'Reverend' advised at-risk teens and hid secret life as KKK chaplain

The Australian/May 14, 2010

Behind the genteel facade of Graeme Frederick McNeil was a seething hatred which earned him a chaplain position with the KKL.

But behind the genteel facade of Graeme Frederick McNeil, 46, known as "the Reverend" to locals in his tiny town of Cambooya, was a darkness, a seething hatred which had, by his own admission, earned him a chaplain position with the US-based white supremist group, Ku Klux Klan.

Court documents obtained by The Australian reveal little about McNeil's KKK activities in Australia.

Police appear to be more focused on securing evidence about McNeil assisting his then student, Anthony Rowlingson, 16, at the time, in dumping the body of his brother, Robert Rowlingson, whom he killed in 2007.

Under questioning, McNeil admits to being an Imperial Kluk, a supreme chaplain in the KKK and that one of his relatives was also a member.

The Australian has learned that McNeil had lent Anthony Rowlingson his own laptop, which contained confidential KKK material, including the names of other local members and speeches he'd written.

In yesterday's sentence hearing of McNeil, prosecutors made no direct mention of the KKK other than to say the Brisbane-born and educated teacher had, when he helped Rowlingson, concerns the teenager had a gun and access to other material.

The spectre of the involvement of the KKK has been rumoured in the small communities of Cambooya and Pittsworth, where McNeil taught and Rowlingson lived, since the brutal killing.

But residents yesterday said they knew nothing of McNeil's KKK involvement before the murder.

Instead, they describe McNeil as a model citizen, who liked to be called "Reverend" and was given the responsibility at Pittsworth State High School for looking after troubled teenagers among the 450-student population.

McNeil, who earned a Bachelor of Applied Science at the then Queensland Institute of Technology and later a teaching diploma, had been at the school for six years after stints around Queensland.

He had briefly left teaching to start-up a computer repair business that tanked.

The court heard yesterday that McNeil's close relationship with Rowlingson was not unusual.

With the approval of the school principal, McNeil gave out his personal email and mobile phone numbers to students in case they got into trouble outside of school hours. And without exception, McNeil would answer their calls, careful to never ask what the problem was until he met them.

On that fateful July 15, 2007 night, after he met Rowlingson outside the bakery in Pittsworth, McNeil got into the waiting car before finding out why he was there.

"The problem is in the boot," Rowlingson said, before confessing to the murder of his elder brother.

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