Million-dollar call for clues in historic Sydney Luna Park fire

By Melissa Coade

July 8, 2021

Police and emergency services minister David Elliot
Police and emergency services minister David Elliot said NSW police wanted ‘fresh and material’ information. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

The NSW government has announced a $1 million reward for anyone with information about the deadly fire that occurred over 40 years ago under suspect circumstances

In a statement, police and emergency services minister David Elliot said NSW police wanted ‘fresh and material’ information to help with the new investigation into the 1979 theme park fire. 

NSW police established Strike Force Sedgeman in April at the direction of the state coroner to review all evidence about the historical inferno which claimed the lives of seven people. Six children were among the victims of the tragedy that saw the popular Luna Park ghost train catch ablaze.

“Despite the passage of time, this horrific incident remains embedded in the psyche of Sydneysiders. I am appealing to those who may know something but have not previously been inclined to assist – you now have a million reasons to come forward,” Elliott said.

“This is a very unique reward, it does not require a charge or conviction of any person, it relates to information about the Ghost Train fire.”

The renewed interest from authorities about the suspected arson was triggered by a three part EXPOSED docu-series broadcast on the ABC. Journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna pieced together an alleged network of 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. 

The docu-series interviewed scores of former fire investigators, police, first responders, witnesses and family members of the deceased. 

“As soon as I heard from some of the survivors earlier this year, and heard their devastating stories, I knew there was more that could be done,” Elliot said.

“I stand with the family, friends, survivors and the broader community in searching for answers, and this reward should encourage anyone with fresh information to speak up.”

NSW police commissioner Michael Fuller welcomed the government’s $1 million reward offer. He assured family and friends of the victims that the police force had a strong track record of criminal investigations and arrests for ‘longstanding unsolved offences’ and reviewing allegations of corruption or malpractice.

“I want to assure the family and friends of those who lost their lives in this tragic event, as well as the broader community, that if our detectives can identify a way to pursue a criminal investigation then it will happen,” Commissioner Fuller said.

“Strike Force Sedgeman detectives will also consider any new and compelling evidence which will allow them to progress inquiries with the State Coroner and Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.”

People with any information about the historical fire should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.nsw.crimestoppers.com.au

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