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Police offer AUS$1million to solve historic “gay hate” killing

Raymond Keam was murdered in 1987
Raymond Keam (Photo: NSW Police)

Police in Australia have offered a reward of AUS$1million ($770,000)  for information leading to a breakthrough and arrest in an unsolved crime from 1987.

Martial Arts expert Raymond Keam was married to a woman and had four children. In January 1987, the 43-year-old was brutally beaten to death in Alison Park in Randwick, Sydney. He died from severe head injuries.

The area was experiencing a spate of homophobic hate crimes at the time. Police have long suspected Keam fell victim to a gang that had been targetting gay men.

Police have said 88 killings that took place between 1976 and 2000 may have been motivated by anti-gay hate. LGBTQ advocates say police could have been far more rigorous in their examinations of the crimes at the time.

Raymond Keam (Photo: NSW Police)

In recent years, local cops have begun to re-examine some of the cases. In 2019, police offered a AUS$1million reward to find those responsible for the killing of an American gay man, Scott Johnson, in 1988. Johnson’s body was found at the foot of a cliff on a Sydney beach.

Related: Hunting gay men for sport: Man’s fall from cliff ruled a hate crime 30 years later

The amount was later matched by Johnson’s brother, bringing the total to AUS$2million. That appeal led to someone coming forward, and the subsequent arrest and charging of 49-year-old Australian man Scott Price. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Now, police hope another reward might help them to solve the murder of Raymond Keam.

“Raymond Keam was a young father of four children when his life was viciously taken more than three decades ago in Sydney’s east,” said Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliot, today.

“’We acknowledge that there was a dark and violent period in our state’s history when people were dismissive of suspected hate crimes and NSW Police have been working tirelessly to ensure every possible resource available is utilized when reviewing and reinvestigating these cases.”

Keam’s wife, Ms. Diane Smart, said, “Raymond was a kind and caring partner, father and step-father. At the time of his death we had been planning out our life together – then it was all ripped away in an instant.

“I didn’t just lose my partner that night, I lost my life and my future, and we all lost a huge of part of our family. Raymond was a bright, strong, smart and generous man, who can never be replaced.”

Raymond’s son, Kane (Photo: Police Media)

Kane Keam, Raymond’s son, was three years old when his father was killed.

“I grew up without a father figure and have missed out on sharing some really great life experiences without him, while the persons responsible are out there living free, unaffected lives,” he said at a press conference today, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Kane also said as a gay man himself, watching media reports of the anti-gay hate attacks that blighted Sydney in the late 70s and 1980s, which mentioned his father, was hard.

“As a gay man myself, this was heartbreaking,” he said.

“Not just what happened to my father but what happened to all the other men in that area at that time.”

Related: Neighbors help gay man paint his home in rainbows after he gets homophobic abuse

Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty, said in a statement, “Detectives are particularly interested in speaking with anyone who may have been a victim of an assault or who may have witnessed assaults at Alison Park, Randwick, in the years prior to and after Raymond’s death.

“After more than three decades, investigators hope to be able to provide Raymond’s family – including his four children – with some answers.”

Anyone with any information can contact Crime Stoppers in Australia on 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au