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Strathfield Massacre MemorialPrint Page Print this page

06-March-2016
06-March-2016

Photographs supplied by Sandra Brown

A tree commemorates the seven people who were killed in the Strathfield Massacre which occured in August 1991 in Strathfield Plaza.  This act is considered one of Australia’s worst and most violent crimes.  Within a ten minute period, 33 year old Wade Frankum armed with an AK-47 rifle, knife and machete, killed seven people and seriously injured six other people before turning the gun on himself.

On Saturday August 17 1991 around 1pm, Wade Frankum arrived at Strathfield Plaza carrying a bag with a rifle and and a recently sharpened knife. Frankum was a part-time taxi driver with no criminal record or history of serious mental illness, though he had recently suffered depression due to him mother’s suicide and financial difficulties .  He obtained a gun licence and bought a semi-automatic rifle in the months prior.  Frankum sat in a café called The Coffee Pot and drank a number of cups of coffee until about 3.30pm.  At this time, he rose and without any apparent provocation, pulled a large knife from a duffle bag and repeatedly stabbed fifteen year old Roberta ‘Bo’ Armstrong, who had been sitting with a friend at the Coffee Pot.   

Frankum then grabbed the semi-automatic rifle, loaded it and began shooting widely at other people in the café including sixty-one year old Joyce Nixon, her daughter Patricia Rowe and grandsons Kevin (14 years) and Nathan (8 years).  Joyce and Patricia died shielding the young boys from Frankum’s gunfire.

As George Mavis, the owner of the Coffee Pot, emerged from the kitchen, Frankum aimed his gun and killed him. George’s brother James followed from the kitchen to see his brother fall to the floor.

Frankum then turned to other people in the Coffee Pot, Carole Dickinson, her daughter Belinda and Carole’s niece Rachelle Milburn. Frankum shot Rachelle in the head and then shot Carole in the stomach.  She died later that night from her wounds.  As Belinda ran from the cafe screaming, Frankum shot her.  Though she fell after being shot, she survived. 

Frankum then left the Coffee Pot and started running through the Plaza wildly firing the gun.  Fifty-three-year-old accountant Robertson Kan Hock Joon was looking at a set of photos when Frankum shot him. Throughout the centre, people were running frantically from the building to escape.   Frankhum then ran towards the outside stairway to the rooftop carpark while shooting at people as he ran.  A volley of shots rang out across Strathfield Square and hit the nearby railway ticket office, a milk bar and the window of a taxi.

Forty-one-year-old Greg Read , an ex-Navy officer who had served in Vietnam, raced up the stairs at Strathfield Plaza screaming to people to “hit the deck” with Frankum just metres behind him.  Police estimated that Read’s actions saved at least eight people from death or injury. Read was awarded the Star of Courage in October 1992 for acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril by the Australia’s Governor-General. The Star of Courage is the second highest Australian bravery decoration.

By now, Frankum had reached the top floor of the carpark where he held Catherine Noyce at gunpoint, demanding that she drive him to Enfield, a nearby suburb. Before she could start her car, police began to arrive on the scene.  Flemington constable Darren Stewart was the first police officer to arrive at the scene.  

Frankum’s shooting spree had lasted 10 minutes.  He killed seven people and injured six.  None of his victims appeared to be personally known to him.  No clear motive for the massacre was established, though a search of Frankum’s apartment revealed dozens of violent books and magazines. Victims of the massacre included Roberta Armstrong, Robertson Kan Hock Voon, Patricia Rowe, Carole Dickinson, Joyce Nixon, Rachelle Milburn and George Mavris.

Location

Address:The Boulevard & Churchill Avenue, Strathfield Square, Strathfield, 2135
State:NSW
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.872566
Long: 151.093872
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Tree
Monument Theme:Culture
Sub-Theme:Crime
Actual Event STart Date:17-August-1991
Actual Event End Date:17-August-1991

Dedication

Front Inscription

This Tree Was Planted To Remember
Those Who Were Killed In Strathfield Plaza
On Saturday 17 August 1991

ROBERTA ARMSTRONG
CAROL DICKINSON
GEORGE MAVRIS
RACHELLE MILBURN
JOYCE NIXON
PATRICIA ROWE
ROBERTSON KAN HOCK VOON

This Tree Is A Sign Of Our Committment
To Work For A More Peaceful Community

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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