Severely injured lawyer Peter Wallis repeatedly asked “is Bowie OK?” moments after a bomb detonated in an office at the National Crime Authority’s Adelaide headquarters in 1994, the Supreme Court has heard.

Key points:

  • Domenic Perre has gone on trial accused of murdering a police officer and injuring a lawyer
  • Geoffrey Bowen was killed in the blast at the NCA building in Adelaide in 1994
  • The trial’s opening day has heard from former NCA and Australia Post staff

Domenic Perre is accused of murdering Detective Sergeant Geoffrey “Bowie” Bowen and injuring Mr Wallis by sending a parcel bomb to the NCA building on Waymouth Street on March 2, 1994.

The 63-year-old accused has pleaded not guilty to the offences.

After decades of investigation and months of pre-trial argument, the six-month trial started in the South Australian Supreme Court today.

Former NCA personnel officer Joanne Taskas told the court that she had just made a coffee and was heading back to her desk when the bomb went off.

“As I turned the corner, I saw [others] pushing on the door of Peter Wallis’s office.

“They eventually got into the room, we could hear Peter screaming and somebody was yelling to call triple-0 and get an ambulance.”

Geoffrey Bowen was killed in the blast at the NCA office in March 1994.

Ms Taskas said she raced to the kitchen to get a first-aid kit and that, when she got back, other NCA staff were “walking Peter Wallis out”.

“Peter was burnt from the waist up … his face was unrecognisable. I wouldn’t have known it was Peter except for his voice,” she said.

“Throughout this time, Peter was asking me about Bowie. ‘Is Bowie OK?’ Then he asked me about his girlfriend, who works on the 11th floor. I told him they were all OK.

“He did repeat a number of times, ‘A bomb, a bomb’.”

Post office worker gives evidence

Ms Taskas told Justice Kevin Nicholson — who will determine the case in the absence of a jury — that she noticed a package sitting near security when she walked into work that day.

She added that she had never seen a package like it mailed to the NCA.

Former Australia Post staffer Wendy Den Hartog also gave evidence today, telling the court she handled the package before it was given to the NCA on March 2, 1994.

The alleged location of the car of NCA bombing suspect Domenic Perre in Adelaide’s CBD.(Supplied: SA Supreme Court)

Ms Den Hartog also told the court that a week before the blast, a man of Italian or Greek heritage had asked her questions about whether the mail had been delivered to the NCA.

But she said police did not note that in her statement at the time.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Perre’s hatred for the NCA and Sergeant Bowen started when Northern Territory police found a $20 million cannabis crop at Hidden Valley Station in August 1993.

In documents released by the court last October, which will form part of the prosecution case, it was revealed that the NCA had received references from each state and the Commonwealth to target Italian organised crime, and that Sergeant Bowen was working on the “Cerebus reference”.

The documents also stated that Perre had sent a letter in the months before the 1994 bombing, which stated the NCA had “double standards” and Australia was heading towards a “totalitarian system”.

“It is the prosecution case that this was the beginning of a hatred towards law enforcement and intimately the NCA and Bowen, in particular,” the document stated.

The trial continues.