The Tiki Coffee Lounge Murder, Wollongong Introduction The Illawarra region during the s and s was not generally known as a centre of criminal activity. Such a tag was usually associated with the dark alleys of Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, The Rocks, and the nearby dockyards of Hokses. The Tiki Coffee Lounge murder story was both sensational and tragic, with the media revelling in its more salacious details as they were slowly made public. Adding to the scandal was the fact that a prominent local businessman was involved and initially charged with complicity in the wol,ongong.
Allegations of police corruption were also raised, and a local police sergeant subsequently reed over the matter. The Tiki case had all the elements of a Hollywood gangster movie: murder, payoffs, police corruption, prostitution, illegal gambling and standover tactics. McHannigan the murderer - if we are haunted houses wollongong believe reports in hauntdd media - was a brutal and callous man.
Though he was only 22 at the time, the crime swingers brookville pennsylvania cold-blooded and premeditated. The subsequent placement of the victim Charles Housea body in a ceiling cavity of the Tiki Coffee Lounge by 'Big John' and his accomplis Peter Soffee was the most bizarre aspect of the whole affair, bringing to it widespread notoriety. Perhaps it should be asked - was this incident a mere aberration in the history of Wollongong, an industrial town located to the south of Sydney, or a of deep-seated corruption and vice in this third largest city of New South Wales?
Brothels, gambling, and even payoffs to police have long existed in Illawarra, however in brutal murder was a rare event. In the annals of Illawarra's recent history only haunted houses wollongong other local slayings have had such an impact on the collective consciousness of the region, these being the Kim Barry murder and the Picadilly Lane murder. Only the last event remains unsolved, whilst the Graham Potter, the perpetrator of the brutal murder of Kim Barry, remains at large. The Tiki Coffee Lounge is no more, though brothels continue to operate in the Wollongong district.
The smell of cheap perfume and sweaty bodies once filled the air. All is now still apart from the hum of the restaurant patrons and the aromas of hot cheese and chili. But what of the ghost of Charlie Berry? Does it still haunt the ceiling space where it was so callously placed after the murder, and subsequently extricated with much difficulty?
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Despite some murmurings in upstairs rooms from time to time, it appears that Charlie's ghost has moved on and is now hopefully resting in peace, with him murderer in jail for life. A brief summary of the Tiki Coffee Lounge murder case is given below, taken from newspaper s and published legal records. Manager of the Tiki Coffee Sex partner Tulsa Oklahoma, Wollongong.
Michael Francis McHannigan Manager of Tiki following Berry's murder. Alias 'Big John' and 'John Wollonfong. Peter Soffe Doorman at the Tiki. Accomplis to McHannigan. Ian Adrian Williamson Anthony Malouf Wollongong businessman. Part owner of the Tiki Coffee Lounge. Sergeant Posser - Policeman.
Beverley Dawn Eames Bridgette Tolson - Prostitute at the Tiki. Laurie Vickery - Policeman.
The coffee lounge was located on the ground floor, with associated brothel rooms and living quarters on the first floor and three doors down to the south. Berry lived at the Tiki with his son Phillip 8though he also had other premises. Tony Abizard had been the manager of the Tiki prior to Berry. The Tiki was both a gaming house cards would be played there and a front for a brothel.
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Berry would take the remainder and later given a percentage to Malouf, who would then pass on a further cut to the local policeman, Sergeant Posser. In October of Michael Francis McHannigan 22 began working at the Tiki as an assistant to Berry and to provide protection for the prostitutes. McHannigan had ly worked in Sydney.
He was known as 'Big John' and was apparently an intimidating man. Late in December Anthony Malouf, part-owner of the operation, asked McHannigan if he would like to take over Charlie Berry's job as manager of the Tiki. McHannigan was anxious to do so, haunted houses wollongong Malouf suggested it would be up to him to arrange for Berry's removal. Houwes this time Peter Soffe, a New Zealander, also began working at the Tiki as a doorman and general assistant.
Of the prostitutes at the Tiki, a Bridgette Tolson was employed from 21 December Two other girls were also there at the time, one named Vicki and also Beverley Eames. Following his discussion with Malouf, McHannigan decided that houess murder of Berry was the quickest and easiest way for him to assume control of the Tiki. Vickery was beginning his holidays that evening, and upon his return would play a part in the discovery of his friend's fate.
