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Thursday, June 20, 2024

$1million reward to solve fatal 1979 Luna Park fire case

The NSW Government, together with the NSW Police Force, has announced a $1 million reward for information about Sydney’s 1979 Luna Park fire, as Homicide Squad detectives continue to review the circumstances surrounding the fatal blaze.

Police say that at around 10.15pm on Saturday, June 9, 1979, emergency services were called to Luna Park at Milsons Point, following reports of a fire inside the Ghost Train ride.

Tragically, six boys and a man were killed in the blaze.

In September that year, a Coronial Inquest found the cause of the blaze could not be determined.

Over the years, investigators from across the NSW Police Force have investigated all information received in relation to the fire.

On April 2021, a formal request was submitted to the NSW Police Force State Crime Command by the State Coroner to conduct a review into all evidence concerning the cause and origin of the fire and the circumstances surrounding the seven deaths.

Detectives from the Homicide Squad’s Unsolved Homicide Team established Strike Force Sedgeman and a formal review commenced.

To assist with their inquiries, NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott today announced a $1 million reward for fresh and significant information into the incident.

Mr Elliott said he is confident any fresh and material information will assist detectives with their review of the case.

“Despite the passage of time, this horrific incident remains embedded in the psyche of Sydney-siders. I am appealing to those who may know something but have not previously been inclined to assist,” he said.

“You now have a million reasons to come forward. This is a very unique reward, it does not require a charge or conviction of any person, it relates to information about the Ghost Train fire.

“As soon as I met with some of the survivors earlier this year, and heard their devastating stories, I knew there was more that could be done. I stand with the family, friends, survivors and the broader community in searching for answers, and this reward should encourage anyone with fresh information to speak up.”

NSW Police Force Commissioner, Michael Fuller APM, said police have recently demonstrated a strong record of criminal investigations and arrests for offences committed decades ago.

“I want to assure the family and friends of those who lost their lives in this tragic event, and the broader community, that if our investigators can identify a way to pursue a criminal investigation then it will happen,” Commissioner Fuller said.

“It is very important to acknowledge that any major investigation conducted in 1979 would be deficient in many respects if viewed through the lens of modern investigative and forensic practices employed by NSW Police Force in 2021.

“Our Homicide Squad investigators are exceptionally diligent and will review all aspects of the case including allegations of corruption or malpractice.

“Strike Force Sedgeman detectives will also consider any new and compelling evidence which will allow them to progress inquiries with the State Coroner and Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.”

Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said the review would examine all available evidence obtained over the past four decades.

“Detectives attached to Strike Force Sedgeman have commenced a review of the 1979 Luna Park fire, which will take some time to complete,” Det Supt Doherty said.

“There is a significant quantity of materials that will be re-examined including documentation, video recordings, witness statements and forensic evidence,” he said.

“We know that the families who lost loved ones during this tragic fire have suffered immensely over the years, not knowing how and why their lives were cut short.

“Rest assured that if the NSW Police Force uncovers evidence to progress a criminal investigation into this historic event, then we will.”

Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Sedgeman detectives is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au

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