The judge was shot at point blank range in the doorway of his Woollahra home. An alarm activated at a nearby shop drowned out the sound of the blast and Justice Opas' wife Kristin did not discover the body for several minutes until alerted by the barking of the family's two terrier dogs. Mrs Opas, a trained nurse, realised her husband was bleeding to death and implemented emergency procedures. However, by the time ambulance staff arrived, Justice Opas was dead.
The Chief Justice of the Family Court, Justice Elizabeth Evatt, told reporters today that Justice Opas was 'a man who loved life, a man who loved his family and who sought to do his duty as a judge in the Court. As a result of that he has been killed. It is my belief that this was an act of revenge.' She added that the Family Court 'Succeeded in reducing the tension and the distress of many people involved in marriage breakdown.. There are some however, who remain out of the reach of the court's services, some who are so disturbed by their frustration, anger and bitterness that they seek revenge.'
Senator Durack, the Federal Attorney-General, today decided not to order the protection of Family Court judges' homes, saying that the exercise would not be logistically feasable. However protection has been stepped up on the Court's premises with increased police and private security patrols.. Justice Evatt effectively supported the Attorney-General's position, saying 'it must be understood it is impossible to provide total security 24 hours a day, no matter how many guards you employ.'
The principal registrar of the Family Court, Mr Ken Nixon, said there had been a number of threats and incidents of violence upon judges of the court. Police are now going through the long list of Justice Opas' cases in a search for possible suspects.
Justice Opas has been a judge of the Family Court since October 1977 and is survived by his wife Kristin and two children, joshua, 8, and Persia, 6.