NSW forensic services officers examine a small area in bushland in the Royal National Park south of Sydney, Monday, May 29, 2017.
NSW forensic services officers examine a small area in bushland in the Royal National Park south of Sydney, Monday, May 29, 2017. AAP Image/David Moir

Why Atkins covered up Leveson’s death

MATTHEW Leveson died from taking the drug GHB, according to his boyfriend Michael Atkins who found his 20-year-old lover's body the next day, it was revealed in a bombshell announcement on Wednesday.

A "bottle of drugs" containing the substance GHB was found in the kitchen near the body of Mr Leveson who died after a night arguing with his boyfriend Mr Atkins, the inquest into Mr Leveson's death heard.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin said Mr Atkins' account of Mr Leveson's death was that after arguing at ARQ nightclub in 2007, the pair drove home and slept in separate areas.

Mr Atkins "fell asleep on the lounge" and Mr Leveson went to sleep in a bedroom and Mr Atkins found his body dead in their flat the next morning.

Mr Atkins told police he found the "bottle of drugs" in the kitchen of their flat and he "assumed that might have caused Matthew's death".

Insp. Jubelin said Mr Atkins spent some time with Matthew's body before deciding to bury it in bushland.

Mr Leveson's father asked questions that threw doubt on Mr Atkins' account of what had happened to Matthew.

Mark Leveson asked Insp Leveson whether Mr Atkins could have been "panicked and still drug affected" when he discovered Matthew's dead body.

"Yet he drove home six hours earlier?," Mark Leveson said.

"And he said (in Mr Atkins' statement to police) 'I thought I was going to be named and shamed.'"

Insp Jubelin said he didn't believe Mr Atkins would have trouble breaking driving laws and he was "morally bankrupt ... basically has no morals".

Asked whether Mr Atkins was still considered the only person of interest in Matthew Leveson's death, Insp Jubelin said he was "comfortable with that".

Asked by the Coroner whether the clothing Mr Atkins had worn on the night Matthew died had never been found, Insp Jubelin agreed.

Evidence was given that fish-shaped containers of GHB and the barrel of a syringe for apportioning the drug for sale.

In questions to Insp Jubelin, Coroner Truscott asked whether Mr Atkins' account that he left ARQ nightclub to take a heavily drug-affected Matthew home was inconsistent with CCTV footage.

Ms Truscott said the 55 minutes after Mr Atkins left the club were unaccounted for by him, and that the inquest had heard he went to get more drugs to sell rather than drive Matthew home.

Insp Jubelin agreed, and also agreed that a friend of Mr Atkins Jack Smith, had been down a side alley with two others in a manner "consistent with drug dealing".

Mark Leveson asked Insp Jubelin whether another person could have been involved in the disposal of Matthew's body.

Insp Jubelin said he believed Mr Atkins "acted alone".


Mr Atkins told police the reason he decided to cover up his boyfriend's death was fear about his reputation and the fact he had only recently come out as a homosexual.

"He (Mr Atkins) had concerns about his reputation," Insp Jubelin said.

"He was the older partner of a young male, had only recently come out as a homosexual.

"He was responsible for looking out for him (Mr Leveson).

"His (Mr Atkins') mother didn't know he was homosexual."

Later on that Sunday, Mr Atkins formed the plan to dispose of the body and went to Bunnings to buy a mattock and duct tape.

He wrapped Mr Leveson's body "in a blanket or sheet" and pushed Mr Leveson's car out of the car space after removing the boom box from the boot to make room for Mr Leveson's body.

Mr Atkins waited until it became dark and drove to Waterfall in the Royal National Park at around midnight.

He carried Mr Leveson's body from the car to a spot in the bush and began digging a hole.

Asked by Counsel Assisting the inquest Tim Game SC whether the account was inconsistent with Mr Atkins' previous stories, Insp. Jubelin said "yes".

Insp. Jubelin agreed with Mr Game that the case may have been dealt with differently if it was being handled currently.

He agreed that evidence, such as the Bunnings purchases, withheld from Mr Atkins' murder trial, might have been included if the case had been handled differently.

Asked by Coroner Elaine Truscott when exactly the "bottle of drugs" that had been seen "later" by Mr Atkins in the couple's kitchen, Insp Jubelin said he wasn't sure of when Mr Atkins meant.

The dramatic scenes of finding Mr Leveson's body also emerged in the Sydney court.

On May 31 this year, on the third attempt to locate the missing 20-year-old, an excavator found Mr Leveson's skull.

Insp Jubelin said using a new shallow digging method, the police excavator unearthed the skeleton "on the second or third scrape" of the earth.

His skull and some bones were found near a cabbage palm.

"You could see a portion of his skull," he said.

A post mortem analysis of Mr Leveson's bones that found damage to the bones determined it could have been inflicted either before or after death.

