Police officer Geoffrey Bowen killed in NCA bomb attack - key suspect Domenic Perre (pictured) still free

Date: 2/3/1994
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Contact: Crimestoppers 1800 333 000 or


The South Australian State Government is offering a reward of up to $1 million to anyone with information leading to a conviction over the murder of Detective-Sergeant Geoffrey Bowen.

Det-Sgt Bowen, a West Australian officer on secondment to the National Crime Authority, was killed on March 2, 1994, when a package exploded at the NCA's Adelaide headquarters.

The explosion also seriously injured NCA lawyer Peter John Wallis and caused extensive damage to the building.

On March 11, 1994, Domenic Perre was arrested and charged with the murder of Det-Sgt Bowen and the attempted murder of Mr Wallis.

However, the charges were later dropped and no further charges have been laid since.

An inquiry before State Coroner Wayne Chivell was told the bomb arrived at the NCA office in an express post pack and was contained in a cardboard post box. Inside a black plastic zippy bag, the bomb consisted of a nine-volt battery, an incendiary substance, a micro switch, wiring and a small quantity of an unknown type of high explosive. The bomb was mailed at the Modbury Post Office by an unknown person.

**Counsel assisting the Coroner, Ms Josie Atkins said Sergeant Bowen was due to give evidence against Perre about a drug crop at Hidden Valley, in the Northern Territory, the day after his death.**

Renewing the police plea for information in 2009, Police Minister Michael Wright said the NCA bombing was one of Australia’s most notorious cold cases.

“This was a crime that shocked the city and the nation and I again make a plea to anyone that has any information that will bring closure to this case to come forward,” he said.

In a hearing before Coroner Wayne Chivell that concluded on 17/9/1999, the Coroner outlined the circumstances of the matter:

"1.1 At about 9.15a.m. on Wednesday 2 March 1994 an explosion occurred at the offices of the National Crime Authority ("NCA") situated in the CPS Credit Union Building, Waymouth Street, Adelaide. The explosion caused the death of Detective Sergeant Geoffrey Leigh Bowen, serious injuries to Mr. Peter John Wallis, a lawyer employed by the NCA, and extensive property damage to the building.

1.2 It became quickly apparent following the explosion that it had been the result of a bomb which had been collected from the General Post Office by NCA security staff that morning. As such, the explosion was clearly the result of a premeditated act on the part of some person or persons. Such an act is unprecedented in South Australia and constituted a very serious attack upon a law enforcement agency based in this State.

1.3 Having regard to the seriousness of the incident, it was declared a "major crime" by the South Australian Police Force ("SAPOL"), and the investigation commenced immediately.

1.4 On Thursday 11 March 1994, Domenic Perre was arrested and charged with the murder of Detective Sergeant Bowen, and the attempted murder of Mr. Wallis. A preliminary examination of those charges commenced in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on 19 July 1994, and on 8 August 1994 he was committed for trial in the Supreme Court. However, on 9 September 1994 the Director of Public Prosecutions submitted a nolle prosequi indicating that he did not propose to proceed with the charge. Since that time, no further charges have been brought against any person arising out of the incident."

The Coroner went on to detail the circimstances of the bombing:

"4. The events of 2 March 1994

4.1 At just after 7.00a.m. on 2 March 1994 Mr. Brian Stone, who was employed at the NCA as a Security Services Officer ("SSO"), attended at the General Post Office and collected the NCA’s mail for the day. There was a red card in the post office box indicating that a package was to be collected from the counter. He collected the package, which was addressed to "NCA, Geofrey Bowen", and carried it under his arm back to his office on the 12th floor of the building in Waymouth Street (T.507). Upon arrival at his desk, Stone entered the mail in the mail record book, noting that the sender’s name was "IBM", although the sender’s name was actually marked on the package as "IBM Promotions".

4.2 Bowen’s work area was on the 11th floor of the building. At around 9.00a.m., he telephoned Stone, inquiring if some packages he had been expecting had arrived. In fact, he had been expecting the return of some exhibits from Canberra which he proposed to use in the prosecution of Perre for Telecommunications Act offences the following day (Wallis, T.71). I will discuss this issue in detail later.

4.3 Bowen went up to the 12th floor to Stone’s desk. When he saw the parcel he told Stone that he had not been expecting anything about computers (Stone T.512). Because it was "unsolicited mail", Stone decided to scan the package, using a hand-held Garrett Super Scanner (of the type commonly seen at airports). He tested the scanner by passing it over his wristwatch, ascertained that it was working correctly, and then scanned the package by waving the scanner over the top and down one side (Stone T.516). The scanner did not sound an alarm and so Stone handed the package to Bowen, who then went into Wallis’ office which was nearby on the 12th floor.

4.4 Wallis said that the package consisted of a yellow, red and white plastic "Express Post" pack. Bowen brought it into his office, placed it on the desk and opened the parcel. Wallis said that it had very neat writing on it, "as if stencilled" (T.73).

4.5 After he opened the plastic outer covering, Bowen looked inside and said, with tragic irony,
"It might be a bomb".


After examining the package further, he said:-

"Well, there’s no wires".


