SA court jails piano teacher Anthony Theodore Vance for five years for abusing three girls


SA court jails piano teacher Anthony Theodore Vance for five years for abusing three girls

Anthony Theodore Vance has been jailed for his persistent sexual exploitation of three ch

Anthony Theodore Vance has been jailed for his persistent sexual exploitation of three children.

HIS deviant actions left little girls feeling like prisoners of their secret, but today predatory music teacher Anthony Theodore Vance became a prisoner himself.

Vance, 76, was today jailed for five years, and will spend at least three years behind bars, for his persistent sexual exploitation of girls as young as five.

In sentencing, District Court Judge Michael Boylan said Vance deserved “stern punishment” because he had shown no remorse and continued to insist his victims were liars.

“One of your victims very eloquently described one of the effects of sexual abuse … she said she was a prisoner of her secret,” Judge Boylan said.

“That’s a very eloquent way of describing how the victims of sexual abuse feel — prisoners, cut off from others, alone, unable to trust other people.

“The courts have often said these offences must be sternly punished, and you have three victims, no insight and committed a serious breach of trust.”

Vance, of Christies Beach, was found guilty at trial of three counts of the persistent exploitation of a child.

Between 2004 and 2007 he touched the upper thighs and genitalia of three girls — aged between five and 10 years old — while teaching them to play the piano or electric keyboard.

During their evidence, the girls said the inappropriate touching occurred “nearly every lesson”.

In sentencing today, Judge Boylan agreed Vance’s offending was “less serious” compared with many sexual abuse cases — but said that was no reason for clemency.

“You have still damaged these girls … they have suffered much, and will continue to suffer much, as a result of what you did to them,” he said.

“I can give you no discount (on your sentence) because you continue to assert that the three girls have told lies.”

He imposed a five-year jail term with a three-year non-parole period, saying there were no grounds upon which to suspend the sentence.

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.

MONEY LAUNDERING

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.

keith.moor@news.com.au

Perth counsellor Allan Huggins admits struggling with attraction to teens


Perth counsellor Allan Huggins admits struggling with attraction to teens when he touched two boys

Mon 9 Feb 2015, 9:35pm

A Perth counsellor has admitted to inappropriately touching two boys while struggling to deal with his homosexuality, but denied sexually abusing other boys in his care.

Allan Keith Huggins, 68, is on trial in the West Australian District Court, charged with 49 offences stemming from when he was an education officer at the Warminda school-to-work program in 1990 and 1991.

He testified on Monday that he had told two clinical psychologists at the time he was attracted to teenage boys and had touched two youths unrelated to this trial.

“I was in therapy and I was trying to unburden myself,” he said.

Huggins told the court he was having difficulty adjusting to being gay and did not want to hurt his wife and children.

He also attributed some of his attraction to boys to having been abused when he was aged between seven and 12.

“I just sucked it up and lived with it all my life, but I was aware that it had created a problem,” Huggins said.

But he denied the crimes for which he was on trial, including touching, masturbation, sexual penetration and oral sex.

Huggins rejected allegations put to him by prosecutor Bernard Standish, including performing oral sex on one boy and repeatedly telling him to be brave.

“I don’t think so, no, not at all,” he said.

Huggins also rejected the assertion he swam in a pool with two boys and touched the genitals of one boy before threatening them not to tell anyone.

“I’m not the threatening type,” Huggins said.

When Mr Standish suggested the boys in the program needed help because of their troubled childhoods, Huggins replied: “Absolutely, and I was on their side.”

The trial continues.


Police failed to act on child sexual abuse complaint against Allan Huggins, victim says

Wed 28 Jan 2015, 5:21pm

A Perth man says he never heard from police again after he told officers a former school counsellor sexually abused him, the District Court has heard.

The man was giving evidence at the trial of Allan Keith Huggins, 68, who is accused of abusing seven boys in the 1990s.

The man testified he was a ward of the state when he attended a government program for troubled boys in East Victoria Park.

He described Mr Huggins as like the “headmaster” of the program, and said on one occasion, in 1990 or 1991, when he was about 13, he was taken to his office, where the door was shut and locked and he was sexually abused.

The man said he ran out of the building and went to his aunt’s house, where he told her Huggins had touched him.

He testified his aunt then went to East Victoria Park to confront Mr Huggins.

The man said later, when he was in juvenile detention, he was visited by two police officers and asked about the allegation.

“I specifically remember saying I did want him charged,” the man told the court.

“I never heard from them again.”

The court heard that in 2013 the man made an application for compensation under a system called Redress, and police again investigated his complaint.

Mr Huggins has pleaded not guilty to all 49 charges against him.

Violent and Graphic video footage of couple being bashed in Melbourne karaoke bar released


The young thugs in this video must be found quickly. If you know who they are, and more importantly where they might be, contact police immediately or ring crime stoppers .We do not want them on our streets or on a night out our kids might be at. Disgraceful behaviour

Reporting crime or hoon behaviour
If you have any information regarding a crime, criminal activity, or hoon behaviour you can contact Crime Stoppers Victoria online or by calling on 1800 333 000 and confidentially report what you know.

