The pub at the centre of Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak has a chequered history of bikies, truck drivers, rapists, and serial killers.
Crossroads Hotel in Casula, southwest Sydney, is now the most infamous pub in town as the cluster threatens to send NSW back into lockdown.
Locals say the pub is extremely popular, even since the pandemic, and usually packed to the rafters ever Friday and Saturday night.
But it’s not the first time the hotel has been in the spotlight – with rumours of shady meetings among bikies, truckie stopovers, and missing backpackers.
A total of 38 cases have now been linked to The Crossroads Hotel after a patron with COVID-19 attended the venue on July 3
Thousands of locals have been tested at the pop-up clinic since it was established on Friday, with three-hour long queues still stretching around the enormous block on Monday
Veteran crime reporter Les Kennedy knew the pub well, having met with sources there while working on his biography of serial Killer Ivan Milat.
He described it as ‘the haunt of a mixture of bikies and printed-shirt ordinary guys. But definitely not a coat kind of place’ in his book Sins of the Brother.
The stretch of Hume Highway near Liverpool was where Milat picked up a number of his victims between December 1989 and April 1992.
At the time it was the last pub in Sydney before travellers entered the Hume Highway heading to Melbourne.
This made the area Milat’s favourite hunting ground, as it was a place he’d known since his youth and was frequented by perfect potential victims.
Milat targeted young people travelling freely around Australia who were excited by their upcoming adventures and less guarded with strangers.
The pub was a favourite haunt of serial killer Ivan Milat, who targeted carefree travellers in the area between December 1989 and April 1992
Missing backpacker, Carmen Verheyden, 22, was last seen sitting outside Crossroads on March 10, 1991, while trying to hitchhike after a party
Another young backpacker, Carmen Verheyden, 22, was last seen sitting outside Crossroads on March 10, 1991, while trying to hitchhike after a party.
She wasn’t a confirmed victim of Milat but her disappearance bore a remarkable resemblance to Milat’s modus operandi.
Alternatively, Ms Verheyden may have overdosed on heroin she took at the pub, according to testimony by her housemate to a coronial inquest.
The flatmate said she collapsed after she and her friend were injected with the drug by a man police described as a ‘well-known drug offender’.
Crossroads was the site of another shocking crime in September 2017 when a young mother was raped twice in the bathroom of her hotel room.
Abathur Khamas was last year jailed for at least two years and four months for the attack on the woman after a drinking session at the pub downstairs.
Abathur Khamas (pictured) raped a woman twice in her hotel bathroom upstairs from the pub after they met at the bar
CCTV showed him enter the pub with two friends and bought the woman, whom he had not met, a drink and the pair shook hands as they introduced themselves.
The victim met Khamas’ two other male friends and the group played on the pub’s pokie room.
She invited them to her hotel room upstairs where they drank and took cocaine while playing loud music.
But Khamas took advantage of the situation and raped her twice while they were alone in the bathroom between 3.20 and 3.30am.
The woman kicked him and one of his friends, who was not involved in the crime, out of her room, then texted her mother and called police.
He surprises the woman with a drink and the pair shake hands among introducing themselves to each other
Between 3.20 am and 3.30 am, Khamas raped her twice in her hotel bathroom (pictured) after he invited him and his friends upstairs to keep drinking
Khamas maintained his innocence but was found guilty of two counts of rape in May 2019. He was controversially freed on bail for five months until sentencing.
Crossroads is the oldest pub in the Liverpool area, built in the 1830s, and given a big renovation in 2017 to make it more upmarket.
Pub baron owner Jason Marlow rakes in huge cash from the pub’s pokies, which was in the top five highest gaming room earners in July to December 2019.
Mr Marlow was early on the scene in NSW when pubs were allowed to install 30 poker machines from 1997.
Even people who don’t live in the area and have never been there would be familiar with Crossroads as the huge hotel is a visible landmark on the way into Sydney.
Crossroads (pictured in the 1800s) is the oldest pub in the Liverpool area, built in the 1830s
Thirty-eight cases have so far been linked to the pub, including an 18-year-old bartender who interacted with hundreds of customers while infectious
Crossroads was given a big renovation in 2017 to make it more upmarket
Before Sydney’s motorways were built, directions to get anywhere often involved ‘go past Crossroads’.
The pub’s popularity and status as a working class traveller’s watering hole made it the ideal epicentre of a coronavirus outbreak.
Thirty-eight cases have so far been linked to the pub, including an 18-year-old bartender who interacted with hundreds of customers while infectious.
Health authorities on Tuesday confirmed the cluster was linked to the outbreak enveloping Victoria and was carried there by a traveller from Victoria.
The Melbourne man went to a workplace in Sydney, which has since had confirmed cases, before all employees went to a party at Crossroads on July 3.
Ms Musto said the man travelled between Victoria and NSW on June 30 and worked in the freight industry. Six of his coworkers have tested positive.