• Documentary participants Alan Rosendale and Paul Simes in Deep Water: The Real Story (Photo by Alina Gozin'a) (SBS)
SBS introduces Deep Water: The Real Story - part of a network event that unearths a gripping true crime story and a buried chapter of Australia’s recent history.
By
SBS

27 Sep 2016 - 9:15 AM  UPDATED 27 Sep 2016 - 9:36 AM

In the 1980s and 1990s a wave of murders bloodied the idyllic coastline of Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The victims: young homosexual men.  

Disturbing gang assaults were being carried out on coastal cliffs around Sydney, and mysterious deaths officially recorded as ‘suicide’, ‘disappearance’ and ‘misadventure’. 

Deep Water: The Real Story is a stunning feature-length documentary premiering Sunday October 16 at 8.30pm on SBS, in which individual stories are woven together by emotional first person interviews and detailed re-enactments, piecing together the facts of these unsolved cases, decades later.  

It was December 1989, and David McMahon was out for a night time jog around the cliffs in Bondi. David was attacked, dragged down three flights of stairs and managed to escape, but not before hearing one of the attackers say: ‘let’s take him up and throw him off where we threw the other dude’.

In November 1989, John Russell shared drinks with a friend before making his way towards Marks Park above Bondi Beach, a well-known gay ‘beat’. The following morning a local jogger discovered his body at the bottom of the cliffs covered in blood. The inquest into John’s death lasted seven minutes, with a conclusion of ‘death by misadventure’.

In July 1989, Wollongong newsreader Ross Warren was last seen driving along Oxford Street, Darlinghurst after a night out with friends. Two days later his car keys were found on the rocks beneath Marks Park at Tamarama. Police concluded Ross fell accidentally into the sea. His body was never recovered. 

Survivors, witnesses, families of victims and many of those involved at the time including ex-police, investigative journalists, forensic pathologists and the ex-Deputy State Coroner are now candidly speaking out on the events of the past in the hope that new evidence might rise to the surface.

Deep Water – The Real Story raises the complex question of where the responsibility lies for these crimes - the perpetrators, the police, or a wider society in the grips of homophobia, misinformation and fear?

Deep Water – The Real Story is a Blackfella Films (First Contact, Redfern Now, First Australians) production, directed by Amanda Blue (Prescott: The Class System and Me, Young Black Farmers, After The Wave) for SBS, with major production investment from Screen Australia. 

Deep Water – The Real Story  airs Sunday October 16 at 8.30pm on SBS.

Explore the topic further with SBS Special Online Investigations:
Police admit blunders in gay-hate murder hunt
EXCLUSIVE Bill Rooney's boyfriend always said he was murdered because he was gay. Thirty years later, police reviewing dozens of potential gay-hate killings managed to reject Rooney's case – because of a simple slip of the pen.
The Gay Hate Decades
An exclusive SBS investigation exposes serious flaws in the current police review of potential gay-hate murders among a list of 30 unsolved deaths.
Introducing True Stories podcast Season Three
Listed as iTunes Best Podcasts of 2015, True Stories returns with a five-part investigation into the untold stories of Adelaide's gay-hate murders.