Killed just for doing their jobs: The heroic police who put their lives on the line – only to be ambushed in lonely alleys and hacked to death with machetes by angry young men
- National Police Remembrance Day will honour 757 police killed on duty
- Ceremonies across the nation and the south Pacific will respect the fallen
- Police remembered include those shot or stabbed while investigating crimes
- Constables Steve Tynan and Damian Eyre were gunned down in Melbourne’s infamous Walsh Street shootings while investigating an abandoned car
- Constable David Carty was stabbed to death by men in a Sydney car park
- Geoffrey Bowen was killed by a parcel bomb during an Adelaide drug case
They went off to work for the day and never came home to their wives or families.
Constables Steven John Tynan, 22, and Damien Jeffrey Eyre, 20, were ambushed and shot by one of Melbourne most notorious crime families after they were deliberately lured to abandoned car and gunned down.
The two young Victorians are among 757 police officers killed in the line of duty who will be honoured across the nation today in a series of ceremonies to mark National Police Remembrance Day.
The Australian Federal Police will host a dusk service at the National Police Memorial on Monday evening to honour all Australian police officers who have lost their lives while serving the Australian community.
Each state and territory police jurisdiction across Australia will pay tribute to the fallen officers, as well as those in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.
The National Police Memorial lists every Australian Police officer who has been killed or who has died as a result of their duties, starting with Constable Joseph Luker in 1803.
Luker was set upon while investigating burglaries on the night of August 25, 1803 in East Sydney and beaten to death, having a piece of his own sword embedded in his skull.
The 756 police officers who have followed Luker to the grave died from several different causes – car accidents while doing their job, plane crashes en route to a crime investigation and murder, by being shot, stabbed or blown up in a targeted letter bomb.
Despite constant calls from senior police or politicians to jail police killers for life, some of the most shocking murders have resulted in short sentences or acquittals.
These are the police murders which shocked the nation:
Shot in the back of the head: Constable Steven John Tynan (above, left) was just 22-years-old when he and fellow officer Damian Jeffery Eyre, 20, (right) were lured to a street where they were ambushed and shot in the head in a deliberate murder by one of Melbourne’s most notorious criminals, Victor Peirce
The Walsh Street killings
At 4.50am on Wednesday October, 12, 1988, Constables Steve Tynan and Damien Eyre responded to a report about a suspicious abandoned vehicle on a street in the inner south Melbourne suburb of South Yarra.
The two young officers turned up at 222 Walsh Street, unaware that they had been deliberately lured there by members of the notorious Melbourne crime family, the Pettingills.
One of four sons of the infamous Kath Pettingill – the former brothel owner upon whom the crime matriarch played by Jacki Weaver in the film Animal Kingdom is based – was Victor Peirce.
Peirce, who was shot dead in 2002, planned the ambush, according to an interview with his widow, Wendy, who said he had deliberately lured police to the scene for the purpose of murdering them.
Both Tynan and Eyre were shot in the back of the head at close range; while Eyre lay dying, his service revolver was taken from its holster and he was again shot in the head.
Peirce, his brother Trevor Pettingill and two other men, , Anthony Leigh Farrell and Peter David McEvoy, went on trial for the murders, but were acquitted in the Supreme Court of Victoria.
The brutal slaying of David Carty
On duty in the western Sydney suburb of Fairfield on April 17, 1997, Constable David Carty and other police spoke to a number of people on the street while conducting foot patrols.
When they had signed off for the evening, Carty and fellow officers went to the nearby Cambridge Tavern to relax over a few drinks.
Carty, 25, who was engaged to be married, was the among the last of the officers to leave the hotel at around 2.10am.He was set upon by a number of men in the tavern car park, among them some of the individuals he had reprimanded for using obscene language while on his earlier foot patrol.
During the attack, which was later described by a judge as brutal, ferocious and savage, Carty was fatally stabbed in the heart and then kicked, punched and stomped on by a group of men as he lay on the ground.
Senior Constable Michelle Auld who went to his assistance was also seriously assaulted.
According to his post mortem, Carty had several incised wounds to his head, bruising and trauma consistent with kicking, blunt trauma consistent with having been hit with a beer bottle, part of his earlobe has been cut, and he had a ‘scalping’ wound to the back of the head, possibly caused by a a sharp-edged machete.
Edward Esho, then aged 21, was convicted and sentenced to six years and five months for the killing and has since been released from prison.
The Moorabbin police murders
In the early hours of Sunday, August 16, 1998, Victoria Police Officers Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller were staking out the Silky Emperor Restaurant in Moorabbin, in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs during an investigation into a spate of armed robberies.
At 12.20 am, the two officers were gunned down at close range and the shooters fled.
Evidence at the crime scene included pieces of glass, which police later matched to a Hyundai hatchback and were eventually able to track down the exact model – and the vehicle, which was registered to the daughter of a known criminal, Bandali Debs.
