On the 23rd of September 2007, 20-year-old Matthew Leveson was captured on CCTV leaving the ARQ nightclub in Darlinghurst, Australia, along with his older lover (then 45-year-old) Michael Atkins.
(A still from the footage. Source)
The surveillance footage would be the last time that anyone would see the 20-year-old alive again.
Two days later, after failing to show up to work at the NRMA call center where he was employed, Mathew was officially reported missing. Suspicion naturally fell upon Michael Atkins, who was the last person to be seen in missing Matthew’s company.
In later interviews, Leveson’s mother displayed disapproval of her son’s choice in partner. She described the 45-year-old as domineering and going on to talk about the hold that he seemed to have over her young son. Leveson’s co-workers confirmed this, saying that Leveson had been complaining that he wasn’t allowed to do what he wanted, but Atkins had different rules for himself.
This article details a conversation Leveson had with a friend of his in which she claimed that he told her he was tired of Atkins behavior and that he’d had enough of being used to pick up teenagers for his much older partner.
(Atkins and Leveson. Source)
This interview alleges that Michael Atkins introduced Leveson to various drugs and sexual practices that he would not be interested in otherwise. Apparently, Atkins would use Leveson to attract other young men whom he would lure back to his apartment, provide with drugs and convince to engage in group sex.
The pair also sold pills (Such as E and GHB) in various gay clubs, which most likely made Atkins' mission to lure young men back to his place much easier.
The night that Matthew was last seen alive there were several text messages exchanged between himself and Atkins that indicated the two had had an argument. According to this article others at the club witnessed the couple squabbling.
“I said sorry three times! I need more jollies. I sold out.” Said a text from Atkins to Leveson.
Atkins denied any part in the disappearance of his boyfriend, and while in questioning said that they had both gone home that night and described the “normal” Sunday they had together when they woke up around 2pm; relaxing and watching TV. “A lazy Sunday” he said.
He claimed that he had fallen asleep and when he woke up, Matthew was gone.
When asked if he bought anything that day, he said no.
(Atkins being questioned. Source)
As one of the detectives revealed that Leveson’s car was found abandoned near the Royal National Park, Atkins didn’t appear surprised or worried for the well-being of his partner, as many of us would. Instead he just says “okay”.
Inside the car they found a receipt from a purchase made at a hardware store in the area (around a 40 minute drive from where the car was found). The receipt (which had Atkins' fingerprint on it) was for a roll of duct tape and pickaxe-like tool used for digging. Footage from the store showed Atkins buying the items, although he denied it. Suspiciously, the big subwoofer that was always in the trunk of Matthew’s car wasn’t there. Was it taken out to make room for something else?
A couple of days later, instead of looking for his missing partner, Atkins took a road trip to Newcastle to hook up with a young man he used to chat with online. After having sex and going to a club, the man left alone and returned home where he refused to answer Atkins' phone calls and knocks at the door. Atkins continued to seek out sex from young men and when questioned about his behavior following the disappearance of his boyfriend, stated that he was “looking for him”.
Several months later he would be visited by Matthew’s parents who were secretly wired in the quest for a confession or information. Atkins did not confess to killing or disposing of their son, but he admitted that he did make a purchase at the hardware store and had lied about it. In court he would later say that the items were for gardening.
(Atkins at the hardware store. Source)
Atkins was acquitted of murder on the October 20th 2009.
Although he may have dodged prison, he certainly wasn’t able to dodge the wrath of the Leveson family, who kept tabs on him through his various social media profiles. His Facebook account showed pictures of Atkins still partying at various gay bars and pool parties, with his arms around much younger men. The Levesons admitted that whenever they noticed Atkins involved with a younger man they’d contact the young man’s parents and encourage them to do a web search on Michael Atkins in an effort to prevent anyone else’s son from mysteriously disappearing.
This story recently came up in the news again as Matthew Leveson’s parents stated that they want the body of their son back so badly that they have signed an immunity deal where Atkins gets to walk free if he reveals the location of Mathew’s body.
Matthew’s remains were discovered and identified last month. The small palm tree growing above the area he was found in has been relocated to the Leveson's backyard.
There is currently a change.org page petitioning to ban Atkins from all gay bars in the area. He has so far been banned from his favorite club as well as his regular gym. His house has been sold and he seems to have left the area.