Dr George Ian Ogilvy Duncan's body was found in Adelaide's River Torrens near a well-known homosexual beat on 10 May 1972. The Australian law lecturer had drowned after being thrown into the river by a group of men.
Dr Duncan had been living in Adelaide for only six weeks before he died. The highly regarded academic was a loner – described as reticent, bookish and discreet. He had no living family, no partner, few acquaintances, and, as it turned out, only a handful of contacts in the UK where he'd been living for the past 12 years. There was no-one to report him missing and it was several days before his body was identified.
The senseless murder of the timid and scholarly Dr Duncan proved to be a watershed moment in Adelaide's history, with shockwaves resounding through the South Australian police force, parliament and gay community. His death is widely thought to have triggered South Australia's move to be the first state to decriminalise homosexuality.
The death of Dr Duncan was a case shrouded in mystery and intrigue and to this day remains unsolved/unproven.
On 5 February 1986 three former Vice Squad officers, Brian Hudson, Francis Cawley and Michael Clayton were charged with the manslaughter of Dr Duncan. Cawley and Clayton eventually went to trial in 1988 but were both acquitted of the charges after refusing to testify.
A substantial reward for information stands.
The Hon Michael Kirby
DR GEORGE IAN DUNCAN REMEMBERED
Horrors and Indignities
Very interesting reading to get an idea of what it was like back in the 70s for gay men more specifically and those in the higher echelons. They were under surveillance.
The legislation was piloted to success by the Honourable Anne Levy MLC in the Legislative Council. On 17 September 1975 South Australia became the first State in Australia to decriminalise male homosexual acts.22
Unfortunately, this reform did not end the saga of police hostility towards gay men in South Australia (the criminal laws in Australia, as in England, had never targeted women). Many gay and bisexual men suspected that they were still the subject of police surveillance. This surveillance, as we now know, targeted the highest citizens of the State and included Chief Justice John Bray, one of the most distinguished jurists Australia has produced.23 It was a shabby period in the legal history of South Australia, but by no means was it confined to this State. It was a period many have now forgotten, but those who lived through it, like me, remember
Listening to this today as a study of the times. There's a first hand account in ep 2 from Roger who was also hurled into the Torrens and after crawling to the side of the road was given a lift to the hospital by Bevan Spencer von Einem.