The Darkest Side of Human Nature


tags: Homicide, murder, Queensland Police, QPS,

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By Detective Inspector Brian Swan

From the June 2013 issue of the APJ.

Located between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, the Logan Police District is one of the most dynamic and challenging policing environments in Queensland. Detectives who serve in this district are exposed to a diverse range of crimes during their ‘tour of duty’.

In late 2004, members of the Logan District CIB were faced with the investigation of six suspicious deaths within an eight-week period, placing a significant strain on resources. This story follows the investigation into one of those deaths.

The article will show the importance of crime scene preservation, the value of team work during major investigations and highlight the benefits of persistent and thorough interviewing of persons of interest.

“Help! Get an ambulance!”

Far removed from the high crime and densely-populated Logan suburbs and consisting mostly of large acreage properties, Munruben is a quiet, peaceful and secluded area of the city. It is a popular place to live because of the relaxed, semi-rural lifestyle it offers families. On the afternoon of Thursday 21 October 2004, that peaceful atmosphere was shattered.

Annie Simpson (not her real name) was enjoying a quiet afternoon with her children at their home in Mahogany Road, Munruben. The properties in Mahogany Road are large blocks of about five acres each, with most houses set back some distance from the road.

Between 2.00pm and 2.30pm Annie heard a man yelling out, “Help! Get an ambulance!” She walked out to the front of her property and looked over towards her neighbour’s block where she saw a man lying on the ground with another man bending over him. A few moments later Annie saw the second man stand up and run off. When she looked back, she noticed that the man lying on the ground had blood all over his face and neck.

Shocked, Annie ran inside her house, and fearing for her family’s safety, locked all the doors. She then frantically called Triple Zero (000). Upon returning to the front of her house, Annie saw that the man who had been lying on the ground had climbed through the fence dividing the two properties and collapsed in her front yard, about five metres from the fence. Still scared, Annie made another call to a friend who lived nearby.

A short time later the friend arrived at Annie’s house and found the victim still lying in the front yard, but not moving. He checked, but there was no pulse. The time was now 2.37pm. A short time later, police and ambulance officers arrived. It was a disturbing scene, and plainly obvious that the victim had suffered a number of serious stab wounds and had quickly bled out. The victim was declared ‘dead’ at the scene by ambulance officers, so the responding police established a crime scene and called for the assistance of specialist units and detectives.

Initial Examination of the Scene

As Detective Sergeant Chris Hansel and I sped to the scene from our office at Logan CIB, we both knew at that early stage that this was not going to be an easy investigation. Resources were already spread thin and the witnesses had quickly established that the victim was not a resident of the street, and was not known to any of the neighbours. A Queensland driver’s licence in the name of Darryl Graeme Swinton was found on the victim, which indicated that he lived in Maryborough, 300 kilometres away.

It was a strange crime scene; the victim’s pants were undone, and lying next to the body was something that resembled a corset. Our minds were coming up with all sorts of possible explanations however a later examination would reveal this was actually just a back brace, often worn by those who suffer from chronic back pain.

It was apparent that the victim had been subjected to a brutal and violent attack involving numerous stab wounds to his chest, arm and neck. What had he done to deserve such a death? 

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