Teacher jailed for KKK murder cover-up


A teacher helped a student dump the body of his murdered older brother

A QUEENSLAND teacher who confessed to being a senior Ku Klux Klan official was yesterday jailed for eight years after helping a teenage student to dump the murdered body of his older brother who had threatened to expose the links to the racist organisation.
Graeme Frederick McNeil, 46, pleaded guilty in the Queensland Supreme Court in Toowoomba to being an accessory after the fact of murder and to lying to police over helping his Year 11 student, Anthony Rowlingson, try to cover up the killing, which has shocked the quiet rural community.
In July 2007, Rowlingson, then 16, approached his 19-year-old brother Robert from behind and shot him twice in the head with a heavy-calibre .243 rifle.
The shooting occurred on the family farm after Robert had discovered KKK material in Anthony's room and on a laptop computer lent to the troubled student by his science teacher and counsellor, McNeil.
Anthony Rowlingson was so cold about the shooting of his brother that he referred to him to McNeil as a ``piece of shit'' and offered McNeil one of the discharged bullet casings used in the killing so that he could keep it as a memento. The Australian can now reveal the KKK backdrop to the murder of the popular teenager and the attempted cover-up by his killer brother and McNeil, who purported to be an ordained minister of the non-denominational Cross of Christ Ministry. Documents obtained by The Australian show that McNeil confessed to police that he was the Imperial Kluk of the Ku Klux Klan, which he said was also known as supreme KKK chaplain.
McNeil told police he had lent his personal computer to Anthony Rowlingson before the murder and that Rowlingson had ``taken liberties with my laptop and downloaded details of his involvement with the KKK''.
``I asked him (after the murder) to destroy whatever information he had on me,'' McNeil said in his police statement in July 2007.
``I asked him to do this because I didn't want that information
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getting into other people's hands.
``I made it clear that, in my position, if that is found out, it's going to cause a lot of problems for me and my family.
``The material included letters I wrote to address the Klan, copies of order forms for stuff to come across, and emails to other (KKK) officers.''
Anthony Rowlingson pleaded guilty in 2007 to the murder of his brother and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The judge took the unusual step of allowing publication of his name even though he was a minor on the grounds that the crime was so heinous.
The Rowlingson family has constantly maintained that McNeil's influence on Anthony was instrumental in the murder of Robert.
Outside the Supreme Court yesterday, Rowlingson's father, John, said he felt very sorry for McNeil's family.
Asked about the Klan link to the crime, John Rowlingson said: ``I don't want to comment, but it is there on the public record.''
Psychiatric reports conducted in prison on Anthony Rowlingson, who was described by former schoolmates as a ``nerdy kid'', reveal he had become a ruthless, calculating killer who had no remorse for murdering his brother.
A pre-sentence report done on Anthony Rowlingson in August 2008 by Grahame Butler of the Queensland Department of Communities said his violent behaviour appeared to have occurred against a background of a conflicted relationship with his brother.
Psychiatrist Michael Beech wrote in a separate report to the Supreme Court: ``There is in fact little that really explains his actions in killing his brother.
``In my opinion, the shooting has arisen out of a long-standing resentment he had harboured towards his brother from early childhood.''
This animosity escalated when Robert found Ku Klux Klan material in his brother's room and told others about it.
``I cannot with any certainty comment on to what extent his involvement with the teacher was a factor in the actions of Anthony,'' Dr Beech wrote in his pre-sentencing report.
``It is alarming that a teacher with connections to the Klan would allow, at the very least, his computer with Klan material to be placed in the hands of a student.
``It seems to me to be singularly alarming that a teacher would assist a student in disposing of a corpse.
``At interview, Anthony downplayed both his involvement in the Klan and also the role of his teacher. He denied that the teacher held any sway over him.
``His parents are less certain of this. Anthony would, I believe, have been susceptible to influence by the teacher and this could have fostered an interest in the Ku Klux Klan.''
In sentencing McNeil, judge Anthe Philippides said she found it bewildering and incomprehensible that a teacher would help a student dispose of his murdered brother's body and not tell authorities. ``You were in a position of authority as a teacher and minister, which heightened the expectation (of you),'' Justice Philippides told McNeil.
Sentencing McNeil to eight years' imprisonment, Justice Philippides set the non-parole period for three years.
Two of McNeil's female family members wept as he was led away to jail.

"He was someone I could talk to and trust, he came to talk and I told him that my brother was in the boot. He didn't object; we didn't talk about it much"
Anthony Rowlingson on why he called his teacher, Graeme McNeil, to help dispose of the body of the sibling he had just murdered

"This was a cold-blooded murder, a premediated murder, in which you, without any provocation ... shot your brother in a very cowardly way. There was nothing heroic about this death"
Justice Margaret White, sentencing Rowlingson on September 15, 2008

"The applicant has been and remains utterly without remorse for killing his brother. There was no suggestion that the applicant acted under the malign influence of others. The applicant poses a real and continuing danger to the community"
Queensland Court of Appeal, rejecting Rowlingson's leave to appeal the severity of his life sentence on December 9, 2008

"He stated that Robert was prone to telling other people about matters that he regarded as private family matters.
He reported that he was in general a private and secretive individual and (Robert) threatened this. He intimated that it was something to do with Robert telling people about contact ... Anthony had had with someone who was allegedly in the Ku Klux Klan"
Pre-sentencing report to psychiatrist Scott Harden

"He denied that the teacher held any sway over him. His parents are less certain of this. Anthony would, I believe, have been susceptible to influence by the teacher and this could have fostered an interest in the Ku Klux Klan"
Pre-sentencing report by psychiatrist Michael Beech