Ben Cousins arrested after police pursuit-refused breath test- AGAIN

Ben Cousins has been arrested and charged with reckless driving after a police pursuit in

Ben Cousins has been arrested and charged with reckless driving after a police pursuit in WA. Source: Channel 7

AFL bad boy Ben Cousins has been arrested after a police pursuit in Western Australia.

The former West Coast Eagles superstar was allegedly driving recklessly along Preston Point Road in Bicton about 10.30pm on Wednesday night, Seven News reported.
Cousins allegedly told police he could not stop due to a family emergency so he continued to drive, running red lights at slow speeds. same old same old, at least he didn’t ditch his passengers and jump into a river to avoid the test.

Ben Cousins arrested after police pursuit

Ben Cousins after his arrest on Wednesday night. Source: Channel 7

He was charged with reckless driving, failing to stop and failing to give a sample of breath.
The 36-year-old was released on bail and was due to face court on April 8.
He reportedly spent about three hours in the Fremantle Police Station before being collected in a lane way behind the station.
Cousins’ attempt to avoid media was not successful but, when asked whether he wanted to comment he said, “No,” before being driven away.
Cousins has frequently created headlines over well-publicised troubles with drugs and underworld connections that overshadowed his on-field brilliance.
The 2005 Brownlow Medallist and premiership player’s career came to an at the Eagles after a series of off-field indiscretions and he finished his playing days at Richmond.

Cousins will face court on April 8.

Cousins will face court on April 8. Source: Channel 7

SEPTEMBER 2002: Fights teammate Daniel Kerr at a nightclub in Perth suburb of Claremont. Cousins’ arm is broken after he is pushed downstairs by an unknown assailant.
MAY 4, 2005: Cousins and ruckman Michael Gardiner embroiled in police investigation into a nightclub shooting in January. The star Eagles and their lawyer refuse to answer questions relating to Perth gangland violence.
MAY 5: Publicly apologises for his association with alleged underworld figures as Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett warns Cousins and Gardiner they are on their last chance.
FEBRUARY 17, 2006: Abandons his car and runs from police near a breath-testing station in Perth.
FEBRUARY 20: Walks away from the West Coast captaincy.
FEBRUARY 27: Police charge Cousins over abandoning his car on a highway to avoid a booze bus. He is later fined $900.
SEPTEMBER 30: Judd and Cousins hold the premiership cup aloft on the MCG after West Coast defeats Sydney by one point.
DECEMBER 3: Arrested for being drunk in public after being found intoxicated and dazed outside the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Cousins is taken into custody for four hours.
JANUARY 9, 2007: Charge of being drunk in public dismissed.

Cousins’ off-field dramas overshadowed his brilliance on the field.

Cousins’ off-field dramas overshadowed his brilliance on the field. Source: Supplied

MARCH 20: Seeks drug- rehabilitation advice for “substance abuse”.
MARCH 22: Parents Bryan and Stephanie reveal Cousins’ problem relates to substance abuse but won’t go into details.
MARCH 23: Goes on a three-day bender after being suspended indefinitely by the club, a source close to the Cousins camp says.
MARCH 31: Heads to a Californian rehabilitation facility that specialises in methamphetamine addiction to fight his drug addiction.
APRIL 30: Arrives home from the US as Eagles chairman Dalton Gooding tells the AFL Commission the club will let Cousins play again only after he fulfils a series of stringent conditions. These include a public statement and an assurance he is drug-free.
MAY 5: Appears on national TV to admit to substance abuse and apologise for his fall from grace.
JUNE 28: Meets AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou, medical officer Peter Harcourt and others to argue he has overcome the substance-use problems.
JULY 21: Returns to the AFL with a 38-possession game against Sydney, but the AFL is attacked for allowing him to play without being officially punished for drug use or speaking publicly about his drug battle.
JULY 28: Drug-tested immediately after West Coast’s big win against the Bulldogs at Telstra Dome.
SEPTEMBER 7: Misses the rest of the season after he tears his left hamstring in the qualifying final against Port at AAMI Stadium. TV cameras capture words “Such Is Life” tattooed across his stomach.
OCTOBER 1: Sources confirm Cousins was with mentor Chris Mainwaring at his Perth home hours before Mainwaring collapsed and died.

Cousins leaving the Central Law Courts in Perth, where he faced charges of possessing dru

Cousins leaving the Central Law Courts in Perth, where he faced charges of possessing drugs with an intent to sell, in 2012. Source: News Limited

OCTOBER 16: Cousins charged by WA police with possession of a prohibited drug (diazepam tablets) without a prescription and failing to submit to a police driver assessment test (including blood) after his car was pulled over in the Perth suburb of Northbridge.
OCTOBER 17: West Coast sacks Cousins at an emergency board meeting. Eagles say he is “terribly sick” and that his focus must be “solely and only on his health”.
OCTOBER 19: Drug charges against Cousins dropped after police admit that under WA law diazepam is prohibited only in injectable liquid form.
NOVEMBER 19: The AFL Commission suspends Cousins for 12 months for bringing the game into disrepute.
OCTOBER 1, 2008: Cousins’ return to West Coast ruled out.
OCTOBER 17: Collingwood, the one-time favourite to secure Cousins, withdraws from the race to recruit him.
OCTOBER 26: St Kilda flags its intense interest in Cousins when five club officials – including coach Ross Lyon – grill the player over dinner in Pt Lonsdale.
NOVEMBER 18: The AFL re-registers Cousins.
NOVEMBER 29: Cousins is passed over in the national draft.
DECEMBER 16: Richmond takes Cousins with the final pick in the pre-season draft.
MARCH 26, 2009: Cousins makes his Tigers debut against Carlton.
JULY 5, 2010: Cousins admitted to hospital suffering an adverse reaction to sleeping pills

Cousins announces his retirement from the AFL in 2010.

Cousins announces his retirement from the AFL in 2010. Source: Supplied

AUGUST 17 2010: Announces he will end his AFL career at season’s end
AUGUST 28 2010: Channel 7 airs his controversial television documentary
SEPTEMBER 2010: Releases his tell-all autobiography Such Is Life
SEPTEMBER 2011: Partner Maylea Tinecheff gives birth to their son, Bobby Ernest Cousins.
JANUARY 9 2012: Cousins admitted to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital after a fall at a drug rehabilitation clinic.
JANUARY 13 2012: Committed by doctors to a suburban mental health unit under police escort after suffering drug-induced psychosis
MARCH 27 2012: Charged with possession of methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply by Esperance police in WA’s South-West where he was attending a drug rehabilitation centre.
JANUARY, 2015: Hospitalised after his head in fall at a rehabilitation clinic.

World’s biggest ecstasy bust: How a Google search foiled Aussie tomato tin mafia’s drug plots

Along read but a good read, and a long time coming

February 14, 2015 9:18AM

AFP drug sting

IT’S difficult to imagine that of all the hugely populated cities around the globe, it is little old Melbourne which holds the title of the site of the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Yet it has held that distinction twice, with the first world’s biggest ecstasy bust of 1.2 tonnes being made here in 2005. That record was eclipsed when Australian Federal Police agents seized 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy pills in Melbourne in 2007.

One of the tins used in $440 million ecstasy haul. Picture: Brendan Francis

One of the tins used in $440 million ecstasy haul. Picture: Brendan Francis Source: News Corp Australia

There are two main reasons such massive amounts of ecstasy were shipped to Melbourne. The first is Australia has very strong Calabrian mafia cells in Melbourne and elsewhere and the Italian organised crime gang is one of the world’s biggest traffickers of ecstasy.

Secondly, Australians are wealthy enough to pay the world’s highest prices for ecstasy tablets — making it an attractive place to smuggle to.

Court suppression orders lifted yesterday enable the Herald Sun to reveal the inside story of the world’s biggest ecstasy bust, which involved 15 million pills hidden inside tomato tins which were shipped by the Calabrian mafia from Italy to the Melbourne docks.

This is the inside story of the world’s biggest ecstasy bust and how those responsible for importing 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy into Melbourne from Italy were brought to justice.

A POLICE sting foiled Mokbel mate Rob Karam’s plan to buy 26 tonnes of chemicals to make ice with a street value of $13 billion.

Karam — one of Crown casino’s top 200 gamblers — was secretly recorded as he arranged to ship the chemicals to Australia and Mexico.

What Karam didn’t know was the man in Hong Kong he was negotiating the massive deal with was an undercover officer working with Australian Federal Police.

Rob Karam (left) and accomplice Fadl Maroun meet Hong Kong police undercover operative #5

Rob Karam (left) and accomplice Fadl Maroun meet Hong Kong police undercover operative #51251 Michael (right) at the Harbour Plaza Hotel, Hong Kong. Picture: Australian Federal Police surveillance image. Source: Supplied

For the first time, the Herald Sun can also reveal details today of other mind-blowingly large drug deals and the Australian Mr Bigs who are behind bars because of them.

It can do so following the lifting yesterday of multiple Supreme and County Court suppression orders.

That enables the Herald Sun to tell the full inside story on the world’s biggest ecstasy bust, which involved the AFP seizing 15 million pills hidden in tomato tins shipped from Italy to Melbourne by the Calabrian mafia.

A customs agent unpacks canned tomato tins holding tonnes of ecstasy tablets. Picture: Au

A customs agent unpacks canned tomato tins holding tonnes of ecstasy tablets. Picture: Australian Customs Service. Source: News Limited

Those details include:

  • MORE than 30 gang members have been convicted and jailed by Victorian courts for a total of almost 300 years following the 2007 seizure of the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy – which had a street value of $440 million.
  • SENIOR gang members were secretly taped plotting to murder the man they blamed for the 4.4 tonne shipment of ecstasy being seized — that man is a mate of underworld identity Mick Gatto.
  • BLACK Uhlans bikie gang founder John Higgs was secretly recorded saying he wanted to wrap Gatto’s mate in carpet and “throw him in the river” as punishment for the ecstasy shipment being grabbed by police.
John Higgs. Picture: Australian Federal Police

John Higgs. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

Frank Madafferi. Picture: Australian Federal Police

Frank Madafferi. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

THE drug operation was nearly blown before enough evidence was gathered to charge all those involved as AFP surveillance officers came within seconds of having to reveal themselves to physically stop gang members from murdering a second man they had fallen out with.

THAT intended victim didn’t come out into the Reggio Calabria Club car park in Parkville, where the gang members were waiting, so the execution attempt was aborted without the surveillance officers having to expose themselves.

MELBOURNE-based Calabrian Mafioso Frank Madafferi was a major drug dealer within months of former Federal Minister Amanda Vanstone overturning a decision to deport him.

AFP agents secretly taped Madafferi making death threats after he won his nine-year legal battle to stay in Australia and angrily claiming he was going to chop fellow drug dealer Pino Varallo “into little pieces”.

MADAFFERI was selling drugs provided to him by the Calabrian mafia gang charged by the AFP in 2008 over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

PASQUALE Barbaro, the Griffith-based boss of the Calabrian mafia gang behind the 4.4 tonne ecstasy importation, is the son of Francesco “Little Trees” Barbaro, one of the men named in the Woodward royal commission report as being an influential member of the Griffith mafia cell which murdered anti-drug campaigner Donald Mackay in 1977.

BARBARO was secretly bugged by the AFP telling fellow drug dealer Gratian Bran he had just warned Karam he was going to kill him if he didn’t pay what he owed for drugs supplied to him.

CONSPIRACY to murder charges against Barbaro and Madafferi have been dropped.

ONE of Australia’s most wanted men — Graham Potter — will still face trial over his alleged botched attempts to execute two of Barbaro’s enemies for Barbaro, and face trial over his alleged drug trafficking for Barbaro gang members.

Pasquale Barbaro. Picture: Australian Federal Police

Pasquale Barbaro. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

Carmelo Falanga. Picture: Australian Federal Police

Carmelo Falanga. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

The massive drugs shipment had a street value of $440 million. Picture: Australian Federa

The massive drugs shipment had a street value of $440 million. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

SENIOR Barbaro drug gang member and South Australian Italian organised crime boss Carmelo Falanga fired four shots at police as they raided his meth lab and was found to be in possession of a fully automatic submachine gun and a .357 revolver.

A JOINT police and spy agency taskforce set up by the Australian Crime Commission helped police in Europe arrest 27 members of the Belgian syndicate believed to have made and sold the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy to the Italy-based Calabrian mafia cell which shipped the pills from Naples to Barbaro’s gang in Melbourne.

The huge haul of ecstasy following the seizure. Picture: Australian Federal Police

The huge haul of ecstasy following the seizure. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

KARAM — who was convicted drug boss Tony Mokbel’s shipping industry inside man — was on bail and on trial over the previous world record seizure in Melbourne of 1.2 tonnes of ecstasy in 2005 at the time he was helping organise the 4.4 tonne importation in 2007.

ORGANISED crime gangs in Mexico were lined up by Karam to receive 20 tonnes of chemicals from China to turn into ice for probable sale in Australia.

KARAM ordered a further six tonnes of ice-making chemicals to be shipped directly to Melbourne.

Calabria, in the toe of southern Italy, is the world headquarters of the Italian organised crime gang ‘Ndrangheta.

It is simply called the mafia by most in Australia, or the Calabrian mafia to differentiate it from the Sicilian mafia.

Details of Karam’s sentencing and involvement in the Calabrian mafia’s 4.4 tonne ecstasy importation in 2007, a 150kg shipment of cocaine in 2008 and his plan to import tonnes of drug making chemicals into Australia were suppressed until yesterday.

Rob Karam

Rob Karam Source: Supplied

Tony Mokbel

Tony Mokbel Source: HeraldSun

Karam, 48, of Derby St, Kew, was jailed for 19 years and ordered to serve a minimum of 15 over his major role in the 4.4 tonne ecstasy importation.

He is awaiting sentencing over other drug charges he was convicted of in November last year.

Karam’s final trial over the planned ice importation was discontinued last month to save the cost of another trial. A guilty verdict in that trial would probably not have resulted in his sentence being increased by much.

The 19-year jail term ends his charmed life of beating drug charges.

Karam was arrested with Mokbel in 2001 and charged over the importation of 550kg of ephedrine, which could make amphetamines worth $2 billion.

He was also charged in 2001 over a three tonne hashish shipment worth $147 million, which Victoria Police believe was organised and financed by Mokbel in partnership with murdered underworld heavyweights Lewis Moran and Graham “The Munster” Kinniburgh.

The trafficking and possession charges against Lebanese-born Karam over the ephedrine seizure were dropped in 2005 and he was found not guilty over the three tonne hash haul.

Graham Kinniburgh

Graham Kinniburgh Source: HeraldSun

Lewis Moran

Lewis Moran Source: News Limited

Karam was also cleared of conspiring with others to import five million ecstasy tablets into Melbourne in 2005.

The Herald Sun became aware through Italian police contacts in early 2007 that the Calabrian mafia was involved in shipping huge amounts of ecstasy to Melbourne.

It agreed to an AFP request not to reveal the Calabrian mafia connection to either the first 1.2 tonne shipment or the second 4.4 tonne one.

The AFP feared publicising the Calabrian connection would tip off the Italians that they were under investigation as the prime suspects.

Now that all the court cases are over and the suppression orders have been lifted the Herald Sun is able to reveal details of the two world’s biggest ecstasy busts for the first time without jeopardising any investigations.

The 2005 ectasy bust was worth an estimated $250 million. The drugs were found hidden in

The 2005 ectasy bust was worth an estimated $250 million. The drugs were found hidden in a shipment of ceramic tiles from Italy aboard the cargo ship Matilda. Source: News Corp Australia

Evidence suggests the 1.2 tonne shipment was going to be distributed partly through Victoria’s fruit and vegetable industry, which has a strong Calabrian mafia presence.

When the AFP swooped as the gang members were unloading the 1.2 tonne ecstasy shipment in 2005 they found the pills were being repacked into hundreds of the type of lettuce boxes used in Victorian markets.

How a Google search brought the whole game unstuck

The 2007 world’s biggest ecstasy bust wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful if a female freight forwarding manager in Melbourne had done what the crooks expected would happen after the container was unloaded.

It’s likely those arrested over the 4.4 tonne shipment would have been the lowly labourers sent by the Barbaro gang to pick up and unpack the pills.

But luck was with AFP that day in 2007.

The manager not doing as expected enabled the AFP to later charge 33 people and dismantle one of Australia’s biggest drug syndicates.

The syndicate was relying on their little sleight of hand with a legitimate company’s pho

The syndicate was relying on their little sleight of hand with a legitimate company’s phone number would go un-noticed. Picture: File. Source: News Corp Australia

In what was one of the largest AFP operation ever, gang members were watched by surveillance officers for 10,000 hours, 185,215 telephone conversations between gang members were secretly recorded and AFP agents and prosecutors put in 287,000 hours of work to crush the syndicate.

All that might not have happened had the freight forwarding manager in Melbourne done as the syndicate expected.

It was that manager’s job to ring a Melbourne company, which her paperwork said had imported a container load of tomato tins from Italy, to let them know it was ready for collection.

While the company was legitimate — and had no idea its name was being used by criminals to import 15 million ecstasy tablets — the phone number on the fake documents was linked to the drug syndicate.

The drugs were professionally packaged in Italy. Picture: Australian Federal Police

The drugs were professionally packaged in Italy. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

Had the manager rung that number a gang member would have answered, pretended to be from the legitimate company and arranged for the container to be picked up without the company ever knowing its name had been used.

What neither the manager nor the crooks knew at that stage was that Customs had checked the container on arrival, discovered the ecstasy and alerted the AFP.

The AFP would have followed the container after it was picked up and would have swooped on whoever started unpacking it.

It’s more than likely those doing the unloading would be way down in the gang hierarchy.

If those criminal underlings didn’t dob in those above them — and people who inform on the Calabrian mafia often have very short lives — then the Mr Bigs responsible for organising the massive ecstasy shipment could easily have escaped detection.

What AFP forensic officers discovered in thousands of tomato tins. Picture: Australian Fe

What AFP forensic officers discovered in thousands of tomato tins. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

So while the AFP was always going to get the 15 million pills and some arrests, it might never have got the drug bosses.

That one manager in the Melbourne freight forwarding company office changed the course of the investigation by doing something totally unexpected.

Instead of reading the paperwork to get the phone number of the company which had supposedly imported the tomatoes, she Googled its name and rang the number on her computer screen rather than the number on the fake paperwork.

The tomato tins looked the goods. Picture: Brendan Francis

The tomato tins looked the goods. Picture: Brendan Francis Source: News Corp Australia

That meant she got through to the real company rather than the crooks.

Alarm bells started to ring when the company denied it had imported any tomatoes.

The manager needed to return the container and as the company she contacted said the tomatoes didn’t belong to it she arranged for the container to be unloaded so the empty container could be returned for re-use while she arranged storage for the tomatoes.

As the AFP was watching the container it had no choice but to move once it started being emptied by unsuspecting staff from the legitimate freight forwarding company.

As it turned the freight forwarding company manager did the AFP a favour by accidentally ringing the legitimate company.

Once the authorities were on the trail, a massive surveillance operation swung into gear.

Once the authorities were on the trail, a massive surveillance operation swung into gear. Pasquale Barbaro and Jan Visser pictured on Queen St in Melbourne during the sting. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

Doing so meant the AFP ended up being able to arrest far more senior members of the gang than it would have had she rung the crooks.

It was efforts by the criminals to find out if the container had been seized — and subsequent drug deals to raise money to pay a $10 million debt owed to a European organised crime gang for the lost drugs — that led to them being careless and saying and doing things they normally wouldn’t have done, all under the watchful eyes and ears of the AFP.

Cops twig to a ‘drug shipment gone wrong’

Conversations secretly taped by police revealed the Barbaro gang remained hopeful of obtaining the 15 million pills for months after the container arrived in Melbourne on June 28, 2007, while suspecting, but not being sure, that the ecstasy had been seized.

Most of the evidence which led to the 33 people being charged was obtained in the months after the 15 million ecstasy pills were seized, with arrests not being made over the 4.4 tonne shipment until 13 months after the container arrived in Melbourne.

That evidence included the AFP capturing text messages in which Calabrian mafia boss Pasquale Barbaro attempted to persuade a Melbourne newspaper journalist to start asking the AFP questions about the ecstasy container to try to find out if it had been seized.

Barbaro, 53, of Whites Rd, Tharbogang, near Griffith, New South Wales, wanted the journalist to establish whether police had the drugs.

If they hadn’t seized them then he was going to send his minions to collect the container and unload it.

The syndicate started to get nervous about the fate of the shipment, but it was already i

The syndicate started to get nervous about the fate of the shipment, but it was already in the hands of the authorities. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

If the journalist was able to establish the container had been seized then Barbaro wanted him to write an article saying so as publicity about the seizure would convince the European drug gang which supplied the ecstasy that the Aussie crooks hadn’t ripped them off and stolen the drugs without paying for them.

Text messages between the journalist and Barbaro provided vital evidence linking Barbaro to the container in which the 15 million ecstasy tablets had been hidden.

The Supreme Court judge who jailed Barbaro for a minimum of 30 years in 2012 made reference to Barbaro’s attempted use of the journalist.

“You were understandably concerned that the seizure of the container had not been made public,” Justice Betty King told Barbaro.

“To ensure that your European suppliers understood that you were not trying to steal the ecstasy tablets, or as it is colloquially known, ‘rip them off’ — you attempted to try to have the seizure made public.”

Justice King told the court Barbaro contacted the journalist on a number of occasions asking if he was aware of the seizure “and giving details that could be known only to those who had a complete awareness of the container and its contents, including the size of the shipment”.

“You were attempting to ensure that those to whom you were responsible for this payment overseas were fully aware that the shipment had been seized by law enforcement authorities,” Justice King told Barbaro.

On September 19, 2007, several weeks after the 4.4 tonne ecstasy shipment was seized, Barbaro sent a text to the Melbourne journalist.

It said: “Mate, I have info on a drug shipment gone wrong, will u chase it up as I’m afraid to tell police of fear they might be involved. The container number is medu 1250218 and it came in on the ship monica 2 months ago and it is 15 million ecstasy tabs in tomato tins. Why isn’t it out, it’s the biggest in history.”

Although the journalist provided no help to Barbaro, the Mafioso heavy was able to use corrupt sources on Melbourne’s docks to eventually confirm the ecstasy was almost certainly in the hands of the AFP.

It then became Barbaro’s responsibility to send $10 million in cash to the European syndicate to cover the loss.

He and his fellow gang members needed to keep drug dealing to get that $10 million and the AFP watched and listened as they did.

While some arrests were always going to be made once the 4.4 tonnes was seized in 2007, the sequence of events could easily have followed the path of the previous world’s biggest ecstasy bust — which was also in Melbourne.

The drugs hidden in a shipment of tiles from Italy aboard the cargo ship Matilda.

The drugs hidden in a shipment of tiles from Italy aboard the cargo ship Matilda. Source: News Corp Australia

That case involved the importation of five million ecstasy tablets hidden in a container of tiles which arrived on Melbourne docks from Italy in 2005.

The AFP did then what it did later in 2007 with the 4.4 tonne seizure, they took out the ecstasy tablets and replaced them with fake pills and watched to see who picked up the container and then followed the container to see who unpacked it.

While they charged six men over the 2005 bust they only got convictions against the lowly labourers who had been paid by the gang to unload the ecstasy.

Among those acquitted over the 2005 world’s biggest ecstasy bust was drug boss Tony Mokbel’s mate Rob Karam.

Karam wasn’t so lucky over the next world’s biggest ecstasy bust in 2007. He was one of the 32 people so far convicted in connection with the 4.4 tonne ecstasy shipment.

Bugged conversations suggest that some of the players convicted over the 4.4 tonne shipment were also involved in the earlier 1.2 tonne ecstasy shipment, including Pasquale Barbaro.

The major players got away with that one because AFP agents had to swoop as soon as the 1.2 tonne shipment started being unloaded so as to avoid the loss of physical evidence — but in doing so they were limited to arresting only the minor players involved in unpacking the container.

Those further up the criminal food chain — like Barbaro — traditionally stay several steps removed from the actual drugs so as to avoid detection.

John Higgs, Rob Karam, Pasquale Barbaro and Saverio Zirilli. Picture: Australian Federal

John Higgs, Rob Karam, Pasquale Barbaro and Saverio Zirilli. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

But after Barbaro lost the 4.4 tonne shipment in 2007 he and other senior gang members, in their desperation to earn the $10 million they needed to quickly pay their debt to the European organised crime syndicate, became much more hands on.

