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Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI


Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI


* Nickname:  Schooners

Formerly of Wagga Wagga, Coolamon, Batemans Bay. Late of Hervey Bay, Qld


Relations in ‘the job’:

“possible” relation in ‘the job‘:  Philip Sydney BERNASCONI, NSWPF # 12756 ?

Nina BERNASCONI, NSWPF # 36647  ?


NSW Police Training Centre – Redfern –  Class #  158


New South Wales Police Force


ProCst # 92016

Regd. #  17970


Rank: Commenced Training at Redfern Police Academy on Monday 23 January 1978 ( aged 21 years, 8 months, 9 days )

Probationary Constable- appointed 3 April 1978 ( aged 21 years, 10 months, 20 days )

Constable – appointed ? ? ? 

Constable 1st Class – appointed ? ? ? 

Detective ( Technical ) – appointed ? ? ?

Senior Constable – appointed 3 April 1987

Leading Senior Constable – appointed ? ? ? ( N/A )

Sergeant 3rd Class – appointed ? ? ? 

Sergeant 2nd Class – appointed ? ? ?

Sergeant 1st Class – appointed ? ? ? 


Final Rank: = Senior Sergeant ( Acting Inspector )


Stations:  Sutherland ( 24 Division )( ProCst ),  HWP, ?, Warilla, ?, Wagga Wagga ( 1980s – c1990s ), Urana ( 1984 ), ?, Scientific ( FSG )( 16 years in total ) – Retirement


Time employed ( Paid ) with NSW Police:  From: 23 January 1978   to   29 September 2000 ( H.O.D. with PTSD ) = 22 years, 8 months, 6 days

Service ( From Training Date ) period: From  23 January 1978     to    29 September 2000 = 22 years, 8 months, 6 days Service



Retirement / Leaving age: = 44 years, 4 months, 15 days

Time in Retirement from Police: 23 years, 2 months, 21 days


Awards:  No Find on the Australian Honours system


Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI
Geoff’s “Bogan” look – 2009

 Born:   Monday 14 May 1956

Died on:   Wednesday 20 December 2023 in his sleep

Age67 years, 7 months, 6 days

Organ Donor:  Y / N / ?


A sufferer of PTSD since February 1999.  Had previous bouts of Cancer. 

Cause:  Official cause of death is a Heart attack in his sleep.

Event location:  Home, Hervey Bay, Qld 

Event / Diagnosis date ?


Funeral date:  Thursday 11 January 2024 @ 10am ( Qld time ) – 11am ( NSW time )

Funeral location:  J. Kirk & sons Chapel, 224 Urraween Rd, Hervey Bay, Qld.

All Police, Retired and Serving are most welcome to attend.

There was no Official police involvement at the funeral.



Wake location:  Hervey Bay RSL, 11 Torquay Rd, Pialba, Qld

Wake date:  Thursday 11 January 2024



Funeral Parlour:   J. Kirk & sons, 224 Urraween Rd, Hervey Bay, Qld


Buried at: Polson Cemetery, Corser St, Pt Vernon, Qld

Grave LocationSection:          Row?         Plot:  663

Grave GPS?,       ?


Memorial / Plaque / Monument located at?

Dedication date of Memorial / Plaque / Monument: Nil – at this time ( December 2023 )



GEOFF  is NOT mentioned on the Police Wall of Remembrance  *NEED MORE INFO





May they forever Rest In Peace 

Australian Police YouTube Channel


Deepest Condolences to his wife, Georgie, and family.



Paul Herring  

22 December 2023
I have just heard of the passing of a former colleague from Class 158 Geoff Bernasconi. He was a wonderfully generous and giving man and a real entertainer. Your shift is complete Geoff – but your legacy, and the considerable memories you created will live on with many, especially during the times at Wagga Wagga. Special thoughts to Geoff’s family and the friends he leaves behind. Rest easy my friend. 💙

  *   *   *

Geoff featured in the book:  ‘Forensic Investigator – true stories from the life of a country crime scene cop’, written by Esther McKay.


