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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian 'considering' second inquest into fatal Luna Park Ghost Train fire

ABC News logo ABC News 8/04/2021
a blurry image of a person: An EXPOSED reconstruction of the fatal Ghost Train fire at Sydney's Luna Park. (Supplied) © Provided by ABC News An EXPOSED reconstruction of the fatal Ghost Train fire at Sydney's Luna Park. (Supplied)

The NSW Premier has confirmed her government is "considering" another inquest into the fatal Luna Park Ghost Train fire in light of fresh evidence.

The blaze, which claimed the lives of six children and one adult in June 1979, was quickly blamed on an electrical fault by police at the time.

An inquest at the time found this was not supported by the evidence, and an open finding was delivered.

But an investigation by the ABC series EXPOSED revealed overlapping accounts from witnesses about youths or bikies seen on the night, as well as the smell of kerosene at the popular ride.

On Thursday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian was asked about the fresh evidence and whether she would support an inquest.

"I understand that relevant agencies in NSW are considering that," she replied.

Ms Berejiklian said it was always "really difficult" to decide what needed to be reopened.

"I know that if that was my family, I'd want that to happen," she said.

"That's why parts of the NSW government are considering our options there and if we can go down that path, we will. But I do want to confirm that we are giving it good consideration."

NSW Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg is also supportive of a fresh inquiry but said the form of it should be left to the state government.

"The fact that these families haven't had answers for 42 years really is an indictment on the justice system in NSW," he said.

Both Labor and the Greens back a special commission of inquiry into the fire.

In a statement, NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said he was pleased the Commissioner for Police had committed to consider "new and compelling" evidence, and that the coroner had indicated she would carefully consider any application for a fresh inquest.

"In addition, the Attorney General has asked the Department of Communities and Justice for advice on any appropriate action," the statement said. 

"Anyone, including the program makers, who has information about the fire at Luna Park should contact police as soon as possible."

The first and only inquest, in 1979, was later criticised by the National Crime Authority in a report which labelled it as "substantially ineffective".

Former senior police told the ABC investigation that notorious crime boss Abe Saffron ordered the fire, further claiming he got away with the plan due to assistance from corrupt police.

Detective Inspector Doug Knight, the officer who led the investigation, was revealed by witnesses as a "fixer" who would corrupt court matters by deleting, changing and manipulating evidence, as well as intimidating witnesses.

Some witnesses who spoke during the ABC investigation claimed they were "intimidated" or "hounded" to change aspects of their original statements.

Many of the witnesses spoke publicly about the horror of the night for the first time, including survivor Jason Holman.

His four friends — 13-year-olds Richard Carroll, Jonathan Billings, Seamus Rahilly and Michael Johnson — all perished, along with Craig Godson, 4, his brother Damien, 6 and their father John, 29.

Les Dowd, who was there on the night of the deadly fire, claimed to have overheard talk of arson from a group of suspicious males.

Aspects of his recollection are corroborated by other witnesses.

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