NSW Police are heralding a major breakthrough in the suspected “gay-hate” Raymond Keam cold case, after a 75-year-old Melbourne man was arrested and charged with murder this week.
Victoria Police’s homicide squad detective made the arrest at around 10.40am on Wednesday August 18, at a home in Clayton in southeast Melbourne, with the accused charged with an outstanding interstate warrant.
“As part of ongoing inquiries, strike force detectives obtained an arrest warrant for a 75-year-old man, believed to be interstate,” a spokesperson for Victoria Police confirmed on Thursday.
NSW Police on Thursday morning confirmed the arrest on the basis of an interstate warrant.
“Strike Force Augenaut investigators successfully sought his extradition in Melbourne Magistrate’s Court yesterday and he was transported across the border to Albury Police Station where he was charged with murder,” the police said in a statement.
The man was refused bail and is scheduled to appear in a Albury Local Court on Thursday.
Arrest Comes After $1 million Reward
The breakthrough came just months after NSW Police offered a million-dollar reward for information pertaining to Keam’s death after his body was found on the morning of January 13th, 1987, at Alison Park in Randwick, in the Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
A post-mortem later had revealed that Keam head died from severe head injuries likely due to being struck multiple times. Earlier reports had also alleged his pockets had been emptied and the glove box and boot of his car had been ransacked by the time he was found.
A Coronial Inquest in 1988 found that Keam died due to being struck by unknown person/s. Following a formal review by NSW Police in 2019 under the Homicide Squad’s Unsolved Homicide framework, the case was reinvestigated by Strike Force Augenaut detectives.
The $1 million reward was announced in June this year.
‘An Epidemic Of Violence, Motivated By Bias And Hate’
ACON welcomed the new development. “While ACON cannot comment on the details of this arrest, this has been a long and difficult journey for the family and loved ones of Raymond Keam, including his wife and four children,”CEO Nicolas Parkhill said in a statement.
“We are hopeful of now moving a step further in understanding the truth behind what happened to Mr Keam in Alison Park in Randwick in 1987.”
“Mr Keam’s death occurred during a dark and violent period in Sydney’s history. An epidemic of violence, motivated by bias and hate, swept through Sydney and NSW during the 1970s to 1990s, leaving a legacy of pain, grief and trauma,” said Parkhill, referring to the wave of gay hate killings in Sydney.
Around 88 suspected deaths of men who were victims of hate crimes occurred between 1970 and 2010 in NSW, including the 23 unsolved cases. A Parliamentary committee had recently recommended to the NSW government to set up a judicial inquiry into the murders.
“There remain dozens more cases from this time that are unsolved, leaving many families and loved ones without answers or resolution. While this is a significant development in this particular case, it highlights the need for ongoing investigation, truth-telling and the delivery of justice for so many other victims of hate crimes, who were murdered or bashed in similar cases in NSW.
“We know that there are still people out there with vital information that can assist with ongoing inquiries. We commend the NSW Police Force for continuing to investigate this case, as well as the NSW Government for committing to a $1 million reward in 2020 for information on Mr Keam’s murder.
“Knowing the truth is vital in order to achieve justice and healing. As such, ACON renews its calls for a judicial inquiry into unsolved hate crimes, as recommended in the final report of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry handed down in May earlier this year,” added Parkhill.
‘A Life Viciously Taken’
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott in announcing the reward for information in June, said that Keam’s life was “viciously taken”.
“At the time of his death we had been planning out our life together – then it was all ripped away in an instant,” Keam’s partner Diane Smart said at the time, describing him as “kind and caring”.
“I didn’t just lose my partner that night, I lost my life and my future, and we all lost a huge of part of our family. Raymond was a bright, strong, smart and generous man who can never be replaced.”
A martial arts expert and parent to two young children at the time, Kean was just one of a string of homophobic attacks and murders which transpired in Sydney across the 1980’s and early 90’s.
Kean’s murder was one of 88 that was reviewed under Strike Force Parrabell set up in 2013 to investigate gay hate bias and inaction on the part of NSW Police in investigating these crimes.
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