The identity of a serial rapist who terrorised women in Sydney, Australia, for decades has finally been revealed using DNA technology – nine months after he died.
Grandfather Keith Simms, who was dubbed the ‘Beast of Bondi’ for his heinous crimes, was linked to a dozen confirmed cases of sexual assault and is also suspected in at least 19 more depraved attacks from 1985 to 2001.
His sickening crimes all happened in the eastern suburbs of Sydney surrounding Bondi beach, with a similar modus operandi.
Armed with a knife and wearing a balaclava, Simms would attack vulnerable woman and girls by breaking into their homes in the middle of the night or early morning.
He would put his hand across their mouth, threaten to kill them with his knife and then sexually assault them.
On other occasions he would also target women in isolated areas walking alone.
His victims include defenceless girls as young as 13 and woman as old as 55.
But the positive identification of Simms comes nine months too late to bring him to justice, as he died of kidney failure in February, aged 66.
DNA has linked Keith Simms (pictured) to a dozen sexual assaults. He is also suspected of at least 19 more depraved attacks since 1985
Keith Simms’ (pictured) sickening crimes all happened in the eastern suburbs of Sydney surrounding Bondi, with a very similar modus operandi
Sadly, the positive identification of Simms (pictured) comes nine months too late to bring him to justice, as he died of kidney failure in February, aged of 66.
The ‘Beast of Bondi’ was named so because most of his attacks were carried out in eastern Sydney (Bondi Beach pictured)
Detective Acting Inspector Shelley Johns, who helped break the case, said the brazen and callous nature of Simms’ attacks still shock even the most hardened detectives
‘I’ve not seen any investigations with the number of offences and type of offending committed as in this investigation,’ she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘This is a woman’s worst nightmare: to wake up in the middle of night and someone standing over the top of you with a knife, in a balaclava.’
Over the years, Police in New South Wales launched more than 30 investigations to try to uncover who was behind the reign of terror.
A major breakthrough came in 2016 when DNA samples taken from rape scenes – some dating back 40 years – were linked to a male relative of Simms.
From this, investigators were able to put together a ‘family tree’ of 324 males, knowing one of them had to be the Beast of Bondi – who was also referred to as ‘The Centennial Park Rapist’ and ‘The Tracksuit Rapist’.
‘Through the dedicated hard work over the last six years of the sex crimes squad we were able to then bring that link down to a single person and identify the contributor of that DNA,’ commander of the sex crime squad, Jayne Doherty, said.
‘No two people share the same DNA, and that’s why we’ve been able to come back to this one person.’
Although investigators were devastated to discover they were too late to bring Simms to justice, Doherty said officers still wanted to let victims know they were certain it was Simms because ‘women walking down the street are still wondering: Is that him?’
Armed with a knife and wearing a balaclava, Simms (pictured) would attack vulnerable woman and girls by breaking into their homes in the middle of the night or early morning. On other occasions he would also target women in isolated areas walking alone
A woman called Jennifer, 69, spoke of the moment that she was informed last month that the man who raped her in her home in 1987 had finally been identified.
‘I burst into tears,’ she said. ‘It was just so emotional. It’s not a case of forgive and forget. Because I’ll never forget,’ she said.
‘And I’ll probably never forgive him for changing my life and everyone else’s. What gave him the right?’
Another victim named Jay, who was just 16 when she was brutally raped walking on Bondi Beach and fell pregnant, said she felt ‘relief’ when finding out he was dead.
‘Good, he can’t hurt anyone else. I’m not normally a horrible person but I hope he suffered.’
Detective Superintendent Doherty told the Daily Telegraph Simms’ case shows that it’s vital for victims to come forward at the time to preserve physical evidence even if they can’t face a court matter at the time, as their evidence could later help with police investigations.
Pictured are two artists’ impressions used by police before Simms was finally identified
The police believe there may be many more victims who were assaulted by Simms (pictured)
Some of Simms’ victims were backpackers visiting the Bondi area from abroad.
All of the women, overseas and in Australia, known to have reported being attacked by Simms were contacted by the police to let them know he had been identified.
Police believe there may be many more victims who were assaulted by Simms but did not come forward at the time, likely because they were travelling or did not want to go through the trauma of being subjected to the court system.
Simms’ own family, including his three children and five grandchildren, have also made aware of his shocking double life.
Detectives said those who knew him cannot fathom how Simms, a former National Parks and Wildlife worker and golf club employee, committed such atrocities.
He had never been in trouble with the law for any serious offences and did not suffer from mental illness, drug or alcohol problems.
‘As far as we know, through all the investigations, he was never on the radar and so he didn’t have all those normal triggers, so by not having those, probably helped stay so anonymous,’ Detective Superintendent Doherty said.
Timeline of The Beast of Bondi’s sickening sex crimes
Using advanced DNA technology, Keith Simms has been linked to 12 sexual assaults between 1987 and 2000.
He is suspected of being responsible for another 19 sexual assaults.
Police believe there may be many more victims who did not come forward over the past 37 years or more.
Almost all of the offences happened in Sydney’s east.
