Will we finally be able to put this case to rest? 39



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Do you remember the family law court bombings from the 80s? For 30 years, the case has remained one of the country’s most high-profile unsolved mysteries but it seems, at last, the case could be laid to rest.

To recap: from 1980 to 1985, a series of attacks targeting judges and the Family Court of Australia, along with their families, a lawyer and other community members left four people dead.

Family Court judge David Opas was shot outside his home, another judge was injured by a bomb at his home, and another bomb killed Pearl Watson, the wife of Judge Ray Watson.

Another victim, Stephen Blanchard, was shot and Jehovah’s Witness minister Graham Wykes was killed by a bomb at a church hall.

The case became known as “the family law court bombings”.

Police never arrested anyone over the attacks but, after reopening the investigation in 2012, arrested 68-year-old Leonard John Warwick, a person of interest during the original investigations.

Today, having used updated technology and forensic methods, the police have charged Mr Warwick with more than 30 offences and, finally, the story can emerge behind this great mystery.

So far, it is alleged Mr Warwick would stop at nothing to maintain contact with his daughter from his estranged wife. During their custody battle, he set out to “obliterate” anything that stood in his way, allegedly blowing up courts and attacking judges and their families.

Pearl Watson, wife of the judge who ordered Warwick return his daughter to his wife would later lose his own wife when a bomb was left outside the front door of their home.

In 1986, Warwick was granted custody of his daughter in 1986, on her mother’s instigation, and the attacks ceased.

It has been reported that blood on the scene of one of the bombings has been confirmed to belong to that of Warwick’s daughter, linking him to the scene. Warwick will appear by video link in Central Local Court next week.

The aftermath of the family law court bombings was increased security at courts, plus paranoia and fear.

It could also be argued Warwick’s actions highlighted the prejudice in the justice system for always giving children to mothers in custody battles, not that this in any way condones Warwick’s actions.

Regardless, the resolution of this case will bring some comfort to the families of the victims and close the book on a long-opened chapter in Australian history.

What are your memories of the family law court bombings? 

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  1. Yes I remember it, it terrorized this country and he is white Australian !!!

    3 REPLY
    • I’m 5 th generation n I’ve found lots of Anglos r uneducated and rough heads. Even if they had a tough time at home. Why couldn’t they learn fr their parents mistakes. Education is free.

  2. I hope they have all the evidence to convict him this time we need to close this awful piece of criminal history for all the victims involved as they have waited long enough to find who was responsible for killing their lived ones and want Justice to be served on him. Unfortunately he has left another victim behind too in the dark for the last 30 years his current wife and or the children as he committed the offences before she met him so spare a thought for their world being torn apart too – he really is an arsehole of a person for keeping his past exploits from her once again jail is the only place for him but it will be too good for the likes of him a good time to think about the death penalty to be reconsidered don’t you think certainly with the new BAIL laws in place in NSW I hope they will not be allowed in this case

  3. Story of a selfish bully. Feel so sorry for the women in his life. Really brings to the fore DOMESTIC ABUSE. When are the authorities going to bring in laws to really do something about these sadistic egotistical bullies? Gaol not enough.

    1 REPLY
    • I saw that hi current wife is obviously terrified of him as the reporter was trying to ask a question and she said her husband told her not to speak to anyone.
      Hope that they have all the proof together so they can put this filth away for the rest of his life. I have no doubts at all. Seen other reports a few years ago and his total arrogance thinking he got away with killing all those people and the ruination of their families lives.

  4. Such an arrogant man. It’s amazing vigilante’s don’t take things into their own hands when someone like this evades arrest for so long.

  5. I remember especially as I was a gas meter reader then. And a judge was on my route. There were police everywhere and I had an escort to the meter. Was quite a deal.

  6. He really did think he got away with it, his smug attitude about it, didn’t plan the police would never give up and science would change the game. His current wife will be kicking up her heals when he is convicted for life, looks like she is terrified of him.

  7. I cant believe it has taken SO long – thank goodness he didn’t die and miss out on justice! I knew one of his innocent victims – Pearl Watson -quite well – a most beautiful person .

  8. Fear. We were in church when we heard about this. When I heard that it was related to a Family Court case, there was more fear for me. I was in an abusive marriage and had been trying to leave. The threats of retribution were well enforced after these despicable acts.

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