Reporting the Walsh Street Shootings

BY MEL BONDFIELD

The 1980s and early 1990s was a tumultuous time for the police force in Australia.

Victorian police, in particular, were under a great deal of scrutiny amid serious allegations of corruption and escalating tensions with the public. And from the mid-1980s, members of the Victorian police found themselves the targets of orchestrated violent attacks.

One of the most shocking of these incidents was the murder of two young constables 30 years ago. In the early hours of 12 October 1988, Steven Tynan (aged 22) and Damian Eyre (20) were sent on what seemed like a routine police call. 

The National Nine News bulletin that day covered the initial reports of the cold-blooded murder of the young officers.

While these murders sent shockwaves through the Victorian police force, they were another in a string of attacks, including the bombing of Police Headquarters in Russell Street in 1986, which killed a young female officer and injured 22 other people. The following Nine News report looks at the toll of the attacks on Victorian police in the preceding years, including an interview with an officer who was wounded in the line of duty while arresting the Russell Street bombing suspect.

The murders of the two young constables led to the largest taskforce of its kind being set up to hunt the killers. The following Seven News report showing the press conference with Deputy Police Commissioner John Frame is proof of the emotional toll that these shootings had on members of the police force. 

The Tynan and Eyre murders led to changes in how police were trained to attend calls, knowing that every situation could turn into a life-threatening one.

Four men were eventually charged with the murders of the two young officers, however they were acquitted at trial after multiple setbacks involving prosecution witnesses.

The shootings have been the subject of multiple documentaries and docu-dramas. They also partly inspired the Australian drama Animal Kingdom (David Michôd, 2010) about a tight-knit, dangerous criminal family, their network and some of the crimes they commit. 

Newscaf highlights some of the significant and intriguing stories in the NFSA's television news collection that have been digitally preserved for future generations to explore.

For more crime stories that affected the Australian way of life from the 1930s to the 90s, visit our Australian True Crime curated collection.