In 2008, the Whyte family headed to the Coogee Bay Hotel to watch a game of footy. Little did they know they would become the centre of nation-wide attention after a bowl of gelato they were served had allegedly been spiked with poo. Literal poo.
The story goes like this. The Whyte family complained to management on the day about something – reports vary, some outlets said they complained about the noise levels (they couldn’t hear the footy game), some said it was about service, some said it was about the prices of food at the venue. Whatever the case, all reports agree that the Whytes were then given complimentary gelato by the hotel in response to the complaint.
Jessica Whyte spoke to SMH in 2008, explaining what happened next.
“There were four scoops including vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut. At the bottom, there appeared to be chocolate. Greedily, I went for it ahead of the kids. Thank heavens I did. The stench, the taste … I spat the food into a napkin and immediately I was sick.”
They complained (obviously) to management before taking a sample of the gelato in question and heading to Waverley Police Station. The police directed them to the NSW Food Authority, and the Whytes had their sample tested by the National Measurement Institute. The report stated “The sample has an offensive odour and physical properties similar to human excreta.”
Meanwhile, the hotel allegedly tried to pay the Whytes $5,000 to address the issue, but they rejected the offer and asked for $1 million.
What followed was a lengthy legal battle involving hired detectives, CCTV footage, the QC that headed up the Lindy Chamberlain royal commission, and culminated in a 12 hour mediation session in which it was decided the Coogee Bay Hotel would pay the Whyte family $50,000. They also offered the Whytes a full apology and a retraction of any suggestion the Whytes staged the whole affair to extort money.
In the end, the NSW Food Authority couldn’t determine whether the poo was human or animal – let alone come to a satisfying DNA conclusion to determine whose poo it was. CCTV footage and reports from the hotel could not settle on who was responsible for the gelato poo, either. ‘Poogate’, as it was coined, is still a mystery – which is why we covered it this week on our true crime and mysteries podcast, All Aussie Mystery Hour.
Have a listen above, or on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.