Debs and an apprentice builder, Jason Joseph Roberts, were charged with the murders and with a string of armed robberies and in 2002 were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Debs was subsequently convicted of two more murders, of sex workers, Kristy Harty, 18, and Donna Hicks, 34, during the 1990s, and is currently under investigation for the 24-year-old cold case murder of Sarah MacDiarmid, who disappeared from a railway station in 1990 and whose body has never been found.
Death by letter bomb
Detective Sergeant Geoffrey Bowen was a Western Australian police officer who on March 2, 1994, was on secondment to the National Crime Authority in the NCA’s office in the Adelaide central business district.
St the time, he was investigating a man called Domenic Perre over a suspected mafia drug operation.
Detective Bowen was a senior investigator exclusively involved with Operation Cerberus, the investigation into Italian organised crime in Australia.
Two years earlier, police had uncovered a huge cannabis growing operation and charged men of Calabrian decsent who were believed to be members of the secret mafia society, ‘Ndrangheta.
Bowen had concluded that Perre was the financier and controller of the operation and the man was due to face court, when a parcel addressed to Bowen slipped through the security system at the NCA office and blew up in Bowen’s hands.
Neither Perre, nor anyone else, has been convicted for Bowen’s murder.
The shooting of Lync Williams
Lyncon Williams did not even have the chance to get out of his patrol car when he arrived with his junior partner at the scene in Blair Athol, in northern Adelaide on August 29, 1985.
The police officers were responding to reports of gunfire when they pulled up on Ross Avenue and a 17-year-old shot him.
Police arrested and charged the shooter with murder. He was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment at the Governor’s pleasure.
Police Association president Peter Alexander later reflected on Williams’ death, saying ‘I didn’t know Lync Williams but ’ I’ll always remember the circumstances of that murder.
‘I remember the shock of it and the grief for his family and workmates. It was a tragedy that was reflected right across the job.’
Peter Addison and Robert Spears
At 12.35am on July 9, 1995 Constables Peter Addison and Robert Spears were on the night shift at at the Kempsey Police Station on the NSW Mid North Coast.
They were called to a malicious damage and domestic violence complaint at the nearby coastal town of Crescent Head, where they attended one address and then drove to a house on Main Street.
They parked the car and began to walk towards the front door; they were unaware that a drunken man called John McGowan was lying in wait in the carport dressed in camouflage gear and armed with a .223 calibre Ruger rifle.
Neither of the officers had bullet proof vests or carried sufficient weaponry and in the next few moments they were ‘outgunned’.
McGowan shot Spears dead. At 1.22am, Senior Constable Addison radioed a message for urgent assistance.
Addison managed to enter a house across the road to use a phone for help, when he was told there was not one he left the house only to be shot himself.
McGowan then shot himself.
Father of two knifed through the heart
On July 29, 1990, South Australian police officer David Thomas Barr was responding with his partner, officer Jamie Lewcock, to a report of a man threatening a woman.
The father-of-two young girls, Barr was attacked soon after he arrived at the scene as he attempted to arrest the man who was wielding a knife and refusing repeated requests to lay down thew weapon.
The man plunged the knife deep into the Barr’s heart. Barr was rushed to hospital, where doctors tried desperately to save him.
As his wife Gwenda waited in a room, Barr succumbed to massive loss of blood and died.
Gwenda Barr, who had been married for nine years and had daughters Nicola and Sarah, then aged eight and six, later described how devastated she had been by the death.
‘I was shocked stunned and numb’ she said. ‘I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it either. It was terrifying.’
Barr’s murderer was sentenced to life imprisonment. Barr was later awarded posthumously the Australian Bravery Medal.
When residents on a property complained to police that a number of arrows had been fired from a neighbouring farm, senior police officer Bryson Charles Anderson attended the scene.
It was shortly after 4.15pm on December 6, 2012 and Detective Inspector Anderson went to the property and was speaking with a man who was at the back door of the residence.
The man produced a knife and stabbed him to the face and chest. Anderson assisted other officers in subduing the offender and a female accomplice before he collapsed from his injuries.
He was unable to be revived and died at the scene.
Anderson had been a police officer for 26 years.
At a ceremony in Queensland on Monday, Police Commissioner Ian Stewart highlighted the inherent risks faced by police officers everyday as they provide for the safety and security of Queensland and acknowledged the tireless work of all QPS members, across a diverse state.
‘Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of those officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice, as we honour their memories on National Police Remembrance Day,’Commissioner Stewart said.
‘The QPS operates 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year; and we have at least 15,000 interactions with the public every day, with each police officer swearing an oath to protect and serve the community,’Commissioner Stewart said
‘There are times however, when no matter how dedicated, committed and courageous our officers are, they face unbeatable odds.’