Gay hate crime documents destroyed by police – but fight for answers will go on

Paul Simes, Gavin Vance and Alan Rosendale (L-R) outside Surry Hills Police Station. Photo: Supplied.

Alan Rosendale has been unable to uncover answers about who attacked him 31 years ago after police destroy historical records and ‘stonewall’ attempts to investigate – but the fight for answers will continue, reports Mike Hitch.

Alan Rosendale suffered a broken nose and was hospitalised for a week with several other injuries, after he was brutally beaten by four men on May 6, 1989. He had been visiting Moore Park, a well-known beat where gay men would meet up for sex.

Rosendale believes he was assaulted at the hands of the ‘Hoodlum Squad’, a group of undercover NSW police officers who were known for terrorising gay men at beats. 

“I went over there (Moore Park) and I couldn’t see anybody, and I just thought of getting out,” Rosendale told the Sentinel in October.

“Then I heard someone say, ‘There’s one, get him!’ So, I bolted. I was winning and getting away from them. But I tripped and fell in the gutter outside the Lincoln Centre. They proceeded to attack me with what I thought at the time were wooden planks.”

The Sentinel reported in October that Rosendale, alongside Eastside FM’s Queer For Your Ears presenters, Gavin and Jackie Vance, and a witness to Alan’s attack, Paul Simes, staged a walk-in protest into Surry Hills Police Station. 

The men hoped to uncover archived charge sheets and charge books, as well as police sign in and out records for both marked and unmarked police vehicles, which could lead to the truth of Ronsendale’s assault.

Police, however, informed the men that: “Motor vehicle records from this time have been destroyed in line with the NSW Police Force Disposal Authority.”

Furthermore, police concluded that the information requested under the 2009 Government Information (Public Access) Act of NSW, or ‘GIPA Act’, had a “low weight on the public interest” and therefore elected to not disclose the historical documents.

Vance was told: “This is a historical matter which did not involve you personally. You have informed me that the victim has previously applied for information in relation to this matter by making a GIPA request. The documents under consideration do not [include] information that is relevant to the assault. For these reasons, I place a low weight on the public interest considerations in favour of disclosure.”

“In contrast, [there is] a strong weight to the public interest considerations against disclosure. The information under consideration is the personal information of other people, who would not expect the information to be disclosed under the GIPA Act.”

Alan Rosendale believes the investigation into his attack was doomed from the start. Photo: supplied.

Rosendale told the Sentinel that he wasn’t surprised with police’s lack of cooperation, and believes his case was set up to fail when he first went public with his story in 2013. 

He alleges that detectives involved in 2013 failed to conduct an internal investigation, and attempted to discredit Simes as a witness.

“This one’s been going on since 2013 … The police just won’t give it any substance,” Rosendale said

“For the ombudsman report, [the detective investigating] knew Paul’s first report to the police commissioner couldn’t be tracked down, but she investigated his side anyway to discredit him as a witness,” he alleged.

Simes gave his initial report to police after the attack, with the help of NSW’s first Gay Liaison Officer, Fred Miller. Unfortunately, it’s believed Miller and officers interviewing Simes didn’t take notes at the time. 

“There’s no record of his [Simes’] report being taken down, but they didn’t investigate my side where there were hard facts. She said she’d contacted ACON and other community organisations to find Fred Miller’s notes, but it would’ve been easier to ask the policeman who visited me in hospital what happened,” Rosendale said.

“Their mindset straight away was ‘what Paul saw wasn’t me’, and ‘what I went through wasn’t what Paul saw’, even though it was practically word-for-word, description wise.

“It went through [state Member for Sydney] Alex Greenwich, and we did a report to the Police Ombudsman who just said basically the same thing as the police: ‘What Mr Simes saw wasn’t necessarily what happened to Mr Rosendale.'”

“There wasn’t really an investigation at all.”

– Alan Rosendale

Rosendale also noted that the officer who interviewed him at St Vincent’s Hospital the night of the attack failed to inform detectives to follow up. He alleges these ‘slip-ups’ paint a bigger picture about police ‘closing ranks’ to protect potential Hoodlum Squad members.

“All I have is the report from the police coming to see me in hospital the night I was attacked. Where they had my name spelled wrong, my date of birth is incorrect, and they said I was attacked by skinheads – I don’t remember that, how would they? When he interviewed me, I was practically unconscious because I’d been bashed shitless,” he said.

“In normal circumstances, he should’ve handed it [the report] onto detectives the next day, and they should’ve come and interviewed me. No one ever came. He wrote that up, handed that to his superiors, and they essentially ignored it. 

“There wasn’t really an investigation at all.”

Speaking to the Sentinel, Simes agreed with Rosendale’s suspicions, and affirmed that investigations by community members would have to continue while police “stonewall” information.

“I would say that the police force just want it all to go away. That’s the way these organisations operate, they stonewall you until you run out of energy,” he said.

“They [police] do it all the time with everything when it comes to their own internal investigations. I think it’s very disappointing, but it doesn’t surprise me.

“Look at Scott Johnson. His brother had to spend 20 years doing that … So, I think that these stories take a lot of hard work from people who are on the ground,” he concluded.

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