It would be nice to have Free Speech, Rupert Murdoch:
As quoted on Youtube:
The TV networks appear to be allowing Rupert Murdoch to again manipulate how people think and vote as he allegedly has an agenda.
ANTHONY JOHN MICHAEL PERISH lived according to his own rules. He was both charismatic and utterly ruthless. He had bikies terrified, women entranced, family beholden.
Yet, while crims, crooks and ex-cons spoke Perish’s name with fear, no-one in the legitimate world knew he even existed. He was so clever that despite his five star lifestyle and criminal reputation, he slipped completely under the radar. He left no trace. He had no identity. He was invisible. A ghost.
Anthony Perish only made one mistake in his criminal career – and it was just his bad luck a remarkable cop called GARY JUBELIN was watching…
How a murderous empire was brought down
For 20 years Sydney had its own Underbelly. We just didn’t realise it, until now. For the first time Michael Duffy reveals the full story of the Perish crime bosses, their violent associates and the biggest murder inquiry in NSW history.
ANTHONY and Andrew Perish terrify people, literally. In the September trial that convicted them of the murder of drug manufacturer and police informant Terry Falconer, the media could not name eight of the people on the witness list, some of them hardened criminals themselves. This was not enough for the main Crown witness, who when he got into the box refused to give any useful evidence.
Despite this, and despite the outcome of the trial, we will never be able to reveal his name. The continuing influence of the Perish brothers is considered just too great.
The jury in the murder trial was not told that Anthony, 42, and Andrew, 40, had sought to intimidate another of the protected witnesses at the committal hearing last year. The brothers were finally convicted of that last week, so their story can now be told for the first time.
Death of a witness
Another incident the jury was not told about was the 2001 disappearance of barman Ian Draper, who had been unfortunate enough to be a witness when Andrew Perish killed a man in a hotel. In fact, the jury had no idea the Perishes were two of the state’s most violent and effective criminals, who had avoided prison almost completely in criminal careers lasting two decades.
Set up in 2001 after pieces of 52-year-old Terry Falconer were found in the Hastings River on the NSW north coast, Strike Force Tuno (which would evolve into Tuno 2) became the biggest murder investigation in the state’s history.
While pursuing Anthony and Andrew, and their associates, the police discovered connections with more than a dozen other killings.
Usually every murder in NSW has its own strike force. But because of all the links between these killings, Tuno pursued all of them.
In many countries, most major crime is conducted by tightly organised groups, such as the Mafia or drug cartels. Australia has always been different, with serious criminal activity often done by fluctuating alliances around a small number of strong individuals.
Even the exceptions to this – such as the Moran crime family and bikie clubs – are less rigid and permanent than many foreign crime groups. This looser form of organisation makes it difficult for outsiders to understand a great deal of criminal activity. By pursuing the Perishes and those they dealt with so remorselessly over the past decade, Strike Force Tuno built up an unprecedented picture of a modern Sydney criminal network.
It says much about the advantage to criminals of this fluid organisation that the Perishes and their associates, despite their organisation, success and ruthlessness, are almost unknown to the public. Unlike their Melbourne counterparts, they just got on with their jobs as underworld bosses and spurned the spotlight for 20 years.
Anthony and Andrew Perish and their four siblings grew up in semi-rural Leppington in south-western Sydney, the grandchildren of Croatian immigrants.
Their father, Albert, ran the family’s egg business.
In 1993, their elderly grandparents were shot dead in their home, a crime that remains unsolved. By then Anthony was on the run after a warrant was issued for his arrest the year before for supplying amphetamines, which he’d been cooking in a shed on the family property. He was 23 at the time and spent the next 14 years hiding out at various places, including Turramurra, Queensland, a property at Girvan (between Bulahdelah and Scone in the Hunter Valley) and South Australia, where he had connections with the Gypsy Jokers and the major amphetamine manufacturer and disgraced solicitor Justin Birk Hill.
Andrew joined the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Club and in 1994 was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture amphetamines. In those less punitive times, he received a fine of $2500.
The next year, Kai Dempsey was killed in a brawl at the Railway Hotel in Liverpool and Andrew was charged with murder. At the committal, the Crown claimed witnesses had been harassed and encouraged not to give evidence.
At the trial in 1998, Andrew was found not guilty and witness Draper subsequently disappeared. His car was found outside the Rebels’ clubhouse in Leppington.
An important figure in the Perish network was Sean Waygood, 41. Waygood was in the army reserve and worked as a security guard at hotels and nightspots. Interviewed by The Sydney Morning Herald in 1996, he said the job required him to be ”emotionally detached and have a lot of self-discipline”. Sadly though, he reflected, ”Australians have still got a hang-up about authority. You come face to face with that every Saturday night.”
A young man named Keith Payne befriended Waygood in 1998 when both were on the door at the Bourbon and Beefsteak in Kings Cross. Waygood started his own security company but it soon went broke and he told Payne he was unhappy the skills he’d learnt in the army were going to waste, and he was considering branching out into ”black ops”. Before long, the pair was committing armed robberies, often of premises Waygood had once been paid to protect.
The gang expanded to include Michael Christiansen and Jeremy Postlewaight, and soon Waygood was also working for Anthony Perish, assisting him with his large-scale drug manufacturing and distribution business.
This involved a range of activities, including intimidation, murder, and money collection.
In 2001, Anthony had Waygood wound a man named Gary Mack, who he said owed Andrew money. The attack occurred outside the Peakhurst Inn. Waygood was supposed to shoot Mack in the buttocks, but the shot went high and hit him in the back.
Death of an informant
In 2001, Andrew Perish established an apparently thriving business, South Western Produce, in Camden, with a turnover of several million dollars a year. In the same year, he helped set up the murder of Falconer, which was carried out by Anthony and his driver Matthew Lawton, now 45. One motive seems to have been Andrew’s belief (having been told this by Falconer’s wife, Liz) that Falconer was informing to the police about the drug-dealing activities of the Rebels.
Falconer was in prison but on work-day release. Anthony hired three men to abduct him, for a fee of $15,000. On November 16, 2001, a lookout phoned Anthony to say Falconer was at work. The three kidnappers, posing as police officers, abducted Falconer and locked him in a metal toolbox, which was delivered to Anthony at Turramurra.
There, according to evidence later given in court, the box was opened and Falconer was still alive. The box was shut and taken to Girvan, by which time Falconer was dead. Anthony, Lawton and another man put on protective suits and laid a big sheet of plastic on the ground. After Falconer’s teeth were removed, his body was hoisted up inside a shed with a block and tackle, and cut up. The pieces were wrapped in black plastic, weighed down with stones and thrown into the Hastings River, where they were found a month later near Wauchope.
According to Strike Force Tuno’s chief, Detective Inspector Gary Jubelin, ”It was like a who’s who of NSW’s hardest criminals as to who had a motive and means to murder Falconer. We had a list of about 70 people of interest early in the investigation.” But no one was saying much. ”The brutality of the crime sent out a message to other criminal informants about the consequences of assisting the authorities.”
The incompetent hitman
The violence continued. In 2002 Waygood, helped by Christiansen, now 42, tried to kill a leading member of the Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Club in a pub in Haymarket. This was because the bikies had been contracted to kill Waygood after a problem at a nightclub where he’d worked. They’d tracked him to Anthony Perish’s Turramurra house, where he was hiding. Waygood claimed Anthony told him that because he had ”caused the safe house to be compromised, [I] had to kill Felix Lyle and Dallas Fitzgerald of the Bandidos”. Christiansen was on the door of the bar and pointed out the target to Waygood, who fired eight shots. But it was the wrong man.
Fortunately the victim, who was hit by three bullets, survived.
After the botched job, Waygood walked to a stolen van and removed the outer clothes he’d worn, threw them in the vehicle and set fire to it.
Police obtained DNA material from some unburnt clothing. Queensland police have matched this to DNA they found on clothing from a burning vehicle not far from where Gold Coast businessman Michael Davies was shot dead that same year. No one has yet been charged with that more successful assassination effort.
In the same year, Anthony Perish paid Waygood $25,000 to do an armed break-in at BOC Gases at Wetherill Park to steal valuable chemicals for use in drug production. Waygood hired Payne, Christiansen, Postlewaight and Jay Sauer for the job. Waygood continued to work for Anthony over the next few years. In 2006, police finally arrested Anthony in a house at Hoxton Park surrounded by a three-metre wall and an electric fence, with a bedroom lined with steel plates. Somewhat ironically after all his time on the run, the 1992 charge was then withdrawn at court.
In 2007, Andrew was convicted of stalking for the purpose of intimidation and in 2008 of manufacturing a commercial quantity of amphetamines and possessing an unauthorised pistol. He was sentenced to four years in jail. Police had found his meth lab in a shipping container inside a big shed on a rural property.
The secret lab
Strike Force Tuno had begun to suspect the Perishes of Falconer’s murder in mid-2002. An informant told them he’d been hired to dispose of Falconer’s body at sea, although the disposal had not gone ahead.
This was helpful, but much more evidence was needed to build a strong case.
Tuno detectives kept an eye on Anthony Perish over the years and learnt of the important relationship with Waygood. Eventually they broke the code the men used on the phone and were able to keep them under almost constant surveillance.
In 2008, police discovered Waygood owned a property in remote bushland near Mudgee.
Anthony Perish and a convicted drug manufacturer poured a slab there for what was obviously going to be a big building.
Police surveillance discovered that a large hidden basement had been built beneath the slab, presumably to be used as a clandestine drug laboratory. Also that year, Waygood damaged a golf buggy parked in the driveway of a man who owed Anthony money. ”Mr Waygood,” noted the judge who sentenced him, ”said Mr Perish’s instructions were to torch the house if the man was not there but because there were people at home, he did not burn the house, just the golf buggy”.
In October 2008, police followed Waygood when he drove to the Gold Coast and made the rounds of nightclubs and hotels thought to be linked to Anthony Perish. Police managed to stay on his tail but it was difficult. ”The level of counter-surveillance techniques used by Waygood was extreme – over 48 hours it stretched us to the limit,” Detective Jubelin says.
Waygood met Perish in Brisbane and handed him a package.
Gradually, police were building up a picture of a large operation based on drug manufacturing and the laundering of profits through legitimate businesses, protected by violence where necessary.
An unsatisfied customer
Waygood’s long-time girlfriend knew nothing of his work as a major criminal and believed he was working as a private investigator. They married in late 2008 – Anthony Perish was a guest.
In December he agreed to provide armed protection for a drug dealer named Tuan Tran in a meeting with an unhappy customer. Paul Elliott, a violent Melbourne underworld figure, had been sold a large quantity of low-grade methamphetamine and was in Sydney to get his money back.
But Waygood had to drop out and the job was done by Christiansen, who is now in jail for killing Elliott and dumping him at sea in a metal toolbox. In the latter task he was assisted by Marcelo Urriola and Postlewaight. It was not until January 2009 that police had enough information to arrest Anthony Perish and Waygood. ”We couldn’t afford for them to get bail,” Detective Jubelin says. ”If they had, there would have been ramifications for the witnesses.” Police in body armour moved in on the two men at the Lavender Blue Cafe at McMahon’s Point.
After the arrests, police visited the property at Girvan where Anthony Perish had hidden, drugs had been made and Terry Falconer had been dismembered. The perimeter was protected by machine guns and buried explosives. The approaches were covered by cameras linked to a control centre inside the house.
Anthony and Andrew Perish and Lawton were convicted in September this year of Falconer’s murder. They are still to be sentenced. Last week the Perishes were convicted in the District Court of holding up signs reading ”Dog” and ”Fink” when one of the main Crown witnesses came into court at their committal hearing.
Tuno has been one of the most successful investigations in Australia’s history. Fourteen people have now been charged with more than 100 offences, with convictions achieved for every charge. The effort by the police involved, including sacrifices for themselves and their families, has been considerable.
And it continues: six other murders and two suspicious deaths are still being investigated.
Detective Inspector Jubelin says: ”We’re still obtaining evidence but we believe we know who carried out those murders and why. Those involved should be very concerned about being brought to justice.”
It has been suggested that serious criminal activity in Australia ought to be called disorganised crime because of its use of networks rather than hierarchies. Whatever you call it, as Strike Force Tuno has shown, it usually revolves around a small number of particularly violent and influential criminals. The conviction of the Perish brothers has destroyed one network that, in Detective Jubelin’s words, ”had total disregard for society’s rules and human life”.
A successful criminal pursuit
FIRST, let’s deal with that easy-to-mock title. Yes, it’s uninspiring. And it was duly savaged online when the promos began airing last month. But here’s the thing: Badness is anything but.
Although there have been some patchy outings (mostly involving Matthew Newton), Underbelly is a durable brand of Australian scripted drama.
Last year’s instalment, Underbelly: Razor, an at-times cartoonish period piece examining Sydney’s razor gangs, was treated shabbily by critics. I would argue unfairly so. Its ambitions were a little modest, and bad accents aside it remained entertaining through its 13-episode run.
As Bikie Wars proved earlier this year, even if you have a cracking true-crime story at your disposal, the Underbelly template is not simply replicated.
Badness, then, returns the franchise to where it works best: a contemporary setting. It depicts events between 2001 and 2012.
Being a true-crime story, in essence there are no real spoilers, so the opening scene confirms that the chief source of Badness, Anthony ”Rooster” Perish, will, by series end, be caught by his nemesis, Detective Sergeant Gary Jubelin.
It also establishes the two protagonists as the series’ anchors. We learn early on that Perish – who at one time was one of Australia’s most wanted criminals – is a nasty piece of work.
The Perish role is taken by Jonathan LaPaglia, who before his career-defining turn as Hector in The Slap was perhaps best described as Anthony LaPaglia’s lesser-known younger brother.
LaPaglia plays it with searing intent. Perish is defined by the brutal murder of his beloved grandparents, and his anger at that crime and his need to exact revenge form a ruthless and impervious resolve.
LaPaglia, sporting an extraordinary mullet, sells the role well. This is one unpleasant individual.
Perish had previously led a life of crime mostly under the radar of authorities. In episode one, he murders drug maker and police informant Terry Falconer based on what appear to be flimsy grounds.
Falconer’s dismembered body was found wrapped in plastic bags in a river north of Sydney in 2001. In real life, Perish and his brother Andrew were convicted last year.
Still, the Perish character is in effect a dramatisation.
”The producers really don’t know a lot about this guy; there’s no information, there’s no video footage or audio, we had no access to family or friends, or his legal counsel,” LaPaglia told Fairfax’s Michael Idato this week. ”Certain events we know from the court transcripts, but who he really is, we’re really guessing.”
On the other side, Jubelin, played by Matt Nable, who was burdened with an unfortunate Scottish accent in Bikie Wars, is more convincing here. It’s a nuanced performance that shows this policeman’s resolve to get his man.
By the end of episode two, Nable begins to foment what should be a fierce rivalry with LaPaglia. And almost stealing the show is former McLeod’s Daughters star Aaron Jeffery, who is menacing as the erratic, paranoid police informant who leads Jubelin’s team towards Perish.
It’s a strong yarn. And it looks terrific. LaPaglia’s scenes are often backlit with vivid lime-green and dark-orange hues, helping to propagate the story’s ominous overtones.
And the show does not flinch in its depiction of violence and gore. Underbelly enthusiasts will also be relieved to hear the bawdy topless scenes endure. Along with the delightful line ”Show us ya tits!”, one scene begins as a bikie gang is shooting a porn film in a garage.
Though it boasts two Underbelly staples – the franchise theme song It’s a Jungle Out There and the knowing narration of Caroline Craig – there are some variations to the traditional blueprint.
The show’s run is mercifully brief – just eight episodes, as opposed to the customary 13. And significant time is allotted to telling the law enforcement’s side of this story. It took a decade for Jubelin to bring Perish to justice and we foresee the personal and professional price he must pay to make that happen.
As with most true-crime series, it demonstrates that often in the pursuit of one criminal, a hidden web of vice, violence and death is waiting to be exposed.
Underbelly: Badness is hardly flawless, but it possesses a vitality that exploits its richest element: a compelling true-crime story.
The Daily Telegraph
April 14, 2012
TWO brothers were yesterday jailed for plotting the murder of a convicted drug dealer they believed had slain their grandparents.
The dismembered body of their target, who was abducted in 2001 while on work release from prison, was found in plastic packages on the banks of a northern NSW river.
In the Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Derek Price jailed Anthony Perish, 42, for at least 18 years for the murder of Terry Falconer and for conspiring to kill him.
His brother Andrew Perish, 41, was jailed for at least nine years for the conspiracy. Anthony Perish’s subordinate, Matthew Lawton, 45, was jailed for at least 15 years for the murder and the conspiracy.
Justice Price accepted the brothers’ main motivation was that they believed Mr Falconer had murdered their elderly grandparents, who were shot dead at their Sydney property in 1993.
“They had become frustrated at the lack of progress in the police investigation,” the judge said.
But, the judge said, a civil society could not condone their conduct.
“In our society, crime must be investigated by the police and dealt with by the courts,” Justice Price said.
He found Anthony Perish had been the mastermind of a meticulously planned operation – involving the recruitment of other men who pretended to be police officers and abducted Mr Falconer.
Dust mixes with memories in horror chamber
April 15, 2012
This humble shed was one of Australia’s biggest illegal drug labs and the place where Terry Falconer was dismembered. In the lead-up to the sentencing on Friday of Falconer’s killers, Michael Duffy visited the property with a dark past.
‘Perish looked out of his tree. He was agitated, his pupils were quite dilated. I thought he was under the influence of something. I think he said words to the effect of, ‘All right, let’s get into it.’”
Detective Inspector Gary Jubelin is describing what police were told happened on the night of November 16, 2001, when Terry Falconer was cut up on a remote property near Girvan, on the mid-north coast, his body to be dumped in the Hastings River in seven parcels the next morning.
The source for the account is a man we can only call Witness E. He gave evidence against Anthony Perish, who on Friday was sentenced to at least 18 years in prison for masterminding the killing. Also sentenced last week were Perish’s driver, Matthew Lawton, to a minimum 15 years for murder, and his brother Andrew Perish, to at least nine years for conspiracy to murder.
After Witness E was arrested in January 2009, he told police about Girvan, where he had worked on security for Perish’s drug operation. On March 19, wearing handcuffs, he revisited the property to describe what had happened there. He explained how Lawton and he had driven up from Sydney with Falconer in a toolbox in their ute. After Anthony Perish arrived a few hours later, the men donned protective suits and laid out sheets of black plastic in the shed.
Perish, who believed Falconer had killed his grandparents eight years earlier, went to work with a handsaw.
When I visited the place recently it had obviously been abandoned for years. It is approached by a hilly 600-metre track that is now impassable to vehicles and still protected by inner and outer two-metre-high mesh fences.
The house’s front door was open, its floors covered in kangaroo droppings. A large grey came hopping out as I approached the building, which still contains the action films the men used to watch after a hard day’s work cooking drugs.
It was a big business.
Witness E told detectives that 200 kilograms of methamphetamine and ecstasy were produced there in less than a year.
The shed looks harmless enough in the autumn sunshine, offering no hint of the horrors that had occurred there. It is full of old tools, cans of paint. The place was bought by a Perish associate using a false name years ago. Like other property left behind when its owner is jailed – Bruce Burrell’s four-wheel-drive sitting for weeks in Darlinghurst Road, Gordon Wood’s bicycle in the robing room at the Supreme Court – the law doesn’t quite know what to do with it. It covers 49.8 hectares of hilly country, is valued at $315,000 and, according to the Great Lakes Council, $6843.31 is owing in back rates and interest.
