Syd­ney de­tec­tive, brave vic­tim unite to catch se­cret se­rial preda­tor


SHE only had a fake name, scant ev­i­dence and a vague rec­ol­lec­tion of a 30-year-old sex crime to go on but Syd­ney de­tec­tive Ellen Quinn (right) re­fused to give up on a quest to catch a se­rial of­fender who at­tacked nine chil­dren.

ARMED with just a few decades­old mem­o­ries from one wit­ness, the name of a boy and her own dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion, one in­cred­i­ble cop tracked down a se­rial pae­dophile who thought he had got away with his foul crimes.

By the time De­tec­tive Se­nior Con­sta­ble Ellen Quinn had fin­ished her three-year quest, nine peo­ple had told their story of child sex­ual abuse — some girls as young as six — and one of Aus­tralia’s worst child mo­lesters would be sen­tenced to 15 years be­hind bars.

Now, True Crime Aus­tralia can iden­tify the se­rial pae­dophile who ter­rorised Syd­ney’s in­ner west in the 1970s and 1980s as Jack Keith King and re­veal the ex­tra­or­di­nary way he was caught. He would still be liv­ing in

Western Aus­tralia, un­known to po­lice and still haunt­ing the night­mares of the chil­dren he ter­rorised, with­out Quinn’s re­fusal to give up.

“The first piece of in­for­ma­tion that came in was an ex­traor­di­nar­ily brave woman, who at the time was in her late 30s,” said Quinn.

“She walked into her lo­cal po­lice sta­tion, in ru­ral NSW, and she told the guy at the counter: ‘Some­thing re­ally bad hap­pened to me when I was a kid and I want to talk about it. I want to tell my story’.”

In De­cem­ber 2013, the woman told po­lice she was raped by a man called Lionel for sev­eral years, from the age of six un­til nine, and that the of­fences oc­curred around the in­ner­west­ern Syd­ney sub­urb of Stan­more dur­ing the 1980s.

“Her story was a bloody hard one to tell and it took a lot for her to do that, to walk into that po­lice sta­tion that day, so I will al­ways ad­mire her for it — that’s the first piece of in­for­ma­tion that started ev­ery­thing,” said Quinn.

But the first name the vic­tim could re­call for the per­pe­tra­tor turned out to be a pseu­do­nym. He also gave her a fake last name; chill­ingly, it was a sur­name he had taken from one of his vic­tims.

Three decades had passed, mean­ing there was no crime scene.

“In this case you can’t rely on foren­sic ev­i­dence — al­though fin­ger­prints did be­come rel­e­vant later in iden­ti­fy­ing him — but 30 years had passed. So we had no foren­sic ev­i­dence, mem­o­ries fade in that time. The best you can do is just thor­oughly and com­pre­hen­sively ex­am­ine the ev­i­dence that you do have and in this case it was that (first) vic­tim state­ment,” she said.

The vic­tim told po­lice she re­called see­ing a young boy with her mo­lester. Al­though the boy was not in any way in­volved or privy to the crimes, the woman could re­mem­ber his name — Ja­son King. Fi­nally, a lead worth fol­low­ing.

“She wasn’t quite sure of the re­la­tion­ship, she be­lieved it was this guy’s son … but there were a lot of peo­ple with that same name,” said Quinn.

So me­thod­i­cally Quinn be­gan to in­ter­view peo­ple — any­one she could find who was in some way con­nected to the vic­tim and could ver­ify events.

“It’s all old-fash­ioned de­tec­tive work — talk­ing to lots of peo­ple, mak­ing lots of in­quiries … lots of which don’t go any­where but those that do, piece them to­gether and you of build a good pic­ture,” Quinn said.

The first vic­tim’s al­le­ga­tions were not only con­firmed but in­creas­ingly the peo­ple Quinn in­ter­viewed ad­mit­ted they had their own story.

“I’d been speak­ing to all of these dif­fer­ent peo­ple and what is re­mark­able is that they all told me very con­sis­tent things about him. They de­scribed a slightly English ac­cent; they de­scribed some thick glasses that he wore, and they de­scribed pock­marked skin, scar­ring on his face,” she said.

Quinn found so­cial work records that ref­er­enced King.

“They even spoke about him in quite glow­ing terms,” she said.