They talked more on telephones, had more face to face meetings and physically handled drugs — providing crucial evidence for the AFP as they did so.

Barbaro was caught on tape telling a fellow gang member he was doing things that he hadn’t done since he was learning the criminal ropes as a teenager.

The container containing the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy arrived in Melbourne aboard the MV Monica on June 28, 2007, after having left Naples on May 25.

The shipment was sent from Naples.

The shipment was sent from Naples. Source: News Limited

It was addressed to a legitimate Melbourne food importing company, which had no idea the gang was using fake documents to make it look as though it had ordered the tomatoes.

Those fake documents included the phone number the freight forwarding company was supposed to ring once the container had cleared Customs.

That number was connected to the drug syndicate. The plan was that once the number was called the gang would arrange pick-up and delivery of the container.

The gang expected a simple pickup for massive profit.

The gang expected a simple pickup for massive profit. Source: News Corp Australia

The Melbourne-based food importer was chosen by the gang because it was a company which did import food from Europe, making it less likely a container addressed to it would be considered suspicious and subjected to a search by Customs in Melbourne.

Karam, using his knowledge as a former shipping freight forwarder, was probably responsible for choosing which company to use and arranging the false paperwork.

As mentioned earlier, the freight forwarding company in Melbourne didn’t ring the crooks so the crooks started to panic and make frantic attempts to try to find out what had happened to the container they knew had arrived.

The drug syndicate picked a company that was less likely to set off alarm bells with Cust

The drug syndicate picked a company that was less likely to set off alarm bells with Customs. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

While neither the AFP nor Customs were aware of a specific container of drugs, they had intelligence provided by a number of overseas agencies that a shipment of drugs was thought to have left Europe for Melbourne.

That led to Customs singling out a large number of containers to be searched.

They struck gold when they opened up container MEDU1250218 and cut the top off one of the sealed tomato tins to find it full of ecstasy tablets stamped with various logos, including a kangaroo.

The AFP was alerted and the mammoth job of opening up 607 boxes containing 3642 tins, removing the contents and repacking them with fake drugs began — with the intention of then watching the container and allowing it to be picked up and delivered so they could nab whoever did so.

Some tins were weighed down with gravel to ensure the total shipment weighed the same as

Some tins were weighed down with gravel to ensure the total shipment weighed the same as a legitimate one. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

The pills had been professionally packed, probably at a cannery in Italy. Some of the tins actually contained tomatoes, others were packed with gravel and 3034 of them were full of ecstasy pills. The tins of gravel were included so the total weight of the consignment would match what a genuine shipment of 3642 tins of tomatoes would weigh.

The total number of ecstasy tablets packed into the tomato tins was 15,193,798 and they weighed 4.423 tonnes.

AFP agents involved in the unpacking were stunned at the size of the bust — as was the then AFP Commissioner, Mick Keelty, when he got the phone call telling him his Melbourne agents had just made the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Then Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty

Then Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty Source: News Limited

Saverio Zirilli. Picture: Australian Federal Police

Saverio Zirilli. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

They knew, just about for certain, that Karam would be involved, as would Barbaro.

Phone taps and physical surveillance of them led to others in the group being identified.

The AFP knew Barbaro and his cousin and right-hand man, Saverio Zirilli, had travelled from Griffith and booked into Melbourne’s Pacific International Suites in Little Bourke St, shortly before the ecstasy container was due to arrive.

Senior South Australian mafia figure Carmelo Falanga also travelled to Melbourne at the same time.

The three Mafioso had regular meeting with Karam and Higgs in coming days as they tried to find out if it was safe to pick up the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy.

There were tense days in the Pacific International Suites as they waited for news.

AFP agents sensed the tension as they monitored every conversation in the room the crooks were sharing.

The crew waiting for news at the Pacific International. Picture: Australian Federal Polic

The crew waiting for news at the Pacific International. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

Carmelo Falanga travelled to Melbourne for the expected shipment. Picture: Australian Fed

Carmelo Falanga travelled to Melbourne for the expected shipment. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

Higgs’s lack of mobile phone knowledge resulted in some short-lived jubilation that the container had arrived, hadn’t been seized and was safe to collect.

On July 4, 2007, several days after the container was unloaded at the Melbourne docks, Higgs sent a cryptic, yet optimistic, early morning text to Barbaro and Falanga.

Barbaro was heard in the bugged hotel room to say Higgs’s message was the best news for “a f…ing long time”.

Higgs claimed that he needed to “come back to earth”; such was his level of excitement at receiving the text.

The cause for Higgs’s optimism was only fully revealed that afternoon.

Higgs joined Zirilli and Griffith-based Barbaro gang member Pasquale Sergi in room 609 at the Pacific International and told them he had received a text message overnight saying “delivery successful”.

Higgs wrongly concluded the sender was Karam, whose job it was to find out if the pills had arrived and whether or not they had been detected by Customs or police.

The message led to Higgs concluding the much awaited clearance enabling safe access to the container and its drugs had been confirmed by Karam and it was that “green light” message that Higgs had earlier conveyed to Barbaro.

As the AFP listened to Higgs telling Zirilli and Sergi (Barbaro was out at the time) about the text message they could tell Zirilli and Higgs were extremely buoyant, with Zirilli describing the news as “beautiful”, but Sergi initially remained silent.

Zirilli spoke about setting in train the next phase, getting two gang underlings to take a truck to pick up the ecstasy-filled container, possibly as early as the following morning.

The crew held out hope the massive haul was still theirs. Picture: Australian Federal Pol

The crew held out hope the massive haul was still theirs. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

An excited Higgs was heard talking about persons emptying the container and the gang finally getting their hands on the drugs.

At this point, Sergi, a man more versed in text messaging than Higgs, proffered his unpopular opinion regarding the source of the message Barbaro, Zirilli and Higgs were getting so positively worked up about.

He suggested the message had not been sent by Karam but that it was merely a service provider auto-generated message confirming the successful delivery of an earlier text sent by Higgs to Karam.

Sergi’s theory was initially discounted by Higgs and Zirilli.

It was ultimately accepted as being correct — but only after Higgs met Karam that night and established the “delivery successful” text was indeed from the phone provider and not Karam and it related to the successful delivery of a text message and not the successful delivery of 15 million ecstasy tablets.

That was one of the stuff-ups by syndicate members that prompted senior gang member Jan Visser to come up with one a one-liner that caused much laughter among the AFP agents who were secretly listening to his conversations.

“It’s hard to fly like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys,” Visser was recorded saying.

The bugged conversations recorded in room 609 by the AFP provided valuable evidence as to who was connected to the 4.4 tonne ecstasy shipment.

Pasquale Barbaro, Saverio Zirilli, Severino Scarponi and Domenico Barbaro pictured in Car

Pasquale Barbaro, Saverio Zirilli, Severino Scarponi and Domenico Barbaro pictured in Carlton after a visit to Brunetti’s cafe. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

Telling the mafia big boys the bad news

It wasn’t until July 14, 2007, that Barbaro decided to prepare to tell his Calabrian mafia bosses in Italy the bad news that it appeared the ecstasy had been seized.

He flew to Calabria on July 21, after being secretly recorded saying he needed “to lick their wounds”. While he was in Italy he spoke to Zirilli in calls intercepted by the AFP.

Barbaro told Zirilli he had been copping “the heat, right left and centre”.

In a later call to Zirilli, Barbaro said the suppliers of the ecstasy in Italy were all “starving here, and I’m to blame”.

Barbaro came back to Australia after a month with the news that if the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy was lost then he and fellow drug importation financier Falanga each had to send $5 million to the European syndicate to compensate for the loss.

A flurry of drug activity by Barbaro and his gang in the following months to get money to pay that debt provided yet more evidence for the AFP, with two breakthroughs in particular providing a mountain of vital information.

What’s that again? An AFP detective monitoring telephone surveillance. Picture: Brendan F

What’s that again? An AFP detective monitoring telephone surveillance. Picture: Brendan Francis Source: News Corp Australia

The first was when Griffith-based Barbaro, 53, decided he was spending so much time in Melbourne that it made sense to rent a property.

The married father of four got his Melbourne mistress, Sharon Ropa, who was 37 when she was arrested in 2008, to rent a unit in Little Palmerston St, Carlton.

Sharon Ropa, following her arrest. Picture: Australian Federal Police.

Sharon Ropa, following her arrest. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

Guns found buried in the garden of Barbaro’s Carlton flat. Picture: Australian Federal Po

Guns found buried in the garden of Barbaro’s Carlton flat. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

It became Barbaro and Ropa’s love nest, as well as an office, a meeting place for fellow gang members and a source of evidence for the AFP.

The AFP secretly installed cameras and listening devices in the apartment and what they captured proved crucial to convicting those involved in the ecstasy importation, other drug dealing and money laundering offences.

So much cash was being brought into the apartment that Ropa bought a money counting machine, which the AFP got footage of her using.

One good piece of evidence was obtained when the AFP raided the property about 4am on August 8, 2008.

On the bedside table next to the bed Barbaro and a naked Ropa were sharing at the time was a piece of paper with the number of the container containing the 150kg of cocaine written on it.

Also seized by police from the love nest were more than 2500 ecstasy tablets, 30 mobile phones, $181,000 in cash and several notebooks outlining payments made for drugs. They also discovered guns buried in the back garden.

The second breakthrough was when AFP agents picked up from various bugged conversations that several of the leading players were planning to meet at the George Graham Park at Wunghnu, near Shepparton, on April 16, 2008.

Pasquale Barbaro, Rob Karam and Sharon Ropa thought they were safe to chat at a Shepparto

Pasquale Barbaro, Rob Karam and Sharon Ropa thought they were safe to chat at a Shepparton park, but AFP operatives were listening and watching. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

Each of the gang members was very careful when talking and texting over the many mobile phones they used, making it difficult to use what they often said in code as evidence against them.

What the AFP was hoping was the gang members would feel much safer talking openly about their drug operations while sitting at a bench table in a remote park 204km north of Melbourne.

What the crooks didn’t know was the AFP quickly arranged to be able to listen to what was said in the park.

Conversations were captured between Barbaro, senior Barbaro gang member Gratian Bran and Mr X, who can’t be identified but who is a member of the European gang who was sent to Australia to ensure the Barbaro syndicate paid the $10 million it owed the Calabrian mafia in Italy for the loss of the ecstasy.

The AFP was able to record the following conversation about ecstasy tablets.

BARBARO: “But you told me six thousand.”

MR X: “Yeah, but that’s from the pure MDMA and this is already mixed so that it’s about a hundred, a hundred pills.”

BARBARO: “The ones I bought were already mixed with the binder and everything. I made then thousand out of one kilo”

MR X: “Yeah, from the pure MDMA”

BARBARO: “Fifteen kilos would be …”

BRAN: “That’s half a million dollars. I’ve got seven and a half kilos for $300,000.”

BARBARO: “The ones in Sydney, they were going and I told them I said sell them at, I said, for even $7.50 just to get rid of them. Just sell them just to get the ball over the line, that’s the first 250,000.”

AFP agents watched as Pasquale Barbaro left the table and walked through the park to his

AFP agents watched as Pasquale Barbaro left the table and walked through the park to his Mazda ute, opened the door, leant into the cabin, and returned to the table with something in his hand. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

As the three drug dealers sat around a picnic table they talked openly about their criminal activity, much to the delight of the AFP agents secretly monitoring the bugged conversation.

Mr X talked about his recent discussions with the European syndicate which supplied the ecstasy. He said the Europeans were still concerned that money owed by the Barbaro syndicate had not yet been paid.

Barbaro told Mr X that Karam still owed about $600,000 and expressed frustration at Karam’s constant stalling over the debt.

Rob Karam owed big money. Picture: Australian Federal Police.

Rob Karam owed big money. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

Bran chipped in that Karam should be punished for his conduct and told Mr X and Barbaro he knew people in Melbourne who could assist in recovering the money Karam owed.

Barbaro stated that he had already warned Karam that he would pay at the end of the day “either in money, or with his life.”

Some of those involved in the 4.4 tonne ecstasy importation — including Barbaro and Karam — also imported 150kg of cocaine into Melbourne on July 24, 2008, just a couple of weeks before the AFP made arrests in 2008 in connection with the 2007 ecstasy shipment and subsequent crimes.

They used corrupt dock workers in Panama to put three bags containing the cocaine in with bags of Columbian coffee beans in a container which was on its way to Melbourne.

The plan was to use corrupt dock workers in Melbourne to open the container just after it was unloaded, remove the three bags of cocaine and reseal the container with a genuine seal, which the workers in Panama had placed inside the container with the cocaine.

The cocaine shipment hidden in a container from Panama. Picture: Australian Federal Polic

The cocaine shipment hidden in a container from Panama. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

This type of drug smuggling is known as the piggyback method, which involves drugs being placed in a legitimate cargo with the intention of the container being accessed and the drugs removed prior to delivery to the actual legitimate importer of the other goods in the container.

The plan failed as Customs officers picked up irregularities when they X-rayed the container and later found the cocaine during a search.

Karam’s Melbourne dock contacts were so good he knew Customs had found the cocaine within minutes of them discovering it.

He was caught on tape giving Barbaro the bad news and a police surveillance camera hidden in Barbaro’s Carlton apartment recorded Barbaro putting his head in his hands.

Ever the attentive and fawning lover, Sharon Ropa was caught on tape asking Barbaro if he wanted a drink of “water, coke, anything else?”

Barbaro replied: “Coke, we’d love 150kgs of it, but you know you haven’t got it.”

Gang members also had a container of what they thought was 100kg of chemicals to make ice on the way to Melbourne from India at the time arrests were made in August 2008.

It turned out the Indian crooks had ripped them off and the chemicals they sent hidden in furniture were not what the gang had paid for and couldn’t have been used to make illegal drugs.

Fadl Maroun, after his arrest. Picture: Australian Federal Police.

Fadl Maroun, after his arrest. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

And Karam and fellow gang member Fadl Maroun were well advanced in their plans to buy tonnes of chemicals to ship to Australia and Mexico to be turned into ice.

Karam and Maroun were brought undone by some excellent undercover operatives in Hong Kong and Melbourne.

AFP agents knew from bugged telephone conversations that Karam was keen to buy tonnes of ice-making chemicals.

They set up an elaborate sting, with the help of Hong Kong police, whereby Karam became convinced he was dealing with a senior member of a Chinese organised crime gang with unlimited access to the chemicals needed to make ice.

Karam and Maroun flew to Hong Kong to meet that supposed Mr Big, who was using the name Michael, for the first time on March 13, 2008 and again for subsequent meetings on May 14 and July 2 that year.

Michael was actually an experienced Hong Kong police undercover agent.

Michael met Karam and Maroun at the Whampoa Lounge cafe, in Hong Kong’s Harbour Plaza on each of the three occasions. Every face to face meeting was secretly video and audio taped by police.

Karam and Maroun meeting 'Michael', the Hong Kong undercover officer. Picture: Australian

Karam and Maroun meeting ‘Michael’, the Hong Kong undercover officer. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

Michael was posing as a Chinese crime boss who was interested in getting ecstasy pills from Karam in exchange for supplying Karam with tonnes of drug making chemicals from China.

As a result of the Hong Kong meetings with Michael, arrangements were made for Karam to meet with a female who Michael said was his criminal contact in Melbourne.

That female was an undercover AFP agent who was using the name Rosie during the sting operation.

Two meetings later occurred between Maroun, who was acting as Karam’s intermediary, and Rosie on May 10 and August 6, 2008, at the Middle Bar and Café in Middle Park. Both meetings at outdoor tables were secretly audio and video recorded as well as physically observed by hidden AFP agents.

During the May 10 meeting, Maroun gave Rosie a quantity of ecstasy and Rosie gave him $100,000 in cash.

This drug deal had been agreed to during Karam and Maroun’s first meeting with Michael in Hong Kong on March 13, 2008, and was seen by Karam as a stepping stone to ensure Michael supplied the chemicals Karam was after.

Michael told Karam during the Hong Kong meeting they would do the ecstasy deal first and if it was successful he would turn his mind to providing the chemicals.

Doing it that way ensured that even if the AFP’s grand plan to get Karam over the conspiracy to import tonnes of chemicals failed they would at least have the Melbourne ecstasy deal to charge him with.

The Harbour Plaza Hotel in Hong Kong.

The Harbour Plaza Hotel in Hong Kong. Source: News Limited

Michael insisted in his meetings with Karam and Maroun in Hong Kong that an upfront payment of an amount equivalent to $20,000 needed to be paid as a sign of good faith and explained that such payment was required before “his people” would start production of the chemicals.

Michael and Karam and Maroun provided each other with “safe” telephone numbers that supposedly couldn’t be traced back to them and which should only be used to communicate with each other to organise the deal.

The AFP bugged those phones and retrieved incriminating text messages from them, as well as recorded conversations.

Listening devices at the first meeting between Michael and Karam and Maroun in Hong Kong caught Karam bragging to Michael about having four million ecstasy tablets in Melbourne that could be used to pay for the chemicals he wanted Michael to supply. He said they were good quality pills imported from professional laboratories in Amsterdam.

Karam told Michael he wanted liquid chemicals, rather than crystals, to make ice, and that he wanted them shipped to Italy and that the first shipment should be two tonnes.

He told Michael he wanted it to be liquid “because the avenue we have from Italy to Australia is liquid”.

Karam said he had a cook arranged to turn the liquid into ice for sale in Australia.

Keen to seal the deal, Karam promised Michael he could have a share of the profit from the first batch of ice.

He upped the ante during his second meeting with Michael in Hong Kong on May 14, 2008.

Karam said he now wanted 20 tonnes of chemicals and that he wanted it sent to Mexico instead of Italy because “they don’t even check”.

He and Michel exchanged many texts between that May 14 meeting and the third Hong Kong meeting on July 2, 2008.

The texts related to the first shipment being of five tonnes to Mexico and a bit of haggling over the price Karam needed to pay.

One of the texts from Karam to Michael said: “OK, that’s fine about the money but is the 5 ton ready to go as my people are ready to start on that now.”

Michael texted back: “Yes we will start getting that ready once we have received the agreed amount. How soon do u think u will be back up here.”

Karam replied: “I have the agreed amount with me and will pass it to you as soon as I arrive there. Trust me I will not cheat you. I promise. If the first five is ready I can come anytime. Are we able to get just a small sample of it?”

Michael was told by Karam that he wanted a total of 26 tonnes of chemicals, with 20 tonnes going to Mexico and six tonnes to Australia.

The drug ice can fetch an estimated $1m per kilogram on the streets.

The drug ice can fetch an estimated $1m per kilogram on the streets. Source: Supplied

The Australian Crime Commission puts the going rate for a single hit of ice (0.1 gram) on the streets of Melbourne at $100.

Karam’s planned importation of 26 tonnes of chemicals would have made 13 tonnes of ice with a street value of $13 billion.

Karam and Maroun flew back to Hong Kong to meet Michael again on July 2, 2008, to thrash out more details.

They discussed how Karam would provide the $20,000 to Michael to start the ball rolling.

Karam was recorded telling Michael he wanted the first batch of five tonnes of chemicals to be delivered to a factory in Mexico.

He said his chemist would fly from Australia to Mexico as soon as the chemicals arrived and would do the cook in Mexico.

“Everything is ready to start,” Karam was recorded telling Michael.

“The cook is ready. The chemist is ready, the factory is ready. Everything is there waiting.”

Karam told Michael he had 100,000 ecstasy pills in hand to pay for the chemicals.

Karam wanted to cook the drug ice in massive quantities, reminiscent of the TV series Bre

Karam wanted to cook the drug ice in massive quantities, reminiscent of the TV series Breaking Bad. Picture: AMC Source: Supplied

He also asked Michael if there was any possibility of importing guns along with the chemicals, but that the “pseudo is more important that the guns”.

Karam flew back to Australia and immediately began trying to find investors in Australia to fund the 26-tonne chemical venture — it has been one of Karam’s traits throughout his long criminal career to use other people’s money to pay for the drug shipments he organised.

He didn’t approach Barbaro or any of his gang members for cash. The 26-tonne chemical importation was a Karam frolic that Barbaro wasn’t involved in or aware of.

Karam was struggling to quickly get the funds he needed so he sent a text to Michael on July 22, 2008, apologising for the delay and claiming the “cartel war in Mexico” was making communications with his Mexican contacts difficult.

But Karam assured Michael he still wanted the tonnes of chemicals and that he hoped Michael would be patient while the Mexico hitch was being sorted out.

Michael responded with a text saying “just let me know when you are ready, but nothing can start here till we get what we agreed on”.

Maroun met Rosie at the Middle Park cafe on August 6, 2008, and gave her ecstasy tablets worth $20,000.

Karam was ecstatic when Michael texted later that day to say Rosie had confirmed she had received payment.

Michael told Karam receipt of the payment meant “my people are ready to start things right away”.

Karam didn’t stay ecstatic for long.

Armed with more than enough evidence of Karam’s involvement in the conspiracy to buy the 26 tonnes of chemicals, as well as his prominent roles in the 4.4 tonne ecstasy importation and 150kg cocaine shipment, the AFP arrested him during an early morning raid on his Kew home on August 8, 2008 — just two days after he sealed the ambitious chemical deal with Michael.

(See the footage of Maroun’s meeting with “Rosie” in the video above)

AFP detective superintendent Matt Warren — pictured in the AFP building control centre —

AFP detective superintendent Matt Warren — pictured in the AFP building control centre — led the massive operation. Picture: Brendan Francis Source: News Corp Australia

Inside the investigation: Putting the pieces of the puzzle together

AFP Detective Superintendent Matt Warren was heavily involved in the world’s biggest ecstasy bust from the start and headed up the investigation which followed it.

He told the Herald Sun it was intelligence received from the AFP liaison office in The Hague which eventually led to the June 2007 seizure of the 4.4 tonne shipment of ecstasy.

That non-specific information about large shipments of ecstasy coming to Melbourne from Italy was developed further by the AFP and Customs.

Other law enforcement agencies also received intelligence about ecstasy shipments, which was shared with the AFP.

“We were already conducting an investigation into Barbaro and Zirilli,” Det-Supt Warren said.

“We were targeting them in relation to their ongoing criminal activity.

“Separate to that, we received information from international agencies, as well as locally from our state police colleagues, about ecstasy shipments.

“We fed all of that information through Customs.

“Nothing we received would be considered to be a smoking gun that led us directly to the container containing the 4.4 tonnes.

“Customs were targeting a raft of different containers based on this fairly broad information that we received.

“The container which contained the 4.4 tonnes was subjected to searching by Customs because it fitted the profile of what the information received from various agencies suggested we should be looking for.

The AFP kept a close eye on containers when they hit the jackpot. Picture: File

The AFP kept a close eye on containers when they hit the jackpot. Picture: File Source: News Corp Australia

“That information was that there was a consignment of drugs coming to Melbourne and that it was probably coming from Europe.

“So Customs were looking at various containers.

“That diligence paid off when they opened one of the sealed tomato tins and found ecstasy pills.”

Det-Supt Warren said Customs alerted the AFP and his role then began in what became a 13-month operation before charges were laid.

He said the AFP already had Barbaro’s telephone bugged over its separate probe into his activities and Victoria Police were monitoring Higgs over other matters.

“Victoria Police had committed significant resources into investigating Higgs,” Det-Supt Warren said.

“Some of the evidence Victoria Police captured during their pursuit of Higgs was absolutely crucial in terms of the convictions we got, as was information provided by the Australian Crime Commission.”

Det-Supt Warren said Barbaro and Higgs, along with Zirilli and Karam, quickly became the prime suspects for organising the massive ecstasy importation.

“We had been working Barbaro from a surveillance point of view for months before the ecstasy shipment arrived,” Det-Supt Warren said.

“We twigged fairly quickly that it was probably Barbaro and his group, but we didn’t have any direct links so we couldn’t confirm that.

A surveillance shot of Higgs and Falanga near Nick's Spaghetti Bar in Lonsdale Street, Me

A surveillance shot of Higgs and Falanga near Nick’s Spaghetti Bar in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

“While we had nothing specifically linking him to it at that stage, the fact he and Zirilli were in Melbourne when the container arrived was a strong indication of their involvement — as was the people they met and talked with in the days before and after the container arrived, such as Higgs, Karam and .

