The murder of two men around Marks Park Tamarama in the late 1980s could have been averted if police had acted earlier on claims of anti-gay harassment, a local gay man has claimed.

Gary Burns told Sydney Star Observer this week that a report he made in 1988 of a homophobic incident at Marks Park was dismissed by a sergeant at Bondi police station.

The sergeant gave the impression he knew of the problems at Marks Park, but he said -˜We’re not interested in gay domestics’, Burns said.

Last December, police re-opened their investigations into the July 1989 disappearance of Ross Warren and the November 1989 death of John Russell at Marks Park. They have called for gay men who frequented the area at the time to come forward if they experienced harassment.

Burns said he was chased from the park by five young men shouting faggot we’re going to get you one evening late in 1988, but was able to escape from them by hiding under a car parked on nearby Kenneth Street. He claimed that his report of the incident was not treated seriously by Bondi police and that was why he did not report the matter again after the news coverage of the 1989 incidents.

Those men [Warren and Russell] could still be here today if police took my complaint seriously in ’88, Burns said.

When announcing the reopening of investigations last December, the gay and lesbian community consultant for the NSW police, Sue Thompson said relations between the police and the community in the late 1980s had been fairly poor.

In the late 80s people were reluctant often times to come forward to police, she said. But a decade later the police service is so advanced in terms of its attitude to gay and lesbian issues that I would imagine a lot more people would feel comfortable coming forward without any fear whatsoever and with a lot of confidence in police.

Sue Thompson was unavailable for comment this week.

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