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Family Court of Australia attacks

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The Family Court of Australia attacks were a series of shootings and bombings in New South Wales, Australia from 1980 to 1985. They were targeted at judges, and other people, associated with the Family Court of Australia. In the attacks two people were shot dead, two killed by bombs, a court building was damaged by a bomb, and another bomb was found attached to a motor vehicle. In late July 2015 a man was arrested and charged over the attacks.



The attacks are considered to have begun on 22 February 1980, when Stephen Blanchard was shot dead in his home. His body was found six days later on the opposite side of Sydney in Cowan Creek on the Hawkesbury River.

On 23 June 1980, Family Court judge David Opas was shot outside his home. He died later that night in hospital.

On 6 March 1984, judge Richard Gee, who had taken on Opas' cases after his death, was injured by a bomb at his Belrose home. On 14 April 1984, the Family Court building in Parramatta was bombed, without any injuries.

On 4 July 1984 Pearl Watson, the wife of Family Court judge Ray Watson, became the first fatality of the bombing campaign when she opened the door of their unit in Greenwich, triggering an improvised explosive device on the doorstep. Judge Watson is believed to have been the target but was only injured. Like Richard Gee, Watson had taken on some Family Court cases from his predecessor after Gee had been injured in the March 1984 bombing.

Then on 21 July 1985 Graham Wykes, a Jehovah's Witness minister was killed, and another 13 people injured when their Casula Kingdom Hall was bombed.

Also in 1985, an unexploded bomb was found in Northmead under the bonnet of a car. The address was formerly that of a solicitor who acted for a woman in a Family Court case. His name was still listed at that address in the phone book.

The attacks were considered an unsolved mystery of Australian crime. In 1984 a A$500,000 reward was offered for information, but was never claimed.


There were two coronial inquests into the attacks. The first was held in 1986 at Glebe Coroner's Court, investigating the death of Graham Wykes. The second was held in 1987 by Kevin Waller into the death of Pearl Watson. Waller recorded an open verdict, expressing frustration and disappointment that insufficient evidence had been found to charge the main suspect, who had been connected in some way to all of the victims.

In 2012 the State Crime Command's homicide squad restarted an investigation into the crimes.


On 29 July 2015 a 68-year-old man was arrested at Campbelltown, New South Wales. He was charged with "... numerous offences, including four counts of murder and attempted murder." and was refused bail. He now faces 32 charges: "four counts of murder, one of attempted murder, and 13 counts of burning or maiming with an explosive substance in a total of five bombings."

He appeared in Campbelltown Local Court on 30 July 2015. The case was adjourned to 6 August at Central Local Court. At the August hearing the suspect did not appear and did not apply for bail. Bail was formally refused and he will be held until the next hearing in October.

The man had been a "person of interest" in the original investigation, and was named as Leonard John Warwick. Warwick was remanded in custody to appear in court until 10 February 2017.


Family Court of Australia attacks Wikipedia

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