On 6 February 1986, Sallie-Anne Huckstepp was murdered in a pond at Centennial Park. Following the shooting of her boyfriend Warren Lanfranchi by detective Roger Rogerson in 1981, she had become a public figure with her allegations of police corruption. She started to associate with various detectives, sometimes as informer and even lover, and continued to work as a prostitute and to use heroin. At the time of her death she was causing trouble for a number of people, including criminal Neddy Smith, who’d taken Lanfranchi to his meeting with Rogerson. Smith was later tried for the murder of Huckstepp and found not guilty.
Huckstepp was an unusual figure in Sydney’s history, feisty and tragic. There are resemblances to Shirley Brifman, also a prostitute, who died in 1972 after blowing the whistle on some of Sydney’s corrupt cops, including her lover Fred Krahe. Both women did more than most to alert their fellow citizens to how the city worked. Huckstepp survived longer at a time when investigative journalism had arrived in Sydney, and so had a much bigger public impact.
John Dale’s book Huckstepp: a dangerous life is one of the best biographies of a Sydney underworld figure. As he makes clear, and as some of her photos show, at times Sallie-Anne demonstrated a vitality not usually associated with one in her circumstances.
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