Man held over Australian court bombings, killings


29th July, 2015 01:56:41 printer

Man held over Australian court bombings, killings

SYDNEY: Australian police Wednesday arrested a man over a series of shootings and bombings three decades ago targeting family court judges that left four dead, shocking the nation.

The man, reported to be 68-year-old Leonard Warwick, was seized in the city's southwestern suburb of Campbelltown and faces 32 charges over seven alleged attacks between February 1980 and July 1985, New South Wales state police said.

"These crimes not only were crimes against individuals, they were crimes against our society," NSW Police homicide commander Mick Willing told reporters.

"The pillar of our society is the legal system and these are direct crimes against a pillar of our society. They impacted not only individuals; they impacted on the entire country."

The cold case -- one of Sydney's biggest unsolved crimes -- was reopened in 2012 with investigators able to bring charges against the former firefighter using significant new evidence, historical evidence enhanced by new technology, and old and fresh witness testimonies.

"When you add it all up we felt and we feel that we have a very strong case," NSW Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas said at the same press conference.

Although Warwick -- who was reportedly involved in a bitter custody battle at the time of the attacks -- was named in an inquiry, he was never charged.

Police said he would now be charged with the shooting death of his brother-in-law Stephen Blanchard in February 1980 and the killing of Family Court of Australia judge David Opas, who was allegedly shot at point-blank range when he opened the door to his home four months later.

He also faces charges over the deaths of Pearl Watson, the wife of Justice Raymond Watson, after their home was bombed in 1984, and Graham Wykes, a minister who died following the bombing of a Jehovah's Witness meeting hall in 1985.

Other charges relate to attempted murder, the use of explosive substances, and breaking and entering a house of worship, police said.

The Family Court's Chief Justice Diana Bryant said in a statement she was "grateful that police have at last made an arrest after so long without any resolution of these crimes".

The Family Court, in western Sydney, was bombed in April 1984, just over a month after the home of Justice Richard Gee was bombed. He was injured but survived.

There was also an attempt on the life of a solicitor.

Opas, Gee and Watson all presided over Warwick's custody case at the Family Court, Australia media reported.