On the 9th of November, 1961, in the sleepy, seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, a woman named Winifred went into labour. Her husband, Jack, rushed to Ashcombe House Maternity Home and was at his wife’s side as she gave birth to their one and only daughter. They would name her Jill Wendy Dando.
Jill’s early years were an uphill struggle. When she was just three years old, it was discovered that she had a blocked pulmonary artery, as well as a hole in her tiny heart. The pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs, where it will be loaded up with oxygen again before circulating the body. Unless the blockage was cleared, the infant Jill’s lungs would be unable to form even the most basic of functions. Her young life was in grave danger.
But thanks to the budding National Health Service, the infant Jill was taken care of. Doctors from all over the former British Empire took part in the delicate operation to sew up and unblock her tiny, still beating heart. The operation was a complete success and Jill grew up to be a healthy, happy girl.
After her comprehensive education, Jill went on to study journalism at the South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education in nearby Cardiff, Wales. It was there she would be filled with a passion for dramatics and media, taking part in local Amateur Dramatics and Theatre companies and even volunteering for Sunshine Hospital Radio, a non-profit organization that wished to bring a little ray of sunshine into the lives of sick and injured patients. It appears that Jill never, ever forgot the debt she owed to her nation’s medical professionals.
Journalism was something of a family business for the Dandos. Jill’s father and brother worked for the local weekly newspaper, The Weston Mercury, and this was where Jill found her first paid reporter’s job. For five whole years she worked as a print journalist for the Mercury, covering community events and helping to promote local and regional business. But Jill always knew she was destined for the big time.
So in 1985... keep reading on reddit ➡
In the 1970s and the 1980s, up to twelve men died at or disappeared from cliffs around Sydney. At the time some were judged as suicides or accidents. It is now believed gay bashers were responsible for throwing men from the top of cliffs. Many of the clifftop areas operated as a gay beat (outdoor cruising area) and the men disappeared while walking those areas alone at night. There were several other bashing deaths at other beats: often public toilets in parks.
In recent years, New South Wales police have been re-examining 88 crimes from 1970s, 80s and 90s, to assess how many might fit the gay-hate category, and if a homophobic police culture may have hindered the original investigations. The 88 crimes do not all involve beats or cliffs, but most have victims who were gay men or men possibly mistaken for being gay. The crimes occurred in different areas of the state of New South Wales, but mostly in Sydney.
Of these 88 crimes under review, 23 are unsolved. The cliff deaths and disappearances are included in the police review.
Three of the highest profile cases are those of Gilles Mattaini, Ross Warren, John Russell. They were gay men who were found dead at, or disappeared from, the cliff top beat at Marks Park, Tamarama [map] at night.
Mattaini went missing in September 1985, Warren went missing in July 1989, and Russell died in November 1989.
Scott Johnson's death in December 1988 at a cliff in North Head [map] near Manly has also attracted a lot of publicity in recent years.
These cases seem very similar but were not linked to each other or attributed to gay bashers at the time. Some were judged as suicides or accidental falls. Sydney's many cliffs are well known suicide locations. Also, Mattaini was not reported missing until 2002.
Police took just four days to conclude Warren fell accidentally into the sea. The Coroner later called that investigation "grossly inadequate and shameful" and concluded Warren was murdered and police now call it a "probable gay-hate crime".
The family of Simon Blair Wark who apparently died after falling from a different cliff, believe police too-quickly dismissed the death as a suicide.
The family of Scott Johnson reject police claims he probably committed suicide.
Buried... keep reading on reddit ➡
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Journalism was something of a family business for the Dandos. Jill’s father and brother worked for the local weekly newspaper, The Weston Mercury, and this was where Jill found her first paid reporter’s job. For five whole years she worked as a print journalist for the Mercury, covering community events and helping to promote local and regional business. But Jill always knew she was destined for the big time. So in 1985, when the call came from the British Broadcasting Corporation that they were looking for a newsreader for BBC Radio Devon, Jill jumped at the chance, beat out her male competitors, and secured her place on the next highest rung of the media ladder. Her meteoric rise was simply unstoppable. Dando was fresh faced, enthusiastic, intelligent and beautiful; she exuded the girl-next-door type of vibe that her listeners found endeari... keep reading on reddit ➡