Fearing “unwanted homosexual advances,” Benjamin Jansen stabbed Rex Cable Keane up to 12 times and left him for dead in 1976.
Some 46 years later, 72-year-old Jansen was finally convicted in the Supreme Court in Brisbane of manslaughter.
Janssen, then 26, met Keane while drinking in Brisbane and agreed to go to his hotel room for a meal in August 1976.
The court heard that Jansen did not want sex, but suspected that Keane was gay or bisexual.
Keene told Jansen that he could “pay for food with his body” and that he wanted to take his picture, too.
When Keane approached with the camera, Jansen had a “dramatic, complete overreaction.”
Jansen grabbed the camera and hit Keane with it, hoping to knock him out.
Janssen eventually hit him up to a dozen times with the heavy camera, leaving Keane semi-conscious and moaning in his hotel room.
“In terms of perceived provocation … your overreaction occurred in a different era when homosexuality was illegal and viewed differently by some sections of society,” Judge Declan Kelly said.
“At the time, what was called gay panic remained a partial defense to a charge of murder.
“However, as your lawyer candidly admitted, there was absolutely no excuse for the way you responded to Mr Keane’s application.”
The camera was never found after Jansen took it when he left and later buried it near his home.
Hotel staff discovered Keane’s body the next morning, lying in a large pool of blood on the bed.
Keane has 11 head lacerations and a fractured skull.
The fracture could have been caused by a fall, according to the court.
Keane was alive for some time without aid or care after the attack, dying within eight hours of the attack.
DNA found on a napkin in the hotel room was identified as Jansen in January 2019 and led to his arrest six months later.
When arrested, a distraught Jansen told officers Keane’s family “wouldn’t want to know what happened.”
However, Keane’s family said the “heinous, brutal and unjustified attack” had caused suffering, but Jansen’s sentence brought some closure.
They described Keane as a “hard-working, resilient and respected man” who was held in high esteem by his family and community.
“Too often, violent cases like this one focus on the actions or motives of the perpetrator, leading to misperceptions or assumptions that only disempower victims,” the Keene family said in a statement.
“We hope the outcome of this cold case investigation will provide a glimmer of hope to those families who have yet to receive answers or justice.
“We hope this case will inspire others to come forward with any information that can assist police investigators.”
Kelly said the sad and disturbing part of the case is the fact that Keen’s mother died without ever knowing why her son was killed.
“It was always in your power to come forward and explain what happened, but you didn’t,” he told Jansen.
Some of Keen’s family were in court to hear Jansen sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
He is immediately eligible for parole, with 1,205 days in prison to serve.