“Before the ecstasy arrived we were targeting Barbaro in a general sense, rather than because of some specific crime we expected him to commit.

“He was chosen to be a target because of his known background in drug dealing.

“With somebody like Barbaro, it’s like working on the likes of Tony Mokbel.

“You work on them long enough and they are going to be involved in something criminal as that is there business. They are in the business of being a crook.

“We knew enough about Barbaro that if we targeted him then sooner or later he was going to lead us to criminal activity.”

What he led them to was the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

The sheer size of the haul was a logistical challenge for authorities. Picture: Australia

The sheer size of the haul was a logistical challenge for authorities. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

“The sheer size of the seizure created an enormous resourcing problem for us,” Det-Supt Warren said.

“All our seizures are processed by our forensics people. They are simply not set up to process 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy.

“They had never done a seizure of that size before, in fact, no one had as it was the world’s biggest seizure.

“So we had the investigation side of it, chasing who was responsible, but we also had to work out how we were physically going to process the drugs, how we were going to store the ecstasy.

“We didn’t have a drug vault that could handle 4.4 tonnes.

“We had to find a large area within the AFP to build a secure vault that doubled as a lab where the drugs could be processed and tested.

“Once they had been tested they needed to be destroyed, except for the few samples kept as evidence for the trials.

“Even that in itself was an enormous logistic exercise, which we had to do in a graduated process.”

Det-Supt Warren said it was an unexpected stroke of luck that the manager of the freight forwarding company in Melbourne contacted the legitimate company rather than the crooks.

“Had she rung the false number on the paperwork, instead of using Google to get the phone number of the legitimate company, she would have got through to the crooks and the crooks would have picked up the container and we would have made arrests as the substitute drugs were being unloaded,” he said.

“”Had that occurred, and had we arrested half a dozen low-level unpackers, there is no way we could have continued to not announce the seizure of 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy.

“That, potentially, would have put us in a position where we were not able to get the bigger players, the organisers.

“So, without question, the manager did us a favour by accidentally contacting the legitimate company instead of the crooks.

“It meant we couldn’t go ahead with the controlled delivery of the container — which would have involved us watching the container to see who picked it up and unpacked it — and meant instead that we started a long investigation that led us to make 33 arrests, including of those up the criminal tree that organised it.

“The size of the seizure in itself also did us a favour in that it was so big the

AFP made it its number one investigation and one of its highest priorities for a 12 month period.

“We had unlimited access to all the AFP’s resources to tackle it.”

Sharon Ropa’s every move was monitored at the Wunghnu meeting. Picture: Australian Federa

Sharon Ropa’s every move was monitored at the Wunghnu meeting. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

Det-Supt Warren said a good example of how having as much manpower and technical resources as were required helped enormously in gathering evidence that would otherwise have been missed was the bugging of the George Graham Park at Wunghnu, near Shepparton, on April 16, 2008.

Saturation physical and electronic surveillance of several key Barbaro gang members around the clock for weeks at a time produced intelligence that some of them were going to meet at the park and the reason was they were wary of talking over telephones as they feared, quite rightly, that their phones were bugged.

They figured sitting around a table in the bush would enable them to talk freely about their drug importation and trafficking plans.

That was a mistaken assumption as the AFP was able to set up to capture the ensuing conversations before the meeting took place.

The secretly taped conversations in the bugged Wunghnu park became part of the AFP’s brief of evidence against Barbaro and others.

Gang members were watched by surveillance officers for 10,000 hours and 185,215 telephone

Gang members were watched by surveillance officers for 10,000 hours and 185,215 telephone conversations between gang members were secretly recorded. Picture: Brendan Francis Source: News Corp Australia

“It was crucial evidence,” Det-Supt Warren said.

“It was a great example of what can happen when you have significant resources that enable you to firstly observe a pattern of behaviour and secondly have the people available with the necessary equipment and ability to do what was needed to be done to be in a position to monitor the conversations our intelligence told us were likely to occur in the park.

“The bugging by us of the Carlton apartment in Little Palmerston that Sharon Ropa organised for her and Barbaro was also crucial for us.

“It meant that every time Barbaro came from his home in Griffith to Melbourne we knew where he would be staying and could monitor any conversations in the Little Palmerston apartment he and Ropa shared.

“It suited Barbaro to set his girlfriend Ropa up in a place where they felt safe.

“It suited us because it became a place where Barbaro and his senior gang members would gather to discuss their criminal activity.

“Conversations we monitored in the apartment provided evidence against various gang members and also gave us leads as to what they were planning and what their movements were going to be.”

Det-Supt Warren said a number of factors, some beyond the AFP’s control, contributed to making the investigation so successful.

“It was a perfect storm of events coming together,” he said.

“There was the sheer size of the seizure, the quirk of fate that led to the controlled delivery not being successful and the crooks failing to get their hands on the drugs.

“All that meant we could commit to giving the operation whatever it needed.

“The majority of the brief of evidence against them came after the seizure of the container.

“It was their attempts to locate it, find out what had happened to it and then further drug activity to get the money to pay the debt they owed for it that gave us the evidence to charge so many of them.

“Barbaro in particular became a lot more hands on than he normally would be. Crooks of his stature usually stay well removed from the actual drug dealing so as to avoid detection.

“They have people to do the dirty work for them.

“But he became very hands on after the container was seized.

“He did so through desperation because he needed money quickly to pay back the $10 million to the syndicate in Europe and in that desperation made mistakes and provided us with the evidence to help convict him.

“There was a bill to be paid and the consequences of not paying it would be serious.

“It was at least $10 million, and I suspect that figure was a negotiated settlement.

“I suspect what was really owed was a lot more than that and there was some negotiation, based on Barbaro’s high standing with the international Calabrian mafia community, for him to get a discount on what was really owed.

The mafia are not to be trifled with. Here’s the suspected head of a Calabrian mafia crim

The mafia are not to be trifled with. Here’s the suspected head of a Calabrian mafia crime family Salvatore Coluccio escorted by police special forces after his 2009 arrest. Coluccio had been on the run for four years and as found hiding in a special bunker equipped with an electric generator, an air conditioning system and a large stock of food. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

“The Calabrians in Europe would have borne some of the loss themselves and it may be that there were family members in Italy who copped some of the loss without requiring Barbaro to pay them.

“The $10 million Barbaro sent to Europe wasn’t the full debt.

“Certainly $10 million doesn’t equate to 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy. There was certainly a loss that the European syndicate would have had to bear.”

Det-Supt Warren said it was likely the $10 million Barbaro was required to pay would have been an agreed amount to build trust back up with the European syndicate so it would continue to provide Barbaro with drugs.

He said while the AFP had no specific intelligence which pointed to the Calabrians in Italy being more senior than those in the Australian syndicate it was likely those in Italy were higher up the Calabrian mafia hierarchy.

“There is a long standing history that that is the way the syndicate operates,” Det-Supt Warren said.

“There has been enough intelligence gathered over the years by the AFP, the ACC and the NCA before it, as well as various other organisations who have looked at the ‘Ndrangheta as a group, to say the leadership goes right back to Calabria.

“It branches out into various parts of Europe. They have strong links in Germany.

“There have been quite well publicised Calabrian mafia murders that occurred in Germany that are linked through family connections to Australia.

“There is no question those clans stay strong.

“I think that in terms of the standing in the world of organised crime that the Australian arm of the Calabrian mafia is a bit lower down than the Europeans.

“The centre of Calabrian mafia operations is in Europe, with Australia as a franchise.

“Having said that, Barbaro had a very high standing in the organisation overseas.”

Six Calabrian mafia members were executed in a hail of bullets as they left a birthday party in the German city of Duisberg in August 2007.

They were victims of a long-running feud between the Strangio-Nirta and Pelle-Vottari Calabrian mafia clans. The Pelle-Vottari clan is closely aligned to the Romeo clan.

The warring clans have relatives in Australia who police believe are Calabrian mafia members, particularly the Nirta, Pelle and Romeo clans.

The feud started in 1991 when two members of the Strangio-Nirta clan were shot in a fight with members of the Pelle-Vottari clan during carnival celebrations in the Calabrian mafia stronghold of San Luca in southern Italy.

Women wait for the caskets of Francesco Giorgi, Sebastiano Strangio and Marco Marmo after

Women wait for the caskets of Francesco Giorgi, Sebastiano Strangio and Marco Marmo after their funerals following the mafia slaying that left six dead. Source: AP

A number of tit for tat reprisal attacks happened in following years, culminating in the Duisberg massacre of 2007.

Massacre ringleader Giovanni Strangio was jailed for life in 2011.

AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin yesterday said the world’s biggest ecstasy bust was a superb result.

“This prosecution demonstrates the tangible, disruptive results that can occur when the AFP and its partners actively target significant organised crime ventures, and follow through with a combination of tested and innovative investigative tactics,” he told the Herald Sun.

“More than 400 members were involved in the investigation leading up to the arrest phase.

“Their patience and dedication not only prevented 15 million tablets of MDMA from hitting Australian streets, it also dismantled the senior levels of a diverse, well-connected international criminal enterprise that was capable of importing large quantities of drugs, facilitating an associated supply chain and laundering millions of dollars.

The bust kept millions of ecstasy pills off the streets. Picture: Australian Federal Poli

The bust kept millions of ecstasy pills off the streets. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

“This is one of the most significant investigations in the history of the AFP and it is one that we — as an organisation and individuals — are very proud of.”

Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions Robert Bromwich said the charges which followed the world’s biggest ecstasy bust resulted in one of the longest and most successful CDPP prosecutions ever.

“Thirty two of the 33 people known to have been involved have been convicted now,” Mr Bromwich told the Herald Sun.

“The only one who hasn’t is the one who absconded.

“We have had very long running counter terrorism trials, very long running major tax fraud trials and very long running commercial matters.

“We are in the business of running big, difficult trials.”

Mr Bromwich said prosecutors from his department had worked incredibly closely with the AFP.

“The collaboration took place right from the very earliest stage,” he said.

“Our people were involved in advising pretty much on a daily basis on an incredible range of issues, legal, evidentiary, practical and the works.”

Mr Bromwich said the sentence of life with a 30 year non-parole period given to drug gang boss Pasquale Barbaro was one of the longest ever handed down in Australia for a drug offence.

He said there had been a few sentences of life with no parole, but only when the offenders forced a trial by pleading not guilty.

Barbaro pleaded guilty.

Mr Bromwich said it was a “stiff but appropriate sentence” which would send a message to other drug dealers what they were putting at risk by offending.

“What a case like this tells us, in common with many of our other cases, is that a huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes by the police and the prosecutors and the importance of the pivotal role of the prosecutor in shaping and running the case,” Mr Bromwich said.

“What the prosecution really do, what they are engaged in, is the art of bridging the gap between knowing and proving.

“So they are taking the evidence that has been obtained, analysing it, sorting it out, working out where gaps may be and requisitioning for additional evidence to close gaps of that kind.

“What a complex case like this teaches you is how important that collaborative exercise is, how important it is to have experienced, dedicated prosecutors who are able to value add in such an important way to the already very good effort by the police.”

PROFILES: The who’s who of the tomato tin mafia

The characters charged over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust and offences related to it included Calabrian mafia bosses, convicted killers, a bike gang boss, a Lebanese-born shipping industry insider and some of Australia’s most prolific money launderers.

This is the who’s who of the 33 people charged (one of the 33 can’t be identified as his name has been suppressed by the County Court).

Another profile. Picture: Australian Federal Police.

Another profile. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

Pasquale Barbaro. Picture: Australian Federal Police.

Pasquale Barbaro. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

PASQUALE BARBARO, 53, formerly of Whites Rd, Tharbogang, near Griffith, New South Wales.

Nicknames: “Pat” (anglicised version of Pasquale), “Garbo” (a word play on his surname), “Ugly” (because he is no oil painting) and “Muscles” (because he worked on them).

Pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic 4,4 tonnes of ecstasy, trafficking 1.2 million ecstasy tablets and attempting to possess 150kg of cocaine, Asked for a further three offences to be taken into account. Those offences were conspiring to import 100kg of pseudoephedrine from India, dealing with at least a $1 million in cash which was the proceeds of crime and money laundering.

Sentenced to life and ordered to serve a minimum of 30 years.

Barbaro is a senior Calabrian mafia boss and one of Australia’s biggest ever drug dealers.

He has a tattoo on his bicep which echo the words of Winston Churchill. It reads: “If you are going through hell — keep going.”

Barbaro is the undisputed boss of the syndicate charged over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

He is easily the most powerful and domineering gang member, with others in the syndicate being very deferential to him.

It was Barbaro — through his senior role in the Calabrian mafia — who had the international connections to give him access to tonnes of drugs.

An unknown male, most often referred to as “The Turk”, was pre-eminent among the European group providing ecstasy to Barbaro. Barbaro was in regular contact with “The Turk”, usually by text.

Barbaro is the son of Francesco “Little Trees” Barbaro, one of the men named in the Woodward royal commission report as being an influential member of the Griffith Calabrian mafia cell which murdered anti-drug campaigner Donald Mackay in 1977.

In a trait which is common in Calabrian mafia circles, Pasquale Barbaro married his cousin, the daughter of his mother’s sister, when he was 23 and she was 18. They have four children.

In another trait which is common in Calabrian mafia circles, Barbaro became a marijuana grower — as, according to the Woodward royal commission report, his father and uncles had been before him.

And in yet another common Calabrian mafia trait, Barbaro was most comfortable committing criminal acts with close relatives he could trust — keeping it in the family is a Calabrian mafia motto. His cousin Saverio Zirilli was his right-hand man in the drug dealing that brought both of them down. Another of Barbaro’s cousins, Pasquale Sergi, of Griffith, worked alongside Barbaro and was also convicted over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust and another cousin, Domenico Barbaro, was convicted of trafficking ecstasy for the Barbaro syndicate.

Barbaro was an associate of Melbourne Calabrian mafia boss and fruit marketeer Rosario “Ross” Gangemi.

Gangemi died of natural causes at the height of Barbaro’s drug dealing in July 2008.

Barbaro was caught by the AFP in a bugged telephone conversation with fellow gang member Salvatore Agresta discussing coming down from Griffith to pay his respects at Gangemi’s funeral.

The funeral of Rosario Gangemi at St Monica's Catholic Church, Moonee Ponds.

The funeral of Rosario Gangemi at St Monica’s Catholic Church, Moonee Ponds. Source: News Limited

Mick Gatto at his funeral.

Mick Gatto at his funeral. Source: News Limited

Rosario Gangemi

Rosario Gangemi Source: Supplied

Agresta also attended Gangemi’s funeral at St Monica’s Catholic Church in Moonee Ponds on July 7, 2008, as did Mick Gatto, under the watchful eye of undercover police.

Barbaro was charged on April 16, 2009, with two counts of conspiracy to murder.

Those charges were dropped after Barbaro was jailed for life in May 2012 and ordered to serve a minimum of 30 years over his drug charges.

In rejecting a bid for bail by Barbaro, Magistrate Simon Garnet provided details of the alleged murder plots, which were outlined by Victoria Police Det-Sgt Daniel Baulch.

Evidence was given that as a result of information provided to Victoria Police by the AFP, a view was formed that Barbaro and Barbaro gang members Frank Madafferi and Graham Potter had conspired to commit murder.

Madafferi drops a bag into the boot of his car. Picture: Australian Federal Police.

Madafferi drops a bag into the boot of his car. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

Mick Gatto

Mick Gatto Source: News Limited

The alleged intended victims were a man Barbaro blamed for the 4.4 tonne ecstasy shipment being seized, who was a mate of underworld identity Mick Gatto, and a second man Barbaro had fallen out with.

The conspiracy to murder case against Madafferi didn’t proceed past the committal stage and Potter fled, and hasn’t been found, rather than face the drug and conspiracy to murder charges against him.

Barbaro’s bail hearing was told the prosecution would rely on physical surveillance, telephone intercept and optical and listening device material, photographs, witness statements and forensic material to support the charges.

It heard the prosecution would allege Barbaro and his overseas criminal contacts blamed Mr Gatto’s mate, whose name has been suppressed, and who the Herald Sun will call “Gatto’s mate” for the failed 2007 ecstasy shipment and wanted him killed and that Barbaro had a long standing vendetta against the second intended murder victim, who also can’t be named for legal reasons and who the Herald Sun will call “vendetta victim”.

Barbaro, Potter and Ropa pictured in North Melbourne. Picture: Australian Federal Police

Barbaro, Potter and Ropa pictured in North Melbourne. Picture: Australian Federal Police surveillance photo Source: Supplied

In his August 2010 bail hearing judgment, Magistrate Garnett said the prosecution would allege Barbaro enlisted Potter to murder (Gatto’s mate) between January and August 2008.

“It is contended that intercept material will demonstrate a number of discussions involving Mr Barbaro and others in the plan to murder (Gatto’s mate),” the judgement said.

“It will also be alleged that a note written by Mr Barbaro listing possible addresses where (Gatto’s mate) may be located was found at the Carlton premises where Mr Barbaro was staying and where firearms were located.

“It is also alleged that Mr Barbaro, Mr Madafferi and Mr Potter conspired to murder (vendetta victim) between June and July 2008.

“The prosecution intend to rely on intercept material, physical surveillance and the evidence of Witness A, who will allegedly give evidence that Mr Barbaro asked him in June 2008 whether he had killed someone before and if he was interested in doing so for $100,000.

“Sgt Baulch told the court that surveillance material will reveal a plan by Mr Barbaro and others to attend the Reggio Calabria Club on July 24, 2008, to murder (vendetta victim).

“The prosecution will allege that arrangements were made to obtain a ‘clean car’ and to lure (vendetta victim) to an appropriate location.

“It will also be alleged that on July 24, 2008, firearms and ammunition subsequently seized from the residence where Mr Barbaro was staying in Carlton were given by Mr Barbaro to Mr Potter to use in the murder of (vendetta victim).

Guns found buried in the garden of Barbaro’s Carlton flat. Picture: Australian Federal Po

Guns found buried in the garden of Barbaro’s Carlton flat. Picture: Australian Federal Police evidence photo Source: Supplied

“It is alleged that the plan failed when the ‘clean car’ they had obtained broke down on the way to the club and (vendetta victim) left before Mr Potter, Mr Barbaro and Witness A arrived.

“Sgt Baulch told the court that forensic evidence will reveal the presence of gunshot residue in the ‘clean car’.

Barbaro, Zirilli, Polimeni and Potter tried to jump-start the Magna in Carlton North. Pic

Barbaro, Zirilli, Polimeni and Potter tried to jump-start the Magna in Carlton North. Picture: AFP surveillance. Source: Supplied

“Sgt Baulch told the court that in his view Mr Barbaro, if released on bail, would be a risk of failing to answer bail, endangering the safety and welfare of others and interfering with witnesses.

“He also told the court that on February 2 and 3, 2010, whilst remanded, Mr Barbaro made threats to a prosecution witness who was also in custody in relation to another matter.

“It is alleged that Mr Barbaro told this person words to the effect ‘you’re a dog, you know what happens to a dog in a place like this’.

Barbaro and Potter meet in the Red Rooster car park at Westmeadows. Picture: Australian F

Barbaro and Potter meet in the Red Rooster car park at Westmeadows. Picture: Australian Federal Police surveillance photo Source: Supplied

“In relation to the safety of Witness A, Sgt Baulch told the court that information in his possession suggested an associate of Mr Barbaro has tried to contact this witness.

“He agreed that Mr Madafferi had been granted bail and the magistrate who granted bail noted one of the reasons being the lack of strength of the prosecution case.”

Police believe there were also failed plans to try to murder Gatto’s mate at Gatto’s son’s wedding in March 2008 and after a kickboxing tournament the night before the Gatto wedding.

Det-Sgt Baulch said during one of Barbaro’s court appearances that Barbaro believed Gatto’s mate had either stolen drugs belonging to Barbaro’s gang or had caused them to be seized by police.

Police believed there were plans to kill Gatto’s mate at Mick Gatto’s son Damien’s weddin

Police believed there were plans to kill Gatto’s mate at Mick Gatto’s son Damien’s wedding. Source: News Corp Australia

“Barbaro sourced and co-ordinated the obtaining of firearms and vehicles for the murder,” Det-Sgt Baulch told the court.

“On March 28, 2008, it is believed that an attempt was made to murder (Gatto’s mate) at a boxing event held at Docklands.

“Barbaro and others identified (Gatto’s mate’s) vehicle in the car park at the event and an attempt was made to shoot (Gatto’s mate) upon returning to his vehicle.”

The alleged plan was aborted at the last minute because the getaway car had mechanical problems, the court was told.

Barbaro got his first cannabis cultivation charge in 1990. In 1998 he was convicted at the Griffith Magistrates’ Court of preventing a witness from attending.

Supreme Court Judge Betty King said in sentencing Barbaro in 2012 that “over the period of 1990 through to almost 2000 you were dealing with substantial offences of cultivation of cannabis”.

One of the charges related to a crop of 20,000 marijuana plants Barbaro was growing on a farm south of Griffith.

Barbaro was jailed for 14 years over those offences, but only served two years as after numerous appeals and retrials the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to proceed with the matter — freeing Barbaro to graduate from dope growing to massive importations of ecstasy and other drugs.

Another profile. Picture: Australian Federal Police.

Another profile. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

Rob Karam. Picture: Australian Federal Police.

Rob Karam. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

ROB KARAM, 48, formerly of Derby St, Kew.

Nickname: “Pizza” (because of the type of restaurant he chose to meet gang members in to discuss secret business, usually Café Romantica in Lygon St, Brunswick, or Curly Joe’s in Maribyrnong), Tardo (because he was always late to meetings and slow to pay his debts), Cream or Ice Cream (a play on words relating to his surname as well as an indication of his fondness for attending a gelato bar in Lygon St).

Found guilty of conspiring to import the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy. Jailed for 19 years and ordered to serve a minimum of 15. Awaiting further sentencing after being convicted of other drug offences.

Karam’s experience working in the customs clearance and international freight forwarding industries, as well as his network of corrupt dock and shipping industry contacts, have made him the go to man for decades for organised crime bosses wanting to import drugs to Australia in shipping containers.

He helped convicted drug boss Tony Mokbel get tonnes of drugs worth billions of dollars into Melbourne, was the man Pasquale Barbaro went to when he wanted millions of ecstasy tablets shipped from Italy to Melbourne. He also worked with other major drug importers.

It was Karam’s job to identify legitimate importing businesses in Melbourne that were unlikely to attract the attention of Customs when containers arrived that appeared to be destined for delivery to these legitimate companies.

Falsified shipping documents organised by Karam to look genuine meant the phone number freight forwarding companies rang to arrange delivery of containers in the belief it was the number of the legitimate company was actually the phone number of a drug smuggling gang member.

Karam also organised what are known in underworld circles as piggy back importations.

The piggy back method involves having corrupt dock workers overseas and in Melbourne.

Karam would identify a Melbourne company which was legitimately importing goods from such places as South America.

Corrupt waterside workers would put illegal drugs in with the legitimate shipment and then seal the container so Customs in Melbourne would not suspect the cargo had been tampered with and that illegal drugs were piggy backing with a legitimate cargo.

Corrupt dock workers in Melbourne would get to the container as soon as it was unloaded, break open the seal, take out the drugs and then reseal the container so the legitimate cargo could go on its merry way.

One of the charges Karam and Barbaro were convicted over involved 150kg of cocaine that arrived in Melbourne via the old piggy back trick.

Karam was secretly taped by an undercover police officer in Hong Kong as he negotiated to buy 26 tonnes of chemicals to be shipped to Mexico and Australia to make ice.

He asked the undercover cop, who was posing as a Chinese organised crime figure, if he could also buy guns to smuggle into Australia.

SAVERIO ZIRILLI, 58, formerly of Whites Rd, Tharbogang, near Griffith.

Nicknames: “Baldy” (because he is).

Saverio Zirilli. Picture: AFP

Saverio Zirilli. Picture: AFP Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a commercial quantity of ecstasy, trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy and aiding and abetting the importation of a commercial quantity of cocaine.

Sentenced to 26 years and ordered to serve a minimum of 18.

A cousin of Barbaro and Barbaro’s most trusted associate.

No previous convictions.

Played a leadership role in the Barbaro syndicate, but deferred to Barbaro.

Zirilli stuck to the Calabrian mafia code of omerta after his arrest. Omerta involves members maintaining absolute silence when questioned about the illegal activities of fellow cell members.

Forensic psychologist Stephen Woods gave evidence to the court that when Zirilli was asked about the nature of his offending and why he got involved he replied that he couldn’t make any comment as to do so would place his own life at risk and, of greater concern to him, the lives of his wife and four children.

Sentencing judge Betty King said Zirilli was dealing in massive amounts of drugs over a long period.

“This was not an example of a crime where you, as a result of being pushed, or angry, or suffering financial hardship had determined to do something totally out of character and then stop,” Justice King told Zirilli.

“This continued on for a substantial period of time.

“You were in a lesser role undoubtedly than that of Pasquale Barbaro but you were, equally, his right hand man and that makes you relatively high in the hierarchy of offending of those before the court.

“You are not, to give an example, a street level trafficker involved in selling small amounts of pills.

“You are assisting Barbaro to deal with, obtain and traffick some 15 million ecstasy tablets.

“You go in his stead to meet the European suppliers, which is an indication of the high level of trust in which you are held and your position within the hierarchy of this organisation.”

Police who raided Zirilli’s Griffith home on the day various Barbaro gang members were arrested in 2008 found he was a man who liked to be prepared.

He had a shotgun under his bed and several boxes of viagra in a bedside table.

GRAHAM POTTER, 57, formerly of Pipers River Rd, Pipers River, Tasmania. Nickname: “Devil”(as in Tasmanian devil).

Graham Potter. Picture: AFP

Graham Potter. Picture: AFP Source: Supplied

One of Australia’s most wanted men.

Charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of ecstasy provided by the Barbaro syndicate. Also charged with conspiring to murder two men, one of them an enemy of Barbaro and the other the man blamed by the Barbaro syndicate for the 4.4 tonne shipment of ecstasy being seized by police — that man is a mate of underworld identity Mick Gatto.

One of the failed murder plots Potter was charged over was to have taken place at the wedding of one of Gatto’s sons.

Barbaro, who first met Potter in jail, was charged over the failed murder plots, with police claiming Barbaro hired Potter to kill the two men. Barbaro’s conspiracy to murder charge was dropped after he was sentenced to life with a 30-year-minimum over his drug charges.

The guns Potter allegedly intended using to commit the two murders were found buried in the garden of Barbaro’s Carlton love nest.

Potter fled after being given bail and is still missing.

He is known in the underworld as the ‘head and fingers killer’

So called because of what he did to 19-year-old Kim Narelle Barry in 1981.

He met Ms Barry on the dance floor at a Wollongong disco while at his buck’s night.

Potter, a coal miner at the time, took her back to his flat and killed her with two blows to the head, crushing her skull.

Authorities retrieve Ms Barry’s body.

Authorities retrieve Ms Barry’s body. Source: News Corp Australia

Kim Narelle Barry

Kim Narelle Barry Source: News Corp Australia

Evidence police gathered later suggested Ms Barry was attacked because she refused to have sex with Potter after discovering he was about to be married.

Potter put Ms Barry’s body in a bath and used a hacksaw to decapitate her before chopping off her fingers in the hope of hiding her identity if her body was found.

Potter threw Ms Barry’s naked body over the side of a cliff at Jamberoo Lookout, near Wollongong.

The body got caught in tree foliage and ended up on a ledge wedged against a tree, where it was found two days later.

A bag containing her skull and severed fingers was found three weeks later.

Potter was last seen fleeing from a car during a routine vehicle inspection by police in Tully, Queensland, in August 2010. A later search of a caravan park Potter had been staying in at Tully found his abandoned tent and other possessions.

FRANCESCO MADAFFERI, 54, lived in Hermitage Drive, Greenvale and ran Mondo Fruit in Sydney Rd, Coburg up until his arrest in 2008.

Francesco Madafferi. Picture: AFP.

Francesco Madafferi. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Nicknames: “Fruit” (because of his business), “Chiccio”, “Pacho” (a diminutive from the Calabrese “pacciu”, meaning crazy or mad), “Madman” (because he was).

Found guilty of trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy. Jailed for 10 years and ordered to serve a minimum of seven.

Senior Calabrian mafia member in Victoria.

He was a major drug dealer within months of former federal minister Amanda Vanstone overturning a decision to deport him.

The lifting of court suppression orders enables the Herald Sun to reveal details of death threats made by Madafferi.

Police secretly taped him threatening to chop an associate “into little pieces” after he won his nine-year legal battle to stay in Australia.

Madafferi’s Coburg fruit and vegetable shop.

Madafferi’s Coburg fruit and vegetable shop. Source: News Limited

Madafferi was a drug dealer for the Calabrian mafia dominated gang charged by the AFP over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Members of that syndicate were nabbed in 2008 after they imported 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy into Melbourne from Italy.

Ms Vanstone, the then Immigration Minister, granted Madafferi a permanent spouse visa in 2005.

An early mugshot of Francesco Madafferi

An early mugshot of Francesco Madafferi Source: News Corp Australia

That reversed a 2000 decision by her predecessor, Philip Ruddock, to refuse him a visa on the ground he was of bad character.

Mr Ruddock said it would be against the national interest to allow Madafferi to stay in Australia.

He made that decision after Victoria Police claimed if Madafferi was allowed to stay he would “continue to carry out acts of violence on behalf of an organised crime syndicate”.

Victoria Police claimed then that Madafferi “belongs to a crime family involved with blackmail, extortion and murder”.

Just three years after Ms Vanstone rescued Madafferi from deportation he was taped by police telling fellow Calabrian mafia drug dealer Pasquale Barbaro he intended kidnapping criminal associate Pino Varallo so he could “tear his head off and chop him into little pieces”.

Pino Varallo. Picture: Australian Federal Police

Pino Varallo. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

A scared Varallo rang Barbaro on July 26, 2008, and as the AFP listened he said he had recently spoken to Madafferi and that Madafferi was “going off his rocker” and was “off his tree” and had threatened slit Varallo’s throat or shoot him.

Madafferi also bragged in another taped conversation that while Barbaro controlled drug operations interstate “Melbourne is mine”.

He angrily warned Varallo to not “break my f…..g balls on my f…… turf” and that he, not Barbaro, was “responsible for Melbourne”.

Madafferi was charged in 2009 with conspiracy to murder in relation to yet another falling out, but the charges didn’t proceed past the Magistrates’ Court committal stage.

He failed to reveal convictions in Italy for stabbings, extortion and drug offences when he came to Australia in 1989 on a six-month visitor’s visa and stayed illegally.

He married Australian citizen Anna La Verde the following year and the couple had four children.

Madafferi was caught and detained as an illegal immigrant in 1996 after a raid by Immigration Department officers and detectives from Victoria Police’s organised crime squad.

There was an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Italy at the time, where he faced almost five years’ jail on unserved sentences for violence and dishonesty offences.

Madafferi had also served jail time in Italy for kidnapping, mafia conspiracy, theft and other offences against the person — he was released from prison in 1987.

Madafferi pictured in 2001.

Madafferi pictured in 2001. Source: News Limited

Documents seen by the Herald Sun reveal Mr Ruddock’s 2000 decision not to grant Madafferi a visa was based on his view that allowing Madafferi to stay in Australia would have a detrimental effect on Australia’s reputation and good name in the international community.

“On balance, I found that due to the seriousness of Mr Madafferi’s convictions and his outstanding warrant of arrest and sentence in Italy, it would be in the national interest to refuse his visa,” Mr Ruddock’s said in a 2000 document sent to Madafferi’s lawyers.

Mr Ruddock’s 2000 decision not to grant Madafferi a visa was upheld in 2002 by the full bench of the Federal Court.

Former Senator Vanstone confirmed to the Herald Sun in 2006 that Madafferi had later been given a permanent spouse visa.

“Given all the circumstances surrounding the case I believe it was appropriate to grant the visa,” she said then.

Former Senator Amanda Vanstone

Former Senator Amanda Vanstone Source: News Limited

Madafferi was dealing drugs just months later.

He was heavily involved with various members of the Barbaro drug gang, and was selling ecstasy provided by Barbaro gang members.

AFP agents secretly taped Barbaro and Madafferi discussing drug deals.

Surveillance officers also secretly watched Barbaro and Madafferi when they flew to Perth together on May 19, 2008, to organise interstate drug deals, with Madafferi introducing Barbaro to Perth-based Calabrian mafia drug dealers.

Madafferi and Barbaro were both arrested on August 8, 2008, by AFP agents.

Documents seized from an apartment in Little Palmerston St, Carlton, which Barbaro used when visiting Melbourne from his home in Griffith, revealed precise details of the ecstasy supplied to Madafferi by the Barbaro syndicate.

Barbaro’s business records showed Madafferi received 57,000 ecstasy tablets between February and May 2008, and that he also helped Barbaro traffic a further 35,000 pills to a Perth drug gang.

Madafferi’s brother Tony was banned from Crown casino by Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay in 2014 under the same powers used to previously ban drug boss Tony Mokbel and various other underworld figures, including Mick Gatto, from the gambling mecca.

Allegations that Tony Madafferi was a hitman for the Calabrian mafia and a prospective Godfather of the Italian secret society were aired in court during the 1993 inquest into the death of fruiterer Alfonso Muratore.

The coroner rejected a bid by Tony Madafferi’s lawyer, Colin Lovitt, QC, to suppress the claims — but the coroner did warn the media that the allegations were simply that, allegations, and should not be reported as fact.

Tony Madafferi has denied the claims and has not been charged in relation to any of the allegations made against him during the Muratore inquest.

CARMELO FALANGA, 49, formerly of Lacey Rd, Bugle Ranges, South Australia.

Carmelo Falanga. Picture: AFP

Carmelo Falanga. Picture: AFP Source: Supplied

Nicknames: “Sticks” (because he walked with one), “Fingers” (a word play on his surname) and “Choc” (a politically incorrect reference to his dark skin).

Found guilty of conspiracy to import the 4.4 tonne shipment of ecstasy from Italy. Sentenced to 23 years and ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years and 6 months.

Senior and powerful Italian organised crime figure in South Australia. He and Barbaro financed the importation of the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy from Italy and they became liable to each pay $5 million to the European syndicate to compensate it after the 15 million pills were seized by the AFP in Melbourne.

Falanga was arrested on August 8, 2008, over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

He was released on bail two weeks later and went back to SA, where he started drug dealing again.

Falanga pictured getting into a Landcruiser outside the Marriott Hotel. Picture: Australi

Falanga pictured getting into a Landcruiser outside the Marriott Hotel. Picture: Australian Federal Police. Source: Supplied

Falanga was jailed over drug and weapons offences in SA for nine years in 2012.

Evidence was given at his SA trial that police found Falanga’s homemade fully automatic submachine gun and his .357 revolver, along with ammunition for both, hidden in the ceiling of a sauna.

Falanga is arrested after a siege at his property.

Falanga is arrested after a siege at his property. Source: News Limited

When police went to search a Falanga property in SA in July 2011 he refused to allow them access and fired off four shots from a .38 calibre handgun.

Police eventually got into the property and found Falanga’s meth lab.

JOHN HIGGS, 68, formerly of Belair Court, Taylors Lakes.

Higgs following his arrest. Picture: AFP.

Higgs following his arrest. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

John Higgs. Picture: AFP

John Higgs. Picture: AFP Source: Supplied

Nickname: “Teeth” (because he has bad ones).

Found guilty of conspiracy to import the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy into Melbourne.

Jailed for 18 years and ordered to serve a minimum of 14.

Higgs is a convicted killer and is the founding member of the Melbourne chapter of the Black Uhlans bikie gang.

He was one of three major criminals who organised and paid corrupt police to carry out the burglary of the Victoria Police drug squad office in St Kilda Rd in 1996.

The burglary was committed to steal documents which would identify the key prosecution witness against Higgs, who was in witness protection and codenamed E2/92.

It happened shortly before E2/92, whose identity is still suppressed, was due to give evidence against Higgs.

Police believe Higgs organised the drug squad burglary so E2/92 could be identified, tracked down and executed before he could testify.

Former homicide squad boss Peter Halloran rang E2/92 in Europe immediately after the burglary and warned him he should change addresses quickly as “the crooks know who you are and where you live”.

Despite that attempt on his life, E2/92 returned to Melbourne and bravely gave evidence against Higgs and six other major criminals.

Higgs ran Australia’s biggest amphetamine gang for years until Victoria Police caught him in 1994 with seven tonnes of chemicals capable of making 226kg of illegal drugs worth more than $400 million.

Higgs was caught with enough chemicals to make amphetamines worth $406 million.

Higgs was caught with enough chemicals to make amphetamines worth $406 million. Source: News Limited

He was jailed in 1999 for just six years, with a minimum of four, over that and got straight back into major drug dealing on his release.

Higgs was recruited into Barbaro’s gang because of his corrupt painter and docker contacts on the wharves and his strong links to the bikie gangs. Bikies would have become major buyers of some of the 15 million ecstasy tablets if they hadn’t been seized.

AFP surveillance officers watched as Higgs held meetings with senior members of the Hells Angels as well as Comancheros bikie Mohammed Oueida.

Oueida was later jailed for drug trafficking.

The AFP discovered Oueida had his own plane, $6 million in a Swiss bank account and a $2.8 million fortified property in Greenvale, which came with its own golf course.

Bikie Mohammed Charif Oueida’s Ferrari was among property worth almost $5 million that wa

Bikie Mohammed Charif Oueida’s Ferrari was among property worth almost $5 million that was seized by a joint Victoria Police/AFP taskforce in April, 2011. Source: Supplied

Higgs wasn’t fully trusted by Barbaro and other Calabrian mafia gang members because of his fondness for sampling the illegal drugs he was supposed to be selling and his rampant sex life, often with young prostitutes.

Senior Barbaro gang member Jan Visser was secretly taped by the AFP telling Barbaro’s cousin Zirilli about Higgs: “He is the way he is. We have to accept the way he is and now and again the speed and the ice is just a little bit too much for him. He f…ing hallucinates and he sees things and has 24-year-old girlfriends and stuff like that.”

John Higgs is led from the Supreme Court into a waiting prison van.

John Higgs is led from the Supreme Court into a waiting prison van. Source: News Limited

The Barbaro gang members put up with Higgs and his dangerous drug and sex habits because he had the contacts they needed to get drugs off the docks and was closely connected to Karam.

Karam’s dealings with Barbaro were initially all through Higgs as Karam wanted to stay as hands off as possible to avoid detection.

Higgs’s life of crime started at an early age. He left school at the end of Year 7 and got the first of his many adult convictions at the age of 20 in 1966.

He married at the age of 17 to a 16-year-old.

Two children from that marriage died in tragic circumstances. Higgs’s eldest son Craig was murdered in 1999 while his second son died of AIDS at the age of 30 in 1996.

Higgs’s marriage ended in 1970 after he was jailed for 12 years for manslaughter, although he got out in less than nine.

He started another relationship soon after being released and fathered another two sons before that relationship also ended.

At the time of his sentencing in 2013 he was in a relationship with a woman less than half his age. He fathered a child with her in 2011 when he was aged 64.

JAN VISSER, 64, of no fixed abode, having been on the run as a prison escapee at the time of his arrest.

Jan Visser. Picture: AFP.

Jan Visser. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Found guilty of conspiring to import the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy into Melbourne. Sentenced to 11 years and ordered to serve a minimum of 8.

Visser was born in the Netherlands, but came to live in Australia in 1961 at the age of 10.

A career criminal and father of six who was a close associate of Barbaro and Zirilli. He was there to do whatever Barbaro and Zirilli wanted in relation to receiving the 15 million pills and distributing them.

Visser described his role to Barbaro gang members as a fixer, a resource on hand and available to others should they need him to salvage their criminal venture, which was foundering and at risk of failure.

He was secretly taped telling gang member Pasquale Sergi his role in the gang was that of a “tugboat”, getting the salvage team ready.

AFP bugs caught him bragging that he would “run an armed team” onto the docks and get a corrupt crane driver to lift the container of pills onto the back of a truck.

Visser was a prison escapee and on the run from police in NSW at the time he was working with Barbaro on the 4.4 tonne ecstasy importation. He escaped from the court cells while waiting to appear on drug charges.

Visser escaped by pretending to be another prisoner who was due to be released on bail.

That prisoner was asleep in the same cell as Visser in April 2007 when a prison officer came in and asked which of them was due out on bail. Visser seized the opportunity to assume the other prisoner’s identity and walked free.

He fled to Melbourne and immediately started working for Barbaro, who he had done jail time with in the past.

Barbaro got Visser a fake passport later in 2007 so Visser could flee back to the Netherlands, where he was born, to avoid capture.

He was arrested in May 2008 when he flew into Melbourne and was immediately extradited back to NSW in relation to the outstanding drug matters and escaping custody.

Visser thought he was home free when he was granted parole in August 2012 after serving just over four years on the NSW drug and escaping charges.

What he didn’t know was the AFP had been waiting for his release so they could charge him over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust. AFP agents grabbed him as he walked out of jail and told him he was being extradited to Melbourne, where he stood trial in April 2014 and was found guilty.

His long and violent criminal history includes a 1984 conviction for two counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to murder, three counts of maliciously causing grievous bodily harm by explosion and one count of threatening to use an offensive weapon to try to avoid arrest.

Visser was jailed for life over those charges, but appealed and eventually got a minimum term of 13 years and six months.

SALVATORE AGRESTA, 47, Prospect Drive, Keilor East.

Salvatore Agresta. Picture: AFP

Salvatore Agresta. Picture: AFP Source: Supplied

Nickname: “Sam” (anglicized version of his first name), “Sandwich” (because he made them at his cafe).

Found guilty of conspiracy to import the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy and pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy. Jailed for 12 years over the conspiracy and 10 years for trafficking — ordered to serve a minimum of 11 years.

Owner of the Ascot Pasta and Deli Café in Union Rd, Ascot Vale, where underworld figure Des ‘Tuppence’ Moran was executed in June 2009.

Agresta — who was out on bail at the time over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust charges — and his wife were in their deli when Moran was shot dead. They watched in horror as a masked gunman pumped seven rounds into Moran in the doorway of what was his favourite cafe.

Former Rebels bikie gang president Geoffrey ‘Nuts’ Armour was convicted of murdering Moran in a plot instigated by Moran’s sister-in-law, Judy Moran, who was also convicted over the murder.

Agresta used to work for major freight handler Patricks and was a close associate of Barbaro and Zirilli, who brought him in after the 4.4 tonne shipment of ecstasy arrived in the hope he could use his corrupt shipping industry contacts to help obtain access to the container.

Also sold almost 120,000 ecstasy pills for the Barbaro syndicate. Was trusted enough by Barbaro that he received the pills on credit and only had to pay Barbaro back once he had sold the pills.

Agresta stored large quantities of ecstasy pills at his elderly father’s house for the Barbaro syndicate.

Has prior convictions for possession and use of weapons, property damage, assaults, resisting arrest, hindering police and possession and use of cocaine.

SHARON ROPA, 44, formerly of Little Palmerston St, Carlton.

Sharon Ropa. Picture: AFP.

Sharon Ropa. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Nickname: “Blondie” (because she was).

Pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy, dealing with $1 million or more of the proceeds of crime and possession of property reasonably suspected to be the proceeds of crime.

Jailed for nine years and 6 months and ordered to serve a minimum of seven.

Was Barbaro’s Melbourne mistress and was naked in bed with Barbaro when the AFP raided their Carlton love nest at 4am on August 8, 2008.

Barbaro got to know Ropa after he did jail time with Ropa’s former partner. He promised Ropa’s ex he would look after Ropa when he got out.

Ropa kept meticulous records of who in Barbaro’s gang had been provided with what amount of drugs and how much each trafficker had paid Barbaro and owed Barbaro.

The AFP seized those records during the raid on the Carlton apartment Ropa rented for her and Barbaro and used the records as evidence in the trials of those charged over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust and other drug offences involving the Barbaro syndicate

It was Ropa who took bags of cash to Melbourne money launderers to send to the European gang that shipped the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy from Italy.

She was clearly part of Barbaro’s inner circle and was present during many secretly taped conversations in which Barbaro discussed and organised large scale drug dealing with associates.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Jeanette Moir gave evidence at Ropa’s court case that she had been treating Ropa for depression since before Ropa’s arrest in August 2008.

Dr Moir said Ropa had been in abusive relationships with a number of men, but that Barbaro had not been physically abusive towards her.

Ropa told Dr Moir she respected Barbaro and the males associated with him and described her relationship with Barbaro as being “putty in his hands”.

Dr Moir said Ropa’s ongoing focus in life “was to have a male to be with, no matter what the personal cost”.

Forensic psychologist Jeffrey Cummins provided a report during Ropa’s court case which revealed that Ropa told him she was also in a sexual relationship with Alan Saric, one of the drug dealers she was supplying ecstasy to.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Danny Sullivan gave evidence during Ropa’s court case about his dealings with Ropa.

Dr Sullivan said Ropa was enthralled by Barbaro during the time she and he were drug dealing and that she had a dependent personality style.

Ropa and Potter snapped by AFP surveillance in Lygon Street, Carlton. Picture: AFP.

Ropa and Potter snapped by AFP surveillance in Lygon Street, Carlton. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

“Her behaviour at the time was not so much that she was impressed with the importance of her position in this enterprise, but rather she was more impressed with the regard in which she considered Mr Barbaro held her as a consequence of her behaviours,” Dr Sullivan said.

“So in that sense, I would describe her as beholden, in the sense that she would do anything for him to gain his respect, his adulation, his admiration or his ongoing company.

“The reason I think she was able to continue engaging in such behaviour so continually was because of her desire to please Mr Barbaro.”

Prosecutor Brent Young said: “The evidence clearly reveals that Ms Ropa was obviously emotionally infatuated with Barbaro. She wanted to establish better her worth for him to gain his favour and to thereby inspire his affection.”

County Court sentencing Judge James Montgomery told the court that after Barbaro was arrested and remanded in custody he “sent” a man to Ropa, who was out on bail at the time.

The judge said Ropa formed a relationship with that man and it turned into a violent one as he “attempted to place pressure on you”.

“It was put by your counsel that you have had an unfortunate history in your choice of male partners,” Justice Montgomery told Ropa when he jailed her.

“I cannot but agree.”

While Ropa obviously idolised Barbaro, he demonstrated in conversations recorded by the AFP that he didn’t have much respect for her and considered her to be a sexual plaything that would also cook and clean for him.

Barbaro was on the phone on May 30, 2008, arranging for gang member Agresta to meet Ropa, saying he would have to “meet the bitch later”.

In a bugged conversation with Melbourne Calabrian mafia heavy Francesco Madafferi on July 1, 2008, Barbaro sneeringly referred to Ropa as “the tart”.

Ropa and Zirilli were secretly taped by the AFP on May 14, 2008, as they discussed the role of women in the Calabrian mafia.

Ropa said: “Is that what I am, a mafia moll?”

Zirilli replied: “Nah, get f…ed, you’re a mafia secretary.”

 PASQUALE SERGI, 51, formerly of North Grove Drive, Griffith.

Nicknames: “Poppy” and “Fatso” (because he was).

Pasquale Sergi. Picture: AFP.

Pasquale Sergi. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Found guilty of conspiring to import the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy and pleaded guilty to trafficking a commercial quantity of ecstasy.

Jailed for 16 years and ordered to serve a minimum of eight years and three months.

Griffith-based and a cousin of Calabrian mafia boss Pasquale Barbaro.

Described in court as one of Barbaro’s foot soldiers, willing and waiting to do whatever Barbaro asked.

Airline and Immigration records show Sergi was in Italy in May 2007 when the shipping container containing the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy was loaded in Naples.

Police suspect Barbaro sent him there to supervise the loading of the 15 million pills onto the MV Monica for the voyage to Melbourne.

Sergi was a regular visitor to the Melbourne apartment Barbaro shared with his lover Sharon Ropa and was secretly recorded taking part in drug dealing discussions with Barbaro, Ropa and other gang members.

It was Sergi who Barbaro got to dig a hole in the love nest’s garden to hide, drugs, guns and money in.

The married father of four was sleeping in Barbaro and Ropa’s apartment when the AFP raided it to make arrests in August 2008.

Sentencing judge Felicity Hampel said she was satisfied Sergi was aware of Barbaro’s drug dealing and was prepared to assist Barbaro with whatever he needed.

“You were present when discussions took place about supply generally, about prices, about collection of money and return of broken tablets for re-pressing,” Justice Hampel told Sergi.

“You knew where money and drugs were stored and concealed, who the customers were and how some of the supplies to customers were arranged.

“You may have been an underling, but you were an enthusiastic and willing participant in the enterprise.”

DOMENICO BARBARO, 47, formerly of Todd Rd, Lake Wyangan, near Griffith, NSW.

Domenico Barbaro. Picture: AFP.

Domenico Barbaro. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Nickname: “Bubble” (as a result of how he used to pronounce his surname when he was a child).

Pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy.

Jailed for seven years and ordered to serve a minimum of five.

Another of gang boss Pasquale Barbaro’s cousins.

His father is a convicted drug grower and evidence was given during the case that Domenico Barbaro admitted his father lost his leg after being shot over a dispute relating to his marijuana growing.

Evidence was given that Domenico Barbaro was a follower rather than a leader and that he felt an obligation to help his older cousin Pasquale Barbaro in the Barbaro drug syndicate.

GIOVANNI POLIMENI, 42, formerly of Wyanga Ave, Griffith.

Giovanni Polimeni. Picture: AFP.

Giovanni Polimeni. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the importation of 150kg of cocaine. Jaioed for 18 years and ordered to serve a minimum of 12.

The Polimeni and Barbaro families of Griffith have been close for decades.

Sentencing judge James Montgomery outlined background provided by Polimeni’s lawyer.

“Barbaro was a very successful farmer in the Griffith area, indeed had a reputation for mediating disputes, which he did on a number of occasions for the Polimeni family, particularly in relation to a dispute with a Casella family, a well-known wine family at Griffith,” Justice Montgomery told Polimeni during his County Court sentencing hearing.

“This led to Mr Shaw (Polimeni’s lawyer) to make his second point, that the relationship with Barbaro arose out of the family ties between the two families and he told me that you felt a sense of gratitude and obligation to Barbaro.”

Polimeni was senior enough in Barbaro’s Calabrian mafia cell to be trusted to travel, at Barbaro’s expense, to Europe to meet the European drug trafficking syndicate which was supplying Barbaro with ecstasy and cocaine. Polimeni travelled with Barbaro’s cousin Saverio Zirilli in March 2008 to negotiate with the Europeans.

Polimeni also travelled with Zirilli from Griffith to Melbourne on the date of the arrival of the container containing the 150kg of cocaine. He remained in Melbourne until it was realised that all hope of obtaining safe possession of the cocaine was gone as it had been seized by the AFP.

Polimeni was secretly taped by police as he explained to other gang members exactly how the cocaine had been packed in the container.

PHILLIP BATTICCIOTTO, 53, formerly of Bugden Ave, Fadden, ACT.

Phillip Batticciotto. Picture: AFP.

Phillip Batticciotto. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Found guilty of conspiracy to import 100kg of precursor chemicals to make amphetamines.

Jailed for 10 years and ordered to serve a minimum of seven.

Went to school at St Joseph’s primary in Collingwood during seven years spent in Melbourne, where his father ran a butcher shop.

Became a butcher himself and ran the family wholesale meat business in Canberra since 1996.

Married to Pasquale Barbaro’s cousin and has four children.

Barbaro was recorded by the AFP telling Batticciotto he was planning to open a Tepanyaki-style Japanese restaurant in Griffith and suggested to Batticciotto that he become a partner in it, which Batticciotto enthusiastically agreed to.

SEVERINO SCARPONI, 45, formerly of Allinga Ave, Glenside, South Australia.

Severino Scarponi

Severino Scarponi Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy, conspiring to import a commercial quantity of drug-making chemicals and possessing the proceeds of crime.

Jailed for nine years and ordered to serve a minimum of six.

His lawyer told the court he was “in awe” of Barbaro and even though Scarponi knew Barbaro was a dangerous man he came to admire him and was happy to deal drugs for him.

Scarponi, the owner of an Adelaide trucking company, was used by Barbaro to arrange transportation of almost 500,000 ecstasy tablets from Sydney to Melbourne.

He was also going to be used to transport the 150kg shipment of cocaine to Griffith if it hadn’t been seized by the AFP.

GRATIAN BRAN, 57, formerly of Mernda Ave, Cheltenham.

Gratian Bran. Picture: AFP.

Gratian Bran. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy.

Jailed for seven years and ordered to serve a minimum of five.

Mr X, who can’t be identified but who is a senior member of the European gang which supplied the 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy, got Bran involved in drug dealing.

Bran served time in a Romanian jail for trying to escape from military service.

He knew Mr X in Europe through working for his family export business.

Bran contacted Mr X in Europe from Melbourne in 2007, seeking help from Mr X to export wine to Europe from Australia.

Bran’s lawyers claimed he only got involved in drug dealing so Mr X would help him with his wine exporting business.

Sentencing judge James Montgomery said Bran was involved in trafficking 20,000 ecstasy tablets and the money laundering of at least $1.94 million, knowing it was money from the proceeds of crime.

Ecstasy gang leader Pasquale Barbaro was caught on tape by police as he explained to Bran how foolish drug boss Tony Mokbel was to have got caught on the run in Greece.

Barbaro claimed to Bran that he had a number of friends who had successfully evaded police by fleeing overseas and lying low.

A listening device in Barbaro’s Carlton apartment recorded him talking to Bran after the pair had just watched a news report about Mokbel’s capture in Greece.

Barbaro told Bran Mokbel was “stupid” and a “goose” and that he should have gone to Lebanon rather than sitting on the beach in Greece.

“Go to the f…ing mountains of Lebanon,” Barbaro told Bran.

“Live like a king, mate they drink champagne and eat f…ing fish all day.

“They’ve got things underground, five star houses over there underground.

“What’s money? I would rather be poor and be free than a millionaire and be in jail, f..k that.”

Bran himself was taped by the AFP in a conversation with Barbaro in which Bran offered to send some heavy debt collectors he knew to punish Rob Karam over money Karam owed the Barbaro gang.

Barbaro replied saying he had told Karam he would pay at the end of the day “either in money, or with his life”.

ANTONIO DI PIETRO, 48, formerly of Pound Rd, Narre Warren.

Antonio Di Pietro: Picture: AFP.

Antonio Di Pietro: Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Nickname: “Truck” (because he worked at transport company) and “Elvis” (as a result of his slicked back hair).

Pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy.

Jailed for seven years and ordered to serve a minimum of four years and six months.

Long term associate of gang boss Pasquale Barbaro. Acted as an intermediary between Barbaro and Frank Madafferi as he knew them both.

PINO VARALLO, 46, formerly of Mount Pleasant Rd, Eltham.

Nickname: Tiles (because he laid them).

Pino Varallo. Picture: Australian Federal Police

Pino Varallo. Picture: Australian Federal Police Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy.

Jailed for eight years and six months and ordered to serve a minimum of five years.

His lawyer claimed he met Barbaro through doing a large tiling job on Barbaro’s brother’s house in Griffith and that Barbaro told him he could make a lot of money if he sold ecstasy pills in Melbourne for him.

Sentencing judge James Montgomery told Varallo drug users relied on people being prepared to sell to them.

“You entered into your association with Mr Barbaro for a profit,” Justice Montgomery said.

“You were a businessman in difficult financial circumstances who succumbed to the temptation of being involved in the drug trafficking world as a way to make a quick and easy profit to rescue your finances.”

ANIL SURI, 59, formerly of Clarendon St, Maidstone.

Anil Suri. Picture: AFP

Anil Suri. Picture: AFP Source: Supplied

Convicted of conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of precursor chemicals to make amphetamines.

Jailed for 11 years and initially ordered to serve a minimum of nine years. His minimum term was dropped to eight years on appeal.

His role was to source and then oversee the export of 100kg of chemicals from India to Melbourne to make ice.

As it turned out, Suri’s criminal contacts in India were not as good as the Barbaro gang thought as the gang in India shipped 100kg of useless chemicals in a classic drug rip off where buyers pay for one drug and get something different.

ALAN SARIC, 41, formerly of Conquest Drive, Werribee.

Alan Saric

Alan Saric Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy.

Jailed for six years and ordered to serve a minimum of three years and six months.

Shared something apart from drug dealing with gang boss Pasquale Barbaro — they were both having sex with fellow syndicate member Sharon Ropa.

Sentencing judge James Montgomery outlined the background provided to the court by Saric’s lawyer.

“Prior to your involvement with Ms Ropa you were married, you were running a construction business,” Justice Montgomery told Saric.

“You became involved in a commercial job in Malvern. Halfway through the job, the developer’s money dried up.

“You had put your house up as collateral. The developer went into liquidation and you lost $130,000.

“You lost your house. This caused difficulties with your marriage.

“Your wife, at the time, was a lawyer with Slater and Gordon. Her income was not enough to support the financial difficulties that had occurred to you. There was a matrimonial dispute between the two of you.

“In 2008, you met Sharon Ropa. You had been drinking alcohol excessively.

“She introduced you to the drug world. You were selling the tablets to wholesalers and remitting the money back to Ms Ropa.

“You were involved with some 15,000 ecstasy tablets, supplied by Ms Ropa. You sold on to other wholesalers. You received $100,500 yourself as payment.”

FADL MAROUN, 33, lived at Raglan St, Preston.

Fadl Maroun, after his arrest. Picture: Australian Federal Police.

Fadl Maroun. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy. Not yet sentenced. Travelled to Hong Kong with Karam to try to buy 26 tonnes of chemicals to make ice. Along with Karam, was caught in an AFP sting during which he and Karam were secretly recorded as they were negotiating and committing drug deals with undercover police in Hong Kong and Melbourne.

FRANK MOLLUSO, 33, formerly of Menzies St, Braybrook.

Frank Molluso. Picture: AFP.

Frank Molluso. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Nickname: “Kitchen” (because he ran Creative Kitchens, which was used by the gang to store drugs).

Pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial quantity of ecstasy.

Jailed for eight years and ordered to serve a minimum of six years and six months.

Sentencing judge James Montgomery said Molluso’s drug dealing was of a serious nature.

“General deterrence is an important sentencing consideration for this type of offending,” Justice Montgomery told Molluso.

“That is, I must impose a sentence that will deter or try and stop other people committing similar offences.

“In this offending you were a willing participant in a serious drug trafficking operation.

“I understand you became involved through your association with Mr Tony Di Pietro.

“You were a young person influenced by a smarter, older, more cunning and persuasive friend of the family, but you still made your own decision to be involved.”

PAUL PSAILA, 44, of Seaver Grove, Reservoir.

Paul Psaila.

Paul Psaila. Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to trafficking a marketable quantity of ecstasy.

Jailed for four years and nine months and ordered to serve a minimum of two years and nine months.

Had prior convictions for dishonesty and heroin trafficking.

Heroin addict who met Pasquale Barbaro in prison in Queensland. Recruited by Barbaro to traffick ecstasy and handled thousands of pills.

AMREN JOSKUN, 53, of Harrow Rd, Auburn, NSW.

Amren Joskun

Amren Joskun Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to trafficking ecstasy.

Jailed for 14 months and ordered to serve a minimum of six months.

Born in Turkey. Moved to Sydney in 1988. Moved to Griffith in 1999 to work as a fruit picker, met Pasquale Barbaro while doing so and became involved in drug trafficking for the Barbaro syndicate.

Used his own car to transport thousands of ecstasy pills for Barbaro.

KADIR DEMIR, 49, of Chestnut Rd, Auburn, NSW.

Kadir Demir. Picture: AFP.

Kadir Demir. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to trafficking a marketable quantity of ecstasy.

Jailed for two years and ordered to serve a minimum of 15 months.

Born in Turkey. Met Barbaro while working as a fruit picker in Griffith. Minor player who transported ecstasy from Sydney to Melbourne with co-accused Amren Joskun.

Provided advice to Barbara gang members on how best to transport pills by road to avoid being detected.

PASQUALE SERGI, 40, of McCarthy St, Fairfield West, NSW. (Pasquale Sergi from Griffith was also charged)

Minor player who was given a 12-month intensive correction order over his ecstasy trafficking for the Barbaro syndicate.

DANNY MOUSSA, 36, of McGowan St, Preston.

Danny Moussa. Picture: AFP.

Danny Moussa. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Pasquale “Patrick” Sergi. Picture: AFP

Pasquale “Patrick” Sergi. Picture: AFP Source: Supplied

Pleaded guilty to trafficking ecstasy.

Given a four month suspended sentence and ordered to be of good behaviour for two years.

Minor player.


The AFP team investigating the Barbaro syndicate’s massive drug dealing also identified the Melbourne-based money laundering gang Barbaro used to get drug money to the European syndicate.

Tanesh Dias. Picture: AFP.

Tanesh Dias. Picture: AFP. Source: Supplied

Seyed Moulana

Seyed Moulana Source: Supplied

Anvardeen Abdul-Jabbar

Anvardeen Abdul-Jabbar Source: Supplied

Mohamed Thoufeeq Abdul Majeed

Mohamed Thoufeeq Abdul Majeed Source: Supplied

They charged five members of the money laundering syndicate and they were jailed for between two and seven years.

The five were Mohamed Thoufeeq Abdul Majeed, Anvardeen Abdul-Jabbar, Tanesh Dias, Seyed Moulana and Mohammed Nasfan Abdul Nazeer.

They laundered more than $11 million through Singapore for the Barbaro syndicate.

Criminals including Tony Mokbel consider appealing convictions after IBAC mauls police over informer scandal

Here we go again , let the crooks ride the system for all it is worth, mostly on legal aid (taxpayers money). Drug dealers and murderers seem to be the only folks who can get access the bottomless resources of legal aid these days .Day to day folks have no chance because they are not facing jail time, does that make their legal woes any less important while scum like Mokbel milk the system dry? These crims see going to court appeal after appeal as a social outing, a time to see family and friends most of the time. They laugh at the system.

Vic police negligent in managing informers

Vic police negligent in managing informers

GANGLAND figures including Tony Mokbel are considering legal bids for freedom after the corruption watchdog found “negligence of a high order’’ in Victoria Police’s handling of informers.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission’s damning report was prompted by a Herald Sun investigation of the force’s controversial use of informers to get information on gangland crimes, drug lords and corrupt police.

IBAC’s inquiry, led by former Supreme Court judge Murray Kellam, found the force failed in its handling of endangered informers and may have subverted Victoria’s justice system.



The Herald Sun can today reveal one witness central to the IBAC inquiry has said senior police once threatened to take away a child unless the child’s parent joined the secretive witness protection program.

Tony Mokbel.

Tony Mokbel.

IBAC found police had failed to follow their own guidelines and policies and made 16 secret recommendations for how to handle “human sources’’.

Police passed the report to prosecutors, as Premier Daniel Andrews vowed to oversee reforms “to learn where things have gone wrong”.

Acting Chief Commissioner Tim Cartwright said he would take responsibility, despite not being in command at the time of the controversial decisions.

The report is secret, but there were calls for it to be made public as IBAC revealed the force’s handling of cases may have adversely affected the administration of justice.

The ramifications of the informer scandal could intensify the demand for a judicial inquiry into the police handling of a series of notorious cases.

How the scandal unfolded.

How the scandal unfolded.

The Herald Sun understands several major criminals, including jailed kingpin Tony Mokbel, convicted killer Faruk Orman and a jailed drug figure, are considering their legal options because of the possible contamination of their cases.

Mokbel, who is serving at least 22 years for drug trafficking, has legal advice that the informer crisis could found a successful appeal against his conviction and sentence.

A Mokbel friend said: “We’ve been approached by some lawyers who say … he might knock off a few years, because they have conspired against him.”

Police had previously told the Office of Public Prosecutions more than a dozen cases may have been tainted by their handling of informers.

Mr Cartwright said: “Victoria Police acknowledges there were shortfalls in our management of human sources during that time (2005-09). We didn’t follow best practice and it’s important that lessons were learnt and they have been.”

Acting Chief Commissioner Tim Cartwright. Picture: MIKE KEATING

Acting Chief Commissioner Tim Cartwright. Picture: MIKE KEATING

But he said that the force and prosecutors had found no evidence of a contaminated trial at state level.

“In terms of the state in the last couple of years, there is no evidence at this stage of any threat to any conviction or any evidence of mistrial,” he said.

Any miscarriage of justice would be acted upon, he said.

Opposition police spokesman Ed O’Donohue said: “Daniel Andrews should urgently release a safe, redacted version of this report otherwise his lack of transparency could unfairly erode public confidence in our police force.”

Mr Andrews would not rule out releasing a redacted report.

“It’s my expectation that Victoria Police get on and implement each and every one of the recommendations that IBAC have made … given the history of this matter, I do hope to have more to say soon.

“But at the same time we do need to be very careful.”

He would not be drawn on why a key source was not interviewed by IBAC.




17 December 2014

Prime Minister

Premier of New South Wales


In the aftermath of the horrific Martin Place siege and following the tragic loss of innocent lives, we must learn what we can from this incident and implement any changes necessary at the State and Federal level.

The Commonwealth and New South Wales governments will urgently conduct a review into the Martin Place siege and what lessons can be learned from the events leading up to and surrounding the siege.

As our State and Commonwealth law enforcement and security agencies work together to keep Australia safe, the review will identify important lessons for the future.

The review will examine and make recommendations about a wide range of issues including the circumstances surrounding hostage-taker Man Haron Monis’ arrival in Australia and subsequent granting of asylum and citizenship; what information agencies had about him and how it was shared; and whether relevant national security legislative powers could have been better used.

The Terms of Reference for the review are attached.

As we work to learn what we can from these terrible events, we acknowledge once again the courage and professionalism shown by our law enforcement and security agencies and emergency services.

We are determined to ensure that nothing stands in the way of ensuring the people who put their lives on the line to keep Australia safe can get their job done.

We have asked the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Secretary of the New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet to commence the review immediately, drawing on expertise from within our relevant jurisdictions and consulting as necessary with other States and Territories.

The review will report by the end of January 2015.

Martin Place Siege – Terms of Reference

On 17 December 2014 the Prime Minister and Premier of NSW established a review, for consideration by the Commonwealth and NSW Cabinets, of lessons learnt from the Martin Place Siege of 15-16 December 2014.

The aim of the review is to identify lessons for the future: what worked well and what might be improved.

The review will examine and make recommendations in respect of Commonwealth and NSW agencies and the cooperation between them, in relation to:

  • the arrival of Man Haron Monis in Australia and subsequent grant of asylum, permanent residency and Australian citizenship;
  • support received from, or any other interactions Man Haron Monis had with, government social support agencies;
  • information held by Commonwealth and NSW agencies about Man Haron Monis for the period prior to and following his arrival in Australia up until the siege including how any information relevant to public safety was shared between, and used by, agencies;
  • the interaction of Man Haron Monis with the NSW justice system;
  • Man Haron Monis’ access to firearms;
  • whether, how and at what stage relevant national security legislative powers including Control Orders were or could have been used in relation to Man Haron Monis’ activities of security concern;
  • any lessons learnt by the NSW and Australian Federal Police about the handling of the siege;
  • the effectiveness of public communication including coordination of messaging between the Commonwealth, NSW and jurisdictions; and
  • the effectiveness of coordination more generally between the Commonwealth and NSW.

The review will take account of the parallel investigations into the incident including by the NSW State Coroner, and NSW Police and Australian Federal Police.

The review will prepare a report for consideration by the Commonwealth and NSW Cabinets by the end of January 2015.

17 December 2014

Ex Rugby league star Craig Field guilty of manslaughter of Kelvin Kane

Big fall from grace for this ex league star, he was doing what most thugs do, but didn’t get away with it this time.

Craig Field guilty of manslaughter of Kelvin Kane outside Kingscliff Hotel in 2012

Tue 9 Dec 2014, 3:34pm

Former rugby league player Craig Field outside Lismore Court.

Photo: Craig Field has been found guilty of the manslaughter of Kelvin Kane. (ABC North Coast: Margaret Burin)

Former rugby league star Craig Field has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of a man outside a hotel in northern New South Wales in 2012.

Field, 41, admitted to punching 50-year-old Kelvin Kane outside the Kingscliff Hotel but his defence team argued he did not deliver the blow which caused a fatal brain haemorrhage.

The former Rabbitohs, Manly and West Tigers half-back pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Kane.

Field told the court during his trial that he threw the punch because he feared he was about to be hit.

The defence and prosecution agreed the fatal blow connected with the left side of Mr Kane’s jaw, but there had been conflicting evidence about where the punch thrown by Field landed.

Field told the court his punch grazed Mr Kane’s right temple.

The court also heard another man, Shaun Fathers, could have thrown up to six blows towards the deceased.

But Mr Fathers told police during the investigation none of his punches connected with Mr Kane’s body.

The prosecution told the court medical evidence supported the proposition of a single punch being landed.

Field was refused bail and his sentence date will be set on Monday.

Craig Field trial: Third man’s punches crucial in murder case against former rugby league star, defence argues

Thu 4 Dec 2014, 3:16pm

The role of a third man involved in a scuffle outside a hotel on the New South Wales far north coast is emerging as a crucial factor in the murder trial of a former football star, defence lawyers say.

Craig Field, 41, has admitted to punching 50-year-old Kelvin Kane outside the Kingscliff Hotel in 2012 but his defence team has argued he did not deliver the blow which caused a fatal brain haemorrhage.

The former Rabbitohs, Manly and West Tigers halfback has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Kane.

Field told the court he threw the punch because he feared he was about to be hit.

The defence and prosecution agreed the fatal blow connected with the left side of Mr Kane’s jaw but there had been conflicting evidence about where the punch thrown by Field landed.

Field has told the court his punch grazed Mr Kane’s right temple.

But today the jury heard a third man, Shaun Fathers, could have thrown up to six blows towards the deceased.

Earlier in the trial the prosecution quoted a police interview with Mr Fathers in which he admitted to throwing punches but denied any of them connected.

The prosecution told the court medical evidence supported the proposition of a single punch being landed.

No clear picture of incident, defence says

Defence barrister Tony Bellanto told the court there was divergence in the evidence about how Mr Kane fell, whether it was forward, sideways or crumbling.

He said the case was clouded in uncertainty and there was no clear picture of what happened.

Mr Bellanto likened the differing witness statements to magnets which had the effect of repelling each other.

For the second time in as many days he gestured towards his client while addressing the jury.

“This man is not a murderer,” Mr Bellanto said.

“He’s not a person who should be found guilty on manslaughter on this evidence because he didn’t do anything which involved criminal liability.”

Both sides have told the jury medical evidence backed their version of events and have agreed Field at times acted as a peacemaker as tempers frayed during a drinking session that began in the afternoon and lasted into the night.

Murder case against former NRL star Craig Field a ‘terrible irony’ – barrister

Wed 3 Dec 2014, 4:39pm

The defence barrister representing a former rugby league star has told the Supreme Court there is a terrible irony in the murder case against his client.

Craig Field is accused of murdering 50 year-old Kelvin Kane during a scuffle outside the Kingscliff Hotel in 2012.

The prosecution has told the court all the medical evidence points towards the blunt force of a single punch causing a fatal brain haemorrhage.

A witness has told the court he heard a massive, bone-shattering punch connect then saw a man fall to the ground like a rag doll.

There has been conflicting evidence about where Field’s punch landed, and the defence has argued that a second man also punched Mr Kane during the scuffle.

Field has pleaded not guilty, and told the court he threw the punch because he feared he was about to be hit.

Both sides agree the former Rabbitohs, Manly and Wests Tigers halfback was at times acting as a peacemaker as tempers frayed during a drinking session that began in the afternoon and lasted into the night.

Defence barrister Tony Bellanto told the court it was a terrible irony that of the two people who showed the least amount of aggression in the whole episode, one was sitting in the dock and the other was deceased.

He described the evidence against his client as a ‘Clayton’s case’.

At one stage he pointed towards Field and told the jury ‘this man is not a murderer, and he’s not a person who could be convicted of manslaughter on this evidence.’

He will continue his closing argument tomorrow.

Former NRL star Craig Field tells jury he threw a single punch to Kelvin Kane, because he was scared of being hit

Tue 2 Dec 2014, 5:43pm

Former rugby league star Craig Field has told the jury in his murder trial he threw a punch outside a hotel in northern New South Wales because he was scared of being hit himself.

The former Rabbitohs, Manly and Wests Tigers halfback today took the witness stand for the first time.

He is standing trial for the murder of 50-year-old farmer Kelvin Kane.

The jury has heard the men were involved in a scuffle in the carpark of the Kingscliff Hotel in July 2012.

Field today said he was not looking to hurt anyone, but threw a single punch because he saw Mr Kane’s hand cocked and was afraid he was about to be hit.

“I shit myself,” he said.

“I found myself in a predicament I wasn’t comfortable in and didn’t want to be in.

“It happened too quickly for anyone to say anything.

“My thought was that I had to protect myself.

“He (Mr Kane) didn’t fall directly onto his back.

“His knees buckled and he just fell down.”

Field has pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution has alleged the blunt force of that blow was enough to cause a fatal brain haemorrhage.

But the defence has told the court Mr Kane was punched by another man, Shaun Fathers, just seconds earlier.

It called an expert in forensic medicine, Professor John Hilton, who said he had seen similar cases where victims kept functioning for almost a minute before collapsing.

The jury will hear closing arguments from both sides tomorrow and is expected to retire to consider its verdict on Thursday.

Former NRL star Craig Field charged with murder

July 16, 2012
Charges against the former rugby league star are upgraded to murder after the alleged assault of a 50-year-old man in Kingscliff

Former NRL player Craig Field has been charged with murder after a man he allegedly assaulted on the NSW north coast died in hospital, police say.

Kelvin Kane, 50, was found unconscious outside the Kingscliff Beach Hotel on Marine Parade, Kingscliff, by police and paramedics about 9.15pm yesterday. Police allege that he had been punched on the head before falling to the ground.

Mr Kane was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation and taken to Tweed Heads Hospital, where he remained in a critical condition this morning, a hospital spokesman said. He was placed on life support but died this afternoon, Tweed Heads Local Court was told.

Accused ... former Souths player Craig Field.Accused … former Souths player Craig Field. Photo: Steve Christo

Shaun Fathers, 41, and Field, 39, were arrested at a Kingscliff home and taken to Tweed Heads police station, where they were charged with assault occasioning grievous bodily harm this morning before Mr Kane’s death, police said.

The charges for both men were upgraded to murder this afternoon. Aboriginal Legal Service solicitor Tom Ivey did not apply for bail for Field in court, AAP reported.

Both men will remain in custody until they appear before Lismore Magistrates Court on August 21 through a video link.

Kelvin Kane ... died after allegedly being punched by Craig Field.Kelvin Kane … died after allegedly being punched by Craig Field. Photo: Sarah Coulton, Queensland Country Life

A hotel staff member said this morning there was a fight but would not comment any further.

Roy Bartholomew, who sold cattle for Mr Kane last week, said he was a “man’s man” who “loved company and loved life”.

“He’s very open and relaxed and happy-go-lucky,” Mr Bartholomew said, adding that Mr Kane bred Charolais cattle and Charolais and Brahman cross cattle in Queensland, where he owned some property.

Mr Kane’s relative said this afternoon that his family were too upset to speak publicly.

Police appealed for anyone with information to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Field, 39, started his league career with Souths in 1990 and was promoted to captain in 1994 before leaving them in 1996. He spent two seasons at Manly before joining Balmain Tigers, which became Wests Tigers in 2000. He was dropped from the club by 2002.

He had a playing and coaching stint with Pia in France in 2002 and 2003 before returning to Australia. Field had most recently been the head coach of the Cudgen Hornets A Grade side in the Gold Coast/Tweed Rugby League competition.




Berrimah jail’s most famous residents and criminals

Bradley John Murdoch arrives under police escort at Darwin Airport. Picture: PATRINA MALO

Bradley John Murdoch arrives under police escort at Darwin Airport. Picture: PATRINA MALONE

BERRIMAH prison, described in 2011 as “only fit for a bulldozer”, is finally closing, with the last prisoners transferred on Friday.

Since it was built in 1979, the prison has been home to some of the Territory’s most notorious criminals.

Originally built for about 100 prisoners, the jail’s population swelled to nearly 800 as successive governments took hard-line approaches to crime and sentencing.

In its 35 years, the prison became increasingly dilapidated and overcrowded. Prisoners complained of rotten food and hot, overcrowded, rat-infested cells.

By the time the former Labor government announced the $500 million prison in Holtze, the legal community, human rights advocates and prisoners were heaping criticism on the jail.

In its final years, it saw repeated breakouts, riots and deaths.

NT Ombudsman Carolyn Richards, noted in 2011 that the rat problem was so bad that one inmate was bitten on the scrotum in his sleep.

Former NT Supreme Court Chief Justice Dean Mildren said in 2011 that the prison failed to meet international standards, with Correctional Services Commissioner Ken Middlebrook saying it should be bulldozed.

Instead, the prison will be refitted at a cost of $800,000 and transformed into a detention centre for the NT’s juvenile offenders.

1. Bradley Murdoch

CONVICTED in 2005 of the 2001 execution-style murder of British traveller Peter Falconio, Bradley Murdoch is serving a life sentence with a 28-year non-parole period.

Previously convicted in WA for firing a rifle at a group of Aborigines in Fitzroy Crossing, and with racist insignia tattooed on his arms, Murdoch will be at least 74 when he is released, and has been moved back and forth between Berrimah and Alice Springs prisons.

2. Lindy Chamberlain

THE Chamberlain trial was the most publicised in Australian history.

When Lindy and Michael Chamberlain’s two-month-old daughter Azaria was taken by a dingo at Uluru in 1980, police launched a murder investigation, claiming that Lindy slit her daughter’s throat and left the body in nearby scrub.

The jury found her guilty and sentenced her to life, with appeals going all the way to the High Court. The chance discovery of further evidence near Uluru led to her release in 1986.

3. Douglas Scott

DOUGLAS Scott was 26 when he was found hanged in his cell on July 5, 1985.

His widow, Letty, spent decades pushing for a proper investigation into his death, which sparked the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

A coronial inquiry and the Royal Commission both found that Scott had committed suicide, a claim Letty rejected until her death in 2009.

4. Douglas Crabbe

IN AUGUST 1983, Douglas Crabbe, then 36, drove his 25-tonne truck into a crowded bar near Uluru, killing five.

After two trials in Darwin, Crabbe was sentenced to mandatory life in prison, and married his wife, Mary, in a secret wedding ceremony inside Berrimah in 1988.

5. The Pine Gap 4

THE group of four Christian pacifists staged an illegal “citizen’s inspection” of the US/Australia spy facility at Pine Gap, in 2005, and were charged under obscure national security legislation dating back to the 1950s.

Bryan Law, Donna Mulhearn, Jim Dowling and Adele Goldie trekked for seven hours to reach Pine Gap, sneaked in and took photos of themselves on the roof. They were issued fines and spent a week in Berrimah after refusing to pay.

6. Andy Albury

ALBURY, the closest thing Australia has to Hannibal Lecter, was convicted of the gruesome murder of Gloria Pindan on Mitchell St in November 1983. One of only two men in the NT who will never be released from prison, the former abattoir worker is the prime suspect in 14 unsolved murders in Queensland.

7. Martin Leach

IN JUNE 1983, Leach stabbed and raped Charmaine Ariet and killed her cousin Janice Carnegie near Berry Springs. Along with Andy Albury, Leach will never be released.

In Berrimah prison in 1988, he tried to kill pedophile John Michael Knox with a garden hoe. He was found not guilty on grounds of insanity.

8. Daniel Heiss

HEISS served 23 years in jail, mostly in Berrimah, for shooting dead Peter Robinson in 1990, after Robinson first fired at Heiss. He was known for two audacious escapes.

9. Shonky

NICHOLAS “Shonky” Cassidy, a former Hells Angel, hit Andy Griffiths with his ute, before dumping the body in June 2011. He was sentenced to two years with a 14-month non-parole period, and will have to serve an additional 15 months because the crime was committed while on parole.

10. Ben McLean and Phu Ngoc Trinh

The childhood friends were found guilty of murder after throwing two sex workers off the Adelaide River bridge, into croc-infested waters in 2004. They were sentenced to life, with non-parole periods of 25 years.

Four men arrested over shooting attack at Sydney Rebels clubhouse

Tue 25 Nov 2014, 6:45pm

Man arrested at Bringelly

A 39-year-old man was arrested at Bringelly, in Sydney’s west. (Supplied: NSW Police)

 What a fine specimen, but who cares, it is what they get up to that matters. One by one let them be put away!
Related Story: Rebels clubhouse raided over Minchinbury shooting

Four members of the Rebels bikie gang have been arrested over the shooting and assault of a fellow gang member in Sydney earlier this year, police say.

Detectives allege the men were involved in shooting a man three times in the leg outside a Rebels clubhouse in Minchinbury, in Sydney’s west, in July.

The 33-year-old victim was then allegedly attacked after he tried to run away.

This morning, a 39-year-old man was arrested at his Bringelly home and charged with discharging a firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and participating in a criminal group.

Police said they also seized Rebels paraphernalia, cash and a vehicle from the man’s home.

Later, two men, aged 24 and 25, were arrested at Silverwater and charged with the same offences.

They were refused bail to appear at Parramatta Local Court tomorrow.

Another man, 37, was arrested during a car stop at Penrith and taken to Penrith police station, where he remains in custody.

The arrests follow the formation of Strike Force Rooftop within the State Crime Command to investigate the attack.

“All those arrested are members of the Rebels,” NSW Police said in a statement.

“Strike Force Rooftop investigations are continuing and further arrests are anticipated.”

Rebels member charged over shooting of another member – Gangs Squad

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 12:36:46 PM

Gangs Squad detectives have now charged a member of Rebels with the shooting and assault of another member in Minchinbury earlier this year.

Police will allege that shortly after 8pm on Monday 7 July 2014, a 33-year-old member of the Rebels was shot as he walked into an industrial unit on Grex Avenue, Minchinbury – the clubhouse of the Rebels Mt Druitt chapter.

After being shot three times in the leg, the man attempted to flee the location but was chased down by three men and attacked as he lay on the roadway on Grex Avenue, Minchinbury.

Police and emergency services were called to the location and the 33-year-old was taken to hospital where he was treated for his injuries. He has since been released.

Detectives from State Crime Command’s Gangs Squad formed Strike Force Rooftop to investigate the incident and this morning (Tuesday 25 November 2014) arrested a 39-year-old man at a home at Bringelly.

During a search warrant, officers seized cash, Rebels paraphernalia and a vehicle for further examination.

The senior member of the Mt Druitt chapter of the Rebels was taken to Green Valley Police Station and charged with discharge firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and participate in a criminal group.

He was refused bail to appear at Liverpool Local Court today.

Strike Force Rooftop investigations are continuing and further arrests are anticipated.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Rebels clubhouse raided over Minchinbury shooting

9:20amTue 8 Jul 2014, 9:20am

A man with links to the Rebels bikie gang has been shot in an attack at Minchinbury in Sydney’s west.

The 33-year-old was found with several bullet wounds to his thigh, outside the Rebels clubhouse in Grex Avenue about 8:30pm (AEST) on Monday.

Police said he was shot after entering the clubhouse then bashed by a group of men.

He has been taken to Westmead Hospital where he is in a serious condition.

As a result of the shooting, heavily armed police from the Tactical Operations Unit raided the clubhouse just after 11pm but no arrests were made.

Police said anyone with information about the shooting, or anyone who witnessed the attack, should contact them.

This morning, an ABC News crew that turned up to film the crime scene was threatened by gang members.

Police reporter Lucy Carter said they were told to stop filming.

“Several men are guarding the entrance to the Rebels clubhouse, telling me and my ABC camera crew to f*** off and switch off our equipment or else,” she said.

She said two police cars, including the dog squad had now arrived.

Oscar Pistorius

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By Shain Germaner –

October 21, 2014

PretoriaOscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in prison for killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, after his defence team’s arguments in mitigation were shattered by Judge Thokozile Masipa.

He was also sentenced to three years, suspended for five years, for firing a pistol under a table at Tasha’s restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013.

The sentences would run concurrently.

Masipa began her sentencing at the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday morning summarising a week’s worth of mitigation and aggravating arguments.

Pistorius was found guilty of last month of culpable homicide for causing the death of Reeva Steenkamp, as well as a charge of negligently handling a firearm in a separate incident.

Judge Masipa said while throughout the trial she had two assessors to assist her, but the sentencing decision was hers alone.

She said finding an appropriate sentence is a difficulty faced by criminal courts on a daily basis as there were sometimes more than a single correct sentence.

Masipa said that in mitigation of sentence, the defence called four witnesses while the State called just two for their arguments in aggravation.

She described the testimony of Pistorius’s psychologist, Dr Löre Hartzenberg for the defence, who said she had been treating Pistorius since shortly after the shooting in February last year.

Hartzenberg said the court needed to take into account Pistorius’s life having been left in tatters, with few friends, no career and a life now full of mental anguish.

Masipa said the next witness, Joel Maringa, a social worker, had recommended Pistorius should be kept under correctional supervision (house arrest) for three years and serve 16 hours of community service per month.

Pistorius’s manager, Peet van Zyl, was the third witness, who highlighted the athlete’s worldwide charity work during his illustrious career.

Van Zyl’s evidence was that prior to the shooting, Pistorius was commonly perceived as a global sporting icon, who had given his time and money to various worthy causes.

According to Van Zyl, the opportunity to do this had been taken from Pistorius since Steenkamp’s death.

The fourth witness was another social worker, Annette Vergeer, who spent much of her time on the stand decrying the poor status of local prisons.

She told the court that the prisons could not cater for Pistorius’s special needs.

The State’s first witness was Steenkamp’s cousin, Kim Martin, who gave an in depth summary of the model’s working and personal life.

Martin told the court of how close Steenkamp was to her parents, Barry and June, and helped them financially. Masipa noted how Martin had only met Pistorius once, a month before Steenkamp’s death. Martin recalled the chaotic aftermath for her extended family when they were informed of the death.

Barry’s health suffered from the stress of the death, according to Martin.

Lastly, the State brought the acting National Director at the Department of Correctional Services, Zac Modise, who insisted that the prison system could humanely detain the athlete.

Masipa then moved onto Pistorius’s personal circumstances as a double amputee and world renowned paralympian.

She said he no longer had any assets, and had no previous convictions.

Masipa said she was not impressed by Vergeer as a witness, as her evidence was poor and used outdated information, especially concerning the prison system. She said this had a negative impact on Vergeer’s credibility, and said the State was right in describing her evidence as “sketchy” and biased for someone with 28 years of experience.

Modise impressed the Judge, however, as a witness who genuinely wanted to inform the court that while local prisons weren’t perfect, they could cater for special needs. She said she was satisfied that disabled prisoners would be correctly looked after.

She added that if Pistorius has any issues with his accommodation if sent to prison, he had every right to approach the courts.

Judge Masipa recalled how the defence had argued Pistorius would also need mental rehabilitation for his numerous anxieties, but she believed Modise had established that such care would be available, and the athlete could bring in his own doctors.

She said that pregnant women, one of the most vulnerable groups in society, have been incarcerated in the past, with the department able to care for them.

She said it would be a major concern if there was a perception of one law for the poor, and another for the rich and famous.

Masipa also believed that the defence had placed too much emphasis on his vulnerability, when he had been living his life as a confident athlete who competed with the able-bodied.

She said her judgment was designed to bring forth the real picture of who Pistorius was.

Masipa said Pistorius had helped changed the public’s perceptions of the disabled, and inspired other young people. She said this can’t be ignored but had to be put in perspective, as his manager told the court it would have been a poor career move not to get involved with charities.

Masipa did believe, however, that Pistorius was remorseful for his crimes, as evidenced by his attempts to privately apologise to the Steenkamp family.

She said the defence had argued Pistorius’s poor mental state had been exacerbated by the media reports surrounding him. Masipa said she had taken note that the sheer number and availability of these reports could indeed be a factor in mitigation.

The judge said that while the interests of society are a necessary concern in providing a sentence, the court should not be part of a societal popularity contest, and rather pursue justice to its fullest extent.

“Retribution… is not the same as vengeance,” she said.

She said, however, that while the population could consider a lenient sentence as a failure of the court, the threat of mob justice should not deter from a righteous sentence.

Masipa said she hoped that her ruling would provide closure for all concerned, “so they could move on with their lives”.

In a comparison with another case similar to that of Pistorius’s, Masipa said the athlete had not been trying to scare off an intruder, but rather trying to shoot him.

In her conclusion, Masipa said the sentence of correctional supervision as recommended by the defence witnesses was “not appropriate” for this matter because of the severe negligent behaviour of the athlete.

She said a non-custodial sentence would send the wrong message to society, but that a long sentence was not appropriate either.

In respect of the second shooting incident at a Tasha’s restaurant, she said a sentence of direct imprisonment was not appropriate as no one was hurt.

After telling the athlete to rise, Masipa sentenced Pistorius to five years in prison for cupable homicide and three years imprisonment for the second charge, but wholly suspended. The two sentences were set to run concurrently.

Pistorius managed to hold hands with some of his family members before he was led down towards the cells.

After giving out her verdict, the judge thanked the counsel on both sides for their help during the trial and the public gallery for their behaviour. Masipa said: “I want to thank the gallery. It was not an easy matter.”

After the sentence was handed down, National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube said the organisation was originally disappointed with the culpable homicide conviction, but had taken solace in the fact that Pistorius would see some time behind bars.

He said a non-custodial sentence would have been inappropriate, and that the NPA will consider whether they may appeal the sentencing.

Mncube said it would be a difficult decision as the case was far from “straightforward”.

Meanwhile, he said he believed Pistorius would be taken straight to prison from the courthouse.

The trial of Oscar Pistorius for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp and several gun-related charges (The State vs Oscar Pistorius) in the High Court of South Africa in Pretoria opened on 3 March 2014. On 11–12 September 2014, Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered a verdict that Pistorius was not guilty of murder, but guilty of the culpable homicide of Steenkamp and reckless endangerment with a firearm at a restaurant. The trial was adjourned until 13 October for sentencing.

Pistorius is a leading South African runner, who won attention as an athlete with a disability competing at a high level, including at multiple Paralympic Games and the 2012 Summer Olympics. Steenkamp, a model, was his girlfriend. In the early morning of Thursday, 14 February 2013, Steenkamp was shot and killed by Pistorius at his Pretoria home. Pistorius acknowledged that he shot Steenkamp, but said that he mistook her for an intruder. Pistorius was taken into police custody and was formally charged with murder in a Pretoria court on 15 February 2013.

On 25 February 2014, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ruled in the High Court in Pretoria that the entire trial could be broadcast live via audio and that parts of the trial could be broadcast live via television, namely the opening and closing arguments, the testimony of consenting state witnesses, the judgment, and the sentencing if applicable.

Bail hearing

The bail hearing commenced on 19 February 2013 under Chief Magistrate of Pretoria Desmond Nair. During the hearing, both prosecution and defence said that Pistorius had fired four shots through a locked toilet door, hitting Steenkamp, who was inside, three times. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel claimed that Pistorius had put on his prosthetic legs, walked across his bedroom to the bathroom, and intentionally shot Steenkamp through the door. Nel argued that the time required for this process was sufficient to establish the alleged murder as premeditated. Pistorius said that he had thought Steenkamp was in the bed, and that the person in the toilet was an intruder.

Chief investigating officer Hilton Botha said at the bail hearing that a witness had heard gunshots coming from Pistorius’ home and then a female screaming followed by more gunshots; he initially said the witness was 600 metres (2,000 ft) away, but later said the distance was 300 metres (980 ft). Botha also said the trajectory of the gunshots indicated that they had been fired downward and directly toward the toilet, seemingly conflicting with Pistorius’ statement that he was not wearing his prosthetics at the time. He acknowledged that procedural mistakes had been made during the crime scene investigation and that police had found no evidence inconsistent with the version of events presented by Pistorius, adding later that equally nothing contradicted the police version, either.

On 22 February 2013, Botha was removed from the case following revelations that he was facing attempted murder charges stemming from a 2009 incident. Botha was replaced by Vineshkumar Moonoo, described as “the most senior detective” in the South African Police Service.

On the first day of the bail hearing, Magistrate Nair ruled that for the purposes of the bail hearing Pistorius was charged with a Schedule 6 criminal offence, which relates to serious crimes including premeditated murder and requires exceptional circumstances for release on bail.

On 22 February 2013, at the conclusion of the four-day bail hearing, Magistrate Nair said that the state had not convinced him that Pistorius posed a flight risk and fixed bail at R1 million (US$113,000). On 4 June 2013 the court case was postponed to allow time for further investigation until a hearing at Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on 19 August 2013, when Pistorius was formally indicted on charges of murder and the illegal possession of ammunition. The indictment noted that even if Pistorius was mistaken in the identity of the person he shot, the intention was to kill.

In late June 2013, Pistorius returned to training, reportedly looking much thinner and wearing a beard. His agent said that it was a very emotional experience for Pistorius and that returning had been a “bittersweet” moment for him.


Dates for a trial to be held at the Gauteng Division of the High Court were initially set from 3 to 20 March 2014, and later extended until 16 May 2014. The court was set to adjourn after proceedings on 17 April 2014, returning on 5 May 2014, to accommodate scheduling conflicts of the prosecution.

The murder trial commenced on 3 March 2014 in the High Court in Pretoria. Pistorius was also facing a charge of illegal possession of ammunition and two charges of firing a gun in a public space. The trial was assigned to Judge Thokozile Masipa, who appointed two assessors, Janette Henzen du Toit and Themba Mazibuko, to help her evaluate the case and reach a verdict. There was no jury, the jury system in South Africa being abolished during apartheid.

Section 35 of the South African Bill of Rights provides that “Every accused person has a right to a fair trial, which includes the right… to be tried in a language that the accused person understands or, if that is not practicable, to have the proceedings interpreted in that language”. At the start of the trial, Judge Masipa told the court that the proceedings would be held in English with the assistance of interpreters, and confirmed that Pistorius spoke English. Difficulties related to court interpreters have led to court delays, mistranslations and witnesses opting to testify in English rather than their first language.

The opening statement of prosecutor Gerrie Nel noted that the murder case against Pistorius was based largely on circumstantial evidence, as there were no eyewitnesses to the incident. Contrary to statements made in the bail hearing, the prosecution’s case in the trial was that Pistorius was not wearing his prosthetic legs at the time of the shooting, or when he broke the toilet door down afterwards.

Prosecution expert witness Christian Mangena, a police ballistics analyst, testified “the shooter was most likely not wearing prosthetic legs”. Prosecution expert witness Johannes Vermeulen, a police forensic analyst, testified Pistorius was not wearing his prosthetic legs when he broke the toilet door down with a cricket bat after the shooting. Pistorius pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, including murder and three gun-related charges.

In his opening statement read out by Pistorius family lawyer Kenny Oldwage, Pistorius said he believed Steenkamp was in bed when he shot at what he thought was an intruder behind the toilet door, and that he had spoken to her in bed shortly beforehand. He admitted to killing Steenkamp, but denied the charge of murder.

The lead defence advocate in the case was Barry Roux. In South African criminal law, murder is defined as the intentional unlawful killing of another human being. The defence of Pistorius was that, in shooting at what he believed to be an intruder, he mistakenly believed he was acting in self-defence, and as self-defence excludes the unlawfulness requirement of criminal liability, an act in valid self-defence is lawful. Technically his defence amounted to a claim that he did not intend to act unlawfully. If he could raise a reasonable doubt in his favour that he was mistaken, as he claimed, he is entitled, under South African law, to an acquittal on the charge of murder. The court then considered whether this mistake was reasonable – one that a reasonable person, in his circumstances, may have made. If the court concluded that this was an unreasonable mistake, it would convict him of Culpable homicide (all other requirements assumed). Culpable homicide in South African criminal law is defined as the negligent unlawful killing of another human being – roughly the equivalent of the English and US manslaughter.

Progress of the trial

On the first and second day of the trial, a witness testified to hearing sounds of arguing that lasted about an hour. Five witnesses testified to what were described as a woman’s screams and gunshots on the night Steenkamp died.

On the morning of day three, the defence resumed the cross examination of witnesses claiming to have heard a woman’s screams and gunshots. The defence sought to establish that this was in fact Pistorius screaming for help and that the “explosive sounds” heard was the door to the toilet being battered down. In the afternoon the prosecution continued with testimony relating to an incident when a shot was fired in a restaurant the year previously.

On the fourth day, Pistorius’ neighbour, Johan Stipp, a radiologist, testified that he found Pistorius praying over Steenkamp’s body when he went over to help after being woken by what he described as the sound of gunshots and a woman screaming. Stipp testified that the first thing he remembered Pistorius saying when he saw him was “I shot her. I thought she was a burglar. I shot her.” Stipp also testified that the light was on in the bathroom and he saw a figure moving as a woman screamed.

On day five the court heard testimony from a former girlfriend of Pistorius and from a security guard at the estate where Pistorius lived, on duty the night of the events. The court adjourned until the following Monday 10 March 2014. The trial entered its sixth day on 10 March. Pistorius vomited multiple times in court as the state pathologist delivered graphic testimony about the nature of Steenkamp’s injuries.

On 24 March, the court heard testimony about messages sent on iPhones between Pistorius and Steenkamp using WhatsApp. Ninety percent of them were described as loving and normal, but there were several from Steenkamp accusing Pistorius of jealousy and possessiveness. In one of them, sent less than three weeks before her killing, Steenkamp told Pistorius “I’m scared of you sometimes, of how you snap at me”, and described his behaviour as “nasty”. The state rested their case on Tuesday 25 March, having called 20 witnesses from an original list of 107.

On 28 March, the trial was postponed until 7 April as one of the assessors fell ill. On 7 April, Pistorius began testifying in his own defence at the trial. The cross examination of Pistorius lasted for five days, and ended on 15 April. Re-examination by defence lasted less than ten minutes, in the course of which defence asked Pistorius to read from a Valentine card which Steenkamp had given the athlete. Steenkamp had written: “I think today is a good day to tell you that, I love you”. Pistorius previously testified that he opened the card on Steenkamp’s birthday in August 2013.

Following further defence testimony the trial was adjourned until 5 May.

On 5 May, Johan Stander, manager of the estate where Pistorius lived, testified that Pistorius called at 3.18 am saying “Please, please come to my house. I shot Reeva, I thought she was an intruder. Please, please come quick.” He went with his daughter and found Pistorius coming down the stairs with Steenkamp in his arms. “He was broken, he was screaming, he was crying, he was praying, I saw the truth that morning”, he said.

On 6 May, a married couple who lived next to Pistorius’ house testified that they both heard a man crying loudly in a high-pitched voice and calling three times for help. Another immediate neighbour testified that she heard a man crying, describing the sounds as a “cry of pain”. There was no hearing Wednesday 7 May, due to the South African general election. Defence lawyer Barry Roux indicated that he would be finished with witness testimony by Tuesday 13 May.

On 8 May, professor Christina Lundgren, an anaesthesiologist, testified that estimates of the time Steenkamp last ate were not reliable. The defence also called Yvette van Schalkwyk, a social worker and probation officer assigned to Pistorius, who had contacted the defence after reading newspaper reports suggesting Pistorius was acting and that his emotional responses were insincere. She said that in February 2013 she sat with him in the cells during his bail appearance, where he vomited twice, cried eighty percent of the time, and was in mourning and suffering emotionally, and that Pistorius told her that he missed Steenkamp a great deal. “He loved her. .. He couldn’t think what her parents must be going through” she said. Under cross-examination, Lundgren conceded that Pistorius had not told her he was sorry he killed Reeva. The defence ballistics expert and former police officer Tom Wolmarans began his testimony.

On 9 May, Wolmarans countered a suggestion from a prosecution ballistics expert that Steenkamp cowered with her hand over her head. “The left hand cannot have been against her head because there were no wounds and no brain tissue on the inside of her hand” he said.

On 12 May, forensic psychiatrist Dr Merryl Vorster testified that Pistorius has a generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and is a “distrusting and guarded” person hyper-vigilant about security, and also that in a fight or flight situation he is more likely to stand up to threatening situations than to flee, due to his disability. The prosecution said they would bring an application for Pistorius’ mental condition to be independently assessed under article 78 of the South African Criminal Procedure Act.

On 13 May, the court heard concluding testimony from Vorster. Judge Masipa said she would rule the following day on the prosecution application to have Pistorius’ mental condition evaluated. On 14 May, Judge Masipa granted the prosecution’s application for Pistorius to be referred for mental evaluation.

On 20 May, Judge Masipa ordered evaluation to take place as an out-patient at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria weekdays between 9 am and 4 pm, starting 26 May and lasting up to thirty days. The evaluation found that Pistorius was not mentally incapacitated to the extent where he could not tell right from wrong, though it did say that he currently suffers from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and would need continuing psychiatric care or he could become suicidal.

On 30 June, surgeon Gerald Versfeld, who amputated Pistorius’ lower legs when he was 11 months old, testified about the effects of Pistorius walking or standing on his stumps. Acoustic engineer Ivan Lin testified that tests suggested that if Steenkamp was screaming in Pistorius’ toilet, it was “very unlikely” that the screams would be audible or intelligible from 177 metres (581 ft) away, and that “although we can typically distinguish male and female screams, you cannot do so reliably, without exception”. Masipa also issued an order that police officers depose affidavits about a missing electrical extension cord.

On 1 July, Lin conceded it was possible that state witnesses heard screams from the Pistorius house from up to 177 metres (581 ft) away. Peet van Zyl, Pistorius’s agent, testified that Pistorius was in a “loving and caring relationship” with Reeva Steenkamp. Van Zyl described the sprinter as “hypervigilant”, and said he rarely lost his temper.

On 2 July, defence lawyer Roux read excerpts from a psychologist’s report, which stated “Mr Pistorius has been severely traumatised by the events that took place on 14 February 2013, He currently suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder, and a major depressive disorder … The degree of anxiety and depression that is present is significant. He is also mourning the loss of Ms Steenkamp. Mr Pistorius is being treated and should continue to receive clinical care by a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist for his current condition. Should he not receive proper clinical care, his condition is likely to worsen and increase the risk for suicide.” The report did not confirm a diagnosis of “Generalised Anxiety Disorder” by a witness called by the defence, “”No evidence could be found to indicate that Mr Pistorius suffered from anxiety to the extent that it impaired his functioning prior to the incident in February 2013.”.

The report found some jealousy but no evidence of abuse by Pistorius: “There is evidence to indicate that Mr Pistorius was genuine with his feelings towards Miss Steenkamp and that they had a normal loving relationship. He did become insecure and jealous at times but this was normal for the specific situation. He would express his displeasure and irritation but would try and sort it out later by talking with Miss Steenkamp. Although the relationship was still young, there were no signs of abusive coercion like those often found in these kinds of relationships.” Wayne Derman, professor of sport and exercise medicine at the University of Cape Town, testified that Pistorius was “hyper-vigilant” and restless.

On 3 July, under cross-examination, Derman testified “You’ve got a paradox of an individual who is supremely able, and you’ve got an individual who is significantly disabled”. Derman, who had treated Pistorius over six years while working with South African Olympic and Paralympic teams, said Pistorius’ anxieties included concern about flying. “He has a specific fear of being trapped somewhere without being able to move very rapidly.” and that on the night he killed Steenkamp,”fleeing was not an option” as Pistorius was not wearing his artificial legs. Prosecutor Nel suggested Derman could not give evidence against his patient. “The truth would come before my patient,” Derman responded.

On 8 July, the defence closed its case. Defence lawyer Barry Roux protested “We were unable to call a number of witnesses because they refused, and didn’t want their voices heard all over the world.”

Closing arguments were heard on 7 and 8 August, with prosecutor Nel stating that Pistorius concocted a “snowball of lies”, demanding that Pistorius face consequences for his actions and in response defence lawyer Barry Roux stated that the timeline proves that Pistorius’ story is true, compared Pistorius’ reaction to danger as being like that of an an abused woman, and that Pistorius should only ever have faced culpable homicide charges, not murder.

Judge Masipa adjourned the trial until 11 September for the delivery of the verdict.


The court’s verdict, which was arrived at unanimously by the judge and her two assessors, was delivered by Judge Masipa over two days, with the formal verdict delivered on 12 September 2014.

On 11 September Judge Masipa dismissed much of the state’s circumstantial evidence, while also describing Pistorius as a “very poor witness”. Judge Masipa said the state had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Pistorius was guilty of premeditated murder and also ruled out dolus eventualis, i.e. common murder, accepting that “he did not subjectively foresee this as a possibility, that he would kill the person behind the door, let alone the deceased as he thought she was in the bedroom”. However, Judge Masipa said culpable homicide was a competent verdict, i.e. a lesser offence that is a possible alternative verdict. She said a reasonable person in the same circumstances would have “foreseen the possibility that if he fired four shots whoever was behind the toilet [door] might be struck and die as a result”. She said Pistorius “failed to take any steps to avoid the death”, “acted too hastily and used excessive force” and his actions were clearly negligent.

On 12 September Judge Masipa found Pistorius not guilty of murder but guilty of the culpable homicide of Steenkamp and guilty of reckless endangerment with a firearm at a restaurant in a separate incident. He was found not guilty of the charges relating to discharging a firearm through the sunroof of a car and illegal possession of ammunition.

Pistorius was convicted of the following specific criminal offences:

  • 1.Culpable homicide, defined as “the unlawful negligent killing of a human being”
  • 2.Contravention of section 120(3)(b) of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (reckless endangerment), namely to “discharge or otherwise handle a firearm, an antique firearm or an airgun in a manner likely to injure or endanger the safety or property of any person or with reckless disregard for the safety or property of any person”

Judge Masipa adjourned the trial until 13 October for sentencing and granted Pistorius a bail extension.


According to media monitoring company ROi Africa, the majority of social media comments during the delivery of the verdict were critical of Judge Masipa after it became evident that Pistorius would not be found guilty of murder. Judge Masipa, who was given police protection from the beginning of the trial, was subjected to threats and personal attacks by people who disagreed with the verdict.


The sentencing hearing began on 13 October 2014. Witnesses for the defence recommended a 3 year community sentence with 16 hours of community service per month. State witness Zach Modise, acting national commissioner of Correctional Services, testified that being disabled Pistorius would be held in Pretoria Central Prison’s hospital wing if he receives a prison sentence.

In a statement released on 15 October, Steenkamp’s parents said they would not testify in the sentencing hearing and that they had decided not to proceed with a separate civil lawsuit. Steenkamp’s cousin Kim Martin testified for the state about the impact on the family and asked the court to impose a prison sentence. Closing arguments were heard on 17 October, when the defence argued against a prison sentence and the state requested a minimum prison sentence of 10 years.

On 21 October 2014, Pistorius received a prison sentence of a maximum of five years for culpable homicide and a concurrent three year suspended prison sentence for the separate reckless endangerment conviction.

Notable media coverage

Print media

  • Time published a cover story titled “Pistorius and South Africa’s culture of violence” in the 11 March 2013 issue of the magazine. The magazine cover contains text superimposed on an image of a barechested Pistorius with his running blades on, portraying his progression from man to superman to gunman. Journalism professor at City University London Roy Greenslade described the cover image as “one of those striking cover images that bears all the hallmarks of being one that will live on for years to come”. The Sowetan listed the cover appearance date as one of the “key dates in his journey from internationally renowned athlete to a man on trial for murder”.

  • Vanity Fair published a feature story about the incident titled “The Shooting Star and The Model” in the Crime section of their June 2013 issue.

  • Pieces of the Puzzle: Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp Part One: The Killing by Laurianne Claase was published in 2013, initially as an e-book and subsequently in print. Claase plans to publish a book sequel after the trial has ended.

  • On 4 March 2014, The Guardian published an article by South African crime novelist Margie Orford, “Oscar Pistorius trial: the imaginary black stranger at heart of the defence”, describing how the case “taps into a painful narrative in which race, sex, power and violence converge”.

  • In his Business Day column published on 13 March 2014, Caxton Professor of Journalism at Wits University Anton Harber states that the trial represents a turning point for local newspapers unable to compete with “the speed and conversational nature of electronic media”. He also notes that the fact that the presiding judge has “her finger on the off button for live broadcast” is restraining the behaviour of the media.

  • Several cartoons about the case by award-winning South African cartoonist Zapiro have been published. A cartoon titled “St. Valentine’s Day Shocker” published in the Mail & Guardian on 14 February 2013 depicts two scenarios, one portraying the culpable homicide version of events based on mistaken identity and the other portraying Pistorius as an Oscar winning actor. A cartoon titled “Reeva Steenkamp as Lady Justice in Oscar Pistorius Trial” published in the The Times on 4 March 2014 depicts Steenkamp as Lady Justice running after Pistorius. A cartoon titled “Legal Reasoning Behind Oscar Pistorius Verdict” published in the The Times on 16 September 2014 depicts the ensuing public debate about the legal technicalities of the verdict.

  • A controversial Paddy Power advertisement captioned “money back if he walks” was published in British tabloid The Sun on 2 March 2014 as a publicity stunt. The UK Advertising Standards Authority found that Paddy Power breached the CAP Code and brought the advertising industry into disrepute after receiving a record number of 5,525 complaints that the advertisement made light of a murder trial, the death of a woman, domestic violence and disability.

  • On 12 September 2014 The New York Times compared the South African public’s interest in the trial to that of Americans in the O. J. Simpson murder trial, reflecting “South Africa’s complicated obsession with race, crime and celebrity”.

Radio, television, and film

  • On 11 March 2013, BBC Three aired an hour long documentary about the incident titled Oscar Pistorius: What Really Happened? Discovery Networks International acquired the broadcasting rights to the programme, which will be titled Blade Runner: The Untold Story in the United States.

  • On 3 June 2013, Channel 5 aired two consecutive hour-long documentaries titled Why Did Oscar Pistorius Kill Our Daughter? and Pistorius Trial: The Key Questions.

  • In February 2014 eNCA aired a half-hour documentary special about Steenkamp’s life titled Reeva: The Model You Thought You Knew.

  • An hour long documentary titled Oscar Pistorius: Burden of Truth was aired during M-Net’s Carte Blanche programme on 16 February 2014 and subsequently on the Crime & Investigation Network.

  • On 29 January 2014, it was announced that South African satellite pay-channel DStv would launch a dedicated 24-hour channel providing in-depth coverage of the Oscar Pistorius trial on 2 March 2014. It was DStv’s first pop-up channel covering a major news story.

  • ESPN, a TV channel focussing on sports-related programming, is covering the trial on their ESPN3 network.

  • On 16 June 2014, 48 Hours aired an hour-long documentary titled Oscar Pistorius: Shots in the Dark.

  • On 6 July 2014, Australia’s Seven Network dedicated an hour-long episode of Sunday Night to a story titled Running Scared which was their own investigation into the likelihood of Pistorius’ guilt. The story included Pistorius’ own re-enactments as well as audio recordings and animations of the scene, and gave much heavier weight to claims of his innocence. The following day, many in South Africa, including Pistorius’ family and legal team, slammed the broadcast, saying the re-enactment footage had been illegally obtained. They claimed the footage was created solely for trial preparation and that the US company engaged to create it had breached contract by selling it to Seven Network. Seven Network refused to apologise, stating that they stood by their decision to air the story and denying any involvement in illegal procurement of the footage. They reminded the public that Steenkamp’s family participated in the creation of the story, citing their interviews that went to air.

  • On 15 September 2014, BBC Three broadcast Oscar Pistorius: The Truth, a documentary produced by NBC News subsidiary Peacock Productions, including extensive interviews with Barry and June Steenkamp.

Social media

  • On 22 February 2013, technology news site, Memeburn analyzed Pistorius’s bail hearing as it transpired on social media.

  • The Pistorius trial saw many South African journalists gain social media prominence as they reported from the courtroom. Writing for Memeburn, Lauren Granger explored the rise of Barry Bateman as the go to source for all things Pistorius and the Twitter explosion.

  • On 14 February 2014, South African comedian Trevor Noah posted on Twitter: “And the Oscar goes to – Jail”. Noah received criticism from his followers and other South Africans. People who responded to this post include Top Billing presenter Janez Vermeiren, who responded: “@Trevornoah c’mon you are more than talented and have enough followers, you don’t need to seek attention like this!”

  • On 23 February 2014, Pistorius’s PR team launched a Twitter account called Factual Updates which operates under the Twitter handle @OscarHardTruth in order to provide new information regarding the case as the trial unfolds. On 17 March 2014, Pistorius’s media manager Anneliese Burgess released a statement saying the account would only be used to alert followers of media statements and articles and would be used as a stand-alone communication trial once the trial had concluded.

  • Writing in her Daily Maverick column published on 4 March 2014, Sisonke Msimang finds vibrancy and emerging self-confidence reflected in the local social media coverage of the trial. While the trial inevitably represents a fall from grace prompting international media accounts of a country ‘at war with itself’, South Africans are learning that such accounts are better told by themselves.

  • On 14 April 2014, former Sunday Times columnist, Jani Allan published an open letter to Pistorius on her blog. The piece was republished by the Daily Maverick the following day. Allan described Pistorius as a “faux hero” and compared him to Eugene Terre’Blanche. She also suggested that he had taken acting lessons in preparation for his court appearance. A spokesperson for the Pistorius family has denied this; “We deny in the strongest terms the contents of her letter in as far it relates to our client and further deny that our client has undergone any acting lessons or any form of emotional coaching.”

In full: Pistorius’ affidavit to court

February 21, 2013

Pretoria (CNN) — Oscar Pistorius’ attorney read out the track star’s affidavit to the judge in the Pretoria courtroom during the bail hearing Tuesday. The athlete was too distraught to read out the statement himself.

The affidavit reads as follows:

I, the undersigned, Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius, do hereby make oath and state:

I am an adult male and a South African citizen with identity number [identity number redacted].

I am the Applicant in this application in which I seek relief from this Honourable Court to be released on bail. I respectfully submit, as I will demonstrate herein, that the interests of justice permit my release on bail. In any event, the dictates of fairness and justice in view of the peculiar facts herein warrant that I should not be deprived of my liberty and that I should be released on bail.

I make this affidavit of my own free will and have not in any way been unduly influenced to depose thereto.

The facts herein contained, save where expressly indicated to the contrary, are within my personal knowledge and belief, and are both true and correct.

The purpose of this affidavit is to provide the above Honourable Court with my personal circumstances and to address the allegations levelled against me (in so far as they are known to me), as well as to address the factors to be considered by the above Honourable Court as contained in Sections 60(4) to 60(9) of the Act.

I have been advised and I understand that I bear the burden to show that the interests of justice permit my release and that I am obliged to initiate this application. I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder, as I had no intention to kill my girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp (“Reeva”). However, I will put factors before the Honourable Court to show that it is in the interests of justice to permit my release on bail.

I state that the State will not be able to present any objective facts that I committed a planned or premeditated murder. For this reason I will hereunder deal with the events which occurred that evening. The objective facts will not refute my version as it is the truth.

I am a professional athlete and reside at [address redacted].

I was born on 22 November 1986, at Johannesburg. I have resided in the Republic of South Africa (“the RSA”) all my life, and although I frequently travel abroad to participate in international sporting events, I regard South Africa as my permanent place of abode. I have no intention to relocate to any other country as I love my country.

I own immovable assets in South Africa, which consist of the following:

The immovable property in which I currently reside, at [address redacted] (“the residential premises”). This property is valued at approximately R5 million and is encumbered by a mortgage bond in the amount of approximately R2 million.

Two further immovable properties located within Weeping Willow Estates, Pretoria East, which properties have a combined value of approximately R1,6 million. Both properties are bonded to an aggregate value of approximately R1 million.

A vacant stand in Langebaan, Western Cape, which has a value of approximately R1,7 million. This property is not bonded.

I own movable assets comprised of household furniture and effects, motor vehicles and jewellery, which are valued in excess of R500 000,00.

My friends and family reside in the RSA, although I also have friends abroad.

My professional occupation currently provides me with an income of approximately R5,6 million per annum.

I have cash investments in excess of R1 million at various banks within the RSA.

I have never been convicted of any criminal offences either in the RSA or elsewhere. There are no outstanding cases, other than the present, being investigated against me by the South African Police Services (“SAPS”).

My legal representatives have explained the provisions of Section 60(11) of the Act to me. I respectfully make the following submissions in this regard:

I have been informed that I am accused of having committed the offence of murder. I deny the aforesaid allegation in the strongest terms.

I am advised that I do not have to deal with the merits of the case for purposes of the bail application. However, I believe that it is appropriate to deal with the merits in this application, particularly in view of the State’s contention that I planned to murder Reeva. Nothing can be further from the truth and I have no doubt that it is not possible for the State to present objective facts to substantiate such an allegation, as there is no substance in the allegation. I do not know on what different facts the allegation of a premeditated murder could be premised and I respectfully request the State to furnish me with such alleged facts in order to allow me to refute such allegations.

On the 13th of February 2013 Reeva would have gone out with her friends and I with my friends. Reeva then called me and asked that we rather spend the evening at home. I agreed and we were content to have a quiet dinner together at home. By about 22h00 on 13 February 2013 we were in our bedroom. She was doing her yoga exercises and I was in bed watching television. My prosthetic legs were off. We were deeply in love and I could not be happier. I know she felt the same way. She had given me a present for Valentine’s Day but asked me only to open it the next day.

After Reeva finished her yoga exercises she got into bed and we both fell asleep.

I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes with a view to commit crime, including violent crime. I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9 mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night.

During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realised that someone was in the bathroom.

I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside. Although I did not have my prosthetic legs on I have mobility on my stumps.

I believed that someone had entered my house. I was too scared to switch a light on.

I grabbed my 9mm pistol from underneath my bed. On my way to the bathroom I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch dark in the bedroom and I thought Reeva was in bed.

I noticed that the bathroom window was open. I realised that the intruder/s was/were in the toilet because the toilet door was closed and I did not see anyone in the bathroom. I heard movement inside the toilet. The toilet is inside the bathroom and has a separate door.

It filled me with horror and fear of an intruder or intruders being inside the toilet. I thought he or they must have entered through the unprotected window. As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself. I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger. I felt trapped as my bedroom door was locked and I have limited mobility on my stumps.

I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding.

When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help.

I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open. I think I must then have turned on the lights. I went back into the bedroom and grabbed my cricket bat to bash open the toilet door. A panel or panels broke off and I found the key on the floor and unlocked and opened the door. Reeva was slumped over but alive.

I battled to get her out of the toilet and pulled her into the bathroom. I phoned Johan Stander (“Stander”) who was involved in the administration of the estate and asked him to phone the ambulance. I phoned Netcare and asked for help. I went downstairs to open the front door.

I returned to the bathroom and picked Reeva up as I had been told not to wait for the paramedics, but to take her to hospital. I carried her downstairs in order to take her to the hospital. On my way down Stander arrived. A doctor who lives in the complex also arrived. Downstairs, I tried to render the assistance to Reeva that I could, but she died in my arms.

I am absolutely mortified by the events and the devastating loss of my beloved Reeva. With the benefit of hindsight I believe that Reeva went to the toilet when I went out on the balcony to bring the fan in. I cannot bear to think of the suffering I have caused her and her family, knowing how much she was loved. I also know that the events of that tragic night were as I have described them and that in due course I have no doubt the police and expert investigators will bear this out.

I will stand my trial should it proceed against me. I am a well-known international athlete and there is no possibility that I will even think of not standing my trial should there be one. I trust the South African legal system and that the facts will show that I did not murder Reeva.

In order to persuade the above Honourable Court that I should be released on bail, I provide the following additional facts and information in terms of Section 60 of the Act.

I do not know the identity of any witness upon whom the State will rely in order to attempt to prove a case against me. In any event, I have no intention to interfere with any witnesses as I have no cause to do so and I undertake not to do so.

I maintain good relationships with people and I bear no grudges against anyone.

As previously stated, I have no previous convictions and I have not been released on bail pending any charges.

I am not disposed to violence.

I respectfully submit that the facts set out above support my contention that I do not constitute a flight risk.

I have two South African passports, the one is full. I need my passport to compete overseas but I am willing to surrender the passports to the investigating officer should it be a condition of bail. I am not in possession of any other travel documents and undertake not to apply for such documentation pending the finalisation of these proceedings.

After the shooting I did not attempt to flee. Rather, I accepted Stander would contact the police, and I remained at the scene.

I will be able to raise an appropriate amount to post as bail.

I have no knowledge of any evidentiary material which may exist with regard to the allegations levelled against me. In any event, I believe that whatever such evidence may be, it is in the possession of the police; it is safely secured and I do not have access thereto. I undertake not to interfere with any further investigations.

I am not sure which witnesses the State will rely upon in order to attempt to prove its case against me. Nonetheless, I undertake not to communicate with any witness, whoever he or she may be, and any other persons whose names may appear on a list of “State witnesses”, to be provided by the State.

My continued incarceration can only prejudice me and creates no benefit to the State.

I respectfully submit that should I be released on bail, my release shall not disturb the public order or undermine the proper functioning of the criminal justice system.

I will comply with such conditions as the above Honourable Court may wish to impose.

I accordingly submit that the interests of justice, considerations of prejudice and the balancing of respective interests favour my release on bail.

Why wasn’t Oscar Pistorius convicted of murder?

After a six-month trial, Oscar Pistorius is cleared of murder but convicted of culpable homicide

September 12, 2014

Oscar Pistorius was today convicted of culpable homicide by Judge Thokozile Masipa after being cleared of murdering Reeva Steenkamp.

The prosecution accused Pistorius of premeditated murder, claiming he had deliberately shot his girlfriend Steenkamp after an argument on Valentine’s Day last year.

However, Judge Masipa told the court that the state had failed to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that Pistorius is guilty of premeditated murder. “There are just not enough facts to support such a finding,” she said.

Masipa said the evidence the state offered on the charge was “purely circumstantial”.

Based on the objective facts, such as phone records, she accepted the defence’s timeline of events that the shots were fired at around 3.12am. This meant that some of the state witnesses who claimed they heard a woman screaming after the time Steenkamp was shot must have been “genuinely mistaken”, she said.

The judge also said that the WhatsApp messages between Pistorius and Steenkamp did not “prove anything” and the evidence suggesting Steenkamp had eaten two hours before she died was “inconclusive”.

Masipa then turned to the lesser charge of murder. She said there was “no doubt” that when Pistorius fired shots at the door he “acted unlawfully”.

However, she said that the evidence does not support the state’s case that this was “murder dolus eventualis”, a legal term for when the perpetrator foresees the possibility of his action causing death and persists regardless.

Masipa accepted that Pistorius believed Steenkamp was in the bedroom, noting that this part of his account had remained consistent since the moments after the shooting. It is “highly improbable the accused would have made this up so quickly”, she said.

She described Pistorius as a “very poor” and “evasive” witness, but said it did not mean he was necessarily guilty. “Clearly he did not subjectively foresee this as a possibility that he would kill the person behind the door – let alone the deceased – as he thought she was in the bedroom,” she said.

Yesterday, some legal experts suggested that the state might be able to appeal the murder ruling. Masipa explained why Pistorius did not foresee that he would kill Steenkamp, but did not “explain convincingly” why she believed he did not foresee that he would have killed the perceived intruder, says Pierre De Vos, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Cape Town.

Writing in South Africa’s Daily Maverick, De Vos says: “Given all the evidence presented in court about Pistorius’s knowledge of guns and what the bullets he used would do to a person, it is unlikely in the extreme that Pistorius did not foresee that the person behind the door (who he might have thought was an intruder) would be killed.”

Today, Masipa offered a legal explanation as to why she could only convict Pistorius on culpable homicide rather than murder. A “reasonable” person with Pistorius’s disabilities would have foreseen that shooting into the door may have killed the person inside, she said. However, South African law warns against automatically assuming that because a perpetrator “should have” foreseen the consequences of his actions that he actually did.

She pointed to JM Burchell’s General Principles of Criminal Law, which states that “the courts have warned against any tendency to draw the inference of objective foresight too easily”. Following previous cases, the courts have been told to “guard against proceeding too readily from ‘ought to have foreseen’ to ‘must have foreseen'”.

The onus was on the state to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius foresaw the fatal consequences of his actions when he shot at the door. Masipa said the prosecution failed to do so.

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius (born 22 November 1986) is a South African sprint runner. Although both of Pistorius’ legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old, he competes in events for single below-knee amputees and for able-bodied athletes.

After becoming a Paralympics champion, Pistorius attempted to enter able-bodied international competition, over persistent objections of the IAAF and charges that his artificial limbs gave an unfair advantage. Pistorius eventually prevailed in this legal dispute. At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, Pistorius became the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he entered the men’s 400 metres and 4 × 400 metres relay races. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, Pistorius won gold medals in the men’s 400-metre race and in the 4 × 100 metres relay, setting world records in both events. He also took silver in the 200-metre race, having set a world record in the semifinal.

In February 2013, Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria home. He claimed he’d mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder, but he was arrested and charged with murder. At his trial in 2014 he was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of culpable homicide. In October 2014, Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide (and a concurrent three year suspended prison sentence for a separate reckless endangerment conviction).

Early life

Oscar Pistorius was born to Henke and Sheila Pistorius on 22 November 1986 in Sandton, Johannesburg, in what was then Transvaal Province (now Gauteng Province) of South Africa. He grew up in a Christian home, and has an elder brother, Carl, and a younger sister, Aimée. Pistorius credits his mother, who died at the age of 43 when Pistorius was 15 years old, as a major influence in his life. He is a white South African with Italian ancestry from his mother’s grandfather, an Italian emigrant to Kenya. He is English-speaking.

Pistorius was born with fibular hemimelia (congenital absence of the fibula) in both legs. When he was 11 months old, his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles. He attended Constantia Kloof Primary School and Pretoria Boys High School, where he played rugby union in the school’s third XV team. He played water polo and tennis at provincial level between the ages of 11 and 13. In addition, Pistorius took part in club Olympic wrestling, and trained at Jannie Brooks’s garage gym in Pretoria, South Africa.

After a serious rugby knee injury in June 2003, he was introduced to running in January 2004 while undergoing rehabilitation at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre with coach Ampie Louw, and “never looked back”. His first racing blades were fitted by South African prosthetist Francois van der Watt. Because he was unable to find suitable running blades in Pretoria, van der Watt ordered some to be made by a local engineer. However, as these quickly broke, van der Watt referred Pistorius to American prosthetist and Paralympic sprinter Brian Frasure to be fitted for blades by Icelandic company Össur.

Pistorius began studying for a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.) in business management with sports science at the University of Pretoria in 2006. In a June 2008 interview for his University’s website, he joked: “I won’t graduate soon. With all the training I have had to cut down on my subjects. Hopefully I’ll finish by the time I’m 30!” Asked by a journalist for his “sporting motto”, he said: “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”

Sporting career

Pistorius competes in T44 (single below-knee amputees) events though he is actually classified in T43 (double below knee amputee). Sometimes referred to as the “Blade Runner” and “the fastest man on no legs”, Pistorius took part in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens and came third overall in the T44 (one leg amputated below the knee) 100-metre event. Despite falling in the preliminary round for the 200 metres, he qualified for the final. He went on to win the final in a world record time of 21.97 seconds, besting a pair of American runners both possessing a single amputation, Marlon Shirley and Brian Frasure.

In 2005, Pistorius finished sixth in the able-bodied South African Championships over 400 metres with a world-record time of 47.34 seconds, and at the Paralympic World Cup in the same year, he won gold in the 100 metres and 200 metres, beating his previous 200-metre world record.

At the 2006 Paralympic Athletics World Championships, Pistorius won gold in the 100-, 200- and 400-metre events, breaking the world record over 200 metres. On 17 March 2007, he set a disability sports world record for the 400 metres (46.56 seconds) at the South African Senior Athletics Championships in Durban; and at the Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled held in Johannesburg in April 2007, he became the world record holder of the 100- and 200-metre events with times of 10.91 and 21.58 seconds respectively.

Pistorius was invited by the IAAF to take part in what would have been his first international able-bodied event, the 400-metre race at the IAAF Grand Prix in Helsinki, Finland, in July 2005. He was unable to attend, however, because of school commitments.

On 13 July 2007, Pistorius ran in the 400-metre race at Rome’s Golden Gala and finished second in run B with a time of 46.90 seconds, behind Stefano Braciola who ran 46.72 seconds. This was a warm-up for his appearance at the 400 metres at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield on 15 July 2007. As American Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner stumbled at the start of the race and stopped running, Pistorius took seventh place in a field of eight in wet conditions with a time of 47.65 seconds. However, he was later disqualified for running outside his lane. The race was won by American Angelo Taylor with a time of 45.25 seconds. Pistorius had ambitions of competing in other able-bodied events. In particular, he had set his sights on competing at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, but was ultimately not selected by the South African Olympic Committee.

Dispute over prosthetics

Pistorius has been the subject of criticism because of claims that his artificial limbs give him an advantage over runners with natural ankles and feet. He runs with J-shaped carbon-fibre prosthetics called the “Flex-Foot Cheetah” developed by biomedical engineer Van Phillips and manufactured by Össur.

On 26 March 2007, the IAAF amended its competition rules to include a ban on the use of “any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device”. It claimed that the amendment was not specifically aimed at Pistorius. To decide whether he was running with an unfair advantage, the IAAF monitored his track performances using high-definition cameras to film his race against Italian club runners in Rome on 13 July, and his 400 metres in Sheffield on 15 July 2007, at which he placed last.

In November 2007, Pistorius was invited to take part in a series of scientific tests at the Cologne Sports University under the guidance of Professor of Biomechanics Dr. Peter Brüggemann in conjunction with Mr. Elio Locatelli, who was responsible with the IAAF of all technical issues. After two days of tests, Brüggemann reported on his findings on behalf of the IAAF. The report claimed that Pistorius’s limbs used 25% less energy than runners with complete natural legs to run at the same speed, and that they led to less vertical motion combined with 30% less mechanical work for lifting the body.

In December, Brüggemann told Die Welt newspaper that Pistorius “has considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs who were tested by us. It was more than just a few percentage points. I did not expect it to be so clear.”

Based on these findings, on 14 January 2008, the IAAF ruled Pistorius’s prostheses ineligible for use in competitions conducted under the IAAF rules, including the 2008 Summer Olympics. Pistorius called the decision “premature and highly subjective” and pledged to continue fighting for his dream. His manager Peet van Zyl said his appeal would be based on advice from United States experts who had said that the report “did not take enough variables into consideration”.

Pistorius subsequently appealed against the adverse decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, and appeared before the tribunal at the end of April 2008.[52] After a two-day hearing, on 16 May 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Pistorius’s appeal and the IAAF council decision was revoked with immediate effect.

The CAS panel unanimously determined that Dr. Brüggemann tested Pistorius’s biomechanics only at full-speed when he was running in a straight line (unlike a real 400-metre race); that the report did not consider the disadvantages that Pistorius suffers at the start and acceleration phases of the race; and that overall there was no evidence that he had any net advantage over able-bodied athletes.

In response to the announcement, Pistorius said: “My focus throughout this appeal has been to ensure that disabled athletes be given the chance to compete and compete fairly with able-bodied athletes. I look forward to continuing my quest to qualify for the Olympics.”

Attempts to qualify for 2008 Summer Olympics

To have a chance of representing South Africa at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in the individual 400-metre race, Pistorius had to attain the Olympic “A” standard time of 45.55 seconds; the “B” qualifying time of 45.95 seconds if no other athlete from his country achieved the faster time did not apply. Each national athletics federation is permitted to enter three athletes in an event if the “A” standard is met, and only one athlete if the “B” standard is met. However, he was eligible for selection as a member of the relay squad without qualifying. His best chance was to try for a time of close to 46 seconds to make the 4 × 400-metre relay team. However, he said: “If I make the team I don’t want to be the reserve for the relay, I want to be in the top four. I want to bring something to the race and make the relay stronger.” To give him a chance of making the South African Olympic team, selectors delayed naming the team until 17 July.

On 2 July 2008, Pistorius competed in the 400 metres in the B race of the Notturna International in Milan but was “disappointed” when he failed to achieve the minimum Olympic qualification time, completing the race in fourth place in 47.78 seconds.

His performance on 11 July 2008 at the Rome Golden Gala was an improvement of more than a second, though his sixth-place time of 46.62 seconds in the B race was still short of the Olympic qualification time. Nonetheless, he was pleased with his performance, commenting that he felt he could improve on it.

On 15 July 2008, IAAF general secretary Pierre Weiss commented that the world athletics body preferred that the South African Olympic Committee not select Pistorius for its 4 × 400 metres relay team “for reasons of safety”, saying that Pistorius could cause “serious damage” and risk the physical safety of himself and other athletes if he ran in the main pack of the relay.

Pistorius branded this as the IAAF’s “last desperate attempt” to get him not to qualify, and threatened legal action if the Federation did not confirm that it had no objections to his participation in the relay. The IAAF responded by issuing a statement saying that Pistorius was welcome to seek qualification for the Olympics and future competitions under IAAF rules: “The IAAF fully respects the recent CAS decision regarding the eligibility of Oscar Pistorius to compete in IAAF competitions, and certainly has no wish to influence the South African Olympic Committee, who has full authority to select a men’s 4x400m relay team for the Beijing Olympics.”

Coming third with a personal best time of 46.25 seconds at the Spitzen Leichtathletik meeting in Lucerne on 16 July 2008, Pistorius failed to qualify for the 400 metres at the 2008 Summer Olympics by 0.70 seconds. Athletics South Africa later announced that he would also not be selected for the 4 × 400 metres relay team as four other runners had better times. Had Pistorius been selected, he would have been one of the first competitors with a leg amputation to participate in the Olympic Games. Pistorius’s compatriot Natalie du Toit, a swimmer whose left leg was amputated above the knee after a traffic accident, duly became the first athlete with an amputation to qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Asked about the possibility of the IAAF offering him a wild card to take part in the Olympics, Pistorius responded: “I do not believe that I would accept. If I have to take part in the Beijing Games I should do it because I qualified.” He expressed a preference for focusing on qualification for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, stating that it was a more realistic target as “[s]printers usually reach their peak between 26 and 29. I will be 25 in London and I’ll also have two, three years’ preparation.”

2008 Summer Paralympics

Pistorius participated in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing in the 100, 200 and 400 metres (T44). On 9 September, in the heats of the 100 metres, he set a Paralympic record with his time of 11.16 seconds. Later, following a slow start, he rallied to snatch gold from the United States’ Jerome Singleton in the 100 metres in a time of 11.17 seconds, 0.03 seconds ahead of the silver medallist.

Four days later, on 13 September, the defending Paralympic champion in the 200-metre sprint won his second gold in the event in a time of 21.67 seconds, setting another Paralympic record. He completed a hat-trick by winning gold in the 400 metres in a world-record time of 47.49 seconds on 16 September, calling it “a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life”.

2011 and qualification for 2012 Summer Olympics

In January 2011, a slimmer, trimmer Pistorius won three IPC Athletics World titles in New Zealand but was beaten for the first time in seven years in the 100 metres by American Jerome Singleton. He subsequently won the T44 400 metres in 47.28 seconds and the 100 metres in 11.04 seconds at the BT Paralympic World Cup in May to reassert himself as the world’s leading Paralympic sprinter.

Pistorius competed across a number of able-bodied races in the summer of 2011 and posted three times under 46 seconds, but it was at the 19th Internazionale di Atletica Sports Solidarity Meeting in Lignano, Italy, on 19 July that he set a personal best of 45.07 seconds in the 400 metres, attaining the World Championships and Olympic Games “A” standard qualification mark. Pistorius won the 400&-metres event with a posted time that ranked him as 15th fastest in the world.

On 8 August 2011 it was announced that he had been included in the South African team for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, and had been selected for the 400-metre and the 4 × 400 metre relay squad. In the heats of the 400 metres, Pistorius ran in 45.39 seconds and qualified for the semifinal. However, in the semifinal, he ran 46.19 seconds and was eliminated.

In the heats of the 4 × 400 metres relay, Pistorius ran the opening leg as South Africa advanced to the finals with a national record time of 2 minutes 59.21 seconds. However, he was not selected to run in the finals based on having the slowest split time of 46.20. This caused a controversy, as the first leg is normally Pistorius’s slowest since it requires a start from blocks, and he was restricted to the first leg by Athletics South Africa “on safety grounds”. He initially tweeted “Haven’t been included in final. Pretty gutted.”, but later added “Well done to the SA 4×400m team. Was really hard watching, knowing I deserved to be part of it.” Pistorius still won the silver medal because he ran in the heats, becoming the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal.

Reflecting on his World Championship debut, Pistorius said: “I really enjoyed the whole experience. I ran my second fastest time ever in the heats and was really pleased to have reached the semifinals. In the relay I was unbelievably chuffed to have broken the South African record, and hopefully my name will stay on that for a long time to come.”

On 4 July 2012, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) announced that Pistorius had been included in the Olympic team for the 400-metre and the 4 × 400 metres relay races.

2012 Summer Olympics

At the 2012 Summer Olympics on 4 August 2012, Pistorius became the first amputee runner to compete at an Olympic Games. In the 400 metres race, he took second place in the first heat of five runners, finishing with a time of 45.44 seconds (his best time of the season so far) to advance to the semifinals on 5 August. He ran in the second semifinal, where he finished eighth and last with a time of 46.54 seconds.

In the first semifinal of the 4 × 400 metres relay race on 9 August, the second runner of the South African team, Ofentse Mogawane, fell and was injured before reaching Pistorius, who was to have run the third leg. South Africa was passed into the final on appeal to the IAAF, due to interference by Vincent Kiilu, the Kenyan athlete who downed Mogawane. The South African relay team eventually finished eighth out of the field of nine in the final on 10 August. However, it established a season’s best time for the team of 3 minutes 3.46 seconds, with Pistorius running the final leg in 45.9 seconds. Pistorius was chosen to carry the South African flag for the closing ceremony.

2012 Summer Paralympics

Pistorius also carried the flag at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Paralympics on 29 August. He entered the T44 classification men’s 100 metres, 200 metres and 400 metres races, and the T42–T46 4 × 100 metres relay.

In the 200-metre competition, Pistorius established a new T43 world record of 21.30 seconds in his heat on 1 September, but he was defeated in the final the next day by Alan Oliveira of Brazil. Pistorius took silver, and then created a controversy by complaining about the length of Oliveira’s blades. He later apologised for the timing of his remarks, but not the content of his complaint.

The IPC confirmed the length of Oliveira’s blades were proportional to his body, with all the finalists measured before the race. The IPC also confirmed that Pistorius had raised the issue of blade length with it six weeks prior to the race. SASCOC issued a statement welcoming Pistorius’s apology for his outburst and declared their full support for him and promised to assist him in discussions with the IPC about the issue of lengthened prosthetics after the conclusion of the Games. The IPC expressed willingness to engage with Pistorius about the issue. Australian runner Jack Swift, USA runner Jerome Singleton, and other athletes also expressed support for Pistorius’s position.

Pistorius won a gold medal on 5 September running the anchor leg as part of the South African 4 × 100 metres relay team. The team set a world record time of 41.78 seconds. He was unsuccessful in defending his Beijing Olympics 100-metre title when he came fourth with a season’s best time of 11.17 seconds, and the race was won by Great Britain’s Jonnie Peacock. On 8 September, the last full day of competition, Pistorius won gold in the T44 400 metres with a time of 46.68 seconds, breaking the Paralympic record.

Other awards and accolades

In 2006, Pistorius was conferred the Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze (OIB) by the President of South Africa for outstanding achievement in sports. On 9 December 2007, Pistorius was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award, which is conferred for outstanding courage and achievement in the face of adversity.

In May 2008, Pistorius made the “Time 100″ – Time magazine’s annual list of the world’s most influential people – appearing third in the “Heroes & Pioneers” section. Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb Mount Everest, wrote in an essay that Pistorius was “on the cusp of a paradigm shift in which disability becomes ability, disadvantage becomes advantage. Yet we mustn’t lose sight of what makes an athlete great. It’s too easy to credit Pistorius’ success to technology. Through birth or circumstance, some are given certain gifts, but it’s what one does with those gifts, the hours devoted to training, the desire to be the best, that is at the true heart of a champion.” In 2012 he made the list again.

In February 2012, Pistorius was awarded the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for 2012. On 22 August 2012, he was honoured with the unveiling of a large mural depicting his achievements in the town of Gemona, Italy.

On 9 September 2012, Pistorius was shortlisted by the IPC for the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award as a competitor “who is fair, honest and is uncompromising in his or her values and prioritises the promotion of the Paralympic Movement above personal recognition”. According to director Craig Spence, he was nominated by an unnamed external organisation from South Korea. The award went to two other athletes.

After the 2012 Summer Paralympics, the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow announced they would confer on Pistorius, among others, an honorary doctorate. Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “Each of our honorary graduands has excelled in their chosen field, and each has touched the lives of many others around the world. As a leading international technological university committed to excellence, it is fitting that we recognise their inspiring achievements and we look forward to welcoming them to the university in November.”

Sponsorship and charitable activities

Pistorius has sponsorship deals worth US$2 million a year with Össur, BT, Nike, Oakley and Thierry Mugler. In 2011, Pistorius participated as a model in an advertising campaign for a Thierry Mugler fragrance called A*Men.

In 2008, Pistorius collaborated in the release of a music CD called Olympic Dream. Produced in Italy, it consists of disco remixes of music pieces that Pistorius finds inspirational, and two tracks written for him, “Olympic Dream” and “Run Boy Run”, for which he provided voiceovers. Part of the CD’s proceeds of sale went to charity.[126] Pistorius also actively supports the Mineseeker Foundation, a charity that works to raise awareness for landmine victims and has a support programme to provide prosthetics for victims.

On 21 February 2013, after previously suspending adverts that featured Pistorius and the line “I am the bullet in the chamber” in the wake of his shooting of Reeva Steenkamp, sportswear manufacturer Nike suspended its contract with Pistorius. It stated: “We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Personal life

Pistorius has two visible tattoos. The dates of his mother’s birth and death (“LVIII V VIII – II III VI” – 8 May 1958 – 6 March 2002) are tattooed on the inside of his right arm. The other tattoo, which is on his back, is the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 9:26–27 which begins, “I do not run like a man running aimlessly.” He used to own a house in South Africa which was sold in June 2014, and used to train for the European season in Gemona del Friuli, Italy. Aside from running, his interests include architecture, motorbiking, and breeding race horses.

Pistorius’s autobiography, Dream Runner, was published in Italian in 2008 with Gianni Merlo, a journalist with La Gazzetta dello Sport. An English version entitled Blade Runner was released in 2009. In 2010, Pistorius appeared on L’isola dei famosi, an Italian version of Celebrity Survivor.

On 7 January 2012, he appeared as a special guest on the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars called Ballando con le Stelle at Auditorium Rai in Rome, where he danced a tango with Annalisa Longo to ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All”. On 9 October 2012, Pistorius appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He was also scheduled to appear on Piers Morgan Tonight and the Larry King Now show at later dates.

In February 2009, Pistorius was seriously injured when he was thrown from a boat in an accident on the Vaal River near Johannesburg. He was airlifted to Milpark Hospital where he underwent surgery to repair broken facial bones including his nose and jaw. There were initial concerns about his fitness, but he recovered fully. However, the accident affected his training and running schedule for that year.

Pistorius was scheduled as an amateur golfer in the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship held at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns in Scotland. Pistorius has a 21 handicap in South Africa, but played off an 18 handicap for the Championship. In 2010 he played in the Laureus World Sports Awards Golf Challenge at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and the Help-net Fund Celebrity Charity Golf Day.

Killing of Reeva Steenkamp

In the early morning of Thursday, 14 February 2013, Pistorius shot and killed South African model Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend of three months, at his home in Pretoria. Pistorius acknowledges that he shot Steenkamp, causing her death, but says that he mistook her for a possible intruder.

Pistorius’ trial for murder began on 3 March 2014 in Pretoria. On 20 May 2014, the trial proceedings were adjourned until 30 June to enable Pistorius to undergo psychiatric evaluation to establish whether he was criminally responsible for shooting Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa agreed to a request for the evaluation by prosecutor Gerrie Nel after forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster testified for the defence that she had diagnosed Pistorius with generalized anxiety disorder.

On 30 June 2014, the trial resumed after the evaluation reports which said Pistorius could be held criminally responsible. The state prosecutor was quoted as saying, “Mr Pistorius did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that would have rendered him criminally not responsible for the offence charged”. The defence closed its case on 8 July and closing arguments were heard on 7 and 8 August.

On 12 September, Pistorius was found not guilty of murder, but was found guilty of culpable homicide and one firearm-related charge, of reckless endangerment related to discharging a firearm in a restaurant. Pistorius was found not guilty of two firearm-related charges relating to illegal possession of ammunition and firing a firearm through the sunroof of a car. On 21 October 2014, Pistorius received a prison sentence of a maximum of five years for culpable homicide and a concurrent three year suspended prison sentence for the separate reckless endangerment conviction.


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