Serial killer Leonard John Fraser (left) and former Rockhampton CIB boss Geoff Barton.
Serial killer Leonard John Fraser (left) and former Rockhampton CIB boss Geoff Barton.

Tragic death of hero who helped bring down a killer

Rockhampton serial killer Leonard John Fraser died of a heart attack on New Year's Day 14 years ago.

In what can only be described as an eerie twist of fate, the former police chief who was in charge of the Fraser case, passed away on New Year's Day 2021.

It's believed former Rockhampton CIB boss Geoff Barton also suffered a heart attack after collapsing at his Bargara home last Friday afternoon.

But that's where the similarities between Mr Barton, 72, and Fraser end.

Because the former is in heaven and served his community until the day he died, while the latter wreaked havoc on the community and is in hell.

Fraser was 55 when he suffered a fatal heart attack just three hours and 20 minutes into the New Year of 2007.

Word of his death at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Secure Unit in Brisbane reverberated around Rockhampton at the time, and was quick to reach Mr Barton.

"I think the whole community will be greatly relieved," the former Detective Senior Sergeant said after learning of Fraser's death, describing him as a "monster" and "predator".

Leonard John Fraser in a Brisbane courtroom.
Leonard John Fraser in a Brisbane courtroom.

Fraser was Queensland's first and most notorious convicted serial killer.

"He was such a violent and callous individual," Mr Barton said on the day Fraser died.

"You know I think of the families of the girls (Fraser killed) who will never be returned to their loved ones.

"He (Fraser) was someone the community can do without.

"(His death) is going to save taxpayers a hell of a lot of money."

Fraser was admitted to hospital on Boxing Day, 2006, after experiencing chest pains while in his cell at the Wolston Correctional Centre, and had been receiving coronary care.

He was serving four indefinite life terms after killing four Rockhampton women between December 1998 and April 1999.

They were Sylvia Benedetti, 19, Beverley Leggo, 36, Julie Turner, 39, and nine-year-old Keyra Steinhardt as she walked home from school.

Fraser killed them all in cold blood, using extreme levels of violence to do so and sexually assaulting at least Keyra.

Fraser had also been charged with the murder of runaway teenager Natasha Ryan until she sensationally emerged from hiding during his trial.

Former criminal turned author Allan Quinn described Fraser as an untreatable psychopath.

Fraser spent most of his life in jail after being convicted of four rapes between 1974 and 1985.

Mr Barton, who was retired from the police force when Fraser died, said at the time no-one would be able to forget Fraser's appetite for preying on the vulnerable.

"Even in 20 years' time, anyone that had anything to do with that case will not be able to put his name out of their mind," Mr Barton said.

Geoffrey Thomas Barton worked as a police officer and Detective in the Queensland Police Service for 37 years, between 1965-2002.

He began when he was 16 and retired at 54.

In 2018, Mr Barton was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his dedication and service to rugby union.

Rockhampton rugby union legend Geoff Barton OAM.
Rockhampton rugby union legend Geoff Barton OAM.

Mr Barton managed the Rockhampton Brahmans representative team for 10 years in the 1990s and also played a key role in restructuring rugby union in the Beef Capital during that decade.

He was a long-time selector for Queensland Country and also founded the Queensland Outback Barbarians Rugby Union Club which provided a pathway for players to reach higher honours including at international level.

Tributes have flowed on Facebook for Mr Barton including this post from the Rugby Capricornia organisation this week.

"It is with great sadness we share the news of the passing of Geoff Barton OAM.

"Our heartfelt condolences and prayers are with Colleen, Adam and Scott.

"Barto was an enigmatic character of Country Rugby and was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his outstanding services to country rugby.

"As a prominent no nonsense manager of the Brahmans winning country championship team of 2000 and tour manager of the Outback Barbarians on several tours he positively influenced a lot of young men."

Geoff Barton OAM.
Geoff Barton OAM.

Mr Barton's funeral will be held on January 7 at Bundaberg at 2.30pm.

The service will be livestreamed for those unable to attend, via the link



Vale Geoff Barton: CQ rugby mourns passing of a legend