Jubelin headed Strike Force Tuno, which brought Falconer’s killers to justice. He recalls Witness E showing police where he had erected security devices such as trip flares, remote-controlled explosives, cameras and various weapons. A machinegun had been set up in an old chook shed pointing at the gate in the internal fence and could be operated from the house by a wire.
Witness E is now serving a long prison sentence. If he gets out – he has cancer – his problems with the law won’t be over. The Sun-Herald can reveal that the Queensland Homicide Squad has issued a warrant for his arrest for the execution of a Gold Coast businessman, Michael Cleaver Davies, in 2002.
Witness E worked as an enforcer for Perish at the time, but police are not saying if Perish commissioned the murder.
Over Underbelly: prime-time crime porn glamorises dirty deeds
Pieces of Terry Falconer were found wrapped in plastic in the Hastings River, near Wauchope, on the NSW north coast in late 2001.
The drug kingpin now serving time for his slaying, Anthony Perish, was not arrested until January 2009, when police in body armour swooped on a café in Sydney’s posh McMahon’s Point.
How Strike Force Tuno, led by then Detective Sergeant Gary Jubelin, laboriously pieced together the grisly puzzle of Falconer’s death and dismemberment provides the storyline for Underbelly: Badness.
Starring Jonathan LaPaglia (from The Slap) as Perish and Matt Nable (from Bikie Wars) as Jubelin, the fifth instalment in the Nine Network’s flagship drama franchise premieres tonight at 8.30 on WIN.
But, as stylishly shot and slickly edited as these shows undoubtedly are, I think it’s time to declare we’re over Underbelly.
Screening in eight parts, Badness comes with a carefully worded disclaimer about certain individuals and events being ”obscured” by order of the court. Certainly there are legal risks in Nine and producers Screentime dramatising crimes this recent – the last conviction relating to the investigation was handed down only this year.
The bigger risk is in dressing up the dirty deeds of a criminal that few have even heard of into flashy pulp fiction complete with rock ‘n roll soundtrack and gratuitous bare breasts – the Underbelly trademark.
And all to sell toilet paper and pizzas.
Make no mistake: while the original series about Melbourne’s gangland murders delved deep into the clash of egos behind a deadly chapter in Australia’s recent criminal history, Badness plays like crime porn for porn’s sake – all posturing with no intellectual purpose beyond glamorising a low-rent crim, lionising the cop who caught him and salivating over the gore.
LaPaglia makes Perish all rock-star swagger and smouldering menace. Expect sexy, fast-edit montages and thumping music as he hoons about in his muscle car. Just don’t hold your breath for Sopranos-like insights into the criminal mind.
Instead, we get a blood-spattered Perish swigging a beer in slow-mo while taking to the strung-up Falconer, a career crim and police informant, with a hammer and handsaw.
The violence is mostly implied but the impact is strong, reducing a heinous act all too shockingly true to little more than a few minutes of sleazy video-clip gratification.
Ripped from the headlines it may well be, but the new Underbelly continues the franchise’s sad slide into comic book irrelevance. Perhaps it’s time Nine gave it a rest.
Killers of dismembered drug dealer jailed
April 13, 2012
Anthony Perish the “mastermind” of the abduction, murder and dismemberment of convicted drug dealer Terry Falconer has been jailed for at least 18 years.
His brother, Andrew Perish, was also sentenced today, to at least nine years, for his role in the death of Falconer in November 2001.
Falconer’s body was found cut up and wrapped in plastic bags in the Hastings River soon after.
Last year, Anthony Perish, 42, and Matthew Lawton, 45, were found guilty in the NSW Supreme Court of his murder.
Andrew Perish, 41, was found guilty of conspiracy to murder.
Today, Justice Derek Price jailed Lawton for at least 15 years.
Justice Price found the Perish brothers were motivated by the murder of their grandparents, who were gunned down at their property in Leppington in 1993.
The brothers believed Falconer was responsible for the double murder.
Falconer was abducted from an Ingleburn smash repairers, where he was on work release from prison, by three associates of the men, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
He was assaulted and his mouth was covered with chloroform before he was put into a galvanised steel box.
He was driven to Anthony Perish’s property in Turramurra, where the box was transferred to the back of a utility.
From there, Falconer was driven to Girvan, where his body was cut up and placed in seven plastic bags and dumped in the Hastings River.
Whether Falconer was alive when he arrived at the Turramurra property was at issue during the trial.
Today, Justice Price said that, on the evidence, Falconer was already dead.
However, this did not detract from the fact that Anthony Perish and Lawton intended to murder and dismember Falconer.
Anthony Perish will serve a maximum of 24 years, Andrew Perish a maximum of 12 years and Lawton a maximum of 20 years.
Guilty verdict in Sydney’s body in the box case
September 13, 2011
Two men have been found guilty of murdering Terry Falconer, whose body was cut into pieces and dumped in a NSW river.
Anthony Perish, 41, and Matthew Lawton, 42, were found guilty by a NSW Supreme Court jury today of murdering Falconer – a former inmate at Sydney’s Silverwater jail – in November 2001.
Andrew Perish, 40, Anthony’s younger brother, was found guilty of conspiracy to murder. The jury was still deliberating on the conspiracy to murder charge for Lawton.
The court heard Falconer was working in a smash repairers in Ingleburn as part of his day release from prison when a blue Commodore pulled up.
There were three men inside posing as undercover police officers, Crown prosecutor Paul Leask told the court.
The three men, who were not the men on trial, handcuffed and drugged Falconer and put him inside the car. He was driven somewhere else and placed in a large metal box.
The court was told one of the men then drove Falconer to a North Turramurra house where Anthony Perish and Lawton were waiting.
They checked the box to see if they had the right man before placing it in a ute. The ute was driven to the small town of Girvan on the mid north coast of NSW. When the box was opened again, Falconer was dead, the court heard.
Perish and Lawton then dismembered Falconer’s body, removing and smashing his teeth.
The body parts were wrapped in plastic and thrown into the Hastings River.
The court heard the Perish brothers believed Falconer was responsible for the shooting death of their grandparents in Leppington in 1993.
August 21, 2011
WITNESS E is not well. The former commando is in jail. He has cancer. Most of his liver was removed last year and he is due to start chemotherapy this week. And he says he has lost much of his memory since telling police that two other men killed and dismembered Terry Falconer.
But now Witness E – a main Crown witness in the Falconer murder trial in Sydney – has been accused by defence counsel of having conducted the brutal killing himself in 2001.
While he has pleaded guilty to kidnapping Falconer from his Ingleburn workplace and handing him over to Anthony Perish, 41-year-old Witness E insists he is not the killer. Mr Perish and Matthew Lawton are charged with that murder, and, along with Anthony’s brother Andrew, with conspiracy to murder.
When Witness E appeared at their trial in the Supreme Court last week, wearing an orange jumpsuit and under heavy guard, he answered, “I do not know” and, “I cannot recall” to dozens of questions that he had no trouble answering at the committal hearing last year.
Witness E, as he must be called, says the memory loss derives from a string of misfortunes including: his cancer diagnosis, his 22 hours a day in solitary confinement for the past year, much of it in the Goulburn Supermax, and, possibly, because he has been poisoned in jail, although no evidence of this was produced.
He agreed with Winston Terracini SC, counsel for Andrew Perish, that no medical expert has diagnosed memory loss.
A university graduate, Witness E was a violent criminal for many years. His offences include two shootings, two conspiracies to murder, and seven armed robberies.
After some hours of memory lapses, the Crown prosecutor Paul Leask asked Justice Derek Price if a video of Witness E’s interview with police after his arrest in 2009 might be played. The judge agreed, telling the jury this was because the witness’s evidence had turned out to be unfavourable to the Crown case.
In the video, Witness E described how Anthony Perish had promised him $15,000 plus a cut in a debt in return for kidnapping Falconer and driving him to Turramurra in a steel tool box. He said Anthony Perish explained he wanted to question Falconer about the murder of his grandparents in 1993.
At Turramurra, Witness E told police, the box was opened and Falconer tried to get out. But he and Anthony Perish pushed Falconer back in. Mr Lawton had also been at the house, he said.
Witness E said Anthony Perish, armed with a pistol, forced him to accompany the box to Girvan, west of Buladelah, ignoring his concerns for Falconer’s wellbeing. When the box was opened in a shed, Falconer was dead. Anthony Perish, he said, removed Falconer’s teeth then hoisted him, with Lawton’s help, by his handcuffed wrists using a block and tackle and dismembered the body.
Carolyn Davenport, SC, for Anthony Perish, suggested Falconer was dead by the time he reached Turramurra and Witness E had begged Anthony Perish to help him get rid of the body. Witness E denied this.
Stephen Hanley, SC, for Lawton, noted that, according to two associates, Witness E had said he killed Falconer. Witness E said he could not recall those conversations. He denied trying to transfer the blame to others, giving evidence in return for a 15 per cent discount on his jail sentence.
Mr Hanley mentioned Witness E’s acting ability, demonstrated by his wife having no idea about his life of violent crime for many years. “There were two different Witness Es, weren’t there?” he asked. Actually, said Witness E, there was “one person with two different behaviour sets”.
The trial continues.
‘They are going to get me knocked’
July 24, 2011
“NEDDY was going to knock me,” Terry Falconer told police in August, 2001.
The then prisoner believed his wife, Elizabeth-Anne, and daughter wanted him dead after his wife suggested he apply for a transfer to Long Bay, where the notorious killer Neddy Smith was housed.
“I think they’re going to get me knocked,” he said. “It’s a well-known fact.”
Detective Inspector Bryne Ruse, who interviewed Falconer, did not believe this. “I formed the opinion Terry was a bit paranoid,” he told the Supreme Court, because “he was due to get out of jail and there were risks ahead of him”.
But as the old line goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean no one wants to get you. Three months later Falconer was dead, dismembered and dumped in the Hastings River in seven parcels. The man who drove the boat that recovered six of them told the court one had been partly open, and he recalled seeing a tattoo of a pair of red female lips.
Anthony Perish and Matthew Lawton have been charged with the murder and, along with Perish’s brother, Andrew, with conspiracy to murder. Anthony Perish pleaded guilty to manslaughter, although the Crown prosecutor Paul Leask refused to accept this.
The Crown says the Perishes wanted to kill Falconer in revenge for their grandparents’ murder in 1993, and had arranged for him to be abducted from the place where he was on work-release from Silverwater jail on November 16, 2001.
While Elizabeth-Anne did not kill her husband, she didn’t like him much. She told the court he claimed she had given him up to the police, and he was going to kill her. So she had shown a number of people a document indicating that Terry himself was about to give evidence to the NSW Crime Commission. She thought her actions “might cause him a little bit of trouble, I thought he might get a little smack in the ear or be told by someone to pull up”.
The jury has heard contradictory evidence from witnesses who cannot be named about the point where Falconer died on his last journey. Witness C was a friend of Witness E, who allegedly led the abduction. He says Witness E told him he killed Falconer by accident while trying to administer chloroform in the car.
Witness C told the court Witness E was in a “jovial mood” when describing the abduction but later had admitted to having been apprehensive about Anthony Perish’s reaction when he found out Falconer was dead. But Anthony had told Witness E it did not matter, as Falconer would have ended up that way anyway.
Witness H told the court he had driven the car during the abduction, for which he was paid $7000, and says it had gone as planned. Falconer was knocked out by the chloroform and taken to wasteland where he was put into a metal box in the back of a van, this witness said.
“He was definitely alive [in the box],” Witness H told the court, “because he was snoring.” Witness E drove off in the van, and a few days later told Witness H that Falconer had died: “He had to go, he was going to rat us all out.” After a few drinks, Witness E claimed he had cut off Falconer’s head. This shocked Witness H, who told the court, “He could see I was upset, and dropped the topic.”
Witness B said Anthony Perish, a friend, had later admitted the killing had been done by himself and others. Carolyn Davenport, SC, for Anthony Perish, pointed out to Witness B that he had not mentioned this admission in a statement he made to police afterwards. He replied that he had forgotten about it.
Witness A told the court the Perish brothers paid him $8,000 to repair his boat so it could be used to drop body parts off at sea. “Who is it?” he said he asked, to which Anthony replied, “Don’t worry, it’s not you.” Witness A, still to be cross-examined, was not entirely convinced, and the plan did not proceed.
The trial resumes in Sydney on Monday.
July 14, 2011
A man accused of plotting to murder a criminal believed he had killed his grandparents, the victim’s wife has told a jury.
Elizabeth-Anne Falconer told the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday that Andrew Perish claimed her estranged husband was behind the shooting murders of his grandparents in southwest Sydney in 1993.
Perish, 40, has denied conspiring to murder convicted drug manufacturer Terry Falconer, whose dismembered remains were found wrapped in blue plastic in Wauchope in November 2001.
Perish’s older brother Anthony John Michael Perish, 40, and Matthew Robert Lawton, 42, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Falconer and to the conspiracy charge.
Ms Falconer said she met Andrew Perish in early 2001 outside a Sydney hotel and was aware of rumours that he believed her husband had killed Perish’s grandparents.
“I asked him why he thought Terry had killed his grandparents,” she said.
“He said I knew Terry had killed his grandparents.
“But he didn’t come up with anything as to why.”
She said she showed Andrew Perish a police document given to her by Terry Falconer while he was in jail.
In the Crown opening, prosecutor Paul Leask alleged the document indicated Terry Falconer’s preparedness to become a police informant.
Ms Falconer said she also told Andrew Perish that his grandparents had been shot in the back by a gunman who moved their corpses before drinking their liquor and eating their food.
Under cross examination by Andrew Perish’s barrister, Winston Terracini, SC, Ms Falconer said she learned this information from her husband.
“Did you ever ask your husband Terry how on earth he knew that?” Mr Terracini asked.
“No I didn’t,” she said.
She could not remember if she told Andrew Perish that those details had in fact come from her husband.
Mr Terracini said Ms Falconer never once mentioned a meeting with Mr Perish despite being “specifically asked” by police.
He suggested the meeting never took place, which Ms Falconer denied.
She said she was “intimated and scared” by Andrew Perish but needed to clear up rumours her husband was “putting around”, namely about her being behind the 1993 murders.
“That’s what Terry said, that I had killed them,” Ms Falconer said.
She thought her actions might lead to him getting a “slap on the ear” but said nobody “deserves what Terry got”.
The trial, before Justice Derek Price, is continuing.
July 11, 2011
A court has heard a convicted Sydney drug dealer was locked in a metal box before being chopped into pieces and thrown into a river nearly a decade ago.
Terry Falconer’s dismembered body was found in November 2001 in plastic bags in the Hastings River at Wauchope, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales.
Anthony John Michael Perish has been charged with murder, while his brother Andrew Perish is facing a conspiracy to murder charge.
Matthew Robert Lawton has also been charged with Mr Falconer’s murder.
At their trial in the New South Wales Supreme Court at Darlinghurst today, prosecutors said the Perish brothers wanted Mr Falconer killed because they believed he was involved in the death of their grandparents.
The brothers’ grandparents were shot dead in the early 1990s in their home at Leppington, in south-western Sydney.
The crown said Mr Falconer was abducted in 2001 at a smash repair workshop at Ingleburn, in Sydney’s south-west, while on work release from prison.
The court heard the 52-year-old was then drugged and locked in a metal box before being taken to a property in northern NSW.
It is alleged Mr Falconer died on the way and was then cut into pieces in a shed on the property and thrown into the river.
The trial continues.
The Inside Story of Australia’s Biggest Murder Investigation
By Michael Duffy
A revealing, insiders look into the Tuno taskforce and the investigation into the brutal murder of drug manufacturer and police informant Terry Falconer – read the full story of the Perish crime bosses, their violent associates and the biggest murder inquiry in Australian history.
Strike Force Tuno and this investigation is soon to be the subject of the fifth Underbelly television series, Underbelly: Badness
When Terry Falconer‘s dismembered body turned up in the Hastings River in 2001, detective Gary Jubelin was given the investigation to lead. Falconer had been a violent criminal, a police informer, and possibly a murderer. The suspect list quickly grew to 70 of the state’s most hardened criminals, all of whom had wanted him dead.
After a year Jubelin had a name. Anthony Perish believed Falconer had carried out a contract killing on his grandparents back in 1993. Perish was almost unknown to police, but as Jubelin and his team dug deeper, they discovered he was one of Australia’s most successful drug manufacturers, with strong links to the Rebels bikie gang and a reputation for violence and professionalism. Only the personal nature of his revenge murder of Falconer had brought him out of the shadows.
It took the dozens of detectives involved with Strike Force Tuno a decade to bring Anthony Perish and his brother Andrew to justice. It is an amazing story of what police call serious ‘badness’, involving many murders, professional killers, protected witnesses, electronic surveillance, underground drug labs, secret hearings conducted by the New South Wales Crime Commission, and over 180,000 recorded phone conversations.
Author Michael Duffy was given almost unprecedented access to police force files to write the story of what has been described as one of Australia’s most difficult murder investigations and its biggest. The result is a chilling and forensic account of an Australian criminal empire that dwarfs all others and a meticulous and enthralling chronicle of an extraordinary police investigation.
Michael Duffy has been writing about Sydney for many years as a journalist. Michael writes about trials and crime for the Sun Herald and Sydney Morning Herald and co-presents ‘Counterpoint’, ABC Radio National’s challenge to orthodox ideas. He also writes crime fiction.
Supreme Court New South Wales
Medium Neutral Citation
R v Perish; Perish & Lawton  NSWSC 355
27 July 2011 – 29 July 20111 August 2011 – 31 August 2011 1 September 2011 – 14 September 2011 11 November 2011 16 March 2012
CRIMINAL LAW – Murder – Conspiracy to murder
Andrew Michael Perish
Anthony John Perish
Ms V Garrity (Director of Public Prosecutions)
Mr W O’Brien – William O’Brien & Ross Hudson Solicitors (Anthony Perish)
Mr B Archbold Archbold Legal Services (Andrew Perish)
Mr E Matouk – Matouk Joyner Lawyers (Matthew Lawton)
Mr P Leask (Crown)
Mr S Hanley SC (Matthew Lawton)
Ms C Davenport SC (Anthony Perish)
Mr W Terracini SC (Andrew Perish)
1HIS HONOUR: Anthony John Perish and Matthew Robert Lawton have been found guilty by a jury of the murder of Terrence Falconer on or about 16 November 2001. They were also found guilty by the jury of conspiring with Andrew Michael Perish between 1 January 2001 and 17 November 2001 to murder Mr Falconer.
2Andrew Michael Perish was found guilty by the jury of conspiring with Anthony John Perish and Matthew Robert Lawton between 1 January 2001 and 17 November 2001 to murder Mr Falconer.
3The maximum penalty for the crime of murder is imprisonment for life. The maximum penalty for the crime of conspiracy to murder is imprisonment for 25 years.
4The offences were committed in 2001. I am required to sentence the offenders in accordance with the sentencing practice as at the date of the commission of the offences and not as presently prevails: R v MJR  NSWCCA 129; (2002) 54 NSWLR 368. Part 4 Division 1A – standard non-parole periods of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 which came into force on 1 February 2003 does not apply to the present sentences. Sections 3A and 21A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, however, do apply.
