40 Minutes of Madness

01.06.2014

tags: NSW Police Force, Sexual Assault, Home Invasion, drugs, theft,

discussion: 0 comments

By Stuart Owen

From the June 2014 issue of the APJ.

In the early hours of Wednesday 21 January, 2004, Detective Leading Senior Constable Shane Conant’s sleep was broken by the ring of the Castle Hill Detectives’ on-call mobile. The call would put in motion seven months of exhaustive investigation, the pursuit of six violent offenders and the destruction of a family.

John and Sally Ward (names changed) were a typical couple in a close-knit family, with 16-year-old daughter Angela (name changed) and a 13-year-old son Alex (name changed) who suffered from autism. John was a knock-around bloke and, whilst no angel, was a good father and husband. The family lived on a sprawling rented rural property on Old Northern Road, Glenorie. Also residing with the Wards were two borders, Steve Ling (name changed) and David Buckley. Buckley had originally been introduced to the Wards by Angela’s boyfriend.

John Ward used cannabis and to support his habit had converted a cellar at the rear of the house into a hydroponic growing area for a small number of cannabis plants. A striking feature of the room was a large spa and a vivid blue, rock-like structure around the spa and on the ceiling, an image which became synonymous with the strike force. Buckley was aware of the cultivation of the plants and the location of the cellar.

On the evening of 20 January, 2004, the entire Ward family were home along with Buckley and a friend of Buckley’s, Daniel Ball. Later in the evening Buckley and Ball left in Buckley’s vehicle, a beige Ford sedan with registration plates WAG.683. The Ward family and Ling retired to bed.

About 4.00am on Wednesday 21 January, 2004, the Ward’s lives would change forever. The quiet of the morning was soon to be shattered. In the laneway beside the Ward’s house, six men made last-minute plans. They smoked cigarettes and hastily applied disguises before making their way to their assigned locations. The attack commenced soon after, as they forced their way into the house and unleashed a chaotic assault on the residents. 

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