For this post I’m taking us to my hometown to a massacre that happened mere streets from my family home when I was just 8 months old. In all my years of listening to and reading about true crime I noticed there is one thing that everyone has in common. Everyone has an interesting and shocking crime story that has happened in their hometown that they haven’t been able to forget about. Here is mine. The Central Coast Massacre.
Malcolm Baker, 43, was an auto-mechanic living on the Central Coast a somewhat secluded area at the time roughly 1.5 hours north of Sydney. The Central Coast has been known as a quiet, peaceful holiday destination and a nice sea-change from the hustle and bustle of Sydney. For several years Baker had been dating 23 year old Kerryann Gannon who worked at a nursing home in Avoca. After a tumultuous and abusive relationship Kerryann left Baker and moved in with her younger sister Lisa at her property in Terrigal. After allegedly harassing Gannon after the break up Baker was ordered by a court not to contact her again. His weapons permit was also revoked and a collection of firearms had been confiscated from him by authorities. He was also known to have a history of short temper and violence. Kerryann’s mother Ann remembers the last words she heard from Bakers mouth before that fateful night, “I’m going to take the lot of yas out.”
Approximately 6 weeks after the break up on the night of the 27th October 1992 with a 12-gauge sawn off shot gun in hand Baker smashes through the front window of Lisa’s Terrigal home where Kerryann and her new boyfriend Chris Gall, 22, had been watching TV together. After seeing Baker both Kerryann and Chris began running for their lives. Immediately Baker opened fire on the couple killing Kerryann within minutes and injuring Chris.
Baker then proceeded to the kitchen where he found Thomas Gannon, the father of both Lisa and Kerryann. He had been in the house visiting his two daughters at the time. It is said an altercation between the two occurred which resulted in Baker opening fire again injuring Tom’s shoulder. Tom then fled out onto the front yard of the residence trying to seek help. Baker turned his gun on Lisa who was 18 years old and 8 months pregnant at the time. She was asleep on her lounge when Baker fired the shots. Lisa died at the scene and sadly the efforts made to save her unborn child failed. Baker then followed Tom out the front of the residence where he found him injured and sprawled out on the lawn trying to get help. Baker continued to shoot Tom also killing him.
The first emergency calls were made almost instantly by nearby neighbours who heard gunshots coming from the residence. Unfortunately before the police arrived Baker jumped into his car and fled the scene. He drove to his son’s house in Bateau Bay roughly 10km away. After hearing the car pull up out front Bakers son David, 27, walked out the front door. Baker then shot his son dead by firing at point-blank range to the back of his head.
After this Baker got back in his car and fled the scene again driving to the suburb of Wyong, another 15 kilometres north to the residence of Ross Smith, 35. It is said Baker had previous business dealings with Ross and blamed him for a failed deal in which he lost a large sum of money that he allegedly planned on using as a house deposit to impress Kerryann. After kicking down the front door Baker fired shots at the first person he saw in the house, 25 year old Leslie Read killing her instantly. He then charged through the house finding Ross in the bath tub shooting and killing him also.
It is believed Baker’s plan was to continue on his wild spree as its been reported he had a list of family members in Sydney that he also planned to kill that night. Before heading toward Sydney Baker decided to pay a visit to his friend John who lived in the nearby suburb of Toukley. Baker told John of the killings and his plans to wipe out the Gannon family, luckily John talked him out of tells Baker he needs to turn himself over to police. At 11:00pm on that same night Malcolm Baker arrived at Toukley police station confessing to the murders of Kerryann Gannon, Lisa Gannon, Thomas Gannon, David Baker, Leslie Read, Ross Smith and Lisa’s unborn baby. Incredibly after being shot in the face Chris Gall, Kerryann’s boyfriend at the time, was the sole survivor of the massacre.
Baker was committed and stood trial on the 6th August 1993 for the murders. He was sentenced to life imprisonment at Goulburn Supermax Jail without the chance of parole. Today he is 70 years old and has served his sentence behind bars with the likes of the notorious serial killer Ivan Milat.
In the 26 years since the massacre Australia has created strict regulations regarding the ownership of firearms. Gun violence has decreased significantly country-wide. Meanwhile the picturesque location of Central Coast has only increased in popularity. Popular among many Sydney-siders and young families entering the property market there has been an enormous influx of residences since the 90’s. Lisa Gannon’s home still stands mostly unchanged to this day and the suburb of Terrigal is well known for it’s wealth and stunning scenery. It’s hard to believe such a heinous rampage happened on the streets of this beautiful area.