Insp. Jubelin agreed that excavation of the area in which Mr Leveson's remains were believed to be could have caused the bone damage.

He said the "pure logistics" of the search made it difficult and the almost 10 years since Mr Leveson's death meant cadaver dogs and ground penetrating radar might not be useful.

The inquest also heard Michael Atkins buried Mr Leveson's body in a two metre by one metre grave that was just 800mm deep.

Police also gave Mr Atkins a 70kg mannequin to put in and remove from a vehicle in the Royal National Park south of Sydney in an attempt to find Mr Leveson's remains.

And Matthew Leveson's family agreed to lending police their son's car, which Mr Atkins used over three days to refresh his memory about where he buried Mr Leveson in 2007.

Giving evidence at Mr Leveson's inquest in Sydney, Insp. Jubelin said Mr Atkins had given police graphic details of the hole he had dug.

Police took him to areas in bushland during the day and at night in efforts to help him remember where he had buried Mr Leveson.

Mr Atkins told police the burial site was 4km from Waterfall Railway Station, south of Sydney, on a slope and near a hairpin bend.

Inspector Jubelin said police had driven with Mr Atkins late last year after he drew a diagram of where he had buried his 20-year-old lover.

"We were directed by Mr Atkins in a car ... to Waterfall (railway station) and to McKell Avenue, the road where the body was found," Insp Jubelin said.

"Mr Atkins ... was confident it was that road. He had a look around.

"We continued along the road and there was another car park ... a gravel clearing that leads on to a walking track with a hairpin bend.

"When we got out Mr Atkins seemed to be more confident."

Insp Jubelin said a police excavator used in two attempts to find Matthew's body had been employed a third time, in May this year, using a shallow "scraping".

This replaced earlier deeper digging after Mr Atkins indicated the size of the hole he buried Matthew in.

A statement made by Mr Atkins outlining what happened before Matthew's death and describing where he had buried his lover's body was tendered to the inquest.

Mr Leveson's remains were found in bushland two months ago, in the Royal National Park south of Sydney.

His remains were located after the inquest was halted last year and Mr Atkins was granted immunity to provide details of where Mr Leveson's body could be found.

Mr Atkins drew a diagram for police of where he buried Mr Leveson's body.

He said the body was located "3-4km from Waterfall railway line" near "a bend in the road swinging towards the right and on the left hand side a small car park ... and a grave 15 to 20 metres away".

However Counsel Assisting the inquest, Tim Game SC told Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott that she should not rely on Mr Atkins' credibility regarding the cause of Mr Leveson's death.

Mr Game said that "in terms of credibility of the circumstances ... we were not putting that forward to you, that you should make findings based on that".

Mr Atkins' legal counsel is arguing against his being compelled to return to the witness box to give evidence.

Mr Leveson's parents Mark and Faye and friends appeared at the inquest at Glebe Coroner's Court in Sydney wearing purple in his memory.

Jason Leveson, Matthew's brother, refused to take his cap off in court after Ms Truscott requested he did and wore it during the hearing.

The Levesons never gave up on finding their son's body, spending every day at the site while the excavator dug for remains last November, in January and on the final successful mission two months ago.

Mr Leveson was last seen leaving ARQ nightclub in Sydney's inner city suburb of Darlinghurst with his then-boyfriend, Mr Atkins, in 2007.

Mr Atkins, who was acquitted of Mr Leveson's murder by a trial jury in 2009, was caught on CCTV in Bunnings buying duct tape and a mattock the day after Mr Leveson vanished.

The inquest had previously heard Mr Atkins suggest that Mr Leveson may have gone overseas to Thailand.

After he struck a deal with the NSW Attorney-General for immunity from perjury and contempt of court, Mr Atkins led police to the burial site in the Royal National Park.

Legal experts say it is unlikely fresh charges would be laid against Mr Atkins because of the immunity arrangement.

Following confirmation their son's remains had been found, Mark and Faye Leveson thanked loved ones on Facebook who had supported them in the search for the 20-year-old.

"It has now been CONFIRMED by DNA testing that the remains found WERE OF OUR BELOVED MATTY," a post on the Justice for Matthew Leveson page published in June.

Before an inquest hearing in February this year, Mark Leveson told news.com.au that the family were hoping to learn about all the circumstances of "Matty's death".

"I want to find out how he died, and where his body is," Mr Leveson said.

Now aged 54, Mr Atkins was a sexually active gay man in 2007 when his much younger boyfriend Mr Leveson disappeared.

According to evidence given at the trial and at Mr Leveson's inquest, Mr Atkins was known as the older guy who liked threesomes and lured young men with the promise of drugs.

Evidence was given at an inquest hearing in 2015 that Mr Leveson and Mr Atkins were small-time suppliers of GHB and ecstasy.

News Corp Australia

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