Crimes linked to Simms by DNA:
1 – Randwick, September 27, 1987: Simms entered a unit where a 23-year-old woman was sleeping at around 5.05am. He put his hand over her mouth, threatened her with a knife and sexually assaulted her.
2 – Pagewood, April 10, 1989: Wearing a balaclava and armed with a knife, Simms entered a 14-year-old girl’s bedroom at about 4.04am. He put his hand over her mouth and sexually assaulted her.
3 – Coogee, April 24, 1989: Simms entered a unit where a 32-year-old woman was asleep. He put his hand over her mouth, threatened her with a knife and sexually assaulted her.
4 – Coogee, January 28, 1992: Simms broke into a unit where a 21-year-old woman was asleep at about 4.20am. He threatened her with a knife and sexually assaulted her.
5 – Centennial Park, December 12, 1993: Simms grabbed a 44-year-old woman who was running at about 8am. He threatened to kill her with a knife and sexually assaulted her.
6 – Coogee, April 9, 1994: At about 2.45am Simms threatened a 24-year-old woman who was sitting on the beach with a knife and then sexually assaulted her.
7 – MacKenzies Point, June 17, 1995: Simms grabbed a 38-year-old woman who was walking at about 5.35am, threatened her with a knife and sexually assaulted the her.
8 – Coogee, March 30, 1996: Simms broke into a unit where a 27-year-old woman was asleep at about 4.30am. He put his hand over her mouth, threatened to cut her throat and sexually assaulted her.
9 – Coogee, March 21, 1997: A 28-year-old woman was asleep on the beach about 5am and she woke to see Simms wearing a balaclava, armed with a knife and straddling her with his penis exposed. He held the knife to her throat and sexually assaulted her.
10 – Tamarama, October 11, 2000: A 55-year-old woman was asleep inside a friend’s unit when Simms broke in in the early hours of the morning. He put his hand over her mouth, threatened to stab her to death and sexually assaulted her.
11 – Coogee, October 21, 2000: Simms grabbed a 23-year-old woman at Dunningham Reserve at around 6.10am. Wearing a balaclava, he put his hand over her mouth and threatened to cut her throat. He tried to get her to perform oral sex but she would not do so.
12 – Coogee, October 23, 2000: Simms grabbed a 17-year-old girl walking home through a cemetery at abound 3.30am. He put his hand across her mouth, threatened her and sexually assaulted her.
The New South Wales police (officers pictured in stock shot) never gave up on finding the Beast of Bondi
Crimes Simms is suspected of:
1 – Clovelly, March 2, 1985: Woman, 38, attacked at knife point while running at Thompsons Bay about 11am by a balaclava-wearing man who put his hand across her face and had a knife to her throat.
2 – Bondi, November 1986: A girl, 16, was sexually assaulted at knife-point at a beach
3 – Pagewood, March 1, 1987: A girl, 13, in her bed was sexually assaulted when a man in a balaclava broke into her home with a knife.
4 – Haberfield, May 9, 1987: A woman, 36, was sexually assaulted at knife-point in her unit by a man in a balaclava.
5 – Sydney, August 8, 1987: A woman, 23, was sexually assaulted at a public toilet at 7am by man with a knife.
6 – Randwick, August 15, 1987: A woman, 20, was sexually assaulted by a balaclava-wearing man with a knife at Randwick Boys High School toilets.
7 – Sydney, June 10, 1988: A woman, 25, was sexually assaulted at knife-point while jogging in Centennial Park at around 5.45am.
8 – Kingsford, October 31, 1988: A woman, 21, was raped at knife-point by a balaclava-wearing man with a knife at her home.
9 – Sydney, December 8, 1988: A woman, 22, jogging in Centennial Park at 9am was raped at knife-point by a balaclava-wearing man.
10 – Randwick, March 3, 1989: A woman, 33, was threatened with a knife by a balaclava-wearing man in a bungled sexual assault.
11 – Sydney, September 11, 1990: A woman, 33, was raped at knife-point by a balaclava-wearing man at Centennial Park at about 5.45am.
12 – Randwick, May 10, 1992: A woman, 23, was sexually assaulted at knife-point by a balaclava-wearing man at her home.
13 – Bondi, August 29, 1994: A woman, 23, was sexually assaulted at knife-point by a balaclava-wearing man at her home.
14 – Bronte, March 25, 1995: A woman, 26, was sexually assaulted at knife-point by a balaclava-wearing man at her unit.
15 – Bondi, April 25, 1995: A woman at the beach was sexually assaulted at knife-point by a balaclava-wearing man.
16 – Sydney, January 7, 1996: A woman, 29, was approached by a balaclava-wearing man with a knife, but she was able to escape.
17 – Waverley, April 18, 1998: A woman, 39, was was sexually assaulted at Waverley Cemetery at around 5.15am.
18 – Coogee, November 12, 2000: A woman, 20, a woman narrowly escaped being sexually assaulted when she kneed the man in the groin on Brook St.
19 – Waverley, October 30, 2001: A woman, 32, was sexually assaulted at Waverley by a balaclava-wearing man with a knife.