The now-older Australian man convicted of the 1987 gay-bashing murder of a man he thought was gay received what amounted to a life sentence in a Sydney courtroom late last month.
NSW Supreme Court Justice Dina Yehia sentenced on October 20, Stanley Bruce Early, 77, to a maximum of 22 years in prison for the murder of Raymond Keam, 43, in a public park in the early morning hours of January 13, 1987. According to the Sydney Morning Herald,the sentence includes a mandatory 15 years and six months behind bars, meaning Early won’t be eligible for parole until the age of 91 in 2037.
Keam, was a martial arts expert but was suffering from an injury the night he was murdered. He identified as straight, was divorced from one woman and in a relationship with another. He had two children.
Keam was attacked just outside a public restroom in Allison Park by “ringleader” Early and a small group of youths looking to assault gay men who cruised the park in search of gay sex. Keam was beaten to the ground and stomped about the head and chest. The medical examiner determined the cause of death to be one or more fatal blows to the head. His lifeless body was discovered the following morning.
Yehia described Early’s actions as “an affront to civilized society” and chastised him during sentencing.
“The offender continues to deny his involvement in the murder,” Yehia noted according to QNews. “He has shown no remorse whatsoever.”
At the time of the murder, Early was known as Stanley “Spider” Sutton and had a hardscrabble upbringing. He reportedly struggled with his sexuality (he now identifies as bisexual). He was also a survivor of sexual assault as a child and after a stint in jail. He was out on bail at the time of the murder after being charged with committing an indecent act against a 12-year-old boy.
Early was arrested at his home in Victoria two months after a $1 million reward was offered for information leading to a conviction in the case. He was subsequently extradited to neighboring New South Wales where he has been held in jail during the trial.
Yehia said she was unable to say with certainty that Early delivered the fatal blow or blows and that she did not believe he warranted a life sentence. However, she did say his actions directly caused Keam’s death and that there was a “real chance” he would die in prison.