Victim Date of Birth
Date of Death
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Date of Conviction
Body Discovered Date
Stephen Leslie Bradley
Thorne Family Wins The Lottery
Graeme Thorne was born on December 18, 1951 and lived in a rented house in Sydney, Australia, right in the suburb of Bondi.
He, along with his older sister Cheryl and younger sister Belinda, grew up with their parents Freda and Bazil Thorne. The family was of modest means and lived in a fairly modest home.
Eight-year-old Graeme Thorne attended The Scots College in Bellevue Hill and led a fairly normal family life, albeit with some financial shortcomings. He used to attract the attention of others because of his blond hair and blue eyes.
On June 1, 1960, the Thorne family’s luck changed forever, when Bazil Thorne, Graeme’s father discovered that the 3932 ticket he had purchased for the Opera House Lottery had won.
In an instant, the family had won the lottery and would receive a prize of 100,000 Australian pounds. Photos of both Bazil and Freda Thorne were published in all media, including television and newspapers.
On July 7, 1960, a little over a month after winning the lottery, Graeme Thorne got up very early to go to school. Later that day, his parents discovered that he never made it to school.
Graeme Thorne disappeared that day and never returned home. They received a call asking for money in exchange for his ransom.
Graeme Throne Left for School, Never Came Back
The Thorne family’s life changed forever when on that Wednesday, June 1, 1960, Bazil Thorne realized that his Opera House Lottery ticket had won.
During the construction of the Sydney Opera House in 1960, the project was becoming increasingly expensive, so the New South Wales government organized a fundraiser through the Opera Lottery House.
That first of June they announced that the winning ticket was number 3932, the very ticket that Bazil Thorne had bought a few days earlier. That was how they learned that they had won the lottery and would receive the first prize of 100,000 Australian pounds.
At the time, there was not much information or knowledge about protecting the identity of winners of prizes like this, so the photos and names of the winners were published in the media and appeared on the front pages of all Sydney newspapers.
In addition to the names of the winners, it was also published that the date of the award would be July 7 of the same year.
That same day, July 7, 1960, a little over a month after winning the lottery, Freda Thorne helped Graeme get ready for school. She helped him organize his backpack, tie his tie knot, get his school uniform ready, and made sure he had his two handkerchiefs in his pocket.
After giving her a kiss, Graeme left the house for school at approximately 8:30 am. Part of his daily routine was to walk from his house about 300 meters to the corner of Wellington Street.
Graeme Throne waited there every day for Phyillis Smith, a friend of the Thorne family, who would drive by with her children to pick him up to take them all to school.
When Mrs. Smith arrived to pick up Graeme, he was not at the corner. Finding this very strange, she decided to drive to the Thorne family home to find out what had happened to Graeme.
To her surprise, Freda told her that he had already left the house. Since they did not find Graeme on the streets near the house, they drove to the school to find out if he had left on his own.
When they arrived at the school, they discovered that Graeme had never arrived. It was then that Freda decided to call the Bondi police to report the 8-year-old boy missing.
The Ransom Call
On July 7, 1960, Graeme Thorne’s mother Freda made the call to the Bondi police station to report that her son was missing.
A few minutes later after that call, at approximately 9:40 a.m., Freda Thorne received a phone call from an unknown man, however, she immediately noticed that he had a foreign accent.
The man on the phone told her that he had her son, and that in return he wanted a quarter of the money they had won as a lottery prize.
The mysterious man threatened the 8-year-old’s mother that he would feed him to the sharks if they didn’t get him £25,000 in 17 hours.
At the time he did not give details of how the transaction would be made, however, later that day, he called back at almost 10 p.m. Sgt. Larry O’shea posed as Bazil Thorne, the boy’s father, who by that time was out of town on business.
The kidnapper told him he wanted the money in cash and in two brown paper bags, without giving any further details. Although police officers attempted to trace the call, it was not possible, as the man suddenly hung up the call.
Thorne’s family life went from living the joy of winning the lottery, to desperation to find their little boy.
From the moment Graeme Thorne was reported missing, police took it upon themselves to begin searches around the family home, the school and near Wellington Street, where Graeme used to wait to be picked up for school.
Bazil Thorne returned to the city later that day and in the evening made a television appearance with NSW Police Force officers. Bazil was very distraught, pleading for his son to be returned to him alive.
Following that announcement, the case of Graeme Thorne’s abduction immediately spread throughout the community and was even published in several newspapers.
