Stab Magazine | The Byron Bay Hippies At The Centre of Bali’s Murdered Cop Mystery

The Byron Bay Hippies At The Centre of Bali’s Murdered Cop Mystery

Two Byron hippies, a missing handbag, a broken Bintang bottle, and a dead cop with 42 wounds to his head and body.

news // Aug 24, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Sara Connor stepped off the plane, walked out the gate and immediately saw the grinning face of her boyfriend David Taylor. After dinner and drinks at a restaurant, they headed to Kuta beach where it is alleged the Byron Bay-based couple beat a police officer to death with a broken Bintang bottle, leaving his body in the sand with 42 grizzly wounds. 

Connor is well-known in Byron Bay’s famously alternative community. She is the mother of two children enrolled at Byron Bay primary school (who remain in the care of their biological father in Australia) and runs a pasta-making business in the town. Her dreadlocked boyfriend, David Taylor was also well known as the former-DJ and announcer on Byron’s iconic community radio station, Bay FM, where he hosted First Bass, a program of “phat funky fresh beats and some booty bouncing breaks,” every Thursday night. On face value they epitomise the fringe-living, peace & love character types that have traditionally called the Byron Shire home – a region that also shares strong historical ties to Bali through surfing and shared counterculture and spiritual values. 

Balinese police allege Taylor flew into a rage and repeatedly smashed a beer bottle over the head of a police officer working outside the Pullman Hotel in Bali. In the police version of events, Taylor believed 53 year old Bali police officer Wayan Sudarsa was a “fake cop” and responsible for stealing his girlfriend’s handbag. A mobile phone and the policeman’s own binoculars were also allegedly used in the attack. Balinese police are notoriously corrupt while mob and vigilante justice has been a commonly used deterrent against thieves on the island. Stories of bag snatchers and other petty criminals being beaten to death in broad daylight by locals after being caught executing a crime routinely did the rounds in the three or so years I lived there.

Bali article4

53 year-old Bali police officer Wayan Sudarsa.

On this occasion, police allege David Taylor attempted to pat down the officer in search of the bag. When the officer took offence a fight erupted in which Taylor was pushed to the ground. Sara Connor then allegedly got involved pushing the officer who fell over and bit her. Police allege she pulled the policeman’s hair in the fight and that he had a hold of hers. Taylor had initially set about beating the cop with a mobile phone before, yelling “You have stolen the bag, you are a fake police. Where is my bag? Where is my bag? F**k you. Where is my bag? F**k you.” He then picked up a nearby beer bottle.

“By then David had lost it and hit him repeatedly with the broken bottle, causing the 17 wounds on the head. After the [officer’s] head was injured, [Mr Taylor] searched his body, his belongings, that’s how the victim’s clothes got unbuttoned and loose. The man had already lost consciousness,” Denpasar Police chief Hadi Purnomo claimed, also alleging that the officer’s binoculars were used in the attack. 

The police version of events allege Connor and Taylor then tried to get a motorbike taxi to the police station but were refused because they were covered in blood and dirt. Instead they walked to their hotel, cleaned themselves up, and came up with a plan to dispose of the evidence. 

“They had a plan to burn the evidence, including the clothes and the victim’s mobile phone and wallet … so the cards in the wallet were cut up with scissors, the mobile phone was disposed of and everything in the wallet was cut up by scissors. There was a police member card and others. Then it was burned by Sara and David,” Denpasar Police chief Hadi Purnomo said.

Screen Shot 2016 08 24 at 2.35.41 pm

Sara Connor claims she was “too drunk” to remember what happened that night.

Connor and Taylor were detained and interrogated for nine and 12 hours respectively. Connor has said she was too drunk to remember exactly what happened. Witnesses say they saw the pair together on the beach prior to the murder and Connor’s bag containing her license and bank card were found next to the dead officer. Taylor had originally said he was bitten on the finger while trying to help a man lying in the sand but according to police his story changed under heavy questioning, admitting on Monday that he had bashed police officer Wayan Sudarsa with binoculars, a mobile phone and a beer bottle. 

“In the beginning Sara and David denied or lied,” Denpasar police chief Hadi Purnomo said on Tuesday.

Another version of events fed to the media by Taylor’s lawyer told of a “bad cop” pushing his girlfriend to the sand and laying on top of her. She was only able to escape after several people intervened. Those witnesses have yet to come forward. Sara Connor’s lawyer also made a point of revealing the bite mark on her inner-thigh as proof of the struggle. Why the couple chose to head to Jimbaran the next day instead of reporting the incident to police is unknown. Authorities are preparing to take the couple back to the site with where the evidence was disposed of in the coming days. Sara Connor and David Taylor are likely to face second degree murder and assault charges which carry a 15 year jail sentence.


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