The West

Man questioned over Broome murder
Josh Warneke was found dead on the Broome Highway after a night out with friends. Picture: Supplied

Police have charged a man with the murder of Broome 21-year-old Josh Warneke two and a half years after his death.

Major crime squad detectives flew to Broome this morning to question a 21-year-old man over the murder of Mr Warneke, who was found by a taxi driver dead with massive head injuries beside the Old Broome Highway on February 26, 2010.

The man was charged with one count of murder and will appear in Broome Magistrate's Court tomorrow.

The West Australian understands the man was arrested at a remote Kimberley community before he was taken to Broome for questioning. About 4.45pm police cars blocked off two roundabouts at both ends of Old Broome Road adjacent to the airport.

Det-Insp. Anthony Lee said WA Police remained committed to the investigation into the death of Mr Warneke, codenamed Operation Aviemore. He urged anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Mr Warneke died after a night out with friends at the Oasis Bar, Roebuck Bay Hotel and Bungalow Bar on Dampier Terrace.

He asked the driver of a car to buy him food from a McDonald’s restaurant after he was refused service because he was on foot, and later took off his shirt which he tucked into his shorts as he walked on the Old Broome Road.

The case involved a re-enactment of Mr Warneke’s final hours, numerous appeals by his grieving mother Ingrid Bishop and the release of security camera footage of Mr Warneke.

In February, the State Government announced a $100,000 reward for information regarding Mr Warneke’s death. At the time, Det-Insp. David Bryson said it was the right time to offer a reward as detectives had leads that had taken them to Derby, Balgo, Kununurra and Halls Creek.

The reward was the biggest offered since the $250,000 offered in 2002 for information about the suspected murder of teenager Hayley Dodd, who vanished while hitchhiking near Badgingarra in July 1999.

The most ever offered was $500,000 for information about the car-bomb assassination of former CIB boss Don Hancock and his mate Lou Lewis in October 2001.

The Broome community was shocked at Mr Warneke’s death after his evening out with friends on the most popular night of the week. Some revellers who had done so for years stopped walking home alone at night, while others stopped going out on Thursday nights altogether.

Popular and friendly with a ready grin, Mr Warneke was widely considered a happy and harmless bloke – the kind of guy not embarrassed to hug his mother in front of his friends.

For more than two years, rumours have swirled in Broome around who could have been responsible for inflicting the fatal blow.

The white cross plastered with photographs and flowers where his body was found has remained a prominent and uneasy reminder of his death.

The West Australian

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