With the transfer of two senior officers out of Surry Hills LAC following an internal investigation into the handling of homophobic crime by that command, this paper feels vindicated in its campaign to end the hate and violence around Oxford St, which began in August with Maxi Shield’s call for senior police and politicians to walk a mile in our shoes, and culminated in last month’s vigil.
Surry Hills Commander Daryl Donnolley is moving to a desk job in corporate management, while his crime manager, David Egan-Lee, has been reposted to Parramatta.
Following the brutal bashing of Craig Gee, Det Insp Egan-Lee earned the ire of many in the community when he told TheSydney Morning Herald that people bashed on Oxford St were far more likely to have been attacked because of booze rather than for being gay (as if the two were mutually exclusive): “tenfold more people [are] being targeted because of alcohol, not because they’re gay.”
And after complaints about the police handling of Craig’s and other cases were aired in these pages, Surry Hills Police stopped speaking to us and its commander, Daryl Donnolley, accused this paper of sensationalism and of having misled readers about the ethnicity of the attackers.
In fact the only information we published was that provided to us by the Police Media Unit. When we first reported the attack, police told us they had CCTV footage of one of the attackers. After a great deal of asking, we were finally provided with descriptions and photographs of four males wanted in connection to the attack who had been filmed withdrawing money using Craig’s stolen credit card. Police did not rule out any of them as his attackers to us at that time.
The first we heard of the attackers being described as Caucasian was when Donnolley spoke to a rival publication and, when community members came forward claiming they’d been discouraged from reporting attacks as homophobic, Donnolley dismissed their stories, telling SX they were “rubbish … absolute crap”.
It’s clear to us that Surry Hills LAC needed a change in culture and, with that in mind, all of us at SSO would like to extend a warm welcome to their replacements, Supt Donna Adney and Det Insp Shane Woolbank.
We wish them all the best and hope that they, along with Assistant Police Commissioner Catherine Burn who has recently been appointed to oversee the area, have what it takes to turn the ghastly situation on Oxford St around where others have failed.