Batchelor — or DJ Coco as he was known across several Sydney gay bars and music venues — died from severe injuries he received two days after being attacked in Perth’s Middle Swan Reserve by two men in the early hours of Sunday, November 17 last year.
The Star Observer understands Batchelor, who was of small stature and a thin build, was beaten by the two men in what was allegedly a homophobic attack and included the use of weapons like a metal pole. It is also believed there were witnesses to the incident.
The men were originally charged with grievous bodily harm but those charges were upgraded to murder following Batchelor’s death at Royal Perth Hospital on the morning of Tuesday, November 19.
The two accused, aged 35 and 41, have been described by WA Police as itinerants who were camping in the area during the night of the attack. It is expected the accused men will again appear in court later this month or early April.
A memorial organised by DJ Mike Kelly and others for Batchelor was held at Sydney’s Stonewall Hotel last week, after close friend Barry Reeves posted a tribute to the DJ on Facebook page Lost Gay Sydney and in an advertisement in the Star Observer last month.
Reeves was inundated with messages in return, with plenty of Sydneysiders remembering and reminiscing about their experiences with Batchelor or his alter ego – DJ Coco.
Batchelor had moved to Sydney in the mid-1990s to seek a music career, but moved back to Perth to be close to family in the mid-2000s.
In the time he was in Sydney, Batchelor grew a reputation as a seasoned DJ and played at well-known Oxford St venues including ARQ, Midnight Shift, Phoenix, Albury Hotel, Kinselas and the Oxford Hotel as well as major events like the Sleaze Ball and Mardi Gras. However, it was Stonewall Hotel that was perhaps the venue closest to Batchelor’s heart.
“He just had a huge smile for everyone and whenever you had a problem, he’d listen and reassure you and would always give good advice,” Reeves said.
“He was really warm and generous but would lay it on the line and tell you to f*ck off if he didn’t like something but always in the nicest way possible.
“Music really was his passion and things like hi-fis and audio equipment, as well.”
Reeves told the Star Observer he decided to make a public tribute to honour Batchelor and to also generate greater awareness that anyone could be the victim of homophobic or transphobic violence despite the legal and cultural reforms over past decades.
“It’s very difficult,” he said.
“I want people to know that this has happened and that gay people are being killed.”
The Stonewall Hotel donated $2 from every drink sold at the recent memorial to an anti-gay violence charity. A wooden cross has also been placed by friends of Batchelor in Perth at the spot where he was attacked.
The Star Observer contacted WA Police but did not receive a response by time of publication.