On Friday, July 8, one day after the disappearance, police found a school bag near Seaforth. According to some testimonies of neighbors, they had seen a boy with the characteristics of Graeme Thorne with two men and a woman.
The owners of a gas station in the area also commented that they saw these adults with a child at approximately 10 p.m. on the same day of the disappearance. They were all aboard a dark-colored vehicle, which was missing its front license plate.
The car described by the witnesses turned out to be registered with a different number than the one corresponding to the vehicle.
On July 11, 1960, police found Graeme’s cap. After gathering these clues, the family and the police agreed to offer a £5,000 reward, which then led to them receiving calls with false information.
During the investigation, the police discovered that a few weeks before the abduction, Graeme’s mother had received a call from a man with a different accent asking to confirm some details.
On August 16, 1960, more than a month after Graeme’s disappearance, police found the 8-year-old boy’s lifeless body. He was found in a vacant lot in Seaforth and was still wearing the clothes his mother had helped him put on the day he disappeared.
After the body was examined with forensic techniques, specialists determined that Graeme Thorne had been killed 24 hours after his disappearance. His body had residue of dirt and very small fragments of pink livestock mortar, so it was discovered that he had been under a house.
These clues and those of the vehicle that some witnesses had said they had seen succeeded in getting a house with a pink mortar near the vacant lot where Graeme’s body was found.
On October 3, 1960, they visited the house and discovered that the last tenant had a vehicle that matched the witnesses’ descriptions. The tenant was Stephen Bradley, who lived there with his family. However, they discovered that on the same day of the abduction, they had moved to another location and that in September, a few weeks earlier, he had left for London on the SS Himalaya.
When the Himalayas docked in London, two Sydney police officers were waiting for him, thus arresting Stephen Bradley for the kidnapping and murder of Graeme Thorne.
After several legal proceedings, Bradley Stephen was extradited to Australia on November 18, 1960. According to some information, Bradley confessed just before landing in Sydney that he admitted to the crime.
The Crime Description
Stephen Bradley had been watching Graeme for days before he abducted him, and on one of those days, he even followed him to school.
Bradley knew that a woman picked him up every day on Wellington Street to take him to school. On the day Bradley moved out of the house where he lived, she parked her car near where Graeme was waiting to go to school and abducted him.
He posed as a driver and persuaded Graeme to get into his car. He drove the vehicle west, then attacked the boy, beating him unconscious. He then wrapped him in a picnic blanket and put him in the car’s trunk to make the first call.
According to his testimony, when he arrived home and checked the trunk, he realized that the child had suffocated; however, forensic doctors denied this version.
Although few details are known, forensic examination revealed that Stephen Bradley suffocated the boy and fractured his skull. He then wrapped him in a blanket, gagged him with a scarf, tied him up with rope, and hid the body in a vacant lot.
Graeme had several cuts, trauma, and some signs that he had been buried under a house before being abandoned in the field where he was found.
A Hungarian Immigrant
Stephen Leslie Bradly was a Hungarian immigrant born in March 1926 in Budapest. For years he worked as an insurance salesman, a nurse and in a poker machine factory.
According to some information we found, it is presumed that Bradley lived well beyond his means and that he was a bald, dark, and short man. By the time he abducted Graeme Thorne, he was married to Magda Bradley, and his financial situation was quite complicated.
Seeing that the Thorne family had won the lottery, he thought it would be a good opportunity to kidnap his son to ask for money in exchange for money.
Stephen Bradley’s trial began on March 20, 1961. Although during his extradition he wrote what appeared to be a confession, he pleaded not guilty to murder, however, he admitted to kidnapping the child.
Stephen Bradley was convicted of kidnapping and murder.
On March 29, 1961 Stephen Bradley was sentenced to life in prison for the first degree murder of Graeme Thorne.
This was the most infamous kidnapping case in Australia at the time, which brought to light the government’s roles regarding the privacy of lottery winners’ identities.
Prior to Graeme’s case, there had been no known child kidnappings to collect rewards of any kind.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happened to Graeme Thorne?
Graeme Thorne was kidnapped and murdered in Australia when he was eight years old.
When was Graham Thorne kidnapped?
Graeme Thorne was kidnapped on July 7, 1960.
Where Was Graeme Thorne Found?
Graeme Thorne was found dead in a vacant lot in Seaforth, in the city of Sydney, Australia.