William “Bill” Antony Rooney

February 1986

Wollongong

William Antony Rooney, known as "Bill", died on 20 February 1986. He was 35 years old and originally from Scotland. He identified openly as a gay man and lived with his partner, Wayne Davis.

On the night of Thursday, 13 February 1986, Mr Rooney and Mr Davis went to Tattersalls Hotel in Wollongong where they each drank a number of schooners of beer. They parted company that night at about 10pm.

At around 8.40am the next morning, Friday, 14 February 1986, Mr Rooney was found in Crown Lane in Wollongong's CBD. He was lying on the ground between a toilet block and a wall with blood coming from his mouth and surrounding his face and head. His injuries included a fractured skull. Ambulance officers took Mr Rooney to Wollongong Hospital where he died some days later.

There was an investigation by police. The police considered that Mr Rooney's injuries may have been caused by a fall. No swabs were taken from Mr Rooney's body.

The next year, 1987, saw a Coroner's finding that the evidence did not enable him to say whether Mr Rooney's injuries were received accidentally or otherwise.

Years later, there were police investigations into a series of assaults on other men in the Wollongong area. In 1989 there was an arrest of an individual who was then charged with multiple offences against multiple victims, including an attempted murder and sexual assault. Mr Rooney was not one of the victims to whom any of the charges related.

However, at least one of the assaults in question occurred very close to where Mr Rooney's body had been found. In 1993, the accused was convicted of various offences and imprisoned. In 2001 he was released. Within months he was charged with another violent assault. He pleaded guilty and was imprisoned again.

In the light of what had become known about this individual who had perpetrated these many assaults, Mr Rooney's death was re-investigated. A brief was forwarded to the DPP for consideration of charges against the known perpetrator in connection with Mr Rooney's death. However, the DPP determined that there was insufficient evidence for charges to be laid.

Strike Force Parrabell assigned this case to the "insufficient evidence to establish a bias crime" category.

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