A SYDNEY gay man who believes police officers may have been responsible for his brutal bashing 25 years ago has called for an independent inquiry in to the NSW Police Force’s investigation of the incident.
It’s a call supported by Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich, who said the police’s treatment of gay men in the 1980s and 1990s needed to be put under the microscope.
Paul Simes (pictured above, left) believes he witnessed an attack on the same night on the same street that had similarities to Rosendale’s experience.
Simes told the Star Observer a man matching Rosendale’s description fell about 20m ahead of his car.
“I could just see them beating the shit out of him so I turned my headlights on,” he said.
“It was just a horrifying thing to watch.”
Rosendale said he remembered the car: “It wasn’t until they started laying into me I saw car lights come past and I thought, ‘oh good someone’s come to save me,’ and then the next thing I woke up at St Vinnies [hospital].”
Despite Simes reporting the incident to police and providing the registration number of the vehicle the gang used, and Rosendale giving a statement from his hospital bed, police made no connection that the two events could actually be one and the same.
Several weeks later, Simes was shocked to be told by his police liaison that the vehicle he reported was an unmarked police car.
In a subsequent meeting at police headquarters, Simes said he was told the car had been assigned to a squad of officers who were known “troublemakers”.
The crime went unsolved, but in 2014 Rosendale read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald where Simes described the incident that occurred 25 years ago.
Both men went to the police but the force concluded there was not enough evidence to prove they had described the same event.
Pushing further, the two found that key evidence — including Simes’ triple-zero call and the information about the vehicle and police officers it was assigned to — was now missing.
“Any good-thinking police would want an investigation and if there’s nothing to be found, great.”
Nicholas Stewart, a partner at solicitors Dowson Turco who are representing Rosendale, said any inquiry should also examine the police response to a spate of violent incidents involving gay men in the 1980s and 1990s.
“There is more than enough evidence on the table to now suggest a lot of suicides [by gay men] were not in fact suicides and a lot of evidence that gay bashings were being reported but not being followed through,” he said.
“The NSW police force has to show the gay community that they are the good guys and they are there to protect us, not to hurt us.”
Greenwich confirmed he wrote to NSW Premier Mike Baird last month and called on government funding for an inquiry.
“This case really does prove the need for an independent board or commission to investigate this biased activity that occurred in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” he said.
NSW Police said in a statement they reopened the investigation late last year but, “detectives have been unable to find evidence that directly links the assault upon Alan Rosendale to the assault witnessed by Paul Simes.”
Police said several key witnesses could no longer recall the event in sufficient detail and there were no records to link them but the investigation remained open and anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers.
With Mardi Gras coming up, NSW Police said they were, “committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all members of the LGBTI and wider community.”
Police did not comment on calls for an inquiry.
Rosendale said he wanted closure.
“One, I was bashed by the police; two, it was covered up, and three, it was too hard for them to handle so it’s just been obliterated,” he said.
“We’ve been told nothing; they’ve tried to sweep us under the carpet. I just want some answers.”
(Main image credit: Benedict Brook; Star Observer)