“It soon be­came ap­par­ent that he was us­ing that first vic­tim as a lure of sorts, to lure other vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren into his sort of life and his care. And he com­mit­ted nu­mer­ous sex­ual of­fences against all of them over a lengthy pe­riod of time.”

Quinn painstak­ingly made her way through the end­less list of “Ja­son Kings”, rul­ing peo­ple out as she went and re­fin­ing her list.

She vis­ited the lo­ca­tion of the old fish and chip shop ran by King and his wife on Hen­der­son Rd, Alexan­dria, dur­ing the early 1980s.

While King’s wife would serve fish and chips, he would lure pri­mary school-aged girls up­stairs and rape them.

A break came when Quinn met with a St Vin­cent de Paul vol­un­teer who en­coun­tered Ja­son as a child. Ja­son was fre­quently hos­pi­talised, a vic­tim of con­stant and re­lent­less abuse, and the vol­un­teer re­mem­bered his lit­tle face be­ing lit­tered with scars.

Those mark­ings would be­come key to track­ing down the right Ja­son King.

“For every in­quiry I’m telling you about there were 20 that led me

nowhere but that took up a lot of time,” said Quinn.

Then she found a Ja­son King with a web­site ad­ver­tis­ing ser­vices as a para­nor­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tor. The man’s face bore heavy scars.

“I was go­ing in blind, this guy could be in con­tact with his dad, he could be an of­fender like his dad, I re­ally had no idea what to ex­pect,” Quinn said.

But Ja­son told her he was also look­ing for his long-lost father and that he’d ac­cepted the help of film­maker Ben Lawrence who was doc­u­ment­ing that search for a film called Ghosthunter.

Ja­son’s ex­pe­ri­ence of com­ing to terms with the knowl­edge his father was a wanted pae­dophile is doc­u­mented through­out the film, as he grap­ples with life un­der the shadow of his father’s crimes.

Af­ter sourc­ing Ja­son’s birth cer­tifi­cate, Quinn now had his father’s real name.

Gov­ern­ment records showed that Jack Keith King didn’t have a pass­port, so he hadn’t left the coun­try. There was no death cer­tifi­cate, which meant he was still alive.

Vic­to­rian po­lice records also came up with a match, re­veal­ing that King had com­mit­ted a sex­ual of­fence against a child dur­ing the 1970s but that he had skipped his bail. Af­ter that, he adopted his fake name.

NSW po­lice had his fin­ger­prints recorded for an­other mi­nor


Quinn found a man with King’s name and date of birth liv­ing in Western Aus­tralia through de­tails he had pro­vided to util­ity com­pa­nies.

But, in the end, it came down to an In­sta­gram post.

The same Jack Keith King had a daugh­ter whose In­sta­gram ac­count showed a photo of him.

“He had a pock­marked face, he had thick glasses and I thought, ‘well, this looks like how I’d imag­ine this guy would have turned out’,” said Quinn.

When Fre­man­tle po­lice took King to the sta­tion his prints matched per­fectly and he was ex­tra­dited to Syd­ney, where he was charged and tried be­fore the District Court be­fore be­ing sen­tenced in 2017.

His son Ja­son at­tended and sup­ported the nine fe­male vic­tims, who sat to­gether in the court. Each of the women pro­vided a mov­ing vic­tim im­pact state­ment. Some told of de­vel­op­ing panic at­tacks or men­tal health disor­ders as a re­sult of their abuse, oth­ers said they had felt trapped in the pain of what hap­pened to them for more than three decades.

“It was re­ally a pow­er­ful thing to wit­ness,” said Quinn.

“For every job I do I try and do the best job that I can, but there was some­thing spe­cial about these women, es­pe­cially be­cause of the truly hor­ri­ble na­ture of what hap­pened to them.

“I was thor­oughly de­ter­mined. I could have writ­ten this case off, just put it in the too-hard bas­ket a tril­lion times, but I was de­ter­mined not to. There’s noth­ing too flash about it.

“You can’t wrap it up in an hour episode, it’s a hard slog.

“It’s chas­ing a lot of rab­bits down holes and go­ing nowhere but it’s worth it.”

In­ner- west pae­dophile JackKeith King was fi­nally brought to jus­tice years af­ter his crimes.

The take­away shop King and his wife used to run.Ja­son King helped catch his father. De­tec­tive Se­niorCon­sta­ble Ellen Quinn never gave up her hunt for a se­rial pae­dophile. Pic­ture: DannyAarons

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