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Downstairs a group of men were playing cards, including McHannigan, Soffe, Williamson, and two others. According to Williamson, McHannigan was very drunk at the time. During the game McHannigan and Soffe got up and left the premises for a period. McHannigan headed towards Berry's bedroom, armed with a Browning pistol and a hammer. Upon entering the room he hit Berry on the jaw with the hammer to wake him; Berry sat up in bed and McHannigan then shot him in the head twice.
Berry died almost immediately.
They left the room and Williamson remembers hearing them arguing prior to returning to the Tiki. McHannigan later called Williamson out to the back of the Tiki and, throwing him up against a wall, told him that he and Soffe had killed Berry, and threatened that he would do the same to Williamson if he did not help wol,ongong dispose of the body.
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McHannigan then took Williamson up to the scene of the crime where he saw blood dripping from the ceiling. Williamson was haunted houses wollongong to assist in the disposal of the body and tried to stay away from McHannigan and Soffe over the next couple of days. However this proved wollongobg as he lived and worked in Wollongong. During the following Thursday and Friday 7 and 8 January the body remained in the ceiling hauntted began to quickly deteriorate due to the stifling heat of the time, it being the middle of summer.
As a result, the prostitutes were forced to use perfumes to mask the smell as they conducted their business in the rooms just below the ceiling cavity. By Saturday 9 January the removal of the body was becoming imperative. On that day McHannigan, Soffe, and Williamson travelled to Primbee to arrange disposal of the Tits in Weybourne pa, possibly in a housez.
However haunted houses wollongong were unsuccessful and later travelled to Seven Mile Beach at Gerringong to search for a suitable site among the sandhills there. On the morning of Sunday, 10 January, Berry's body was, with much difficulty, removed from the ceiling of the Tiki Coffee Lounge by McHannigan and Soffe, and placed in the Any chub chasers seeking talented of Williamson's grey Holden, which was then parked in the small alleyway running off Keira Street besides the terrace buildings.
Williamson later drove to Bendalong, where he had spent his holidays over the years, and buried the body there besides a tree. By this time the decomposing body was swelling and black, causing Williamson to be sick as he undertook the burial. Upon returning to Wollongong he had much difficulty in removing the smell of decomposing flesh from his car. Following the murder and disposal of the body by Williamson on 10 January, all remained quiet at the Tiki Cofee Lounge.
McHannigan was the new manager and business continued as usual.
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Some questions were asked amongst the bouses as to what had happened to Charlie, and his friends and family began to get suspicious. When policeman Laurie Vickery returned from holidays in February he also began to inquire of the whereabouts of Charlie Berry, unsuspecting at first, but later becoming suspicious. Events moved slowly throughout March and April, however by early May the police had gathered Sun city girls looking for discrete affair information to suspect McHannigan of Berry's murder, and on 11 May they raided the Tiki Coffee Lounge and arrested McHannigan.
On 12 May McHannigan was charged at Wollongong Court with murdering Charlie Berry, running a brothel, and carrying an und pistol. He was held in custody. Also on that day Anthony Malouf, a local businessman, was interviewed by Sgt. Day at Wollongong Police Station in connection with the murder. It read 'City Brothel Blitz Order' and informed the local public that corruption and vice had broken out in their fair city. The following day he appeared in Wollongong Court and was formally haunted houses wollongong with Charlie Berry's murder, operating the Tiki Coffee Lounge brothel, and living off the earnings of prostitution.
Continuing bail was refused. Michael McHannigan, Peter Soffe, and Anthony Malouf were all remanded on the murder, prostitution, and harboring charges. In the interim, the police continued to seek information on the final resting place of Charles Berry, and on 16 Wollonglng interviewed Williamson a second time, during which he admitted burying Berry on the South Coast.
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Bridgette Tolson wollkngong the first to give evidence, and her story was descriptive to say the least. Soffe had pleaded guilty from the outset. On 8 November Williamson was sentenced to 8 years in jail 3 years non-parole. He immediately appealed the severity of his sentence, but the Court of Criminal Appeals rejects his appeal. In June of he appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds of acting under duress.
This time he was successful, and a new trial was called. Accessed 20 October Illawarra Mercury [various editions], Michael Organ home. Any comments, corrections, or additions to the content of this site are most welcome. Please e-mail the author at: Michael Organ [morgan uow.