Stanley Bruce Early, convicted of a hate-driven murder dating back to the 1980s, has been sentenced to up to 22 years in prison for his role in the brutal killing of Raymond Keam at a gay beat in Sydney’s east. Justice Dina Yehia, presiding over the case, referred to Early’s actions as “an affront to any civilised society.”
In June of this year, the 77-year-old Early was found guilty of the murder of Raymond Keam, who was brutally attacked in Alison Park, Randwick, in January 1987. Early, using the alias Stanley “Spider” Sutton at the time, was a part of a group that frequently targeted men suspected of being gay at the park.
Raymond Keam’s body was discovered with severe injuries to his face, mouth, and body, a result of being kicked and stomped on while lying on the ground. Justice Yehia acknowledged the decades of pain and anger experienced by Mr. Keam’s friends and family, emphasizing that no sentence could bring back their loved one.
Early, the oldest member of the group that engaged in “poofter bashing,” demonstrated no remorse for his actions. Justice Yehia pointed out that the crime was driven by hatred and prejudice against homosexual males. Although she couldn’t ascertain beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Early’s blow that killed Mr. Keam, she was satisfied that he was part of the group that attacked him with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
“The offence was not planned, but there was a degree of deliberation involved,” she noted. Mr. Keam was vulnerable and alone when the attacker approached him in a compromised position.
Early had previously stated he was bisexual at one point in his life and had been sexually assaulted in jail. His history included vandalizing a Porsche because he believed the owner was gay and attempting to recruit school students to “clean up the park.”
In sentencing Early to 22 years with a non-parole period of 15 years and six months, Justice Yehia considered the sentencing options from the late 1980s and early 1990s when the offense occurred. She mentioned that Early had some prospects of rehabilitation and was unlikely to re-offend. Although he had prior convictions, he had not committed any offenses in the past 30 years.
“I accept the offender has some mental health issues that appear to be treated appropriately with medication,” Justice Yehia noted. Early will be detained in the Long Bay prison hospital for his mental health issue, with parole eligibility set for April 2037.
This case serves as a somber reminder of the long-lasting consequences of hate-driven crimes and the importance of justice, even after many years have passed.