He then removed the cardboard box from within the plastic pack. Using scissors Wallis had brought from Stone’s office, Bowen proceeded to open the cardboard box by breaking the masking-tape seal. Wallis described what then happened as follows:-

"There was a loud crack, like a rifle shot or something similar, and I remember Geoff letting out a strangled-type cry, a yell, and falling sideways, and then - it must have been almost instantaneously - then there was an enormous buffeting of - like wind buffeting and an enormous sound that I can only describe as very very loud static. That is what it was like. I was immediately blinded. That was the last thing I saw".


4.6 Sergeant M.J. Thomas of the SAPOL Crime Scene Unit of the Technical Services Branch, who attended the scene soon after the explosion, and who was closely involved in the ensuing investigation, described the effect of the explosion as follows:-

"(it) shattered furnishings that the device was resting on. The pressure wave obviously broke out of the southern window, but it also travelled upwards towards the ceiling, above which was a slab, a concrete slab, and the pressure wave then travelled along underneath that slab between the slab and the ceiling, so it knocked down all the suspended ceiling, the air-conditioning ducting. It cracked gyprock interior walls ... and an adjacent toilet block. In adjacent offices, Mr. Ganley’s office and one further west, it knocked books out of shelves, and in fact in Mr. Ganley’s office it partially knocked the bookcase off the wall, so it dislodged it from its anchorages ... (in Mr. Wallis’ office) the western walls were scorched and coated to a large amount by red phosphorus or the residues of red phosphorus. The western wall towards the southern window - I am talking about the south-western corner - was heavily scorched as a result of fire. The portion of wall under the southern window, the gyprock interior lining, had been cracked and actually contained fragments of battery casing".


4.7 The explosion caused the door to Wallis’ office to slam shut and it would appear that the ceiling had fallen down behind it so that it could not be opened easily. The witnesses described the desperate attempts to open the door involving Scott Work, John Ganley, Brian Stone, Mark Kaczmarek, Jeff Smith and Mike Schultz. After they were able to force the door open they found Wallis standing against the wall. He was obviously burnt and severely injured. He was escorted out of the office and fire extinguishers were obtained. Bowen was found lying in a corner of the room shortly afterwards. It is noteworthy that at this time the automatic sprinkling system in the office had not activated.

4.8 Fire and ambulance crews arrived within minutes. The ambulance officers record that their arrival was at about 9.24a.m. (see the statement of Mr. Whitelaw-Jenkins, Exhibit C.20a, p3). Bowen had been dragged from the burning office into the corridor near the lift. When examined, he still had a pulse and was spontaneously breathing, although it was apparent to the ambulance officer that his injuries were unsurvivable. A laryngeal mask was inserted, but soon afterwards he stopped breathing. He was ventilated using a bag but at 0938 hours it was noted that there was no pulse, no heart sounds and no breathing effort. In consultation with Dr. W.M. Griggs, the Director of Trauma Services at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, and head of the retrieval team in attendance, resuscitation was discontinued at 0939 hours and Dr. Griggs pronounced his life extinct (Exhibit C.23a, p2).

4.9 Wallis was conveyed to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, arriving at 9.41a.m. He suffered trauma to both eyes and severe burn injuries. He had also suffered a number of small penetrating injuries as a result of the blast. He has had to undergo a succession of operations and other medical procedures since that time and will suffer permanent disability as a result of his injuries (see the statement of Dr. Griffin, Exhibit C.25a, p2-3).

4.10 It is appropriate to record here that the NCA staff present on 2 March 1994 acted with great courage and professionalism. As Mr. Bathgate, the Comcare Investigator, observed:-

"The actions by NCA personnel on the scene once the explosion had occurred appeared to me to be characterised by coolness, commonsense, an eagerness to assist in rescue and fire-fighting and so on. Without their attitudes and approach, matters could have been much worse".

(Exhibit C.122a, p7).

Mr. Paul Foley, the Regional Manager (Operations) of the NCA Adelaide Office, agreed, characterising their behaviour as heroic. As he pointed out, his colleagues had no idea at that stage what had caused the explosion, or even whether there might be a further explosion, and yet this did not deter them in their efforts to get into Mr. Wallis’ office and do what they could to assist him and Sergeant Bowen (T.3280)."

The Coroner listed considerable circumstantial evidence linking a member of the Calabrian Mafia, Domenic Perre, to the bombing.

In his findings, the Coroner concluded:

"11.4 In my opinion, however, the only reasonable inference to be drawn from the evidence is that Dominic Perre was responsible, in the sense that he constructed the bomb, and either posted it or arranged for someone else to post it on his behalf to Detective Sergeant Bowen.

11.5 From all the evidence, I am unable to find whether Perre acted alone or in concert with another person or persons.

11.6 Accordingly, I find, pursuant to Section 25(1) of the Coroners Act (1975), that the circumstances of the death of Detective Sergeant Geoffrey Leigh Bowen were that he died when he opened a parcel bomb, sent to him by Domenic Perre, and the bomb exploded in his hands."

Reward information