Graeme Thorne: The Only Kidnap-For-Ransom Case in Australian History


The only kidnap-for-ransom case ever in Australian history involved 9-year-old Graeme Thorne, who was abducted on his way to school in Bondi in 1960. The abductor was a Hungarian immigrant Stephen Bradley.

News about the Sydney Opera House Lottery that Bazil Thorne had won in 1960, was all across the media back then. Bazil Thorne, who was Graeme’s parent, had won 100,000 pounds.

Bradley came across a newspaper that had the news of the lottery win. He stalked the Thorne family and was fast enough to discover that Graeme was picked up and taken to school by his mother’s friend, just outside of a local store.

Bradley took a little time to make a plan and later managed to sway Graeme to get inside his car. Bradley lied to him by saying that his mother had told Bradley to collect Graeme.

The boy was finally drugged, gagged and dumped in the boot of the car. He died when Bradley bashed his head with a motive to make him quiet, says The Huffington Post Australia.

Later, Bradley made the ransom call to the Thornes. He demanded $25,000 and said if they didn’t pay, Graeme would be “fed to the sharks.”

At the Thornes’, police kept a vigilant watch. They were ready to take any call from Bradley. But once Graeme died, the phone calls stopped.

After this, there have been several calls from the general public to the Thornes, claiming that they had Graeme and desperately trying to get a hold of their Lotto winnings.

The lottery money of 100,000 pounds would now be equal to $3.5 million.

The case was documented in a new book “The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney: The First 200 Years, says The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Royal Botanic Garden is a group of forensic botanists, who investigated the rug which was used to wrap Graeme. According to their investigation, the rug had several plant fragments. Two conifer species were identified by them.

Police found two conifers on Bradley’s property, in the garden. Bradley was sentenced to life imprisonment after his arrest.

Mark Tedeschi QC, New South Wales Senior Crown Prosecutor, has written a thrilling book on the tragic abduction, called “Kidnapping.”

“The case really marked an end of innocence in Australian life, particularly for families who were suddenly fearful their own children would be kidnapped,” said Tedeschi.

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