Class 158A - Redfern Police Academy - April 1978
Class 158A – Redfern Police Academy – April 1978







 Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI
Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI # 17970

Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI


Georgina GREY & Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI
Georgina CLEMENTS & Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI # 17970 at their wedding. 10 June 2020

Georgina GREY & Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI

Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI & Georgina GREY


Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995),

Tuesday 28 February 1995, page 4

Boys face murder charges

WAGGA WAGGA: Blood had soaked 5cm into the ground around the head of a man found dead by a council worker in Wagga Wagga, the city’s Children’s Court was told yesterday.

Four Wagga boys, aged 11, 12, 15 and 16, have been charged with the murder of Peter William Baker, 55, whose body was found in Victory Memorial Gardens at 8am on November 6 last year.

They were charged also with robbery in company after it was alleged that money had been taken from the dead man.

On the first day of committal proceedings yesterday, Detective Sergeant Geoff Bernasconi said Baker would not have staggered to the spot where his body was found.

He would have fallen to the ground after being struck on the back of the head and stayed there.

A significant feature was that blood had been found only on and under Baker’s head, there had been no blood on the back of his clothes and only minute traces surrounding him.

Peter James Kelly identified three of the four youths as those he had given a lift at about 11.30pm on November 5.


Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995),

Sunday 30 July 1995, page 3

Problem noted before air crash

SYDNEY: A pilot spoke to his wife about his plane experiencing electrical difficulties only minutes before the plane plunged into a paddock near Wagga in south-eastern NSW, killing all four people on board.

Police said the 64-year-old Narrandera pilot told his wife in a mobile-phone conversation that he had lost the artificial horizon on the twin-engine Cessna 310’s navigation system.

He said he was flying in low cloud cover during a descent from 9000 feet on his approach to Wagga.

According to the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation, the pilot, from an air taxi service in Narrandera, then made his last known radio contact with Wagga airport at 7.43pm on Friday.

He failed to contact the airport six minutes later as scheduled.

A bureau spokesman said his last contact was routine and made no mention of difficulties.

Police identified the pilot as Don Knight, 64, of Knight Air Taxi, Narrandera. The Wagga men were Dallas Gooden, 42, Bruce Campbell, 54, and David Larwood, 33. They had been on a trip to Longreach in far-north Queensland buying stock.

Wreckage was strewn over more than a kilometre in the open paddock where the plane crashed.

Police said a woman from a property near the crash site, about 15km north-east of Coolamon, reported seeing a large flash in thesky and heard the plane crash about 8.10pm on Friday.

But the officer-in-charge at the crash site, Inspector Chris Morley, said it was too soon to talk about the plane exploding in mid-air.

He said the flash in the sky may have been the plane crash reflected on low cloud.

“It’s a big mess, I have never seen anything like it,” Inspector Morley said.

“It’s just devastating.”

The wreckage was found on the Thalia property by the property owner at midday yesterday after the alarm was raised.

This morning, NSW police video unit and photogrammetry officers recorded the crash site.

Two BASI investigators were travelling from Sydney to pick over the wreckage for clues about how the crash happened.

Inspector Morley said the men’s bodies would be collected and eventually taken to the city morgue in Glebe, Sydney, for disaster victim identification procedures, to be carried out by Riverina forensic services head Detective Sergeant Geoff Bernasconi.

Detective Sergeant Bernasconi was in charge of similar investigations after the Monarch air crash that killed seven people as it approached Young in central NSW on June 11, 1993.

NSW Fire Brigade, bushfire brigade and State Emergency Services workers were involved in the search on Friday night.



Forensic Investigator: True Stories from the Life of a Country Crime Scene Cop

Author(s): Esther McKay

True Crime

Forensic investigator Geoff Bernasconi had always been passionate about his job as a policeman in rural New South Wales, and went the extra mile, both for victims of crime and for their families. But one night in 1984, he was called to investigate the scene of a horrific car accident in which an entire family had been wiped out – and which it was impossible for him to forget.

Geoff‘s day-to-day working life became a catalogue of tragedies, some of which involved people close to him, and he found himself spiralling downwards in the grip of post-traumatic stress disorder.

When Esther McKay heard that Geoff had been awarded maximum compensation for his suffering, she knew immediately this was a story that needed to be told.

This is a harrowing account of what it is like to work on the frontlines of crime and tragedy as a forensic investigator. It is also the inspiring story of one who has been exposed to sights and experiences many of us can hardly even imagine, yet has emerged from the darkness to begin his journey to recovery.

