Paul Rath

16 June 1977

North Head, Manly

Paul Rath was 27 years old when he died.

His body was found at 7.20am on Thursday, 16 June 1977, near the base of a cliff not far from where Mark Stewart's body had been found a year earlier. He had suffered multiple injuries consistent with a fall from the cliff.

Paul was from a family of eight children and lived at home in Manly with his parents and siblings. He was a religious person who was involved with the local Catholic Church, and he worked as a volunteer catechist at local public schools.

According to his father, Paul had suffered what his father referred to as a "nervous breakdown" as a teenager. He had later worked for three years at the local "House with No Steps" but thereafter was on a pension and took regular medication. His treating psychiatrist described him as being well, in what turned out to be the final months of his life, and as not giving any indication of suicidal tendencies.

Paul seems to have been last seen alive, by one of his brothers, at the family home at about 4.30pm on Wednesday, 15 June 1977. His brother thought that Paul seemed happy. On Wednesday evenings, which this was, he often attended a regular church gathering.

According to his father, Paul would often walk in the Shelly Beach area and he would sit at the clifftop in order to relax. His body was found at the bottom of one of those cliffs.

The local Manly police quickly formed the view that there was no foul play involved. A brief coronial inquest was held in September 1977, three months after the death, and the Coroner found that Paul had accidentally fallen. However, it is anticipated that there will be evidence before the Inquiry which may indicate possible reasons to doubt the correctness of that finding. That evidence will include Paul's body having been found in a crouching position, neatly wedged in some rocks about 20 metres or so from the base of cliff, as well as evidence as to the nature of some of his injuries.

The area near the top of these cliffs was a well-known beat. There was evidence during the third Scott Johnson inquest about groups or gangs of youths in the Manly area who targeted gay men for assault and robbery, at least in relation to a slightly later period in the 1980s.

Strike Force Parrabell assigned this case to the category of "no evidence of bias crime".