5It is my duty to determine the facts relevant to sentencing each offender. My view of the facts must be consistent with the verdict of the jury and the findings of fact I make against an offender must be arrived at beyond reasonable doubt: R v Isaacs (1997) 41 NSWLR 374. Matters of mitigation may be proved on the balance of probabilities: R v Pilley (1991) 56 A Crim R 202.
6At trial and the proceedings on sentence, Mr Leask appeared for the Crown, Ms Davenport SC appeared for Anthony Perish, Mr Hanley SC appeared for Matthew Lawton and Mr Terracini SC appeared for Andrew Perish.
7The jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that each of the offenders had agreed to kill Terrence Falconer.
8The genesis of the conspiracy was the unsolved murders on 14 June 1993 of Anthony and Frances Perish, the grandparents of the offenders Anthony Perish and Andrew Perish. The police investigation under the name of Strike Force Seabrook had been unable to identify who had murdered them.
9Anthony Perish and Andrew Perish became motivated to kill Mr Falconer as they believed he had been involved in the murders.
10Another motive for Andrew Perish to kill Mr Falconer was that he was shown by Elizabeth Falconer (the deceased’s wife) at a Penrith Hotel around March/April 2001, a document which identified Mr Falconer as being prepared to assist police as an informer in respect of the activities of the Rebels motorcycle club in Dubbo. Andrew Perish had been a member of the Rebels motorcycle club.
11In 1998, [B], … received a phone call during which he was told that Terrence Falconer killed the Perish grandparents. The following day, [B] and his wife met Anthony Perish and discussed with him what they had been told.
12Around March 2001, Anthony Perish met [B] at a Double Bay restaurant and asked whether he could obtain from his brother-in-law, a serving NSW police officer, some police uniforms. [B] did not ask the offender why he wanted them nor did the offender tell him. [B] told the offender about a month later his brother-in-law would not do it, but [B] had not in fact asked him.
13On 9 July 2001, Andrew Perish met Detective Inspector Ruse, a member of Strike Force Seabrook and told him that “Terry Falconer or Faulkner” had admitted to the murders of Anthony and Frances Perish, to two employees of a motor vehicle wrecker’s business in Sydney. Andrew Perish said that it was the owner of the business, who gave him the information, but the owner was in gaol and would not speak to police. The police had received information from other sources which suggested that Terrence Falconer was involved in the murders. Detective Inspector Ruse formally interviewed the deceased who denied the allegations.
14The Crown case against Andrew Perish was based essentially on the evidence of [A]. He was also an important witness in the Crown cases against Anthony Perish and Matthew Lawton. The jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that [A] gave honest and reliable evidence. [A] lived on a property at … .
15In early October 2001, Denise Lawton arrived at the … property telling [A] that she had a message from ‘Rooster’, a name by which he knew Anthony Perish. She handed him $1,000 in cash and told him to buy some decent clothes to go to dinner in. She said, “Andrew will come and see you in a couple of days.” Andrew Perish was “Andrew”.
16On 11 October 2001, Andrew Perish went to the … property before lunch, saying to [A] that he would be back at 7pm that night, and they would go and have dinner with “our mate”. “Our mate” was Anthony Perish.
17Andrew Perish drove [A] that night to Newtown where they had dinner with Anthony Perish at a local restaurant. During the dinner, Anthony Perish said to [A], whose nickname was ‘Nosey’: “So Nosey, what can you do for the company?” To which he asked, “What would the company have me do for them?” Anthony Perish asked him if he had a boat to which he replied, “It’s fucked at the moment”.
18[A] said that he had a 4.9 metre Markham Whaler with a twin Evinrude horsepower engine on it, which was in mechanical disrepair. There was further discussion about the boat during which Anthony Perish asked [A]: “If I give you a couple of grand tomorrow, you put it in and get it fixed”. Andrew Perish was present during the whole conversation. Anthony Perish asked Andrew if he could give [A] the couple of grand on the way home.
19During the dinner, Anthony Perish said to [A]:
“I want you to put the boat in and come up the Karuah River to Bulahdelah. There’s a wharf up there, come up to the wharf and I will be waiting for you just like a fisherman with a couple of esky’s because the cunt might be in a few pieces.”
Anthony Perish was referring to Terrence Falconer. The offenders planned to kill him, dismember his body and to dispose of the body parts by using [A] and his boat.
20There had been discussion during the dinner at Newtown that a mobile phone would be dropped off to [A] by the person who drove the truck down to Adelaide when [A] had moved to that city. This was the offender Matthew Lawton.
21Whilst Andrew Perish was driving [A] back to the … property, they stopped at his home in Eagle Vale. Andrew Perish picked up $2,000 from inside his house and gave it to [A].
22The next morning, [A] took the boat to Marine Scene at Campbelltown and, after further phone calls, obtained a quotation as to the cost of the boat repairs. He spoke to Andrew Perish informing him that during the initial work on the boat, another problem had been found. The power head on the left- hand motor needed replacing at a cost of $4,000 alone. [A] asked Andrew Perish what he wanted to do and was told to “get it done”.
23Andrew Perish subsequently gave [A] $1,500 in cash at the … property and $3,000 in cash at Daniel Perish’s place at Rossmore. The money was to be applied to the cost of repairing the boat.
24Matthew Lawton delivered a ‘Motorola Talkabout’ mobile phone (the McDowell phone) to [A] at the … property. He told [A] to keep the phone on and charged and not to contact anyone else other than Anthony and Andrew Perish. The phone was in the name of John McDowell and was activated by [A] on 29 October 2001.
25On 31 October 2001, [A] had travelled to Salamander Bay to undertake a reconnaissance of the regional waterways. He had purchased from the Newcastle Water Ways Office four maps of the surrounding waters.
26Anthony Perish visited [A] at the … property at least three times after the dinner. On each occasion, Matthew Lawton drove him to the property. During the second last visit, Anthony Perish handed [A] a document that [A] described as being a police document with Terry Falconer’s name on it. He said that the document stated that Terry Falconer was prepared to give evidence against the Rebels motorcycle club in Dubbo as to their drug dealings. Although Anthony Perish had never been a member of the Rebels motorcycle club, his brother Andrew was a former member. I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Anthony Perish believed that Mr Falconer was a police informer, which provided added justification for his plan to kill the deceased.
27[A] and Anthony Perish discussed the Karuah River and where the boat was going to be put in. Bulahdelah was eliminated because of the four or five knot speed restriction throughout the river.
28During the last visit on 9 November 2001, one week before Mr Falconer was murdered, there was a discussion between [A] and Anthony Perish about the boat being ready. Anthony Perish said to [A]: “Get onto it, hurry up, because this cunt goes this Friday regardless.” He also said:
“You’ll come up, you’ll pick up a couple of eskys, you’ll go out and take them out to the continental shelf. You will empty out the contents over a big hole using a depth sounder. On the way back wash those eskys out halfway back and throw them over the side. When you get back, wash the boat out with ammonia.”
29Anthony Perish went on to say:
“If you wash it out with ammonia they can tell there’s been blood in the boat but they can’t tell whose it is, it fucks the DNA”
30The offender told [A] that he was not coming with him and that was what [A] was being paid for. [A] understood that the plan had changed as Anthony Perish no longer intended accompanying him on the voyage to dispose of Mr Falconer’s body parts.
31[A] decided not to participate in the dumping of the body parts as he had come to fear for his own safety. All incoming calls to his mobile phones were diverted after 12 November 2001, and attempts by Andrew Perish to ring him on 14 and 15 November 2001 were unsuccessful. [A] took no further part in the plan to kill Terrence Falconer.
32Anthony Perish had initially engaged [E] to investigate the murder of his grandparents but subsequently planned for Terrence Falconer to be abducted by [E] and taken to the premises where he was living at Kirkpatrick Street, Turramurra.
33Mr Falconer had been serving a term of imprisonment for drug offences. He was nearing the end of his sentence and had been classified as a minimum security prisoner which made him eligible for work release. An electronic monitoring bracelet had been fitted to his ankle on 28 March 2001 and he had been sponsored for work at Wreck-A-Mended Smash Repairs at Ingleburn. He commenced work on 17 May 2001 and his usual hours of work were 8am to 4.30pm. Mr Falconer was required to be back at Silverwater prison by 7pm.
34About three months before the murder, Anthony Perish approached [E] with his plan to abduct Mr Falconer, whilst he was on work release. [E] was told by Anthony Perish to obtain a van, a lockbox and to look like police so that Mr Falconer could be taken from his work. Anthony Perish told him to handcuff Mr Falconer as he would put up a fight and put an anaesthetic, like chloroform over his mouth.
35[E] recruited [H] and Craig Bottin (Bottin) to assist in the abduction. [H] met [E] in the middle of 2001, during which [E] said to him, “Look, there’s a job that has come up. There’s a guy who needs to get information, a guy who has done terrible things. He’s a scumbag and he needs myself and Craig to help him out with this because this is a guy who is able to take care of himself”. During a second meeting between [E] and [H], [E] told [H] that they were to dress up as police officers and to pretend to arrest Mr Falconer for questioning. [E] said that he would use chloroform to subdue Mr Falconer after he had been taken. [H]‘s role was to be the driver of the vehicle and Bottin would assist [E] in the arrest. [H] and [E] reconnoitred the smash repair business in preparation for the abduction.
36Matthew Lawton obtained steel wheel rims and painted them silver at Anthony Perish’s premises at Turramurra, so that the rims on [E]‘s VT Commodore would resemble the rims on a police vehicle. [E] had been staying with Anthony Perish and intended using his Commodore in the abduction. He delivered the vehicle to [H].
37On the afternoon of the abduction, [E], [H] and Bottin met at a grassy embankment close to Wreck-A-Mended Smash Repairs. [E] had parked a white van at the rendezvous, where they changed their clothes and the Commodore’s appearance was altered to look like an unmarked police vehicle. The hubcaps were removed, the licence plate changed and an aerial was placed on the back window.
38Around 3pm, [H] drove [E] and Bottin in the Commodore to Wreck-A-Mended Smash Repairs. [H] was wearing a blue police shirt with shoulder patches and blue pants. He remained in the vehicle. [E] and Bottin were wearing business suits to look like detectives and were armed with ‘Glock pistols’.
39Mr Falconer had arrived for work at about 8am. [E] and Bottin went into the premises, presented police identification badges to employees and were taken to Mr Falconer. [E] conducted a body search on Mr Falconer, who he then handcuffed with handcuffs that Anthony Perish had given him. Mr Falconer was placed in the rear seat of the Commodore between [E] and Bottin.
40At trial, [H] gave evidence to the effect that when they reached the grassy embankment, he heard a scuffle in the backseat. He turned around and saw [E] placing a rag with chloroform on it, upon Mr Falconer’s mouth. [H] said that Mr Falconer was putting up a bit of a struggle, but [E] continued to apply the rag to his face and Mr Falconer was rendered unconscious. In the electronically recorded interview (ERISP) that [E ] entered into with police on 22 January 2009, [E] recounted that, after putting his handkerchief in the chemical that was in a “big orange juice bottle”, he placed the handkerchief over Mr Falconer’s face, but Mr Falconer was struggling and trying to hit him with his handcuffed hands. Bottin helped him to subdue the deceased, who continued to struggle, but after about another thirty seconds became dopey. During his evidence before the jury, [E] remembered that when he held the rag over Mr Falconer’s mouth, that he struggled violently and it took a while to subdue him. [E] agreed that he told the Magistrate at the committal hearing, that Bottin physically came over and that he, [E], put pressure down on the deceased’s hand and chest. He said that he was protecting himself from being hit in the head with handcuffs. [E] did not recall having to punch Mr Falconer, nor did he see Bottin punch the deceased to the right side of the face.
41During the trial, [E] told the jury that he carried Mr Falconer from the Commodore to the white van with either the assistance of Bottin or [H]. The monitoring bracelet had been removed from Mr Falconer’s ankle and discarded. In the van was a box that he had purchased from a hardware store for the purpose of putting Mr Falconer in it. In his ERISP, [E] said that the box was made of “galvanised tin, or tin plate maybe, like one you buy at Bunnings but more heavy duty.” It was close to six feet in length, but there were no additional holes drilled into it. Professor Yeomans examined various metal items that police had located at 158 Brooks Road, Girvan in March 2009. He concluded that the items were consistent with the base, the side and the lid of a metal box. Professor Yeomans estimated that the box would have been 500mm wide, 500mm high, but somewhat in excess of 760mm long. The box was made of an older style of sheet metal. I am satisfied that this was the box which was in the white van.
42The jury was told by [E] that when Mr Falconer was placed in the box, he was not on his face. Mr Falconer was neither talking nor were his eyes open. [E] drove the van to Turramurra but did not recall by what route he drove there. He remembered that when the box was opened in Anthony Perish’s garage at Turramurra, Mr Falconer looked “pretty crook”, but he thought that Mr Falconer was alive. In cross-examination by Mr Hanley, he said that Mr Falconer was not just lying there, he gasped, his torso went up, and he looked in a pretty bad way.
43In his ERISP, [E] told police that Mr Falconer was coughing more and more and had been in the box “for quite a period of time”. When the box was opened, Mr Falconer started to get up and [E] put his foot at Mr Falconer’s torso as he thought “he was going to try and up and at us”. [E] said that Anthony Perish grabbed Mr Falconer’s head, slammed it down, pulled up his shirt and he saw a Gypsy Joker tattoo. [E] recounted that Anthony Perish closed the box, which Perish and Matthew Lawton put into the tailgate of a utility. Anthony Perish directed [E] to go with Matthew Lawton in the utility to Girvan, whilst Anthony Perish got rid of the white van. [E] described a slow journey to Girvan and the box not being opened until Anthony Perish arrived some time later. [E] said that when the box was opened at Girvan, Mr Falconer was dead.
44During the trial, competing issues arose as to the cause and the time of the death of the deceased being whether:
(a)as a result of being assaulted, chloroformed, placed in the metal box and being driven in the white van from the grassy embankment to Turramurra, the deceased died during the journey and was not alive when the box was opened in Anthony Perish’s garage at Turramurra; or
(b)the deceased was alive at Turramurra but dead when the box was opened at 158 Brooks Road, Girvan.
45The Crown case at trial was that irrespective of when and how the deceased died, Anthony Perish and Matthew Lawton were guilty of his murder. It is unnecessary to repeat here, the directions provided to the jury. During the proceedings on sentence Ms Davenport and Mr Hanley submitted that the time and the manner of the deceased’s death impacted upon the determination of the moral culpability of the offenders and the objective seriousness of their actions, whereas Mr Crown contended that it had no impact whatsoever. As I do not agree with the Crown’s argument, it is necessary to consider this issue in some detail.
46Ms Davenport and Mr Hanley submitted that the court would not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Falconer was alive when he arrived at Turramurra. They referred to [E] admissions to [H] and [C] and to the evidence of Professor Lyons as supporting the reasonable possibility that the death could have occurred before the arrival at Turramurra. Mr Crown invited the court to accept [E]‘s account in the ERISP and directed attention to independent support for his evidence.
47In his closing address to the jury, Mr Crown referred to 15 matters of evidence that were said to independently support [E]‘s testimony in the trial. Of particular significance to the present question, is the evidence of Professor Lyons of the Gypsy Joker tattoo seen on the deceased’s remains during the autopsy and the evidence of bruising to the deceased’s face.
48Dr Lee, who conducted two autopsies on the deceased’s dismembered remains, found an ill-defined area of bruising extending from the lateral right cheek past the outer aspect of the eye, involving the right lateral forehead and extending into the hairline. There was also an ill-defined area of apparent bruising situated over the right side of the jaw midway between the point and the angle. Dr Lee was unable to determine the cause of death.
49The onus is on the Crown to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Falconer was alive, when he arrived at Turramurra.
50In his evidence at trial, [H] said that Mr Falconer was unconscious when he was carried from the car to the box in the van. Whilst unconscious, he was placed lying on his back in the box. Mr Falconer appeared to be breathing, because he was snoring and his chest was rising up and down. [H] told the jury that his main concern was that once the box lid was closed, Mr Falconer might not be able to breathe. There was, he said, no obvious part of the box where air could get in and he could not see any air holes drilled in it. When he expressed his concern to [E], [E] told him that the deceased was not going to be in the box for long, it was going to be a short journey and the deceased would be returned back to Wreck-A-Mended Smash Repairs before the day was out.
51Detective Sergeant Browne gave evidence that the police had timed how long it took to drive from the smash repairs at Ingleburn to Kirkpatrick Street, Turramurra, not exceeding the speed limit and replicating the route that existed on 16 November 2001, before the M5 freeway extension was built. The journey took police between two hours and fifteen minutes and two hours and forty minutes.
52Professor Lyons gave evidence that chloroform was no longer used as a modern anaesthetic because it was dangerous to the heart and liver. He explained that someone who is unconscious and lying on his back, has an unprotected airway, so that there is a tendency for the structures of the mouth to fall backwards. One clinical sign of a restriction of the airway was snoring. In a limited amount of oxygen, the process of respiration would raise the level of carbon dioxide. Professor Lyons said that oxygen would be consumed, carbon dioxide produced, the level of which could adversely affect the brain and the heart to the point that ultimately breathing could stop. Professor Lyons considered it was a possibility where someone was in a very restricted area, snoring on his back having been subjected to some form of anaesthesia that death could occur within two hours.
53[H] gave evidence that a couple of days after the abduction, he and [E] had lunch at a restaurant in Double Bay. [E] said words to the effect of, “Look, I don’t know if you have heard or read anything, but Falconer had to go. He was going to rat us out.” [H] said that [E] brought up the topic again about an hour and a half later. [E] said Falconer was not giving him the answers he wanted, that Falconer was being “a smart arse” and he chopped Falconer’s head off. [H] described [E] as being very happy with how things had gone and with how professional they had been on the job.
54[C], who had been [E] business partner, told the jury that [E] asked him if he had seen an article about a person being abducted from a panel beater’s shop by police. During the conversation, [E] said that he, [H] and “Skits” (Bottin) had done it, that [H] was wearing the police uniform and the plates had been stolen from a police car. [E] went on to say:
“We went into the panel beater’s shop and…, we told them we were cops, we showed them a badge. We grabbed Falconer and put him into the car. There was a struggle in the back seat. I hit him too hard and he died. I really fucked up, I was only supposed to take him to somebody else to be tortured. I fucked up.”
55It is plain that [E] ‘s account to [H] that he had chopped Mr Falconer’s head off was an exaggeration. His disclosure to [C] that there had been a scuffle in the backseat is consistent however, with [H]‘s recollection of a struggle after they arrived at the grassy embankment. Although [H] did not see [E] strike the deceased, the struggle was not inconsequential. [H] was instructed by [E] to have both the interior and exterior of the Commodore cleaned. In cross-examination by Mr Hanley, [H] agreed that there was a direction from [E] specifically aimed at cleaning up some scuff marks that were on the back of the front seats which he understood had been caused in the struggle. I consider it to be a reasonable possibility that [E] did hit the deceased hard, whilst he was attempting to subdue him and trying to avoid being struck by Mr Falconer’s handcuffed hands. Such a finding raises the reasonable possibility that the deceased’s facial bruising may have occurred otherwise than by Anthony Perish grabbing his head and slamming it down. [E] participated in the dismemberment of the deceased’s body at Girvan and it is a reasonable possibility that he saw the Gypsy Joker tattoo after Mr Falconer’s death.
56When the evidence of the struggle, the use of a chloroform like substance, Mr Falconer’s snoring, the size of the box, the lack of ventilation and the length of the journey to Turramurra is considered in combination, there is a reasonable possibility, in my view, that Mr Falconer died before he arrived at Turramurra.
57In reaching this conclusion, I have not disregarded [B]‘s evidence of a conversation that he had with Anthony Perish at North Sydney in June 2006. Anthony Perish told [B] that he and [E] killed Mr Falconer at “Redman’s [E] mum’s place up the coast”. The reliability of this account is diminished as it was common ground in the trial that the property at Girvan was never owned by [E]‘s mother and that she did not have an association with it. Furthermore, there was no evidence whatsoever of any proprietary interest that [E] or any member of his family had in that property.
58I do not propose to comment on the answers given by [E] in his ERISP, much of which was supported by the independent evidence upon which the Crown relied, other than to state that I am not satisfied that his account of events at Turramurra, was honest and reliable.
59The Crown has not established beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased was alive at Turramurra. Accordingly, Anthony Perish and Matthew Lawton are to be sentenced on the basis of the deceased being dead at the time of his arrival at Kirkpatrick Street.
60I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased’s body in the box, was taken from Turramurra to Girvan in the utility driven by Matthew Lawton, who was accompanied by [E]. After disposing of the white van, Anthony Perish joined them at Girvan and they dissected the body. The body parts were placed into plastic bags that were wound with wire and duct tape and dropped into the Hastings River. I do not accept that [E] had been forced by the threat of the use of a gun to travel to Girvan and to assist in the dismemberment of the body. It is evident that [E] maintained a close relationship with Anthony Perish, which included an invitation to his wedding in 2008. They were arrested together at McMahons Point on 19 January 2009.
61On 26 November 2001, six of the bags were found in the Hastings River, a seventh bag being located on 13 September 2002.
62By its verdicts on the charge of conspiracy to murder, the jury determined that all three offenders entered into an agreement to kill Mr Falconer and each of them participated in that agreement. Anthony Perish was the mastermind behind the plan to abduct Mr Falconer, to kill him, to dismember his body and to dispose of his remains. He recruited [A] and [E] and instructed them on the role that each would play in the conspiracy. Andrew Perish and Matthew Lawton acted upon his directions.
63Andrew Perish was present at the Newtown dinner and knew that the plan was to kill Mr Falconer, dissect his body and [A] was to be used to dispose of the remains. He assisted his brother in recruiting [A], paid for the repairs to his boat and authorised him to proceed with further repair work to the vessel, which Andrew Perish paid for. Andrew Perish, with his brother Anthony, were the only persons that [A] was to contact on the McDowell phone. He endeavoured unsuccessfully to ring [A] on 14 and 15 November 2001. There is no evidence that Andrew Perish played any part in the procurement of [E] or that he knew that [E] was to abduct the deceased. His role was confined to [A]. The Crown has not established beyond reasonable doubt that Andrew Perish played any part in the agreement to kill Mr Falconer after 15 November 2001. His culpability for the conspiracy to murder is less than that of Anthony Perish.
64Matthew Lawton was not present at the Newtown dinner but delivered the McDowell phone to [A] with instructions as to its use and drove Anthony Perish to the meetings with [A] at the … property. Whilst he was present at these meetings, the evidence does not establish that he took part in the discussions between [A] and Anthony Perish. I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Matthew Lawton became aware that Anthony Perish had procured [E] to abduct Mr Falconer. He was neither engaged in the planning of the offence nor the recruiting of [A] and [E].
65At trial, the Crown did not seek to prove a motive for Matthew Lawton’s participation in the offending. Mr Hanley submitted that in assisting the commission of the offences, Matthew Lawton was inferentially recruited by Anthony Perish. It is plain from the evidence that the offender was under the influence of and subordinate to Anthony Perish, with whom he had a long association. His culpability for the conspiracy to murder is less than that of the other two offenders.
66An agreement to kill another person is a most serious crime. Each of the offenders took steps directed at its successful completion.
67At a later stage in these sentencing remarks, I will detail the backgrounds of each of the offenders. I accept that Anthony Perish and Andrew Perish agreed to kill Mr Falconer for the principal reason that they believed he was involved in the murder of their grandparents and they had become frustrated with the lack of progress in the police investigation. Each of these offenders had a close relationship with their grandparents and were motivated by their desire to right the wrong that Mr Falconer was perceived to have committed. Although that might explain the agreement to kill him and the murder, it does not mitigate the objective seriousness of these offences. A civilised society cannot condone the offenders’ conduct. It is well established that resort to criminal conduct as a response to a crime believed to have been committed by the victim is to be severely discouraged. In our society, crime must be investigated by police and dealt with by the courts: Barlow v R  NSWCCA 96; R v Mitchell  NSWCCA 296. The existence of such a motive remains relevant, however, to questions of personal deterrence and protection of the community.
68By its verdicts on the charge of murder, the jury determined that Anthony Perish procured [E] to abduct Mr Falconer and bring him to Turramurra, that he did so with the intention to kill Mr Falconer some time thereafter and that his actions made a substantial contribution to Mr Falconer’s death. The jury rejected as a reasonable possibility that it was the offender’s intention to question Mr Falconer and not to kill him.
69The jury determined that Matthew Lawton was a member of the conspiracy to murder the deceased and was a party to the joint criminal enterprise to abduct him. The jury were satisfied that Matthew Lawton had an intention to kill Mr Falconer and his actions made a substantial contribution to the death.
70The Crown does not submit that this case falls within the worst category of murder and therefore attracts the imposition of a life sentence. There is no suggestion of future dangerousness.
71Ms Davenport and Mr Hanley submitted that the conspiracy to murder and the murder should be considered as one offence in the cases of Anthony Perish and Matthew Lawton. Ms Davenport contended that, had it not been for the fact that Andrew Perish was charged with conspiracy, the Crown would not have charged the other offenders with that offence. Mr Hanley argued that the “temporal, factual and historical connected-ness” between the two offences, reflected one course of criminal conduct. Both counsel suggested that if their submissions were accepted, the planning involved could be treated as a factor of aggravation in the murder.
72It seems to me to attempt to draw a line between the two offences for the purposes of sentencing Anthony Perish and Matthew Lawton, creates an artificiality and defies common sense. I accept that the actions of these offenders in reality reflect one course of criminal conduct.
73Anthony Perish meticulously planned the murder. He recruited [A] and [E]. He contrived that Mr Falconer was to be abducted on work release by [E] posing as a police officer, then handcuffed, sedated and placed in a box to be delivered to Turramurra. He supplied to [E] a police shirt, handcuffs and the chloroform like anaesthetic. When [E] arrived at Turramurra, Anthony Perish was present and he expected that Mr Falconer would be alive. He intended to kill Mr Falconer, but not all matters went as planned, as Mr Falconer had died on the journey.
74Anthony Perish had also planned for the deceased’s body to be dissected at Girvan and disposed of by [A]. He carefully considered the various waterways and had concluded that the body parts were to be taken by [A] out to the continental shelf and emptied over the side of [A]‘s boat. He instructed [A] to wash the boat with ammonia to make it difficult for DNA to be detected. When the scheme was interrupted by the desertion of [A], Anthony Perish decided that the body parts would be placed into the Hastings River.
75Although Matthew Lawton did not plan the abduction, he obtained steel wheel rims and painted them silver so that the rims on [E]‘s VT Commodore would resemble the rims on a police vehicle. I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he was present at Turramurra when [E] arrived as he intended to kill Mr Falconer and to participate in the dismemberment of his body.
76It is a factor of aggravation that the murder was carefully planned.
77Mr Hanley submitted that the dismemberment and disposal of the deceased’s body were done with a view to avoiding detection and should not be given significant weight. The treatment of the deceased’s body can be taken into account in assessing the seriousness of the offence: Knight v The Queen (2006) 164 A Crim R 126. Mr Crown, however, did not dispute Mr Hanley’s contention that the treatment of the body did not elevate the seriousness of the offence, but said that it was relevant on sentence to demonstrate the state of mind of Anthony Perish and Matthew Lawton as one of callousness. I accept the Crown’s submission.
78There is no evidence that suggests the deceased’s body was dismembered for a purpose other than to hide the crime. The callousness with which the murder was planned and carried out is disclosed by the manner in which the offenders and [E] went about dissecting the body at Girvan.
79I conclude that the objective gravity of this offence is of a high order. Both offenders callously endeavoured to ensure that the careful plan to kill Mr Falconer would be successful. It matters little that he died unexpectedly in [E]‘s white van. I accept that Matthew Lawton’s role was subordinate to Anthony Perish and his culpability for the murder is less than his co-offender. Nevertheless, the objective seriousness of his offending remains high.
80Anthony Perish was born on 4 September 1969 and at the time of the murder was 32 years old. He is now 42 years old. He was arrested on 19 March 2009 and has been in custody since that time. His criminal history, prior to his arrest, reveals minor offences, the last of which was committed on 10 October 1990.
81On 15 December 2011, he was convicted of attempting on 9 June 2010 to wilfully dissuade [A] from giving truthful evidence against him in committal proceedings and sentenced to imprisonment for two months to date from 10 August 2010. I am mindful that offences committed after the murder, may not be taken into account for the purposes of imposing a heavier sentence, but may be considered for the purpose of deciding whether the offender is deserving of leniency: R v Hutchins (1958) 75 WN (NSW) 75; R v Bowey (unrep, 22/7/91, NSWCCA).
82The offender’s record of previous convictions has not involved violence and does not disentitle him from considerations of leniency. I give to this consideration, modest weight in mitigation, owing to the gravity of the present offences.
83Anthony Perish did not give evidence at trial, or during the proceedings on sentence. His subjective circumstances are principally drawn from the history given to Michelle Player, a clinical psychologist. He is the fourth child of seven children born to his parents. One of his sisters was killed in a car accident in 1983. He has two sisters and three brothers. The offender was raised by his parents on an egg and poultry farm at Leppington. He had a close, supportive and nurturing relationship with his mother, but a strained relationship with his father, who held high expectations of the offender as his eldest son. The offender developed a stutter in infancy and never saw a speech pathologist to address his speech impediment. He did not enjoy his schooling years, had no interest in study and was a below average student. The offender left school in mid-Year 8 just shy of his 15th birthday. He completed a four-year apprenticeship in panel beating and spray painting, graduating when he was 20 years old. About this time, he moved to Queensland where he lived until aged 35 years. After buying and selling cars for profit, he progressed to operating his own excavator and bobcat business.
84The offender has a son, now 20 years old from a short relationship when the offender was in his early twenties. He was unaware that his ex-girlfriend had given birth to his son until about eight years later. The offender has been involved in his son’s life since that time and remains in contact with him. Prior to his arrest in 2009, the offender was co-habiting with his partner, with whom he had commenced a relationship when he was about 26 years old. The relationship ended in 2010, but the offender maintains a sound relationship with his partner’s son.
85Anthony Perish was close to his paternal grandparents, Anthony and Frances Perish, when he was growing up in Leppington. They lived about a 15 minute walk away from the offender’s parent’s home on the other side of the family property. The offender told Ms Player that his grandparents were nurturing and affectionate towards him and that he had a particularly close relationship with his grandfather. He had lived with his grandparents for a total of six months in his mid-adolescence.
86When his grandparents were murdered, the offender was 23 years old and living in Queensland. Ms Player reports that the offender was unable to join his family in Sydney to receive support and grieve with them. He told Ms Player that his grandparents’ murders “shattered the family’s innocence” and made him aware of “how bad the world can be.” He said that he had felt frustration for many years about the lack of progress in the police investigation into his grandparents’ murders and stated that he did not think that he had grieved properly, that it had burnt him out.
87Ms Player expressed the opinion that the offender “reveals a frozen grief response in relation to the death of his sister and murder of his grandparents, which he has attempted to suppress.” The psychologist opines that Anthony Perish’s offending behaviour “seems to have stemmed from his struggle to resolve the deaths of his grandparents, with whom he was particularly close, and pre-occupation with determining who was responsible for their deaths.” Ms Player reports that the offender “appears regretful for the death of the victim and willing to participate in interventions to address his recidivism risk.”
88Ms Player assessed Anthony Perish’s risk of violence with the HCR-20 clinical risk assessment guide and found that the offender presents an overall low risk of violent recidivism. She recommended that the offender access individual psychological therapy whilst in gaol. The offender has completed various courses whilst in custody and the transcripts of his academic record were tendered. The Corrective Services case note reports disclose that he has been of good behaviour and is now the unit delegate. I take all these matters into account.
89It is clear that Ms Player’s report of the expression of remorse by the offender does not amount to acceptance of responsibility for his actions. At the commencement of the trial, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis that he agreed with [E] that Mr Falconer should be abducted and that he contemplated the possibility, at least, that in the course of the abduction, serious injury might be caused to Mr Falconer and that was an unlawful and dangerous act. Ms Player reports that the offender denies that he intended to cause harm to Mr Falconer, which is consistent with his pleas of not guilty to conspiracy to murder and to murder. Accordingly, he must be sentenced on the basis that he demonstrates no contrition or remorse for his offending. His sentence is not to be increased for that, but no allowance in mitigation can be made for remorse or contrition. As he refuses to accept responsibility for the murder, his prospects of rehabilitation remain guarded. I am unable to make a positive finding on the balance of probabilities that he is unlikely to re-offend or has good prospects of rehabilitation. Nevertheless, in the circumstances of the present case, I conclude that the offender’s motive to avenge his grandparents’ murders lessens the need for personal deterrence and protection of the community: R v Swan  NSWCCA 47. The offender’s lack of a prior criminal history of violence and good behaviour in custody re-enforces this conclusion.
90I accept Ms Davenport’s submission that concessions made on Anthony Perish’s behalf shortened the length of the trial and facilitated the course of justice. I take that into account in moderation of the offender’s sentence.
91Ms Davenport did not submit that special circumstances exist that justifies a variation in the statutory ratio between the non-parole period and the term of the sentence.
92Matthew Lawton did not give evidence at trial, or during the proceedings on sentence. His subjective circumstances are principally drawn from the history given to Tim Watson-Munro, a forensic psychologist. Matthew Lawton was born on 3 December 1966 and was 34 years old at the time of the offences. He is now 45 years old. He was born in Sydney and has a brother and sister, with whom he has no real contact. His parents are alive, but divorced when he was 21 years old. He had no contact with his father for about 20 years after the divorce. The offender describes a positive relationship with his mother, who is highly supportive of him.
93The offender left school, having attained the School Certificate. Thereafter, he was employed in various unskilled jobs and worked as a truck driver for 20 years prior to his arrest. Until about five years ago, the offender was an alcoholic. He told the psychologist that his father was a heavy drinker and described a difficult childhood and adolescence. The offender has been in several de facto relationships. He has two sons aged 18 and 14 years. He has been with his current partner for 8 years, who is supportive of him.
94Mr Watson-Munro expressed the opinion in his report dated 15 March 2012 that the offender has suffered a range of symptoms referable to an “Anxiety Disorder” according to DSM-IVTR criteria. Mr Watson-Munro opined that the offender’s primary problems relate to his incarceration and his appreciation of the gravity of the verdicts. He has ongoing anxiety and diminished self-esteem. The offenders overall mood state had deteriorated arising from the fact that he is in protective custody. Mr Watson-Munro stated that the offender is having no treatment and is currently suffering from suicidal ideation to the point where a psychiatrist consulted him on one occasion but no medication was prescribed, which Mr Watson-Munro considered, was indicated. In addition, he suffers from Sleep Apnoea which Mr Watson-Munro reported, should be addressed as a matter of urgency. The psychologist believed that the offender would respond best to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to teach him effective skills to deal with his anxiety, depression and diminished self-esteem.
95It was not submitted by Mr Hanley that the offender’s health is a factor tending to mitigate punishment and enlivens the principles in R v Smith (1987) 44 SASR 587. There is no evidence to suggest that the concerns raised by Mr Watson-Munro as to the offender’s health cannot be adequately managed by the prison medical staff and that imprisonment will be a greater burden for him by his reason of his mental or physical condition.
96In a letter dated 6 November 2011, Graham Lawton, the offender’s father recounts his son’s assistance to an elderly neighbour, which he states is but one example of the offender’s compassion towards others. Wendy Lawton, the offender’s mother, refers in her letter to her son’s love and support and describes, in particular, his care and attention for his brother James, who suffers from a tumour. Leone Davidson, the offender’s aunt, also brings to the court’s attention, the offender’s compassion, love and importance in the lives of his family and close relations. Sharon Miller, in a letter dated 9 March 2012 states that the offender is a placid, loving, devoted father and a respectful considerate partner. I take all these matters into account.
97Mathew Lawton does not have a significant criminal record, which is a mitigating factor that I take into account. He has no convictions since 1995 and the offences are relatively minor. I give to this consideration, modest weight in mitigation, owing to the gravity of the present offences. It does also lessen the need for personal deterrence and protection of the community. Matthew Lawton has neither expressed nor shown contrition for his offending and no allowance can be made for those factors in mitigation. As he has not accepted responsibility for his actions, his prospects of rehabilitation remain guarded. Notwithstanding his strong family support and lack of prior offending, I am unable to make a positive finding on the balance of probabilities that he is unlikely to re-offend or has good prospects of rehabilitation.
98Mr Hanley submitted that some reduction in sentence might be allowed as Matthew Lawton has been serving his sentence in protective custody. It appears that the offender has, on his own volition, been held in a protective area in 10 wing Special Management Area Placement (SMAP) since 6 February 2012, as a result of allegations that he is a police informer. The details of his incarceration as a SMAP inmate are set out in the letter dated 14 March 2012 from Corrective Services NSW. The offender’s conditions of protective custody do not appear to be onerous. The main restriction, it seems, is that the offender is only permitted to mix with other inmates of the same protection status. I am not persuaded on the balance of probabilities that the offender will serve his sentence in conditions that are more difficult or onerous than other prisoners in the general prison population. Furthermore, I am unable to predict for how long that the offender will serve his sentence as a SMAP prisoner. I do not propose to reduce the offender’s sentence in the light of the current custodial arrangements.
99Mr Hanley did not submit that special circumstances exist that justifies a variation in the statutory ratio between the non-parole period and the term of the sentence.
100Andrew Perish was born on 19 January 1971. He was 30 years old at the time of his offending and is now 41 years old. His criminal history as an adult prior to the commission of the present offence, discloses that other than driving offences, he had been convicted on 13 September 1994 of conspiracy to manufacture a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and placed on a 5 year good behaviour bond. There are no matters on his record either before or after the commission of the present offence that involve actual violence. He was, however, convicted in the Campbelltown Local Court on 28 June 2007 for an offence of stalking, with intention to cause fear and was placed on a s 9 bond to be of good behaviour for 2 years. On 24 March 2009, he was sentenced in the District Court at Campbelltown for manufacturing a commercial quantity of drug and possession of an unauthorised pistol in 2007. There were matters on a Form 1 that were taken into account. He was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of 5 years expiring on 4 April 2012 with a non-parole period of three years four months. The earliest date that the offender was eligible for release to parole was 4 August 2010.
101On 15 December 2011, he was convicted of attempting on 9 June 2010 to wilfully dissuade [A] from giving truthful evidence against him in committal proceedings. He was sentenced to imprisonment for two months to date from 10 August 2010. The offences committed by the offender, after the date of the commission of the conspiracy are not to be taken into account for the purposes of imposing a heavier sentence, but may be considered for the purpose of deciding whether he is deserving of leniency.
102The offender’s criminal history does not entitle him to leniency but it is not such that it is a matter of aggravation.
103Andrew Perish did not give evidence during the trial or upon sentence. In a report dated 9 March 2012, W John Taylor, a forensic psychologist details the offender’s family history. He is the fifth eldest child in the Perish family and like his brother Anthony, was raised on the family poultry farm at Leppington. The offender was close to his mother and very close to his grandfather. He left school at the age of 17 years after completing the Higher School Certificate examinations. He then completed a plumbing trade course at TAFE and obtained a certificate for the safe handling of chemicals. The offender was employed as an apprentice plumber with the Department of Public Works for about four years. After working as a plumbing sub-contractor for a couple of years, he commenced his own business contracting to farmers, working with a bobcat, slashing grass and other services. At the same time, he ran a beef feed lot and delivered his meat to butchers’ shops for some seven or eight years. He then had a rural supply shop in Camden supplying produce and other goods to farmers until he went to prison in April 2007.
104Mr Taylor recounts that the offender experienced a great deal of grief and trauma following his grandparents’ murder. He had idolised his grandfather. His consumption of alcohol increased and he became intoxicated about twice a week and began inhaling speed and using ecstasy and cocaine. He said that he was “self-medicating”.
105Whilst in prison, the offender has undertaken counselling and has completed the “Enough is Enough” program. Mr Taylor reports that the results of the psychometric tests that he administered, do not indicate that the offender has a personality disorder and that most of his attitudes appear to be pro-social. Mr Taylor is of the opinion that the offender has a low moderate risk of recidivism and has good prospects for rehabilitation. I take all these matters into account.
106Consistent with his plea of not guilty, the offender has neither expressed nor shown contrition for the offence and no allowance can be made for those factors in mitigation. He, also, has not accepted responsibility for his actions, and his prospects of rehabilitation remain guarded. Notwithstanding the views expressed by Mr Taylor, I am unable to make a positive finding on the balance of probabilities that he is unlikely to re-offend or has good prospects of rehabilitation. Nevertheless, as in the case of Anthony Perish, I conclude that the offender’s motive to avenge his grandparents’ murders, lessens the need for personal deterrence and protection of the community.
107Mr Terracini did not submit that special circumstances exist that justifies a variation in the statutory ratio between the non-parole period and the term of the sentence.
108James Falconer the deceased’s son read a victim impact statement to the court. The contents of the statement cannot be used by me to increase the offenders’ sentences: R v Previtera (1997) 97 A Crim R 76. I acknowledge the grief and distress of the deceased’s family and express on the community’s behalf its sympathy and compassion for them.
109The parity principle is of importance when sentencing each of the offenders. I have compared their separate culpability and subjective circumstances.
110In structuring the sentences to be imposed on Anthony Perish and Matthew Lawton, I have fixed an appropriate sentence for each offence and then considered questions of cumulation or concurrence as well as totality. As these offenders actions in reality reflect one course of criminal conduct, I conclude that the sentence to be imposed for murder can comprehend and reflect the criminality of the conspiracy to murder. I do not accept the Crown’s submission that there should be some partial accumulation of the sentences.
111I am required to sentence the offenders in accordance with sentencing practice in 2001 and not as presently prevailing. Although the statutory maximum for the offences has not altered, it is evident from the tendered Judicial Commission sentencing statistics, that sentences have increased since the advent of standard non-parole periods in 2003. Standard non-parole periods have no application to the present sentences. I take into account the sentencing statistics, but each case depends on its own facts and circumstances. I believe the sentences I am about to impose are consistent with the sentencing range current at the time of the offending.
112The agreed date for the commencement of Anthony Perish’s sentence is 19 March 2009. As the offences were committed before 1 February 2003, the repealed section s 44 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act applies. I do not consider that “special circumstances” exist which justify the non-parole period being less than three-quarters of the term of imprisonment.
113Anthony John Perish for the murder of Terrence Falconer, you are convicted. I sentence you to a term of imprisonment of 24 years which is to commence on 19 March 2009 and is to expire on 18 March 2033. I fix a non-parole period of 18 years which is to commence on 19 March 2009 and is to expire on 18 March 2027.
114Anthony John Perish for the conspiracy to murder Terrence Falconer, you are convicted. I sentence you to a term of imprisonment of 14 years which is to commence on 19 March 2009 and is to expire on 18 March 2023 I fix a non-parole period of 10 years 6 months which is to commence on 19 March 2009 and is to expire on 18 September 2019.
115The earliest date that you will be eligible to be released on parole is
18 March 2027.
116The agreed date for the commencement of Matthew Lawton’s sentence is 27 January 2009. I do not consider that “special circumstances” exist which justify the non-parole period being less than three-quarters of the term of imprisonment.
117Matthew Lawton for the murder of Terrence Falconer, you are convicted. I sentence you to a term of imprisonment of 20 years, which is to commence on 27 January 2009 and is to expire on 26 January 2029. I fix a non-parole period of 15 years which is to commence on 27 January 2009 and is to expire on 26 January 2024.
118Matthew Lawton for the conspiracy to murder Terrence Falconer, you are convicted. I sentence you to a term of imprisonment of 10 years which is to commence on 27 January 2009 and is to expire on 26 January 2019. I fix a non-parole period of 7 years 6 months which is to commence on 27 January 2009 and is to expire on 26 July 2016.
119The earliest date that you will be eligible to be released on parole is
26 January 2024.
120The agreed date for the commencement of Andrew Perish’s sentence is 4 October 2010. I note that he had been serving sentences imposed in the District Court, the full term of which expired on 4 April 2012. No submission was made either by the Crown or Mr Terracini as to whether the present sentence should be imposed partially concurrently or consecutively upon the District Court sentences. It seems from the agreed date that both parties consider accumulation upon the first date Andrew Perish was eligible for release on parole after the service of the sentence imposed by Hock DCJ, to be appropriate. I do not disagree. In considering the principle of the totality of the criminality, such accumulation, in my view, adequately reflects the criminality of the offence of conspiracy to murder and the aggregate sentence is just and appropriate: Mill v The Queen (1988) 166 CLR 59, Johnson v The Queen (2004) 78 ALJ 616. I do not consider that “special circumstances” exist which justify the non-parole period being less than three-quarters of the term of imprisonment.
121Andrew Michael Perish for the conspiracy to murder Terrance Falconer, you are convicted. I sentence you to a term of imprisonment of 12 years which is to commence on 4 October 2010 and is to expire on 3 October 2022 I fix a non-parole period of 9 years which is to commence on 4 October 2010 and is to expire on 3 October 2019.
122The earliest date that you will be eligible to be released on parole is
3 October 2019.
August 7, 2012
A murdered racing identity, tainted jockeys and money laundering. Throw in gangster Tony Mokbel and no wonder police suspect corruption in the industry.
Horse race at the centre of a betting investigation may have links to the murder of horse trainer Les Samba, police say, as a $1 million reward is offered for information.
LES Samba was a complex man: controversial trainer of thoroughbred horses, doting father, one-time male stripper, renowned judge of horse flesh, friend of gangsters, police target and one-time father-in-law of champion jockey Danny Nikolic.
Samba was also a man of many secrets. Most would die with him when he was fatally shot in February 2011 in Middle Park, an inner-city Melbourne suburb better known for its up-market Victorian-era houses than colourful racing identities and murder.
But investigations into unsolved murders, especially high-profile ones, have a way of not going away. As public pressure for arrests builds, detectives dig harder and harder, hoping for a clue that will lead them to a killer. Sometimes they’ll find things that they weren’t expecting.
It was one such finding that recently led Victoria Police command to quietly move the probe into Les Samba’s death from the homicide squad to a new group of investigators.
The Purana taskforce is best known for solving most of Melbourne’s very public gangland murders. But some in Australia’s multibillion-dollar horse racing industry know Purana for another reason. Between 2006 and 2009, during the taskforce’s quest to link Tony Mokbel’s money to murder or drug trafficking, Purana detectives became accidental experts in corruption in horse racing.
Among their discoveries was that a small number of jockeys, trainers and bookmakers had received substantial under-the-table payments from the Melbourne gangster.
It was potentially explosive information, but Purana’s priority then was murder and drug trafficking. So, apart from a brief flurry of activity in the form of interviews with racing identities and seizing a few assets linked to racing figures, much of the information it found about corruption in the industry – from illegal tipping by jockeys to money laundering by bookies – was boxed up and left to gather dust in the archives. Purana moved on to other matters. So, too, did those in racing, politics and the police force who believed the multibillion-dollar sport had been left tainted and vulnerable by the failure to weed out those whom Mokbel had corrupted.
But now that killing on a Middle Park street is again casting light in places some in racing have long preferred to remain in darkness and raised fresh questions about whether authorities have been doing enough to rid Australian sport of corruption.
About two months after Samba’s death, after a seemingly unremarkable race at Cranbourne in Melbourne’s outer south-east, a fresh police file was created. It dealt with suspicious betting, some very familiar names in racing and allegations of race fixing. Murder was, once again, leading police back to the track.
Purana taskforce detectives began investigating corruption in horse racing during a probe into Tony Mokbel’s drug trafficking.
Samba, who once worked with Sydney gangster Abe ”Mr Sin” Saffron, earned his early racing notoriety with his involvement in doping horses in the 1980s. Tax and policing authorities also kept tabs on him. Between 1999 and 2002, Samba was investigated by the National Crime Authority and the Tax Office over his failure to declare income of $1.2 million.
Samba was banned from training horses because of his link to corrupt racing identities and so focused on buying them for his wealthier associates, including Sydney property developer Ron Medich.
Former Victorian chief steward Des Gleeson recalls Samba as a man often close to controversy, but with racing in his blood. In 1969, Samba was the strapper for Rain Lover when it won the Melbourne Cup.
”He raced horses successfully right through New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria,” says Gleeson.
If Samba’s involvement in the sport was colourful, Mokbel’s activities in the racing world were technicolour. But both are examples of the ease with which bad men can shrug off scandal and remain closely associated with a sport whose integrity is supposedly more closely guarded than any other. Mokbel’s early introduction to the sport was as leader of the ”tracksuit gang”, a group of punters who bet heavily and frequented racetracks dressed in designer tracksuits. From there, he gained a strong foothold in the industry.
One prominent trainer who dealt closely with Mokbel’s drug trafficking brother Horty once told The Age that what the Mokbels did for a living was neither his business nor concern. The trainer’s indifference seemingly remained even when Horty arranged for a $475,000 horse bought by this trainer to be paid for in cash.
The stewards suspected what was going on, but had no powers to stop it. Their pleas for police help to curb Mokbel’s growing influence on racing in the early 2000s fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t until the gangland killings erupted and the Purana taskforce was assigned to map and destroy Mokbel’s crime empire that the true extent of his corrupting influence in racing began to emerge.
Between 2006 and 2009, Purana found information that suggested that Mokbel had paid licensed bookmakers in return for their help laundering his money.
Former detective inspector Jim O’Brien, the head of the Purana taskforce between 2005 and 2009, says Mokbel used third parties to punt for him and ”breaking down the amounts of those bets so that they weren’t subject to Austrac [anti-money laundering agency] reporting by bookmakers”.
Mokbel also corrupted jockeys by ”slinging” them cash payments in return for inside information about their mounts, a practice that can lead to a jockey being disqualified.
The biggest thing to flow from Purana’s confidential findings about Mokbel’s racing activities was a report by former judge Gordon Lewis in 2008. But despite the seriousness of the matters Lewis investigated, his inquiry had no real powers.
Lewis could not force people to be interviewed or to obtain evidence. His report was limited to broad findings, including the sensational claim that criminal activity in the sport was ”rampant” and that jockeys, trainers and bookmakers had formed inappropriate relationships with criminals.
Yet after the Lewis inquiry and Purana’s work, not a single bookmaker was charged or was stripped of their bookie’s licence. Nor was any jockey found to have ”tipped” to Mokbel subjected to further investigation or any penalty.
O’Brien says the failure to follow up on his taskforce’s early work exposed the sport to ”a potential threat going forward”.
Among the champion jockeys scrutinised over their dealings with Mokbel was one of Australia’s best riders, Danny Nikolic.
In the early 2000s, Nikolic had been one of several jockeys, including Jimmy Cassidy, who grew close to Mokbel. Nikolic rode several horses owned by the Mokbel family and, according to well-placed racing sources, fed Mokbel information that Mokbel used to inform his betting (an allegation understood to be documented in police intelligence files, but which Nikolic denies).
After the pair’s relationship petered out – a racing source says Mokbel lost big after a bad tip from Nikolic – the champion rider appeared to move to safer pastures. Marriage and fatherhood was on the horizon. In 2006, when Nikolic married his girlfriend Victoria, his new father-in-law, Les Samba, looked on.
In early 2010, Nikolic was again in the sights of racing authorities. Victorian stewards had gathered phone and betting records and believed that before several races, Nikolic had spoken to associates who then made ultimately successful lay bets (betting on a horse not to come first) on Nikolic’s mounts. The stewards suspected Nikolic had repeatedly passed inside information about his mounts to punters close to the Nikolic family.
But, without police powers, the best case they could mount was circumstantial. So, once again, they asked police for help and once again they were denied it.
”The police told [the stewards] … to go it alone,” according to one source, who says that one of the sticking points was that police said that no complainant (such as a punter who had lost money as a result of the alleged misconduct) had come forward to enable them to initiate an inquiry.
When the stewards presented their circumstantial case before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board, they lost. The board found that ”the evidence relied on by the stewards as a basis for drawing an inference that Nikolic communicated the chances of his mounts raises suspicions about what transpired but harbouring suspicions about conduct is not sufficient to prove the charges”.
SAMBA appears to have had no idea someone wanted him dead. He’d travelled from Sydney to Melbourne in late February last year to attend the yearling sales and was staying at the classy Crown Metropol Hotel.
On Sunday, February 28, he made the short trip in his hire car to Beaconsfield Parade in Middle Park. He arrived about 9.30pm. A short time later, witnesses heard an argument and then gun shots. Samba died at the scene.
Within hours of the shooting, journalists were calling Nikolic asking if he’d heard that his former father-in-law (by then Nikolic had separated from Samba’s daughter) was dead.
”Obviously I’m very surprised and very shocked that Les has been killed,” he told one reporter.
”I didn’t have much to do with the bloke so I wouldn’t know anything about why this could happen.”
Nikolic would later voluntarily speak to police about Samba’s death. But homicide detectives would make their own moves as well. In early April, they searched the Gold Coast home of Danny’s brother, former trainer John Nikolic.
The police have disclosed nothing linking Danny or John to Samba’s murder, and The Age is not suggesting there exists any information of such a link.
Yet for reasons known only to them, detectives appear to have kept an eye on the pair. A fortnight after John Nikolic’s home was searched, Danny was riding at Cranbourne in Melbourne’s outer south-east.
It was an unremarkable race day: a relatively small crowd dotting the grandstand or watching events over pots and parmas at the trackside bar and bistro.
Even those closely surveying race six would have seen nothing out of the ordinary. Aside from raising some minor points, the stewards didn’t dispute the race outcome: the favourite, Retaliate, had come second, beaten by a horse called Smoking Aces ridden by Nikolic.
But if observers could have factored in the betting and the identity of those backing Nikolic’s mount, interest may have been stirred. Racing sources, including those with direct links to the race, say that associates of the Nikolic brothers punted relatively heavily on Smoking Aces. They won a combined total around $200,000. Something strange was going on.
Shortly after the race, the homicide detectives investigating Samba’s murder called in police chiefs. Yesterday, police revealed why, publicly confirming that as a result of inquiries undertaken during the Samba probe, detectives are investigating allegations of race fixing involving the ride of Smoking Aces at Cranbourne. (Several months ago, The Age contacted police with information about the race found while researching integrity in sport. Police requested nothing be published until this week.)
It’s understood that Danny Nikolic and another champion jockey, Mark Zahra, are being investigated about whether they conspired before the race to alter its outcome. Both jockeys, along with John Nikolic, have declined to comment on the allegations.
If police have been slow to move on racing corruption in the past, they are making all efforts to appear to be on the front foot in the wake of this week’s revelations. They recently moved the probe into the Samba murder and the alleged race fixing to the Purana organised crime taskforce. Yesterday, police posted a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrests of Samba’s killers.
One of Victoria’s most senior organised crime detectives, Superintendent Gerry Ryan, told The Age: ”We’ll leave no stone unturned. So that means we’ll look at a number of races and, you know, a number of areas that unfold as the investigation goes.
”It’s important … at the end of this investigation to make sure that the integrity in racing here in Victoria and nationally is squeaky clean.
”Certainly I believe that if we’re able to solve the race fixing and solve the issues that are emerging, we will certainly solve the murder.”
August 7, 2012
A SECOND champion jockey, Mark Zahra, has become embroiled in the Smoking Aces race-fixing scandal.
The Age can also reveal that the Australian Federal Police and the Tax Office are joining Victorian detectives in probing the 2011 murder of former horse trainer Les Samba and in an offshoot investigation into corruption in the racing industry.
It is understood that police are following a national and international money trail, and the role of the AFP will be to follow leads across Australia and overseas.
Racing industry sources also revealed that the Australian Crime Commission – the nation’s peak criminal intelligence body – has questioned up to a dozen figures in connection with the race-fixing probe.
Zahra and fellow leading jockey Danny Nikolic are under investigation by organised crime detectives over allegations that they helped fix a race last year.
Zahra is being investigated for allegedly conspiring to ride his horse, Baikal, in a way that would reduce the chances of the race favourite, Retaliate, and favour Nikolic’s mount, Smoking Aces.
The race, won by Nikolic, was held at Cranbourne in April last year. Punters associated with Nikolic collected up to $200,000 in betting returns.
Zahra is one of Australia’s leading jockeys and has just returned from a stint in Hong Kong to prepare for the Melbourne spring carnival.
Nikolic and Zahra have both declined to answer questions about the Smoking Aces affair.
Detective Superintendent Gerard Ryan said: ”Racing is not only limited to here in Victoria, it’s here nationally and internationally and we know that our jockeys travel the world, so we
need to have a look [at] exactly what they’re up to.
”The Australian Federal Police, the Australian Taxation Office and other law enforcement agencies are embedded into the Purana taskforce as a part of this investigation.”
Victoria’s racing integrity commissioner, Sal Perna, has called on state and federal authorities to do more to safeguard the sport.
In NSW and other states, the oversight regime is less independent and weaker than in Victoria, and Mr Perna, along with other anti-corruption experts, want national laws and standards to be introduced to protect racing and other sports.
Mr Perna said such inconsistencies ”can’t be good” for racing. ”We want the same standard to apply when it comes to integrity right across the board,” he said.
The Age can also reveal that convicted drug trafficker Horty Mokbel has resurrected his brother Tony’s ”tracksuit gang”, which was a group of big punters – including organised criminals and racing figures – who bet big and formed close ties with jockeys, bookmakers and trainers.
The Age has observed Horty and this new group of track-suited punters meet almost daily outside a suburban TAB outlet in Melbourne.
Among them was underworld identity Paul Sequenzia, who part-owns the most successful horse in harness racing, Sushi Sushi.
Mr Sequenzia, who had drug trafficking charges against him dropped in 2004, was also part-owner of Em Maguane, one of the first horses in Australia to test positive for the performance-enhancing drug EPO.
While members of Tony Mokbel’s old tracksuit gang are barred from Victorian racetracks and the Crown Casino – on the actions of former chief police commissioner Christine Nixon – Mr Sequenzia and several members of the re-formed group are not. This is despite police intelligence revealing they are a major threat to the integrity of racing in Victoria.
Yesterday, Victorian Racing Minister Denis Napthine and Racing Victoria chief Rob Hines defended the integrity of the sport, and federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy said she would assess the latest allegations before responding.
”Police are saying they’re looking at one race out of many, many thousands that are conducted in Victoria each year,” Mr Napthine said.
”I have every faith and belief that racing in Victoria is run at the highest level of integrity.”
Mr Hines called for the statutory authority to be given greater powers to weed out race fixers and wrongdoers and urged the industry to have closer relations with police.
He said he had ”no concerns” about what names might be uncovered during the investigations, but emphasised his belief that the $4 million a year spent by Racing Victoria on its integrity services ensured that the industry was overwhelmingly straight.
The biggest problem, he said, was Racing Victoria’s inability to act against unlicensed people if there was sufficient activity to warrant investigation.
He said a VCAT decision two years ago preventing Racing Victoria from acting against unlicensed individuals had stymied its ability to police the sport much as it would like.
”That is a limitation, a gap in the integrity system of racing.”
Stand down riders amid fix claims
August 7, 2012
RACING Victoria Ltd stewards should today stand down jockeys Dan Nikolic and Mark Zahra from riding indefinitely pending further investigations into the most dreaded curse that can befall horse racing, race fixing.
Such allegations against both Nikolic and Zahra, reported in today’s Age and featured last night in the ABC’s Four Corners program, are damaging like no other scandal could be for a sport that exists solely because some people have (enough) confidence to bet on horses. But confidence can be a fragile intangible.
The gambler is a predictable yet versatile beast. Wins are celebrated and losses mostly shrugged off. But one thing a gambler dislikes is being cheated. He won’t stop gambling but rather move on to something else. There are casinos, pokies and sports betting.
No matter the result of the police investigation into the Cranbourne race in April last year won by Nikolic aboard Smoking Aces, RVL must stand down any licensed person identified in the investigation. The presumption of innocence is a worthy ideal, but to uphold it in this case is to risk allowing the sport to be turned into a circus on the eve of the spring carnival.
It was revealed last night that Zahra and Nikolic are under investigation by the organised crime detectives over allegations that they allegedly helped fix the race in April last year. Zahra is being investigated for allegedly conspiring to ride his horse, Baikal, in a way that would reduce the chances of the favourite, Retaliate, and favour Nikolic’s mount, Smoking Aces.
Smoking Aces was backed from $10 into $5 just before the race. Zahra’s mount Baikal, who finished in front of just one horse, drifted from $7 to $14 by race time.
RVL chief executive Rob Hines confirmed yesterday that stewards will open an inquiry into investigations once they obtain information from Victoria Police, but stressed that the investigation was into one race only. That may be the case, but in these matters, perception is king, especially as the investigation into the Cranbourne race came about only following police probes into another criminal matter. The obvious question remains.
Although neither have been prominent in recent jockeys’ premierships, both are regarded as big-race riders.
Zahra was due to take his first mount since May at Geelong today, but the horse, Kukri, was scratched from race six. Nikolic is booked for one ride today – Dunharrow in race three – as well as two at Sandown Hillside tomorrow.
August 7, 2012
RACING Victoria chief executive Rob Hines yesterday called for the statutory authority to be given greater powers to weed out race fixers and wrong doers, urged closer relations with the police and declared that transparency and the full pursuit of probity issues were in the interests of all concerned in the multi-billion dollar industry.
Hines said he had ”no concerns” whichever names were uncovered in the investigations into alleged race fixing – revealed yesterday by The Age – but stressed his belief that the $4 million a year that RVL spent on its integrity services ensured the industry was mostly corruption free.
The biggest problem RVL faced, he said, was its inability to take action against unlicensed personnel if there was sufficient activity to warrant investigation.
Hines added that, despite the adverse headlines it is good for racing to have these matters discussed in the open.
”I don’t think it’s a negative,” he said.
”We need a clean sport, we need people to believe in it and trust in our sport. The more we do to root out these issues the better the sport will be rather than try to push it under the carpet or not talk about it. We have to get on top of it. We welcome the Victoria Police’s renewed focus on this. We have been collaborating on this particular investigation for several months.
”The allegations pertain to one race only at Cranbourne. We have not been asked or made aware of any other races involved in this investigation. We are waiting for the police investigation to reach a stage where we can legally obtain the information and then use it as evidence to open a stewards inquiry.
”When these issues arise they are related to betting. When you have this much money, billions of dollars invested in an industry, there will always be a few people looking to take advantage for financial gain. That’s just life.
”The vast majority of our participants, whether they be licensed or unlicensed, do this genuinely and honestly.
”There is a small group that will be looking to take advantage. We have to try and keep on top of that group.”
Hines said that a VCAT decision two years ago preventing RVL from taking action against unlicensed individuals stymied its ability to police the sport as much as it would like.
“That is a limitation, a gap in the integrity system of racing. We cannot have jurisdiction over (some) people who are making their living out of racing through betting or being commission agents or whatever,” he said.
“We requested of the government immediately after that decision, and consistently over the past two years, that they find a way to provide racing with jurisdiction over unlicensed persons … they haven’t shut the door on us, but we would like the power.”
Hines said he didn’t believe that the allegations, in which controversial jockey Danny Nikolic has been named, would damage confidence in the sport as it heads into the spring carnival.
“It’s always unwelcome to have this kind of publicity. But I would rather have the publicity, and have people know that we are fighting these things and fixing these things than not have the publicity and it to be much more widespread,” he said.
“We do not believe there is endemic corruption in the sport. That would be very damaging for racing, and the message we want to get out to people is that over 4000 races a year this is one race and a small group of people trying to take advantage.”
Asked if the industry was prepared for what might be a messy fall out, Hines was adamant.
“I think it would be very good for racing if this is cleaned out. I have no concerns if there are people implicated whether through the Purana Taskforce or some other way and this comes to light. It can only be good for racing,” he said.
“We really welcome their renewed focus. In the last six months they have genuinely turned their attention to these matters. We have a good co-operation, its much better than it was.”
Police probe racing corruption
August 6, 2012
Nick McKenzie, Clay Hichens and Richard Baker
‘Fixed’ horse race revealed as murder probe steps up
Horse race at the centre of a betting investigation may have links to the murder of horse trainer Les Samba, police say, as a $1 million reward is offered for information.
POLICE are investigating a string of top Australian horse-racing figures, including champion jockey Danny Nikolic, for alleged race fixing in what is shaping as the biggest corruption scandal to hit the sport in decades.
Nikolic, at least one other leading jockey, a former trainer and several other well-known racing identities across Australia are under investigation by Victorian organised crime detectives for allegedly conspiring to fix the outcome of a race last year.
Detective Superintendent Gerard Ryan confirmed that police were investigating race fixing in Victoria involving a horse called Smoking Aces in 2011. The suspected race fix was uncovered during the probe into former trainer Les Samba’s murder and is understood to have yielded participants a total of up to $200,000 in betting returns.
After a joint Age/Four Corners investigation, it can also be revealed that police today will announce a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Samba’s killers.
”I believe that if we’re able to solve the race fixing and solve the issues that are emerging, we will certainly solve the murder,” said Superintendent Ryan in an exclusive interview.
Other corruption issues tied to racing across Australia are also understood to be under scrutiny as a result of inquiries into the killing of Samba in February last year.
The suspected corruption being investigated involves race fixing, money laundering, tax fraud and tipping, in which jockeys are paid secret commissions for giving punters inside information. Some of the alleged conduct under investigation may breach criminal laws or the rules of racing.
Racing figures suspected of involvement in the Smoking Aces affair are believed to have arranged for two jockeys to ride in a fashion that would reduce the race favourite’s chances of winning and boost Smoking Aces’ chances of success.
So serious is the alleged racing corruption that Victoria Police has moved the Samba probe to the Purana organised crime taskforce.
”We’ll leave no stone unturned. So that means we’ll look at a number of races … and a number of areas that unfold as the investigation goes [on],” said Superintendent Ryan.
”But it’s important, at the end of this investigation, to make sure that the integrity in racing here in Victoria and nationally is squeaky clean.”
Samba was shot dead on Beaconsfield Parade in Middle Park on the evening of February 27 last year. Nikolic, a leading jockey and Caulfield Cup winner, married Samba’s daughter, Victoria, in 2006. They had separated some time before Samba’s death. The Age is not suggesting Nikolic had any involvement in the murder.
Nikolic declined to answer questions about Smoking Aces and did not respond to a list of questions sent to his lawyer on Thursday evening.
The revelations cast a cloud over the integrity of the nation’s multibillion-dollar racing industry and the regime in place to safeguard it.
Top police and racing officials – including former Victorian chief steward and AFL corruption consultant Des Gleeson – are calling on the federal and state governments to boost the anti-corruption regime in Australian sport.
Mr Gleeson called on governments to urgently fill major holes in the system by introducing a national sporting integrity body, nationwide standards and race and match-fixing laws.
“[This] should have been done yesterday .. before there’s an almighty scandal in sport in Australia,” he said.
The former head of Purana, Jim O’Brien, said the oversight of racing had been ”extremely poor”, partly due to the insufficient powers held by racing stewards and the absence of sustained police attention.
The former detective inspector described as surprising the failure of authorities to further investigate and hold to account racing figures identified by Purana – between 2005 and 2009 – as having been corrupted by drug boss Tony Mokbel.
“It’s not good for the industry and, you know it, it also creates a potential threat going forward,” Mr O’Brien said.
The Smoking Aces inquiry is not the first time Nikolic’s activities have been under scrutiny. In early 2010 Nikolic was charged by Victorian racing stewards with leaking information about several of his mounts to punters, who then successfully bet on the horses to not finish first.
The Age can reveal that, in that case, a request from stewards to police for assistance to help gather more evidence was denied. The stewards persisted with a circumstantial case, but Nikolic was cleared by the racing disciplinary board in June 2010 on the basis that the evidence presented was insufficient to prove the case.
Police began quizzing suspects, including trainers and jockeys, earlier this year in connection to the Smoking Aces case.
Superintendent Ryan conceded that, in the past, police ”did take our eye off the ball”, but he said Victoria was now leading the country in fighting corruption in racing and other sports. ”We needed to get back into this arena and we have.”
Victoria Police recently became the only force in Australia with a dedicated sport corruption response model, which is led by a superintendent and which can draw on experts including specialist detectives and forensic accountants. Two detectives have also recently been appointed to oversee all intelligence gathered about corruption in horse racing.
Superintendent Ryan said: ”Anyone that’s involved in any criminal enterprise in any shape or form and particularly in organised crime, we’ll come chasing it and we’ll make sure that the integrity in any sport, particularly racing … will be upheld.
”Whether it’s a jockey or a trainer or any person involved in it, we will chase them and we will charge them and put them properly before a court of law.”
Anti-corruption measures are much weaker in some states and sports than in others. Victoria is the only state with a full-time racing watchdog.
The NSW government’s efforts to introduce independent scrutiny of its scandal-tainted harness and greyhound racing industry have been beset by problems, with the most recent watchdog appointed, former NSW 0mbudsman David Landa, resigning in protest. He told an investigation by The Age and Four Corners that the oversight model in NSW was ”a fraud on the public” because it lacked any independence or powers.
The Age has been investigating corruption in racing since last year. After racing sources revealed concerns about a race involving Smoking Aces, The Age approached Victoria Police in April and was asked by senior police to withhold reporting on the matter until this week.
For more on the Age/Four Corners investigation, watch Four Corners tonight at 8.30
Inside Mail – 6 August 2012
KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: The sport of kings and the occasional crook.
Welcome to Four Corners.
Colourful racing identities have always been a part of racing, even though the term has often been a euphemism for shady characters who might be up to no good. Understandable when you consider the number of race meetings taking place around the country every day of the week. With billions of dollars changing hands each year.
Those billions invariably include an unknown amount of illegally obtained money, usually from drugs, that washes through the betting system and comes out clean. One drug baron is reputed to have laundered $80 million in this fashion.
Our story tonight shows how corruption and criminal behaviour on the track are widespread and increasingly difficult to scrutinise. But while horse racing authorities and police often have parallel interests, there’s far less co-operation than you might think, and that police are no taking a close interest in some of Australian racing’s best known names. One trigger for renewed police interest in the industry has been their investigation into the murder of racing identity Les Samba in Melbourne.
And Victoria Police today announced a reward of $1 million for information leading the arrest of his killer or killers.
Reporter Nick McKenzie has been investigating corruption in sport since last year and this investigation by Four Corners and the Age newspaper is the result.
NICK MCKENZIE, PRESENTER: It’s just after nine o’clock on a Sunday night as a guest at Melbourne’s exclusive Crown Metropol Hotel heads out in his hire car.
Les Samba, a colourful Sydney racing and business figure, is in town for the thoroughbred yearling sales.
But tonight he’s on his way to a fateful rendezvous.
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN, VICTORIA POLICE: For some unknown reason he had an appointment in Beaconsfield Parade. And he went to that spot. Why he went there and who lured him there we don’t know. So that’s what we’re asking the public to ah really put those last few moments together for us.
JOHN SILVESTER, SENIOR CRIME WRITER, THE AGE: Now why you would decide to meet someone in a street when you were in a major hotel, you could have come in, they could have come to see you, have coffee. Perhaps he didn’t want to be seen with those people. That’s why he chose that what he thought was neutral ground.
NICK MCKENZIE, REPORTER: Samba had a history of dubious business and racing connections. He once worked for Sydney gangster Abe Saffron, and more recently was a close associate of Sydney property developer Ron Medich, who is presently facing murder charges in New South Wales.
JOHN SILVESTER: He certainly showed no indication that he was in fear of his life. However, he was a fellow who knew some very dangerous people. There were business dealings which were non-racing which could have gone pear shaped. He was entrepreneurial and so he went where the money was. So he had many colourful friends, some of them with short tempers.
NICK MCKENZIE: As he parked his car and made his way along the dark street, Les Samba was apparently unaware that he was walking into an ambush.
(Sound of gun fire)
(Excerpt from ABC News report 27 February, 2011)
FEMALE REPORTER: Middle Park, one of Melbourne’s most affluent suburbs, last night became scene of what police say was a premeditated hit.
UNIDENTIFIED DETECTIVE: Ambulance unit attended the scene but this male was found deceased.
FEMALE REPORTER: Mr Samba began to run but was shot several times in the body and head.
DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JOHN POTTER, VICTORIA POLICE (27 February, 2011): This is a clearly horrific incident to happen in a residential street in Melbourne.
NICK MCKENZIE: One of the city’s most upmarket bay-side addresses became the site of a major homicide investigation over the following days.
Police seemed sure of an early breakthrough.
DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JOHN POTTER: We’re confident we will solve this case, we have a number of persons of interest that we’re looking at. And we’ll continue to work through this case.
NICK MCKENZIE: Almost 18 months later, the murder of Les Samba remains unsolved.
But tonight Four Corners can reveal that the police investigation has lifted the lid on allegations of organised crime networks and high-level corruption in horse racing.
Is it correct to say that it’s opened up a real can of worms in respect of racing corruption and if so, how big a can of worms?
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: What, what I can say is that we’ve had to have a look at the racing industry. And doing that as a part of our investigation we need to have a look at has organised crime influenced racing in Victoria and racing anywhere within Australia.
NICK MCKENZIE: Within weeks of the shooting, Les Samba’s daughter, Victoria, made an emotional public plea for information.
(Excerpt from press conference with Victoria Samba)
VICTORIA SAMBA, DAUGHTER: My dad has been taken from us in such a horrific way but no-one can take away the beautiful memories I have of him.
NICK MCKENZIE: Victoria Samba was married to leading jockey Danny Nikolic, who has steered his mounts to victory in some of the nation’s biggest races, including the Caulfield Cup.
Nikolic and Victoria Samba had separated some time before Les Samba was gunned down.
JOHN SILVESTER: Les had involved himself hands on in looking after his daughter which created some bad blood. And that’s one of the areas of course police naturally would look at.
Detectives soon turned their attention to Danny Nikolic, along with others in the racing world, hoping for any clue that would shed light on Les Samba’s murder.
(Question): Is Danny Nikolic or his brother John persons of interest in the ongoing investigation?
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: They’re people we have spoken to and we’d probably like to speak to further, as is a number of other people in the racing industry.
JOHN SILVESTER: In fact Danny Nikolic, the jockey, voluntarily went to police and spoke to them. And that was a long time ago and he hasn’t been charged. So he of course should be afforded the presumption of innocence.
RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): .. racing, great line out … fast away, Dubai Opera sped to the lead from Cyclone Sarah, Stacks on Max and Tycoon Rob going fast with Smoking Aces as they …
NICK MCKENZIE: Two months later, Danny Nikolic was back in the saddle for a race at Cranbourne on Melbourne’s south-eastern fringe.
RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): … Smoking Aces …
NICK MCKENZIE: His horse was called Smoking Aces.
RACE CALLER: … been getting back in the field by retaliating …
NICK MCKENZIE: During the race, the stewards responsible for guarding the integrity of the sport were watching closely.
RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): by Opera and Smoking Aces – first up from …
NICK MCKENZIE: To the eyes of experienced turf-watchers, it was a masterful win by Danny Nikolic on Smoking Aces.
(Question): So Patrick, how’s Nikolic’s run at the moment?
PATRICK BARTLEY, SENIOR RACING WRITER, THE AGE: Nikolic’s riding the, the absolutely magic race. He’s aware of the favourite, where it is. He’s aware …
NICK MCKENZIE: Watching that race, ah, um, would the average punter have sniffed something unusual?
PATRICK BARTLEY: I couldn’t see, no. I there was good and bad luck and it went the way of Danny and it didn’t go the way of the favourite.
NICK MCKENZIE: What was unusual was the relatively heavy betting on Danny Nikolic’s horse on the day of the race, and the identity of the punters who collected up to $200,000 in winnings.
What’s more, the stewards weren’t alone in scrutinising the outcome of the race.
(Question): Are you investigating race fixing?
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: That is one of the allegations that that has been levelled yes.
NICK MCKENZIE: And is there a certain race in particular under, under investigation?
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: There is a certain race under investigation that we’ve made aware of that we need to have a look at.
NICK MCKENZIE: And that’s the race at Cranbourne, the Ride of Smoking Aces?
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: That is correct, yes.
NICK MCKENZIE: The alleged conduct of certain prominent racing figures in connection to the ride of Smoking Aces here at Cranbourne casts a huge cloud over the sport.
It also raises questions about whether authorities and governments have been failing to safeguard an industry worth billions.
SAL PERNA, VICTORIA RACING INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER: The whole vision ofa sport, particularly racing, is that the best animal’s going to win on its own merits. And anything that detracts from that is disgraceful.