Forensic Investigator: True Stories from the Life of a Country Crime Scene Cop


Relationship issues from the autobiographies
Allan Sparkes (Sparkes, 2013:136) describes his relationship with his wife Deborah as being strong and supportive, although he says “I kept my mental state from her.” Her support, Allan believes was central to his later recovery.

John Horner (Horner, 2011) experienced a marriage breakdown in midcareer, as did Esther McKay.

She described her subsequent partner as “extremely sensitive and comforting” in terms of her battle with the trauma that was then a challenging part of her everyday experience.

Belinda Neil had a similar experience, as did Geoff Bernasconi (McKay, 2010:74)

where he describes his marriage as “weakening under the strain”.

After being absent from home for four days involved with the forensic investigation of a plane crash scene, (during which time he made no contact with his pregnant wife) on arriving back to his home town he went straight to the hotel, got drunk and called his wife, suggesting she join him for dinner. The relationship did not survive.



Sleep Problems and Exhaustion: The autobiographies.
Alan Sparkes (Sparkes, 2013:140) describes his confronting dreams and his inability to sleep.

As his Post traumatic stress symptoms increased he commenced having nightmares in which he had stabbed to death his wife and daughter. These were the source of profound anxiety and fear for him, prompting thoughts of suicide to protect his loved ones from the possibility that his dreams might become reality.

Esther McKay (McKay, 2005:265/227) gives a similar account of nightmares describing a particularly disturbing one where she was ‘lying naked on the morgue table’.

Belinda Neil (Neil, 2014:2) describes “the long working hours with no time to recover from one traumatic incident to the next. And continues, I was falling apart, exhausted and forgetful”.

Geoff Bernasconi, (McKay, 2010:58/59) is “mentally and physically exhausted” and “fatigue was everpresent, especially on long road trips when Geoff would struggle to stay alert.”

These were officers nearing the limit of their resilience, unsupported by their organisation, isolated and nearing the end of their police careers.


Thesis Final PDF.pdf       Trigger Warning re this link; This document looks into Police, the culture, Stress and Suicide / Suicidal thought by Police.




Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI


Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI
My dog Mac reading the book

Forensic officer awarded $750,000

While a judge in Sydney was telling the court that a former policeman should receive the maximum compensation – $750,000 – the man in question was visiting the grave of a victim of a crime he had investigated.

“I have been to a few cemeteries,” said Geoffrey Bernasconi, 48, speaking from his home in Wagga Wagga. “It’s just a solace, a place for me to think and reflect.

“I think about those that are left behind, and I feel for the person … I found it quite peaceful there today. I reflect could I have done more, and I reassure myself, no, I have done everything I can.”

On Wednesday in the District Court, Judge Raymond McLoughlin awarded the former forensic services police officer $785,000 (including interest) for his suffering, and lost career due to work-related post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

During his 23-year career, in which more than half the cases involved homicides and dead bodies, Mr Bernasconi was only debriefed three times. Those occasions were “poorly organised and often occurred after the event”, the court heard.

A medical report said he had been “repeatedly exposed to some of the most tragic circumstances that may be witnessed in civilised societies”.

Based in Wagga Wagga since 1987, he investigated crime and accident scenes, retrieved body parts from cars, trains and light plane crashes. There were teenage suicides, infant drownings and homicides. Sometimes he was required to remove decomposed bodies because the government contractor “couldn’t stomach it”.

One of Mr Bernasconi‘s strengths was his empathy with the families of victims, who relied heavily on him. But this was also a stress.

The court also heard that for 15 months in the late 1980s he was the only crime scene investigator for the whole region, and was on call around the clock.

Judge McLoughlin criticised the service for failing to properly manage his 70-80 hour week, and failure to order appropriate leave and job rotation.

In 1999, he broke down while giving evidence at a coronial inquiry into a plane crash. The coroner recorded: “I have dealt with this man for 15 years and I have never seen him like this.”

Soon after, his police supervisor took his gun and handcuffs away. He was medically discharged in 2000-2001. He spent months in psychiatric care in hospital.

Judge McLoughlin said there were managerial and psychological interventions which should have been taken by the service. He found Mr Bernasconi was now unfit to work in the labour market.

