Sydney man turns himself in over cold case murder of 'doting' father

An alleged bank robber is behind bars after turning himself in for the murder of a doting father and anti-drugs “champion” at an inner-Sydney heroin hotspot in the 1990s.

Robert McPherson and an associate were walking back from a bottle shop along a Redfern alleyway in January 1998 when they were attacked by a group of men armed with baseball bats, a chain, a stick and a knife, NSW detectives say.

Mr McPherson died of a stab wound to the left of his chest. He’d also sustained head injuries and lacerations likely from being whipped with a chain.

His friend survived with minor injuries.

Robert McPherson was set upon by a group of men in a quiet Redfern alley in 1998. Source: 7 News

Police bugged and searched a nearby home and eventually charged multiple members and associates of a suspected crime family with various roles in the killing.

Redfern police officer Richard McDonald told a parliamentary standing committee in 2003 that Mr McPherson was killed at a time the family’s nearby “drug-dealing fortress” was brazenly flooding the suburb with heroin and cocaine.

“Robert McPherson was an absolute champion,” the officer – who was suspended at the time – said.

“Mr McPherson used to get kids who were dealing drugs off the streets. All he did was walk home – they mouthed off at him and he might have mouthed off back.”

After years of complex legal proceedings, the prosecution of the group collapsed.

Mr McPherson (left) and his daughter Teena. Source: 7News

Then, on Wednesday, NSW Police caught a break. Nicholas Bentley handed himself in at Redfern Police Station over Mr McPherson’s murder and for robbing a bank in 2002.

Court documents show the 41-year-old allegedly entered a Commonwealth Bank in Botany on a March morning in 2002 armed with a chrome pistol. He allegedly made off with $385,000.

Bentley fronted Central Local Court on Thursday – two decades after his alleged crimes – where he made no application for bail and it was formally refused. No plea was recorded.

Mr McPherson’s daughter reportedly arrived at court to catch a glimpse of her father’s alleged killer on Thursday. He is expected before the same court again on June 13.

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