Family court bomber Leonard Warwick found guilty

Australian Associated Press
·4-min read

A terrifying chapter in Australia's history has ended with Leonard Warwick being found guilty of a series of brazen Sydney murders and bombings related to his Family Court battles.

The former firefighter's targets included judges and a church congregation during a campaign of extreme violence between 1980 and 1985.

The 73-year-old on Thursday was found guilty of the shooting murder of a judge and two bomb-related murders, including of a judge's wife, and numerous other offences related to six events that occurred in Sydney over five years.

He was found not guilty of the shooting murder of his brother-in-law.

Leonard Warwick has been found guilty of multiple murders. Source: AAP
Leonard Warwick has been found guilty of multiple murders. Source: AAP

After a judge-alone trial occupying more than 200 sitting days in the NSW Supreme Court, Justice Peter Garling delivered his verdicts more than two years after the Crown opened its case.

It was a long time coming for the families of the victims, whose loved ones died or were maimed more than three decades ago.

Although Warwick was considered a suspect early on, he wasn't arrested until July 2015.

Prosecutor Ken McKay contended seven events were "inextricably linked" to drawn-out Family Court proceedings involving Warwick and his ex-wife Andrea Blanchard, which ran from 1979 to 1986.

She testified the marriage started normally before Warwick turned violent and abusive.

She left him in March 1979 after he assaulted her when she planned to go to a Tupperware party.

"He started punching me and then pushed me down to the floor and started kicking me on the body and repeatedly punching me in the arm."

He once told her he could shoot her father "at any time" and also said Justice David Opas "won't be there much longer" - weeks before he was shot dead at his home in 1980.

In 2015, Leonard  Warwick was arrested in connection with the Family Law Court bombings in the 1980's. Source: AAP
In 2015, Leonard Warwick was arrested in connection with the Family Law Court bombings in the 1980's. Source: AAP

He was the first judge to deal with the Warwick case and made adverse rulings against him.

The judge, who was shot when he answered the doorbell just as his family sat down to dinner, had predicted blood would be shed if more court security wasn't provided.

Justice Richard Gee took over the case, also making numerous orders adverse to Warwick.

His home was bombed in 1984, as was the Family Court registry building at Parramatta where Warwick's cases were heard.

The home of Justice Ray Watson, the third judge to make adverse orders, was then bombed, killing his wife Pearl.

Those four events were "book-ended" by events of violence which were related to Ms Blanchard - the shooting murder of her brother Stephen and a car bomb at the previous home of her solicitor, according to the Crown.

But Justice Garling acquitted him of murdering Mr Blanchard, whose body was found with bricks attached around his waist in a national park creek after he went missing in 1980.

In 1985, a man who lived in a home formerly owned by Ms Blanchard's solicitor, found a bomb under his car bonnet when he opened it to do some repairs.

He'd sat in the car and put the key in the ignition before changing his mind about moving the Holden Torana into the garage to do some work.

Police search the property and family home of Leonard John Warwick in Douglas Park, NSW, in 2015. Source: AAP
Police search the property and family home of Leonard John Warwick in Douglas Park, NSW, in 2015. Source: AAP

The final event was a bomb which ripped apart a Jehovah's Witnesses hall, killing Graham Wykes and injuring 13 other members of the congregation which had offered support to Ms Blanchard.

Joy Wykes testified her husband was sitting at the end of the row and they were holding hands.

Because it was quite a cold day, she had a little rug and placed it over their hands.

Her husband realised why she did it and whispered "I love you" and "that's when the bomb went off".

Warwick's solicitor Alan Conolly had submitted there was not "a scintilla of acceptable evidence" that his client had committed extreme violence at any point in his life.

But Justice Garling determined otherwise and will conduct a sentence hearing on August 20.

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