NSW coroner officially requests review of historic Luna Park fire

By Melissa Coade

Tuesday April 13, 2021

luna park sydney
Seven victims (six of whom were children) perished in the June 1979 fire. (Image: Adobe/Michael)

State coroner Teresa O’Sullivan has called on the NSW police to review all evidence for the Luna Park Ghost Train fire of 1979, following revelations it may have been caused by arson.

NSW Department of Communities and Justice told The Mandarin that the coroner was able to officially request that evidence of the Ghost Train fire be reviewed last Thursday, when she received an application from a person with sufficient standing under the Coroners Act to seek a fresh inquest.

“The State coroner will now be able to consider whether a fresh inquest into the matter should be held,” a department statement read. 

Seven victims (six of whom were children) perished in the June 1979 fire and their story, including allegations of a cover-up of the investigation, were the focus of a three-part EXPOSED series recently aired by the ABC. Journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna unravelled a web of alleged corruption that linked former senior-ranking police with Sydney crime boss Abe Saffron, who would later come to have ties to the ownership of Luna Park. 

One of the most explosive claims of the series came from a senior police sergeant Paul Egge, who says that in the mid-80s he was privy to transcripts of taped conversations between Abe Saffron, then-High Court Justice Lionel Murphy and NSW premier Neville Wran. Egge claims the conversations indicated the trio had conspired to ensure Saffron would win the lease of Luna Park following the fire. 

Other parts of the alleged corruption surrounding the 1979 Luna Park incident include the suppression of evidence by police and first-hand accounts of witness-intimidation by police to kill the suspicion that the fire may have been deliberately lit. 

Subsequent agency inquiries into the investigation decades after the event were also potentially ham-strung by the alleged high-level corruption. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the ABC last week that her government was considering the option of a fresh inquest. 

“If we can go down that path, we will. But I do want to confirm that we are giving it good consideration,” the premier said. 

Communities and justice confirmed that the state coroner’s formal request had been issued to NSW Police State Crime Command “to conduct a review into all evidence concerning the cause and origin of the fire and the circumstances surrounding the deaths as a result of the fire.”

“Once the review has been received from NSW Police, the State coroner will make a determination under s.83(4) Coroners Act,” the department said.

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