 4.30 o’clock, and the entire population turned to in an effort to save the hotel. Nothing, however, could be saved, and the hotel was burnt to the ground, though adjoining premises were saved from destruction.
There was a 40lb cylinder of carbonic acid gas in the hotel, and during the fire this exploded with a terrific roar.
Sergeant Whitley was standing in the roadway with Constable McRae when the cylinder burst. McRae threw himself to the ground, endeavoring to pull Whitley with him, but a piece of steel embedded in Whitley’s head, killing him instantly.
Michael Hurwood, Elsie McGee, and Elaine Dawson were injured about the legs and body by flying steel, all being seriously hurt. They were taken in motor cars to Corowa Hospital.
Whitley was a well-known and popular officer, aged 43, and joined the force 21 years ago.
Bathurst Times (NSW : 1909 – 1925), Wednesday 8 January 1913, page 4
CASE AT HILL END.
HILL END, Tuesday.
Considerable interest was centred in the local Police Court proceedings on Saturday morning, when Vivian Clyde Cook, a resident of Hill End, was charged with assaulting Constable George Thomas Whitley while in the execution of his duty.
The accused was represented by Mr. Casey, solicitor, from Orange, and Inspector Rank appeared for the police.
The facts of the case as stated by Constable Whitley were that on New Year’s night he was in Clarke-street when he heard the Roman Catholic Church bell ringing. He hastened away to the church, and when near there heard stones being thrown on the church. He also saw three men running away.
Witness and Constable Creevy gave chase. After running about 400 yards he came up with one of them, whom he recognised to be the accused. Witness said, “Alright, Cook, I will give you a summons for this.” Then he turned to run after the other two. When he had gone a few paces he was hit on the head with a stone, which knocked him down on the ground. He got up again quickly, and saw the accused lying on the ground, he also heard him saying someone had hit him.
Then witness and Creevy arrested Cook, and locked him up for the night.
Dr. Michael John Ryan stated that about 2.30 on New Year’s morningConstable Whitley was brought to him suffering from a severe wound on the head. He dressed the wound and put in two stitches. The wound was about a quarter of an inch from the temple.
The doctor said that he considered the constable was out of danger, but Constable Whitley could not go on duty for at least one week yet.
At this stage, Mr. Casey, solicitor, made a very strong appeal to the P.M. not to send the accused to gaol.
He pointed out that he had never been before the Court before; that he was a hard-working young man; that he was extremely sorry for what he had done, and that he belonged to a very respectable family.
There were a number of young men, most of whom were in the Court, at the time, who had made up their minds to give the police all the trouble they could. They were known as the “Kelly Gang.”
The police had had no trouble whatever with anyone.
The P.M. said that the case was a very serious one indeed, and on hearing the doctor’s evidence he had made up his mind to send accused to gaol.
The accused promised to be of good behavior.
The P.M. then imposed a fine of £15 and £3/4/ costs.
Four days were allowed in which to pay.
Two other charges— one for insulting language and the other riotous behavior were withdrawn.