November 29, 2003 by

Lennie Lawson


Categories: Criminals

Leonard Keith Lawson, a convicted rapist and murderer, died on Nov. 29 in his cell at the Grafton Correctional Centre in New South Wales. Authorities say he probably suffered a heart attack. He was 76.

Lawson worked as a successful commercial artist and photographer before he became a violent criminal. In 1954, he kidnapped five models, took them into the Terrey Hills bush in north Sydney and raped two of them at gunpoint; he also sexually assaulted the others. Originally sentenced to be executed, Lawson received a 14-year prison sentence after the death penalty was commuted. When he was released, Lawson used his artistic background to lure new victims.

On Nov. 7, 1962, while painting a portrait of 16-year-old Jane Bower, Lawson tied her up, sexually assaulted her then stabbed her to death. The next day, he carried a gun into the Sydney Church of England Girls’ Grammar School and took several students hostage. Fifteen-year-old Wendy Sue Luscombe, who was sitting in the chapel pews, was shot and killed during the siege. This time, Lawson received a life sentence.

Imprisonment didn’t curb Lawson’s violent tendencies. Ten years into his second incarceration, a group of dancers gave a concert for the inmates at his prison. At the end of the performance, Lawson jumped on stage and threatened to kill one of the dancers, Sharon Hamilton, with a knife. Although Hamilton was released unharmed, she committed suicide six years after the attack.

One of the oldest prisoners in Australia, Lawson spent 48 years in prison, and has been behind bars continuously since 1962. Several of his paintings currently hang at the prison where he died.

34 Responses to Lennie Lawson

  1. Judi

    I am not sure but I believe Mr Lawson has a daughter in Queensland and I believe she maybe my sister if anyone knows her where abouts could you please pass on my e mail address to her thank you. I contacted the Grafton Jail after attending a Family reunion at Avoca in Victoria.
    Kindest regards Judi

    • Arthur John HUNT

      Hi there Judi, My name is Arthur HUNT and I was married to Lennie”s daughter – Diana – for 39 years. She passed away 11 years ago. I have all of Lennie’s records and copied of all of his paintings and other personal effects of his which were sent to us when he died. Di had 2 brothers. Keith was killed in a car crash in Nth Qld in about 1971. Mark died in his sleep fron cancer about 5 months ago in Bowen NQ. If there is anything I can do to give you any information you would like to know, I am very happy to supply you with that which you seek.

      • Michaela Aya Gerahty

        Hi Arthur, my name is Aya and I am currently writing a book about the life and crimes of Len. As morbid as most people think it is, I believe the world needs to be made aware of people that destroy others lives and the psychology behind their thinking. What possesses them to do such unspeakable things. I wish to be respectful to the families and intend to change names to protect the innocent, but It is hard to gather personal information to fill in the type of person he was when his demons where held at bay. Family life etc. I know you don’t know me from a bar of soap, but this is worth a try. My email is I live in the Atherton Tablelands and I am fascinated by our criminal history in Australia. Thank you for your time. Kind regards Aya

  2. Annette

    Judi, regarding Len Lawson, he has a daughter and son in Queensland and his son would be happy to have a chat. Contact me via email if you like,

  3. corinne

    i have a portiat that was painted by len in 1984 it was a painting of me when i was 18 months old .it is signed “an oringial oil painting by Lenord Laswon” grafton 1984 i would be happy to send you a copy of the painting,

  4. Trent

    I probably wouldn’t have said anything, but due to the mention of these family connections I thought I should take advantage of the coincidence. Len Lawson was apparently the cousin of my great grandmother Amy Beasley (nee Patience). I would be very interested if this connection could be verified, though there is certainly no urgency. You can email me on

  5. mary Jayne

    Who are you to ask about such a person. any one who has ever had contaact with this monster must be living in absolute hell. What a monster. Even if I do say say so myself. I am about to fininsh a book on my life and this monster had played a part as much as I would like to think his existance has not affected my life, to be honest his presents has always been in my life. Any real life knowledge of the events that changed the course of this mans reason for what he actually did , I am happy too acknowledge if proof of actual facts can be confirmed.

  6. joshua

    I knew Len when I was in prison at Goulburn and Len was the librian. He seemed like a quite bloke.
    I met him because he use to illustrate the Lone Avenger comics. Was very shocked when after his release he did what he did.

  7. joshua

    Sorry. What I should have said that I was serving 2 years in prison for carrying a pistol. No dishonesty or stealing or sex offences.

  8. mary-jayne

    How old are you now and what time period are your memories from, There are so many unanswered periods of time in the life of this man.

  9. Larry

    are you a relation or was your family a relation of Len Lawson? I know some time has passed since you lodged your commetes,however I am interested in seeing a copy of one of Len’s paintings.

  10. mary jayne

    Joshua about what year did you have contact with Lenny Lawson in prison at Goulburn.
    I WOULD APPRECIATE any time frame that you can confirm.

