An inquiry examining suspected hate crimes against members of the LGBTIQ community has wrapped up, with the final report due in a month.
The Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ Hate Crimes has held 65 hearings, received more than 150,000 documents, and reviewed information from more than 130 members of the public since its establishment 18 months ago.
Commissioner John Sackar was tasked with interrogating unsolved suspected hate crime deaths from NSW Police's Strike Force Parrabell, plus all those that occurred in NSW between 1970 and 2010 where the victim was a member of the LGBTIQ community and their death was the subject of a previous police investigation.
Counsel assisting the inquiry said Mr Warren was likely killed by gay hate assailants, while the circumstances of Mr Rooney's injuries could not be established.
The commission reviewed 88 deaths covered by Strike Force Parrabell and almost 1300 other cold cases and missing persons.
Senior counsel assisting the inquiry, Peter Gray SC, said in his closing address that 20 Parrabell cases and four others should be considered homicides where LGBTIQ bias was a factor.
However, Mr Gray said it was possible cases were missed and suggested Justice Sackar recommend the NSW Police Force conduct its own review of unsolved homicides and missing persons to identify potential hate crimes.
The inquiry exposed how flawed police investigations and gaps in police records had prevented answers to the disappearances and deaths of members of the LGBTIQ community, including the cases of Mr Warren and Mr Rooney.
It also looked at possible police bias when it came to the investigations of these cases.
Counsel assisting proposed that Justice Sackar recommend that police implement a systematic and regular review of all unsolved homicide cases; a review of procedures and resources in the unsolved homicide team; and extra mandatory training for police staff regarding the LGBTIQ community.
Justice Sackar will deliver his final report on December 14.
He offered his condolences to the loved ones of the deceased, and said that despite controversies over the course of the inquiry, it was uncontroversial that "hatred and prejudice against any person, because of their identity, is an affront to a civilised society".
WIN newsreader Ross Warren was last seen by a friend about 2am on July 22, 1989 on Sydney's Oxford Street.
The 25-year-old was reported missing the following afternoon when he failed to turn up to work, and friends discovered his car and keys near the cliffs in Marks Park in the eastern suburbs, a recognised 'gay beat' he was known to visit.
But the officer in charge of the initial investigation, Detective Sergeant Kenneth Bowditch, said later that month that police believed Mr Warren had fallen into the ocean and his body would emerge soon.
The inquiry heard police did not look at the possibility of homicide and took no steps after July 28 to investigate.
Homicide Squad Detective Inspector Nigel Warren reviewed the case and told the inquiry that the failure to investigate Mr Warren's death further was a "significant oversight or deficiency in response".
In the early 2000s, under Operation Taradale, Detective Sergeant Stephen Page concluded Mr Warren likely died as the result of violence, due to links between attacks - often fatal - on gay men in Sydney and the operation of gangs in the area.
Deputy State Coroner Jacqueline Milledge also found in 2005 that Mr Warren was the victim of homicide, and in 2012 Detective Senior Constable Alicia Taylor from the Unsolved Homicide Team recommended an undercover operation targeting persons of interest, but no action was taken.
But in 2015, Strike Force Neiwand, which was tasked with reviewing the deaths of Mr Warren and two other men, sought to overturn Ms Milledge and DS Page's conclusions, although - as the inquiry heard - the strike force had not uncovered any new evidence.
"Our submission... is that Neiwand had no proper basis and no reasonable basis for contradicting the coronial findings of Coroner Milledge in any way," Mr Gray told the inquiry in June.
Counsel assisting submitted Ms Milledge's finding - that Mr Warren was a victim of homicide - remained appropriate, and it was "highly probable" he died as a result of a gay hate crime.
William Rooney, known as Bill, was found suffering serious head injuries in Crown Lane on the morning of February 14, 1986.
He died six days later at the age of 35.
When Mr Rooney was found he had no ID, his pants and underwear were lowered, he was missing a shoe and sock, and he had fingernail marks on his neck.
The inquiry heard an officer on the case said in January 1987 that Mr Rooney had fallen while drunk, but a report to the coroner on the day he died said there were suspicious circumstances.
A post-mortem examination found his injuries were most likely sustained from an accidental fall, which police concluded was the probable manner of his death, but no sexual assault examination was requested.
An expert report to the inquiry said the post-mortem report was inadequate.
A later coronial investigation found the cause of his injuries was undetermined.
On the day of Mr Rooney's discovery, police also failed to secure the scene and a nearby retail worker hosed it down, destroying potential evidence.
His partner told police at the time that Mr Rooney had spoken with a man involved in gay bashings.
This man, Leslie John Harrison, told police he was with his girlfriend that night but police did not verify his alibi.
The inquiry was told that significant shortcomings in the police investigation failed to identify a possible assailant in Mark Anthony Scerri, a serial rapist later found guilty of crimes against multiple men who allegedly told one victim, "I'll kill you like I killed the poofter in the laneway".
The inquiry heard records and exhibits from Mr Rooney's case had gone missing, although senior police officers could not say why.
Strike Force Parrabell had determined there was no link to homophobia in Mr Rooney's death.
Counsel assisting the inquiry submitted that the evidence was "insufficient to establish whether these [blunt head] injuries were the result of an assault or an accidental fall".
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