The building of the Sydney Opera House was partly funded by a lottery, launched in 1960 with the massive prize of 100,000 pounds. The first winner was travelling salesman Bazil Thorne, and the event was surrounded by enormous publicity.
The Thornes’ eight-year-old son Graeme was kidnapped while going to school five weeks later by Istvan Baranyay, a Hungarian immigrant who’d changed his name to Stephen Bradley. He called the Thorne house at 9.40am and demanded 25,000 pounds. Possibly Bradley was influenced by the kidnapping four months earlier of the young son of Paris auto millionaire Raymond Peugeot, who had been returned in exchange for a hefty sum. It was Australia’s first kidnapping-for-ranson case, and generated enormous interest and a massive police operation.
Bradley had said he’d call again at 5.00pm, but it was 9.40pm when the call came, and it was confusing. All he did was ask for the money to be placed in two paper bags. Then he hung up, and did not ring again.
Possibly Bradley was panicked by the mounting media coverage of the kidnapping. In any case, he killed young Graeme, whose body was found five weeks later in Seaforth. Bradley and his family fled on a ship to Ceylon, where he was arrested. He was brought back to Sydney, where he was found guilty of murder.
The investigation involved many police who would late be well-known. Norm Allen was involved in the legally tricky business of arranging extradition from Ceylon, while the famously honest Brian Doyle was one of the two detectives who actually brought Bradley back. Bradley claimed he was verballed on the plane trip home – but that was by the other police officer, not Doyle.
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