News, Culture & Society

Twist in fatal Luna Park Ghost Train fire enquiry as huge reward offered, underworld links possible

A $1million reward has been announced for information about a fatal fire at Sydney’s Luna Park more than 40 years ago after allegations the blaze was deliberately lit and linked to an underworld figure.

Seven people including six boys were killed in the blaze while riding the theme park’s ghost train on the evening of June 9, 1979.

John Godson and his two sons Damien, 6, and Craig, 4, plus mates Jonathan Billings, Richard Carroll, Michael Johnson, and Seamus Rahilly, aged 12 to 13, were killed in the fire.

A $1million reward has been announced for information about a fatal fire at Sydney’s Luna Park more than 40 years ago after allegations the blaze was deliberately lit and linked to an underworld figure

Seven people including six boys were killed in the blaze while riding the theme park's ghost train on the evening of June 9, 1979

Seven people including six boys were killed in the blaze while riding the theme park’s ghost train on the evening of June 9, 1979

An ABC TV investigation alleged the fire was intentionally lit by associates of Sydney underworld boss Abe Saffron (pictured right), in a bid to secure the prime waterfront property, and that police helped cover up the crime

An ABC TV investigation alleged the fire was intentionally lit by associates of Sydney underworld boss Abe Saffron (pictured right), in a bid to secure the prime waterfront property, and that police helped cover up the crime

NSW Police Minister David Elliott on Wednesday said meeting with the victim’s families convinced him more could be done to get answers.

‘Despite the passage of time, this horrific incident remains embedded in the psyche of Sydneysiders,’ he said in a statement.

‘I am appealing to those who may know something but have not previously been inclined to assist.

‘You now have a million reasons to come forward.’

The reward doesn’t require a charge or conviction of any person, just fresh, significant information about the fire, he said.

Since the airing of an ABC TV investigation into the fire, the NSW Coroner has announced it will consider holding a fresh inquest, asking NSW police to review their evidence.

The TV program alleged the fire was intentionally lit by associates of Sydney underworld boss Abe Saffron, in a bid to secure the prime waterfront property, and that police helped cover up the crime.

John Godson and his two sons Damien, 6, and Craig, 4, plus mates Jonathan Billings, Richard Carroll, Michael Johnson, and Seamus Rahilly, aged 12 to 13, were killed in the fire

John Godson and his two sons Damien, 6, and Craig, 4, plus mates Jonathan Billings, Richard Carroll, Michael Johnson, and Seamus Rahilly, aged 12 to 13, were killed in the fire 

The devastation after the Ghost Train fire at Luna Park in Sydney in 1979. Photo: The Sydney Morning Herald

The devastation after the Ghost Train fire at Luna Park in Sydney in 1979. Photo: The Sydney Morning Herald

NSW Police Minister David Elliott (pictured) said members of the public now have 'one million reasons' to assist police helping to solve the 1979 Luna Park tragedy

NSW Police Minister David Elliott (pictured) said members of the public now have ‘one million reasons’ to assist police helping to solve the 1979 Luna Park tragedy

Mr Saffron, who died in 2006, was a property developer who owned hotels and nightclubs, and was one of Sydney’s major organised crime figures at the time of the fire.

Initial investigations pointed to an electrical fault and some subsequent inquiries proved inconclusive.

But NSW Police Force Commissioner Mick Fuller is hopeful reviewing the evidence with the advances made in investigation tools over the past four decades may bear fruit.

He also promised detectives would probe allegations of corruption or malpractice by police.

Detectives are pouring over a significant amount of evidence, including documents, video recordings, witness statements and forensic evidence.

That will take some time to complete, Homicide Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said.

‘We know that the families who lost loved ones during this tragic fire have suffered immensely over the years, not knowing how and why their lives were cut short.

‘Rest assured that if the NSW Police Force uncovers evidence to progress a criminal investigation into this historic event, then we will,’ Det Supt Doherty said.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk