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Victoria Police offer $1million reward for help solving ‘Lovers’ lane’ cold case

A $1million reward has been offered to solve the cold case murder of an 18-year-old who was shot and killed at a lovers’ lane 40 years ago.

Thomas Cooper was sitting with his girlfriend, 16, in his car at Ricketts Point in the bayside Melbourne suburb of Beaumaris when he was attacked on August 18, 1980.

A man wearing a hat approached Mr Cooper’s HQ Holden sedan and smashed the driver’s side window about 7.15pm.

Mr Cooper attempted to drive away but was shot multiple times.  

Mr Cooper’s girlfriend, who was uninjured, managed to steer the car away from the area, which was a well-known spot for couples to go ‘parking’.

Victoria Police said Thomas and his girlfriend went there several times a week.

Homicide Squad officer Detective Inspector Dean Thomas, who announced the $1million reward on Tuesday, said the motivation for the murder remained unclear. 

The reward was increased from $50,000 after ‘exhaustive enquiries’ into the murder.

‘There are a number of possibilities, including that the shooting was sexually motivated and the girl in the car may have been the target,’ Insp. Thomas said.

‘We know that many couples regularly went to this location so the offender may have been stalking the area in the lead up to the shooting. 

‘Police have spoken to a number of people over the years in relation to Thomas’ murder, however we are absolutely keeping an open mind with regards to this case.

‘There is no one answer to this that we’re focusing on.’

At the time of Mr Cooper’s murder, police released a digital composite image of a man they wished to speak with in relation to the incident.

The image has been updated and aged to show what the man might look like in 2020. 

It is uncertain whether this man is from Beaumaris or the Ricketts Point area in Victoria. 

Insp. Thomas said police remained hopeful a ‘person is ready to come forward and assist us with bringing his family some justice’. 

‘I want people to consider whether these digital images show a person they know or can identify for us,’ he said. 

‘Thomas’s family have had to go 40 years without the answer to who would want to kill their son and brother. 

‘As we always say, a lot can change over the years and hopefully this reward and the passage of time will encourage someone to come forward and give his family some peace.’ 

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