Forensic officer awarded $750,000

Police obstinacy blamed for huge payouts

By Leonie Lamont and Michael Pelly


THE NSW Police Force has wasted millions of dollars fighting “no-brainer” claims by stressed officers, prompting the State Government to order an external review of the force’s legal services unit.

The Herald is aware of at least six cases in which former police officers offered to settle for less than $150,000 but ended up with $750,000 payouts after going to court. Seventy claims are before the courts.

The Police Minister, Carl Scully, said he had “concerns about the performance of the unit, particularly in relation to its management of settlements and litigation”. He mentioned matters “not being handed expeditiously or fairly” and a “reluctance to settle that then causes payouts being larger than what they otherwise may have been”. Payouts include:

■ Child protection officer Rodney Keen: offered to settle for $148,000 plus legal fees of $30,000. Awarded $750,000 plus costs.

Forensic services officer Geoff Bernasconi: offer of $150,000 to avoid stress of court before $750,000 judgement.

Armed hold-up squad officers Edward Shepherd, Mark Wilson and Craig McDonald: offer of $790,000 for all three. Awarded $2.04 million plus costs.

Undercover officer Bob Ridley: offer of $100,000 before $750,000 judgement.

Mr Scully said a solicitor who has worked in the public and private sectors, Helen Vickers, would deliver her report in a few weeks.

He conceded that if the claims were proven, “then obviously I would have to consider ways of improving or potentially changing the way legal services is conducted”.

One police insider said the unit had an “army mentality”. “They want to fight everything and settle nothing and then rage against the courts when things go wrong. It’s scandalous the amount of taxpayer money they are wasting.”

Mr Scully said the current system, under which up to six people must be consulted before making an offer, could be a case of “too many cooks spoiling the broth”. The minister must approve all settlements over $100,000. “No doubt we could potentially streamline that and make it more efficient and effective.”

Mr Ridley‘s solicitor, Philip Sim, settled a case involving another undercover officer – dubbed Miss X – on the fourth day of a District Court hearing last week. “They slow the process down, so they can wear people out,” he said.

He said one attempt at mediation collapsed when police lawyers could not get instructions.

Tom Edmunds, a solicitor and former policeman who represented the hold-up squad officers, was blunt: “$1.4 million – that’s how much the Crown contributed to our legal costs.”

Kim Smith, who acted for Mr Keen and Mr Bernasconi, said the legal costs of running a matter against NSW Police were “so much greater” than her other personal injury matters.

The Crown, which will pay a large amount of Mr Keen‘s estimated $350,000 legal costs, has foreshadowed an appeal.

Ms Smith said the Crown Solicitor’s Office had pointed out many times that NSW Police was exempt from the model litigants’ policy. This demands government departments avoid litigation wherever possible, but only the Attorney-General’s department is bound by the policy.

The secretary of the NSW Police Association, Peter Remfrey, said the way NSW police managed stress had improved but the legal unit’s handling of claims was “dysfunctional”. The association’s research director, Greg Chilvers, said 70 former police – many undercover officers – had negligence claims before the courts.

A precedent was set in a 2000 Court of Appeal judgement which awarded a former child abuse officer, Beth Seedsman, $750,000 for NSW Police’s failure to provide a safe system of work or protection from mental injury. “Given what we know about the law, in these cases it should either be a no-brainer or one to be fought on a matter of principle,” Mr Chilvers said. “It seems on a matter of principle they fight them all.”

Police obstinacy blamed for huge payouts


* Story behind any Nickname:  The man liked a drink.


Nothing further, than what is recorded above, is known about this person at the time of publication and further information and photos would be appreciated.



27 December 2023

Updated 9 Jan 2024

Updated 31 Jan 2024



One thought on “Geoffrey Paul BERNASCONI

  • I was posted to Urana as school principal in 1984. Geoff was the only police officer in town.
    He was the right person to be a small town policeman!
    He made it his business to know everyone and was always available to locals who were experiencing problems.
    He was active in the community as Treasurer of the Bowling Club and President of the local Apex branch.
    I was witness, to a car that had been involved in an accident where the driver was killed, being to towed into the Police Residence yard.
    He was an all round great bloke.
    I am saddened to hear of his death and sad life after moving to Wagga from Urana.


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