DES GLEESON, FORMER CHIEF STEWARD, RACING VICTORIA: Racing is entirely dependent, or significantly dependent on the gambling dollar. And it’s important that people have confidence when they do place a bet that they’re going to get a run for their money.
(Footage of a race meet)
NICK MCKENZIE: From gala metropolitan race meetings to mid-week country fixtures, racing is big business.
Last year Australians spent more than $14 billion betting on thoroughbreds.
The track has long been a drawcard for punters representing a cross section of society, including cashed up criminals, who’ve been targeting the sport for decades.
JOHN SILVESTER: Now in Melbourne your major gangsters can’t actually go and knock on the door at the Melbourne Club and come in and meet judges over stilton and port. But in the racing industry people just blend in and inside information is the currency of the day
NICK MCKENZIE: By the late 1970s Robert Trimbole had graduated from king of the Griffith marijuana trade to membership of a crime syndicate which imported millions of dollars worth of heroin into Australia.
JOHN SILVESTER: According to New South Wales intelligence reports, at one stage he had 13 jockeys on his payroll. His diary when it was seized had numbers of judges, racing officials, jockeys, race callers. And there were a serious of illegal phone taps put on his phone before he fled Australia in 1981. And those tapes showed him talking to jockeys routinely, getting tips and even sharing tips with police.
His bets used to be $20,000 cash. He still lost money. But it’s not about making a profit, because if you can turn say 100 per cent of dirty money into 75 per cent clean money through the track, you’re in front.
NICK MCKENZIE: From their first ride onwards, jockeys across the country are warned that the rules of racing prohibit them passing on inside information or tips about the races they’re competing in.
DES GLEESON: The jockeys are not permitted to tip and under the rules jockeys can’t receive any benefit at all, whether it be financial benefit or otherwise, from anyone other than the owners of the horses. So it’s generally considered that, you know, jockeys are there to ride the horses and give them every possible chance of winning but they’re not in the game for tipping horses and receiving benefits from doing that.
NICK MCKENZIE: In 1995 Australian racing faced a very public crisis.
Revelations that police phone taps had caught Sydney jockeys passing inside information to the head of a drug syndicate and allegedly fixing races hit the headlines in what became known as the Jockey Tapes Scandal.
BOB CARR, FORMER NSW PREMIER (in NSW Parliament, 1995): This government is determined to drive corruption from racing.
RACE CALLER: They won’t catch Jimmy Cassidy, he spears away running home .. Hot Zephyr in front and he’s going to make it six.. Cassidy, the man, the genius.
NICK MCKENZIE: At the centre of the scandal, one of the biggest names in Australian racing: jockey Jim Cassidy, who rode Kiwi from last place to a celebrated win in the 1983 Melbourne Cup.
RACE CALLER (Melbourne Cup, 1983): And here’s Kiwi … Kiwi is flying and Kiwi got up to win the Cup from Nobel Comment and Mr Jazz.
(Excerpt from ABC News 1986)
REPORTER: 6am, Rosehill Racecourse, another opportunity for Jim Cassidy to talk to the horses he’ll be riding at the weekend.
JIM CASSIDY, JOCKEY: By talking to the animal itself and letting it have confidence in you nine times out of 10 you’ve always got full control.
NICK MCKENZIE: When the Australian Jockey Club launched its own inquiry into the jockey tapes scandal, Jim Cassidy admitted he hadn’t just been discussing race tactics with his mounts.
(Excerpt from news report plays)
REPORTER: How you feeling Jim?
LAWYER: He’s got no comment …
NICK MCKENZIE: AJC chief steward, John Schreck, who led the investigation into the Fine Cotton scandal a decade earlier, brought disciplinary charges against Jim Cassidy and two other jockeys implicated by the phone taps.
He was not surprised that a subsequent New South Wales Crime Commission investigation found insufficient evidence to lay criminal charges.
John Schreck maintains it’s virtually impossible for a corrupt jockey to guarantee that a horse will win but it is possible to manipulate the outcome of a race.
JOHN SCHRECK, FORMER CHIEF STEWARD, AJC: You can turn a good thing into a certainty by running the race in a way to suit the good thing. And so, therefore, the manipulation of a race is not impossible unfortunately. I’d like to tell you that it is, but it’s not.
NICK MCKENZIE: The stewards found Jim Cassidy guilty of conduct prejudicial to racing, by pretending to fix races in return for money, and disqualified him from setting foot on a racetrack for three years.
JOHN SCHRECK: He was making this suggestion to the person, the drug dealer guy, that he could fix races and all sorts of things. And of course he wasn’t doing that in, and he couldn’t do that, he wasn’t able to do that. Cassidy was just conning the guy, and successfully, which is not to Jim Cassidy’s credit of course, but that was what was going on.
NICK MCKENZIE: Jim Cassidy appealed against his disqualification, which was later reduced to a 20 month suspension.
JIM CASSIDY (archive footage): There’s life after racing but Jimbo will be back don’t worry about that.
RACE CALLER (Melbourne Cup, 1997): Doremus is coming at him, Doremus after Might and Power… Might and Power and Doremus they … oh it’s close Doremus runs, Doremus runs to the outside. Can he have done it a second time?
NICK MCKENZIE: By 1997 Jim Cassidy was back on the track and celebrating his second Melbourne Cup victory on Might and Power.
RACE CALLER 2 (Melbourne Cup, 1997): What a great finish; that is one of the great finishes in history.
NICK MCKENZIE: He was also forging a relationship with another big punter who would soon earn an even bigger reputation as a major drug trafficker. His name was Tony Mokbel.
DES GLEESON: He was big. Ah he was a big player. He was wagering enormous amounts of money and not only Victoria but right round Australia
JOHN SILVESTER: Tony Mokbel and Bob Trimbole were very similar. They loved the races but they were both extremely personable men. They were likeable. People liked to be with them.
NICK MCKENZIE: Leading crime reporter and author John Silvester, who documented Melbourne’s deadly gangland wars, witnessed Mokbel’s rise in the late 1990s.
As his drug empire grew, Mokbel became a regular at the racetrack, with a crew of cronies nicknamed the Tracksuit Gang who put down large cash bets on his behalf.
JOHN SILVESTER: These were a group of men who would place bets on horses up and down the eastern seaboard in a plunge. On one occasion all with sort of all $100 notes, and when they won they demanded to be paid with new $100 notes. And the Purana Task Force believe that the Mokbel industry, the company, put through $80 million in gaming over this period of time.
NICK MCKENZIE: Tony Mokbel’s influence was not confined to the betting ring.
Despite being charged with drug trafficking in 1998 and again in 2001, Mokbel was being seen around Melbourne, keeping company with leading jockeys.
Victoria’s chief steward, Des Gleeson, became so concerned he warned both Jim Cassidy and his younger rival, champion jockey Danny Nikolic, to stay away from Mokbel.
DES GLEESON: We spoke to quite a number of licensed persons, not only jockeys, trainers as well, and advised them to be careful with who they associated with.
NICK MCKENZIE: Do you think Mokbel was getting inside mail from jockeys?
DES GLEESON: No I don’t think so. Mr Mokbel won money, he lost money. He he was a big player but he wasn’t always successful. He lost huge amounts of money from time to time and I think he was an impulse punter as well. But we’ve no evidence that he was getting information from jockeys, no.
NICK MCKENZIE: But Des Gleeson did not know all that was going on behind the scenes.
He readily admits he was working with one arm tied behind his back, without police powers to tap phones, examine bank accounts or launch full police-style investigations.
DES GLEESON: The stewards don’t have the powers that the police have. We don’t have powers to intercept phone calls or anything like that. We don’t have powers to, as I said, speak to unlicensed persons. And that’s where we need the cooperation of the civil authorities if the need arises.
As Mokbel’s reach into the sport grew, racing officials formally asked police for help on two occasions. But their pleas fell on deaf ears.
DES GLEESON: When the racing squad was disbanded in late 90s there was a complete void until basically 2005 where we received very little information, if any information at all from the civil authorities. And that was disappointing from our perspective.
NICK MCKENZIE: And during that period Mokbel was growing his presence in racing?
DES GLEESON: He was, yes. He was at that time certainly. He’s – he was certainly gaining momentum during that period.
NICK MCKENZIE: With the police effectively sidelined, Mokbel’s relationship with the jockeys, trainers and bookies blossomed, and suspicions grew.
JOHN NOTT: Clearly Mokbel because of being privileged with information, he got four-to-one and seven-to-two and three-to-one, and Joe public wandering in and out of his TAB each day or getting onto his phone account for the market mover, he’d be copping the $3 or $3.10. And there’s the advantage to be had from so-called inside information.
NICK MCKENZIE: A 50 year veteran of trackside punting, John Nott often saw the tracksuit gang in action as they laid big bets for Tony Mokbel.
JOHN NOTT, PUNTER: I noticed that when he backed a Cassidy mount it went particularly well, often won or ran very well. But when he backed two or three others in a race and Cassidy was riding one of the short priced runners, I’ll say it never won or almost never won.
NICK MCKENZIE: Leading bookie, Frank Hudson, had no qualms about taking Tony Mokbel’s cash, even while Mokbel was free on $1 million bail after being arrested and charged with running a $1 billion dollar drug empire.
(Referring to photograph of Tony Mokbel and Frank Hudson)
After this photograph of Mokbel placing bets with Hudson was published by Melbourne’s Herald Sun in 2004, authorities finally moved to ban Mokbel from the track.
JOHN NOTT: There was certainly nothing done until the photo appeared in the paper. I mean he was standing beside Frank Hudson and it was almost a posed photo. So it was no secret.
NICK MCKENZIE: It was only amid the growing death toll of Melbourne’s gangland war that Tony Mokbel’s empire was systematically targeted by a new police task force named Purana.
(Question): Before Purana came along how focused was the Victoria Police in dealing with this Mokbel corruption in racing issue?
JIM O’BRIEN, FORMER HEAD, PURANA TASKFORCE: Well they weren’t. Basically the police department had dropped the ball on anything to do with the racing industry. There was no racing squad, there was nobody monitoring what was happening on the track. It became – basically we, it was a periphery to the investigation we were doing. So yeah there was, there was nothing.
RICHARD LINDELL: In 2005, the Purana taskforce got a new boss, Inspector Jim O’Brien.
O’Brien’s priority was uncovering Mokbel’s involvement in drug trafficking and murder as well as targeting his assets.
Purana discovered Mokbel was cleaning drug money by betting with bookmakers in a manner that would avoid the attention of anti-money laundering agency Austrac.
JIM O’BRIEN: We were well aware of his connection with racing in Victoria. But a lot of the time it was about using others to place those bets on his behalf and breaking down the amounts of those bets so that they weren’t subject to Austrac reporting by bookmakers.
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: There was information being passed on from people within the racing industry to certain individuals that probably placed bets on a knowledge basis that put them ahead of the average punter; that people were utilising bookmakers illegally; and that probably horses were in a third party name and things such as that.
JOHN SILVESTER: There were phone taps that police had which connected Tony with a number of jockeys and trainers. In fact I think seven prominent racing officials ended up being subpoenaed to give evidence at the Australian Crime Commission when they started to follow the money.
NICK MCKENZIE: Before long, police moved in on Mokbel’s assets, which ranged from sports cars to property worth millions of dollars.
Tax authorities also took action in connection to a unit in this apartment tower, which was ostensibly owned by bookie Frank Hudson but which Mokbel helped finance. Hudson was told to cough up unpaid tax linked to this property.
Purana also scrutinised the dealings of trainer Peter Moody, now famous as the trainer of Black Caviar.
In late 2007, Moody was leasing stables owned by the Mokbel family.
He’d also been training a horse called Pillar of Hercules, which was registered in the name of Moody’s wife and the wife of a Mokbel family associate.
But according to a Supreme Court affidavit lodged by Purana, the $475,000 horse had “in fact been purchased by Tony Mokbel’s brother Horty and its ownership details falsified so as to avoid detection by police.”
JIM O’BRIEN: It was paid for by money that was delivered in garbage bags.
NICK MCKENZIE: A bit of a red flag you’d think?
JIM O’BRIEN: Well you’d think that’s not the normal way people do business.
NICK MCKENZIE: In October 2007, Purana seized Pillar of Hercules, alleging in the same affidavit the thoroughbred was bought “as part of a large scale money laundering operation in an attempt to cover up the extent of monies derived from drug trafficking.”
DES GLEESON: That was one instance where we did work closely with the Victoria Police who gave us information in relation to the ownership of the horse. And we immediately stopped it from racing and the horse was sold.
NICK MCKENZIE: Do you think the trainer in question had questions to answer about his role in the affair?
DES GLEESON: Oh we did question Mr Moody at length about the whole scenario but no action was taken against Mr Moody at the time, no.
NICK MCKENZIE: Why not?
DES GLEESON: No evidence to support the charge being laid.
NICK MCKENZIE: Purana investigators also began to zero in on the money Mokbel was paying jockeys.
Four Corners has confirmed they gathered evidence that Mokbel had paid tens of thousands of dollars in secret commissions to jockeys in return for tips. Purana identified at least two leading jockeys were on the Mokbel payroll.
(Question): Why was it helpful for Mokbel to have that in inside information?
JIM O’BRIEN: Well it’s helpful in relation to him being able to launder his assets. I suppose if he’s got odds on favour it’s going to, even if it’s very short money, if he puts up $20,000 and gets $21,000 or $22,000 back he’s still, he’s cleaned that money. He’s got some, he’s got something to show ‘oh this money I won on a bet’ or, you know, ‘I had a bet on such and such a date and here’s a record of it and I can call that bookmaker at my trial if I ever get charged.’
NICK MCKENZIE: Four Corners has confirmed that Jim Cassidy privately admitted to investigators that he’d received almost $100,000 from Mokbel in exchange for tips.
But publicly, Cassidy has denied any improper dealings with Mokbel, instead calling him a friend who he respected.
JOHN SCHRECK: Even in those days, the whole world knew that Mokbel wasn’t much chop and I think it would’ve been better for a high profile race rider like Jim Cassidy to have been saying different things from that.
NICK MCKENZIE: In 2007 investigators also documented allegations that, like Cassidy, Danny Nikolic had enjoyed Mokbel’s largesse.
Nikolic rode at least five horses owned by Mokbel or his associates, but publicly denied ever leaking him any inside mail. No evidence to the contrary was ever produced.
Purana’s investigation should have been a wake-up call for racing. In a way, it was.
The Victorian government commissioned a report from a former judge, Gordon Lewis, which drew on Purana’s investigation into Mokbel to conclude that criminal activity in racing was “rampant”.
Lewis’s 2008 report called for an overhaul in the policing of the sport, finding that “bookmakers, trainers and jockeys” had “improper associations with known criminals.”
RACE CALLER: Racing now, Splendid Choice …
NICK MCKENZIE: But since the release of the Lewis report not a single bookmaker, jockey or trainer has faced any serious repercussions over their dealings with Tony Mokbel.
RACE CALLER: .. note with Hoss Amore winning and Jimmy Cassidy on board.
NICK MCKENZIE (question): How many people in racing, jockeys, trainers, bookies, licensed people actually have been held to account over their dealings with Tony Mokbel?
JIM O’BRIEN: None that I know of.
NICK MCKENZIE: Does that surprise you?
JIM O’BRIEN: Yeah it is surprising.
CHRIS MUNCE, FORMER JOCKEY (to press pack, 2006): Oh steady boys!
NICK MCKENZIE: The way Hong Kong dealt with the case of champion Australian jockey Chris Munce in 2006 stands in stark contrast to the failure of Australian racing to investigate jockeys, trainers and bookies linked to Tony Mokbel.
(Excerpt from News Story on Chris Munce)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (to press): Come on boys, out of the way)
REPORTER: The Melbourne Cup winning rider was detained at his house just hours before scheduled to board a flight to Australia.
NICK MCKENZIE: Chris Munce was arrested with betting details and thousands of dollars in cash in his pockets after lengthy surveillance by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption.
(Excerpt from News Story on Chris Munce)
REPORTER: Munce was one of seven people arrested after an investigation Hong Kong’s corruption watchdog the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Those detained included four suspected illegal bookmakers. ICAC alleges Munce either recieved or stood to receive almost $300,000 in exchange for tips he provided.
JOHN SCHRECK: In the Munce case, he was deemed to be an employee of the owner of the horse, and he was selling that information to others for profit and therefore was in breach of the law of the land. And went to jail for it.
NICK MCKENZIE: Was that a harsh penalty?
JOHN SCHRECK: Oh no, not at all in my opinion, not at all. No, he knew what the situation was when he went there, as all of them do that go there. And you do the crime, you do the time.
NICK MCKENZIE: Chris Munce was convicted and served 20 months in jail. The Hong Kong Jockey Club gave him an additional suspension which should have prevented him from riding anywhere in the world for almost a year after his release.
But New South Wales racing authorities allowed him back on the track with 10 months of his suspension still to run.
JOHN SCHRECK: The penalty wasn’t reciprocated by Racing New South Wales, it was by all the other states of Australia but not by Racing New South Wales. And so he was allowed to ride back in Australia pretty well straight away. The whole thing was most unfortunate, it should never have happened that way.
NICK MCKENZIE: Without the investigative backup enjoyed by their Hong Kong counterparts, in 2010 Victorian racing authorities were forced to ask again for police help.
Stewards suspected that Danny Nikolic was breaching the rules of racing by passing inside information about his mounts.
Four Corners can reveal that, once again, the Victoria Police declined to help, and left the stewards to go it alone.
REPORTER (2010): Authorities were alerted to Nikolic’s activities after suspicious bets were placed with the betting exchange, Betfair, which allows punters to bet on horses losing.
DANNY NIKOLIC (2010): Good mornnig everybody. I’m here to clear my name.
NICK MCKENZIE: The racing disciplinary board found there was insufficient evidence to prove the charges against Danny Nikolic and he was cleared.
DANNY NIKOLIC (to press, 2010): I was quietly confident, I know that I’ve done nothing wrong. So I was just hoping that the RAV (Racing Association of Victoria) board would see it my way. And I’m very happy now.
NICK MCKENZIE: Were the racing authorities correct to bring the case given they lost?
SAL PERNA: Ah yes, I think that was clearly vindicated by the Appeals and Disciplinary Board. When they heard the charges. The circumstantial evidence if you like, was very, very strong and the Board said that they were very justified in preparing that case.
INTERVIEWER: What couldn’t the racing authorities get in terms of evidence and why couldn’t they get it?
SAL PERNA: Look I think it’s fair to say that the content of the conversations between Danny and the people that were putting the bet on was the, the missing part.
SAL PERNA (to co-investigator): Which is the horse we’re looking at Paul.
PAUL: We’re looking at the one that’s second from the inside out of what we’ll call there barrier five. If you just watch the action of the jockey this should pretty well explain what I was talking about earlier.
NICK MCKENZIE: Sal Perna is Victoria’s full-time Racing Integrity Commissioner, a role created as a result of the Lewis report.
It’s the first appointment of its type in the country.
SAL PERNA (to co-investigator): So is he allowing himself to get boxed in there?
NICK MCKENZIE: While Sal Perna enjoys only limited investigative powers of his own, he’s been striving to get police and racing officials to work together.
(Question): Did you find when you first arrived that the police were sitting on information about corruption in racing that was not being passed to racing authorities and vice versa?
SAL PURNA: Yeah, I think that’s a fair comment.
