Home Decades Events Graeme Thorne Kidnapping (1960)

Graeme Thorne Kidnapping (1960)

Sydney (Australia) father Basil Thorne and his wife Freda won £100,000 in one of the first Opera House lotteries on 1 June 1960, and they were ecstatic. The Bondi family with two children, Graeme (8) and Belinda (3) were set for life.

But five weeks later their lives were shattered when Graeme (pictured above) was kidnapped on his way to school – just 300 meters from his home. The next day, a man with an accent demanded £25,000 ransom.


Police tried to frighten the kidnapper into releasing the schoolboy with public appeals and television appearances, and an unprecedented public response followed as Bondi police station was bombarded with callers.

When the NSW government offered £5,000 reward (pictured at left) and the newspaper publishers Fairfax and ACP offered £10,000 and £5,000 respectively, the public were whipped into a frenzy.

Never before had Sydneysiders become so involved and so consumed in a criminal case.

Sadly, on 16 August, Graeme’s partially decomposed body was found by children playing. It was wrapped in a blanket and bound with cord in a shallow grave under a rock ledge at Seaforth in Sydney.

On 10 October 1960, 34-year-old Stephen Bradley was arrested in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) as he was travelling with his wife and three children on the P&O liner Himalaya.

He was detained by local police when it berthed at 5 am local time, then flown back to Sydney where, on 29 March 1961, he was found guilty of kidnapping and murder.