Police renew appeal on decades-long sexual assault

Police renew appeal on decades-long sexual assault
Brendan Rees

Victoria Police has appealed for new information to help crack a 40-year-long mystery surrounding a sexual assault that occurred in the CBD.

The woman, whose identity has been protected, was walking to her car after finishing work at her second job at a bar in the CBD at midnight on May 6, 1982, when she was attacked by a man.

The then 21-year-old had walked through the CBD to Swanston St and then onto Batman Ave where she intended to catch a tram from a stop where the Princes Bridge now stands.

But after missing the tram, she decided to continue walking to her car that was parked on the banks of the Yarra River.

Across the road from the tram stop, the victim recalled seeing a young man leaning up against a bluestone wall and looking down at the river. She also saw a man wearing a white suit and carrying a briefcase at the tram stop that night.

While walking to her car, she heard noises behind her which she initially thought were rain drops falling on the ground, however she noticed a man (who had been looking at the water) was about 100 metres behind her.

Fearing the man was following her, she began walking faster to get back to her car but was attacked from behind.

“He grabbed hold of her neck, and she dropped her shoes and bag on the ground before struggling with the man,” according to a Victoria Police statement.

“The man pulled her towards the banks of the river, knocking her backwards to the ground. He choked the woman, before sexually assaulting her.”

Police said the man told her, “I know where you live, and I’m going to come and kill you if you tell anyone”.

He also told the victim his name was Stephen before walking back along the river towards the city.

Investigators have been unable to confirm if the man’s actual name was Stephen.

The matter was reported to police at the time but despite a significant investigation over the decades, no arrests have been made.

In March this year, detectives from the Sexual Crimes Squad’s historical investigations team renewed an appeal for information in the hope it would lead to a breakthrough.

The attacker was described as around 16 to 18 years old, about 190cm tall, with brown hair and stubble on his face, possibly a goatee.

His hair was styled up, and he was wearing a watch that had a round face with a light on it and numbers that were raised.

Detective Inspector Mark Burnett, from the Sexual Crimes Squad, said it was “as important as ever” that the person responsible for the incident was brought to justice.

“This was a brutal and opportunistic attack which had enduring effects on the life of a young woman who had just been trying to get home from work – something everybody should be able to do safely,” he said.

“Historical investigations are unique in that updates to science, methodology and legislation allow us to progress a case in a way that may not have been possible at the time of the incident, so receiving information even 40 years later can still make an enormous difference.”


I absolutely believe that with the right information, it can be solved.


“As we always say – people’s circumstances can change over time, and this appeal might be the prompt needed to help close a terrible chapter in someone’s life. If you know something, now is the time to do the right thing and come forward.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at crimestoppers.com.au

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