Part of the difficulty with police releasing information is that some information’s protected by legislation, telephone intercepts for example. And that information can’t be given to non-law enforcement areas.
NICK MCKENZIE: Unbeknown to Sal Perna, a new controversy featuring some familiar names was just around the corner.
After the death of Les Samba early last year, Danny Nikolic continued riding, knowing he was under police scrutiny.
On the 12th of April homicide detectives raided the home of his brother John, a former horse trainer based on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Two weeks later, Danny Nikolic was here at Cranbourne preparing for his ride on Smoking Aces.
RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): Racing… great line out, Tycoon …
NICK MCKENZIE: The race favourite was Retaliate.
(Footage of race plays)
RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): .. back on the fence… Retaliate has got horses all around him .. he’s last…
NICK MCKENZIE: Also riding in the race was jockey Mark Zahra on Baikal.
Four Corners can reveal that police are investigating whether Nikolic and Zahra had allegedly conspired to reduce Retaliate’s chances of winning, and improving Smoking Aces’ prospect of success.
RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): Smoking Aces wins first up from Retaliate, Dubai Opera third from …
NICK MCKENZIE: Figures linked to the race have alleged to Four Corners that associates of Nikolic had bet heavily on his mount, and that police have recently been quizzing jockeys, trainers and punters about the ride in question.
At a recent race meeting, Four Corners tried to interview Danny Nikolic, who’d just ridden a series of winners.
(at races): Danny I’m Nick McKenzie from Four Corners, We’re not actually here to ask you about today’s race …
DANNY NIKOLIC: Not interested …
NICK MCKENZIE: We’re here to ask you about Smoking Aces Danny. Can I ask you a couple of questions about Smoking Aces?
(Question): Is Danny Nikolic a person of interest in the race fixing investigation?
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: As I said it’s a current investigation and we’ll … I can’t comment on that particular phase of it at this stage
NICK MCKENZIE: Jockey Mark Zahra also declined to answer questions about the Cranbourne race.
Racing sources have confirmed to Four Corners that associates of Nikolic in Melbourne and interstate made bets on Smoking Aces that earned them a combined total of up to $200,000.
(On phone) G’day Paul my name’s Nick McKenzie, reporter for Four Corners, ABC TV. I’m investigating certain race which I believe you had something to do with Cranbourne last year involving ride of Smoking Aces, can I ask you a few questions about that?
Four Corners tried to speak with one punter linked to the win.
(Hanging up phone): No he’s hung up
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: We know that there are a number of identities that we need to talk to interstate and bits and pieces. But at this particular stage we’re concentrating on Victoria. But there are a number of areas that we know, what we need to have a look at.
Detective Superintendent Gerry Ryan is overseeing the police inquiry into the alleged race fixing and the Samba murder.
He’s revealed to Four Corners he’s called in Purana to tackle the fresh allegations of corruption.
GERRY RYAN: We’ll leave no stone unturned. So that means we’ll look at a number of races and you know and a number of areas that unfold as the investigation goes. But it’s important to, at the end of this investigation, to make sure that the integrity in racing here in Victoria and nationally is squeaky clean.
NICK MCKENZIE: Whatever the outcome of that investigation, the former head of Purana, Jim O’Brien, says authorities are yet to prove they can effectively combat corruption in sport.
(Question): How good has that job of protecting the integrity of racing been in your view?
JIM O’BRIEN: It’s not been good at all. It’s been extremely poor and in part brought about because you know the stewards themselves who look after those codes haven’t got the teeth – they’re not investigators for a start.
NICK MCKENZIE: But Gerry Ryan says authorities in Victoria have learned from the mistakes of the past.
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: Look, yes we can say that we did take our eye off the ball. And that’s why Purana is so strong today because we we realised that we needed to get back into this arena and we have.
NICK MCKENZIE: And those who say that the police will never be able to to catch a race fix they’re not up to the task?
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: Well that’s what they said about the gangland slayings and what, what’s happened there? We’ve put them all behind bars.
NICK MCKENZIE: Victoria’s racing integrity chief, Sal Perna, says that even if state police and racing officials get it right, if the rest of the country doesn’t follow suit, it will be for nothing.
(Question): If you’re a jockey in Victoria at the moment, you know, you can go interstate and possible have far less scrutiny over your activities.
SAL PERNA: Yes, I would agree with that.
INTERVIEWER: How unhealthy is that?
SAL PERNA: Well, it can’t be good. It creates vulnerabilities and we don’t want that. We want the same standard to apply when it comes to integrity right across the board.
In New South Wales, two harness racing stewards and a trainer are facing criminal charges over alleged corruption.
The state’s greyhound racing industry also has a history tainted by scandal.
Last year the New South Wales government appointed former ombudsman David Landa, to oversee the integrity of both racing codes.
But within months he quit both posts, believing his role amounted to window dressing.
DAVID LANDA, FORMER NSW INTEGRITY AUDITOR: I felt that apart from the role being ineffective and not capable of performing what I felt the legislators may have intended. It was a fiction and it was a fraud really on the public.
NICK MCKENZIE: A fraud on the public?
DAVID LANDA: Yes because they were led to believe that there was an integrity auditor capable of dealing with issues that ought to be dealt with, matters of integrity, matters of honesty, matters of fair dealing and that those powers were not able to be performed.
NICK MCKENZIE: In the new world of internet betting, people can bet to win or lose, and on any number of other outcomes in almost any sport, anywhere.
SAL PERNA: They create opportunities for people to corrupt players, to do certain things that they can benefit from by betting on. We’ve also got a new model now with betting exchanges where you can actually bet on an animal to lose, and that hasn’t been part of the Australian culture today. So they do present challenges.
NICK MCKENZIE: The explosion of internet and exotic betting has sparked debate about the policing of sport across the country.
JOHN SCHRECK: horse racing’s not too bad, there are things go on that’s simply inexcusable, of course there are. But generally speaking it’s not too bad. So I don’t there’s any need for any national integrity controller all over the sport, no. I think the States should be left to their own device, that’s the way it’s been for 150 years and I think it’s been pretty good.
NICK MCKENZIE: Does there need to be a national body?
SAL PERNA: I think there does so that we can work together on it and address issues not only nationally but internationally. It’s about bringing in specialists that are, specialist investigators, specialist analysts and wagering analysts, and bringing in all the bodies together so they can share information and work out how to do it in a concerted way.
JOHN SILVESTER: The iron law of crime is where there is a demand there will be a supply. As soon as a Tony Mokbel is locked up there is someone else to take their place. So it’s about getting the structures right with racing because right now there would be somebody somewhere chatting to a jockey trying to get some inside information. And if he’s got a pocketful of drug money, then he’s got a better chance of getting the answer he wants to hear.
NICK MCKENZIE: Tony Mokbel is now serving a 30 year prison sentence for drug trafficking, but there’s another Mokbel still on the punt.
His brother Horty, another convicted drug trafficker, has been banned from racetracks and the casino by order of the Victorian government.
But over several weeks Four Corners observed him and a group of fellow punters in tracksuits placing numerous bets at a suburban Melbourne TAB.
Horty Mokbel’s regular companions include underworld identity and racehorse owner Paul Sequenzia.
Sequenzia, the brother in law of murdered gangster Mark Moran, had drug trafficking charges dropped in 2004.
Sequenzia is part-owner of a horse called Em Maguane, in 2009 it became one of the first horses in Australia to test positive for the performance enhancing drug EPO (Erythropoietin).
In the racing world, Tony Mokbel’s place is most likely already filled.
JIM O’BRIEN: There’s plenty of succession planning in criminal organisations and someone else will just step up and fill his shoes. So it won’t go away.
JOHN SILVESTER: Now it’s not just a matter of Tony Mokbel or Bob Trimbole but it could be a crime syndicate from anywhere in the world who could target a sport, one game, one event, one cricket match, one over, one ball, and that’s the new challenge.
NICK MCKENZIE: Despite commitments from the federal and state governments, there are still no specific laws dealing with match or race fixing.
Without a national sports integrity body some states and sports remain well behind the others when it comes to confronting the challenge of corruption.
(Question): How urgent are those changes needed?
DES GLEESON: Well, I think they should have been done yesterday but as soon as possible before there’ll be an almighty scandal in sport in Australia.
NICK MCKENZIE: That scandal may have already arrived.
The fallout from Les Samba’s murder and allegations of corruption at the highest levels in racing still has a long way to run.
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: Certainly I believe that if we we’re able to solve the race fixing and solve the issues that that are emerging, we will certainly solve the murder.
INTERVIEWER: Are you confident the murder of Les Samba will be solved?
GERRY RYAN: I’m confident it will be solved, yes.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Four Corners asked jockeys Danny Nikolic and Mark Zahra on the allegations raised by they both declined.
Bookie, Frank Hudson, and jockey, Jim Cassidy, also declined to be interviewed.
Four Corners also asked trainer Peter Moody to talk about his dealings with Horte Mokbel; he also declined.
End of transcript
LATEST NEWS UPDATES
Top racing figures embroiled in corruption scandal | ABC News | 6 Aug 2012 – Police are investigating a string of top Australian horse racing figures, including champion jockey Danny Nikolic, for alleged race fixing, in what is shaping up as the biggest corruption scandal to hit the sport in decades. By Nick McKenzie, Clay Hichens and Richard Baker.
Police offer $1m reward over Samba murder | ABC News | 6 Aug 2012 – Victoria Police have offered a $1 million reward for information about the death of racing identity Les Samba… Purana Taskforce detectives are leading the investigation and believe it was not a random shooting.
$1 million reward announced – Les Samba murder | Vic Police | 6 Aug 2012 – Victoria Police has today announced a $1 million reward for information regarding the death of Les Samba in Middle Park on Sunday 27 February, 2011. Read the press release.
RELATED DOCUMENTS AND REPORTS
Purana Taskforce Affidavit | Oct 2007 – The Supreme Court affidavit lodged by the Purana Taskforce relating to the seizure of the racehorse Pillar of Hercules. [PDF 530Kb]
Own motion investigation into Greyhound Racing Victoria | Victorian Ombudsman | Jun 2012 – The Victorian Ombudsman, Mr George Brouwer, tabled this report in Parliament in June. Download the report here. [PDF 334Kb]
Combating serious crime and corruption in sport | ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security | Nov 2011 – This paper details the actual and potential challenges, and impact, of gambling and corruption practices on sports in Australia.
Threats to the integrity of professional sport in Australia | Australian Crime Commission | Apr 2011 – Organised criminal groups currently have a limited presence in professional sports in Australia. However, there are vulnerabilities within the sector, with the principal threat to the integrity of professional sports being the use of inside information. A report from the ACC.
Sports Betting Review – Report and Government Response | 31 Mar 2011 – The report of the 2011 Review of Victorian Sports Betting Regulation completed by Mr Des Gleeson and the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Review are on the Department of Justice website.
A Guide to the Racing Industry in Australia 2010-2011 | ARB – The 2010/11 edition of the Australian Racing Fact Book was published by the ARB in December 2011. [PDF 2.73 MB]
Productivity Commission Gambling Inquiry | 23 Jun 2010 – The Productivity Commission concluded a public inquiry into gambling in June 2010. Read submissions and the full report.
Australian Racing Board Submission | 23 Jun 2010 - Read the ARB’s submission to the Productivity Commission Gambling Inquiry. [PDF 1506Kb]
Report on Integrity Assurance in the Victorian Racing Industry (Lewis Report) | Aug 2008 – In March 2008, Judge Gordon Lewis was commissioned to consult with racing industry controlling bodies and stakeholders with the objective of identifying options to ensure that integrity assurance within the industry is of the highest standard. Judge Lewis met with representatives from the major racing codes, police, media, government, industry associations and committees, appellate bodies, veterinary groups, individuals, and wagering companies. Read his recommendations.
Dogs for revamp on bets at work | The Age | 21 Jun 2012 – Victoria’s greyhound racing industry will be overhauled after an inquiry found that some of the sport’s top officials engaged in punting on races and awarding multimillion-dollar contracts without due process. By Nick McKenzie.
Former dogs-racing boss placed bets, mismanaged | The Age | 20 Jun 2012 – Nick McKenzie Victoria’s top greyhound racing official engaged in inappropriate conduct by betting on races during his lunch breaks and overseeing sub-standard multi-million dollar contracts, according to a report. By Nick McKenzie.
Greyhound Racing NSW makes new Greyhound Racing Integrity Auditor | Australian Racing Greyhound | 7 Jun 2012 – GRNSW today announced the appointment of Graham Gorrie to the position of Greyhound Racing Integrity Auditor.
Video: Harness racing under scrutiny | 7.30 | 23 Aug 2011 - Claims of corruption have surfaced in the world of harness racing, sparking an investigation into more than 20 drivers, trainers and owners.
Opinion: Rogue operators make battle to maintain integrity of sport more difficult | The Australian | 16 Jul 2011 – This has been a chilling week for Australian sport. Its exposure to manipulation by cheats and criminals has been shown to be raw and dangerous. Corruption is but a few strokes on the computer away. By Patrick Smith.
Report finds organised horse racing industry is tainted by organised crime | Stateline Victoria | 15 Aug 2008 – The transcript of Josephine Cafagna’s 2008 report into horse racing corruption.
Top jockey took Mokbel cash in return for tips | Brisbane Times | 14 Jun 2008 – One of Australia’s leading jockeys, Jimmy Cassidy, accepted bundles of cash from alleged crime boss Tony Mokbel in return for tips about horses he was riding. By Nick McKenzie.
Fine Cotton mastermind scandal | The Daily Telegraph | 18 Apr 2008 – The mastermind of the infamous Fine Cotton Affair has struck again, with a multi-million dollar scam involving a $44 million horse race, a Gold Coast nightclub singer, a former rugby league great, an art swindle and Muslim terrorist death threats.
The day Munce had his meeting with destiny | SMH | 2 Mar 2007 – Chris Munce had one more appointment in Hong Kong before returning home to Australia in July. It was an appointment the Melbourne Cup-winning jockey wasn’t going to miss, but it would result in Munce’s life being up-ended.
RELATED FOUR CORNERS PROGRAMS
August 7, 2012
ONE WOULD be hard pressed to name a more symbiotic commercial relationship than that of betting and horse racing. Each derives huge financial benefit from the other. So it is, then, a matter of concern when that relationship is called into question through allegations of corruption.
The Age yesterday – in conjunction with Four Corners last night – reported that police were investigating well-known horse racing figures, including jockey Danny Nikolic, over the alleged fixing of a race at Cranbourne in April 2011, which was won by the horse Smoking Aces. The alleged tampering was uncovered during an investigation into the murder two months earlier of trainer Les Samba in Melbourne. There is no suggestion that Nikolic was involved in the death of Samba. There are, however, serious issues at play, such as allegations of money laundering, tax fraud and tipping, which involves jockeys disclosing inside information for commission.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton said yesterday there was no endemic corruption in horse racing. But, in an industry that must be seen to be conducted without the merest whiff of corruption, this is a case where one is one too many.
More than 4000 horse races are held annually in this state. Racing Victoria, in its report for 2010-2011, said that although 9000 horses had competed, ”the headlines were stolen by one horse, Black Caviar”.
This is true. But, as The Age has revealed more than once, there is more than one story to the industry, and those ones sow the seeds of doubts in the public’s mind as to the probity of what they are watching. Detective Superintendent Gerard Ryan, who confirmed the investigation, said it was important ”that the integrity of racing … is squeaky clean”.
It is towards this latter point that, more broadly, Victoria seems to be making progress. There is a police ”sport corruption response model”, which looks promising on paper. The proof will be in its results.
It would be naive to believe that all sport can be entirely clean. With such large amounts of money at stake, the temptation to cheat is always there. That being so, there is merit in the calls for a national body, with anti-corruption powers, to be established to maintain sport’s integrity.
Commenting on the Smoking Aces disclosures, Racing Victoria’s integrity commissioner, Sal Perna, said: ”My immediate response is, is the industry that bad?” Purely on the numbers, no. Yet integrity in sport is only as strong as its weakest link. It needs to be protected comprehensively by all governments.
This comes as no surprise actually folks but the ramifications will be wide and far…MORE TO COME
EXCLUSIVE: KILLER bikie Christopher Wayne Hudson and one of Australia’s most feared hitmen were allegedly able to run a drug ring with corrupt guards inside Victoria’s most secure jail.
Three Barwon Prison officers were arrested during raids in Geelong and the northern suburbs yesterday, after an eight-month investigation. Two have since been charged with drug offences.
Sources close to the operation claim one of the guards, a 40-year-old man from Grovedale, had formed a close relationship with the two killers and had been monitored having long conversations in their cells, as well as passing notes and other items under their doors.
Authorities are also concerned about information passed between the cells and out of the prison.
Hudson, a Hells Angel, is serving a minimum of 35 years in jail over the 2007 CBD shootings of father of three Brendan Keilar, who died, and Dutch backpacker Paul de Waard.
The contract killer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is serving 32 years for the murders of Dorothy and Ramon Abbey in 1987.
Charges against him over the murders of police informers Terence and Christine Hodson were dropped.
The veteran trigger man is linked to some of Australia’s most infamous underworld figures and is suspected of multiple murders.
Last night a 40-year-old Grovedale man was charged with trafficking a drug of dependence, misconduct in public office, possessing an unregistered firearm, possessing a prohibited weapon and possessing and using a drug of dependence, while a 40-year-old Norlane man was charged with possessing and using a drug of dependence.
Both were bailed to appear in the Geelong Magistrates’ Court on 26 September.
A 31-year-old female prison officer from Norlane was interviewed and released pending further inquiries.
A 46-year-old Norlane man and an 18-year-old Delahey man, who were not Corrections Victoria staff, were released pending further inquiries.
Operation Puli, run by Victoria Police drug taskforce detectives, started in November after intelligence was passed on by Corrections Victoria.
Houses were raided in the Geelong area and at Delahey, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, from 7am yesterday.
Cannabis and prescription medication were seized.
Victoria Police acting Deputy Commissioner Jeff Pope said the suspect behaviour was confined to Barwon Prison, the state’s highest-security prison.
“It does seem to be isolated to this core group of prison officers,” Mr Pope said.
“One or two of these guards has formed a relationship with a small group of inmates that is inappropriate.”
Acting Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard said the guards worked across the prison and were not restricted to one particular section
UPDATE 3.15PM 10/07/12
Those arrested were a 40-year-old Grovedale man, a 31-year-old Norlane woman, a 41-year-old Norlane man and a 46-year-old Norlane man.
Four prison officers have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by police and Corrections Victoria which has linked guards to inmates.
PRISON officers accused of running a drug trafficking ring with criminals have been arrested in a series of co-ordinated raids.
Victoria Police officers swooped on several properties in the Geelong region connected to Barwon Prison from 7am, completing searches a short time ago.
The Herald Sun understands four prison officers have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by police and Corrections Victoria which has linked guards to inmates.
Barwon Prison, near Geelong, houses the state’s worst convicted criminals, among them influential organised crime figures.
Gangland killer Evangelos Goussis, drug boss Tony Mokbel, and middle-eastern crime gang members are all housed at Barwon Prison, however no identities of inmates connected to today’s raids have been revealed.
Inappropriate relationships between staff and inmates at Corrections Victoria’s jail are considered a major security risk.
Staff at Barwon came under unprecedented levels of scrutiny following the death of Carl Williams.
More to come …