  11. Rosslyn

    Keith Lawson was my father’s cousin, child of my grandmother’s sister. My grandmother was Charlotte Nichols and Keith’s mother was Mary. Trent if you see this, Amy was my Aunty. My father was Thomas Patience.

  12. Susen

    Well finally i decided to write something about Len, i wrote to Len from 1999 to 2003, in that time i got to know a man by pen and paper, yes to some people he appeared a monster, but at the time he was sick without knowing it, from the time i knew him, he was a total gentleman, honest genuine, not the normal criminal/Jail type person,
    remorsefull, and very open, to me he was a special friend…. and always will be
    R.I.P Lenny

  13. Daniel M

    Wow! what a sad story, I would like to see photos of him before, and after the murders.
    Twenty year ago, I started finding secrects hidden in Art treasure books. Kit Williams put an unbeliveable adventure hidden in his bueatful book Masquarade. Trust me that man can hide stuff. For example, I walked a fourteen mile long rabbit, made from bends in British roads, that matchs his gold back cover page rabbit pefectly. In addition I will be publishing a book about his book called Who’s Chashing Whom?
    Next I daily digested the thousands of secrets in the American hidden adventure called Treasure, (see Warner Books) it was more of the same type stuff.
    Anyway I saw this story, and having a bit of a police problem myself latly, found it very intresting.

  14. me

    I find it very interesing that amazing star rat has posted a comic of Len’s on the 60th Birthday of his daughter. Is this in memory of her or are you just a freak.

    • pete

      my father purchased some paintings from len at Grafton in the mid 80’s and got to know this bloke for a period of time,old boys always up for a chat, I can give you his

  15. corinne

    I am not blood related i am the neice of a famous underworld figure i know he new laswon and visted with him the painting was a gift for my parents the painting is for sale leave your email and i will get a copy to you
    from corinne

  16. Helen Jones

    I am the daughter of Graham Troy who was the cousin of Jane Bower the 16 year old girl who was murdered raped and disfigured by the monster Lenny Lawson. My Father was only in his 20’s when he found his cousin dead on the floor in Lenny’s apartment. Lenny Lawson has caused enormous grief in my family still to this day. Jane has 3 brother’s and sisters who are still coping with the death of their sister. We are all glad he died in jail!

    • Joanne Lockhart

      Jane is my cousin…I am Jocelyn Cansdells daughter.
      Joanne..i spent a lot of time with Belinda Jane and Billy at Manly when i was a kid..Jill never got over Janes Murder..

  17. Joyce Sly

    I knew the Lawson family so well when living just around the corner from Keith Lawson’s butcher shop in Belgrave St Manly. Keith’s daughter Natalie and I were the best of friends. I have always wondered where Natalie ended up living in later years. I even at the age of 13 or so had a crush on Lennie my friend’s older brother. Handsome and talented with his comic book Lone Avenger so popular, his studio was on the cnr of Belgrave & Denison Sts Manly just opposite his father’s butcher shop. The Lawsons were such a truly happy family. I will never forget them I know they moved up to Ernest St Balgowlah possibly to get away from the tragic happenings and understandable publicity. I, some years back was paying a call on an acquaintance in Minnie Waters, and happened to recognise a painting by Lennie was hanging on the wall of her caravan. The owner had been given it personally by Len on a friendship visit to the Grafton Jail.

  18. Paul

    I would like to make contact with Judi above. Pleased contact me as I have information for you about Lennys daughter from Queensland.

  19. jeff haselden

    l was the sweeper (cleaner), in the units that len lawson was lived in at grafton jail. he was a totaly private person, who spent almost all his time in his room. he was a quiet spoken, and verry private man. l feel the right thing was done not releesing him as he was unable to deel with life as we live itand if he was releesed l feel he would of not been able to not reafend. l am sure that he knew that also.he was a verry talanted Australian artist, and a man with a merderers sole.his storry and artitic talent is our history. r.i.p. len lawson.

  20. Jason

    While collecting items for a charity auction, I was given a painting by Len Lawson. The person who donated it was a friend of lens and hoped that selling it would raise money for charity. It was painted right before he died. If anyone is interested please let me know. It’s for a very good cause.

  21. peter

    the old saying is true , there is a fine line between genius and insanity, lawson had amazing talent , but he was the sickest monster Australia every produced , it would have been nice if he was hung or better still burned to death in public !
    he was a danger to every girl and woman in Australia , that he had his sane moments and was polite to hulking men in jail makes no difference , it was a different story when he was killing a defenceless girl
    bring back hanging

  22. Maz

    Whilst I understand that Lennie was someone’s father and brother and son etc etc it seems everyone has forgotten to mention the victims of this horrible horrible man and their families who I imagine are still grieving the loss of their loved ones to this very day…
    Yes he may have been a brilliant artist and blah blah blah the rest of it (key word being may), kind of doesn’t change the fact that he was a creep and deserved to die in gaol…I hope he suffered as much as his victims and their families…won’t say R.I.P Lennie but will say rot in hell…!
    To everyone out there who had their lives turned upside down by this monster: you are in my thoughts 🙂

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