MURDER victim Joy Alchin was the sister of former Shoalhaven City Alderman Gordon Ravell who died in a tragic accident in December 1986.
Ald Ravell was last seen on the weekend of December 7, but was reported missing by close friend Hilton Jones of Culburra Beach when he failed to keep several appointments.
Ald Ravell’s burnt out four-wheel-drive vehicle was located 150 metres down the side of a steep slope on an isolated stretch of road near Burrier Pumping Station, west of Nowra, with his naked body 20 metres away.
Mystery surrounding the subsequent inquest was exacerbated by coroner Brian McKeough’s decision not to allow any published press reports of parts of the inquest hearings.
He ruled evidence introduced into the inquest into 54-year-old Ald Ravell’s death concerning alleged death threats towards the alderman, and the distribution of so-called Voodoo symbols, was irrelevant and without substance.
That information is still suppressed.
It was later revealed that among Ald Ravell’s effects, an icon resembling an owl had been found.
Similar icons, later described as resembling Voodoo symbols, had been mysteriously found in the weeks immediately preceding Ald Ravell’s death by five residents, including the then mayor, Ald Harry Sawkins, Ald Max Atkins, Member for South Coast, John Hatton, the then editor of the Nowra News, and Ald June Baker.
Many people attached sinister interpretations to the discovery of the icons, including at the time, Ald Ravell’s sister, Mrs Alchin.
It was not realised until after Ald Ravell’s death that he had received an identical icon.
Former Shoalhaven Mayor, Max Atkins said he had received an identical icon in an anonymous envelope delivered to his council “pigeon hole”.
Coroner Brian McKeough said he well remembered the inquest into Ald Ravell’s death because of the innuendo which was introduced into evidence concerning the existence of these icons, and allegations that Ald Ravell feared for his life because of certain investigations into council land deals.
“That is why I prevented any press speculation, I didn’t want to bring anybody’s reputation, including Ald Ravell’s into disrepute,” Mr McKeough said.
Council ranger, Bruce Waller was with the party that found Ald Ravell’s body and the wreck of his vehicle.
“It was some days after the accident, Ald Ravell’s body was found sitting on a rock some 20 metres from the vehicle,” Mr Waller said.
“It appeared he had been thrown out of the back of the vehicle, and all his clothes had been burnt off,” he said.
In August 1997, Coroner Brian McKeough handed down a verdict of accidental death.