Mon 19 Jan 2015, 3:38pm

Video footage of a man and woman being bashed in a vicious attack at a Melbourne karaoke bar has been released.

The couple in their 20s were drinking at the Elizabeth Street bar early on January 11 when they were assaulted.

Footage of the attack shows a 25-year-old man being punched and stomped on by a group of men until he was unconcious on the floor.

The man’s girlfriend can be seen trying to protect him on the ground.

A man is then seen to grab her by the hair and throw her to the floor, before she is punched and kicked by the group.

Shortly before the brawl, the couple was sitting at a table with their attackers.

Detective Senior Constable Matt Folvig said it was unclear what started it, but words were exchanged beforehand.

“Apparently they’ve just said something that was disagreed with and they’ve just turned on the pair,” he said.

Police released images and CCTV footage in the hope of identifying the people involved.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Danny Deacon, ex of Darwin mother Carlie Sinclair, arrested on suspicion of murder


They got him Danny Deacon , THE EX as most folks thought, after he allegedly returned to burial site, thank god for the family and friends who have fought so hard to keep the investigation alive, and the hard work at the NT POLICE force be those dedicated to find justice. Covert surveillance in this day and age is a huge investigative tool in all sorts of situations…Remember Kiesha? He pathetic parents (stepfather) caught a taxi to her burial site and the cops were waiting…

Missing woman Carlie Sinclair (inset) and her partner Danny Deacon, pictured speaking at a police press conference.
PHOTO: Danny Deacon said the last time he saw Carlie Sinclair (inset) they had a row before she walked off. (Supplied)

The former partner of Darwin mother Carlie Sinclair has been arrested on suspicion of her murder, sources have told the ABC.

Danny Deacon was arrested today after being seen close to where a body, thought to be Ms Sinclair’s, was found near Berry Springs, in Darwin’s rural area.

Police Commissioner John McRoberts would not name the man they had arrested, but said he had recently returned from interstate.

“I will say at this stage that he was known to Ms Sinclair and that’s as far as I can take it,” he said.

“The man that has been arrested left the Northern Territory soon after the disappearance of Ms Sinclair and has only just returned, in fact less than 24 hours ago.

Mr Deacon was the last known person to see Ms Sinclair, when she left a business in the Darwin suburb of Parap.

Mr Deacon told investigators the pair had had an argument while having a drink, and she walked off.

Body found in shallow grave

Mr McRoberts said a body, believed to be Ms Sinclair’s, had been found at Berry Springs, in Darwin’s rural area.

Police near the gravesite of Carlie Sinclair
PHOTO: Police near the gravesite of Carlie Sinclair at Berry Springs, near Darwin. (ABC News: James Dunlevie)

Mr McRoberts described the arrest as a “significant development”.

“Earlier today, as a result of a man being seen in the Berry Springs area, he has been arrested and we are now holding him in custody until the results are known of a comprehensive crime scene analysis which is currently underway,” Mr McRoberts said.

“Based on the information we have, including comments made by the man, we are very confident that we know where Carlie is, although it will take us some hours, or possibly not even until tomorrow to be able to tell her family that we have, in fact, confirmed her identity and where she is.

Mr McRoberts said he expected there would be more details from the crime scene later today.

“Based on all the evidence that has been compiled, based on the fact that we now have a man in custody, based on the fact that we now have what is clearly a gravesite at Berry Springs, we are very confident that we have solved the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Ms Sinclair,” he said.

Ms Sinclair, 36, has not been seen since the evening of July 18, 2013, with police mounting a widespread publicity campaign to find her and offering a reward of $250,000 for information.

Mr McRoberts said information from members of the public was significant in helping the piece together their case.

Police said Ms Sinclair was last seen leaving the Parap decorative concrete business she ran.

She was then spotted on CCTV at a BP service station at nearby Fannie Bay.

Police at the crime scene near Berry Springs
PHOTO: Police at the crime scene and suspected gravesite of Darwin mother Carlie Sinclair near Berry Springs.(ABC News: James Dunlevie)

Police said Ms Sinclair had not been in contact with her son, Alex, since disappearing and had not accessed her bank account or used her mobile phone.

“Her sudden disappearance was completely out of character, and after being advised police immediately held grave concerns for her welfare,” Mr McRoberts said.

“It was simply too much to believe that Carlie would leave Alex behind.”

In January, the NT Supreme Court granted the Public Trustee management of Ms Sinclair’s estate, which included a property in Stuart Park, and several vehicles and bank accounts.

The media are being taken to the suspected gravesite at Berry Springs.


 Carlie Sinclair – Missing for Six Months

Wednesday 18-Dec-2013 12:31

Six months ago, little Alex Deacon’s mum, Carlie Sinclair, disappeared, sparking a Major Crime investigation that continues to build momentum.

The Northern Territory Police Major Crime Squad have been vigilant in their intelligence gathering and investigation, and are focussed on finding some closure for Carlie’s family.

“It has now been six months since Carlie was last seen alive,” said the head of Operation Samburu, Detective Sergeant Tony Henrys.

“In the lead up to Christmas, spare a thought for little Alex who will not be able to spend Christmas Day, Carlie’s birthday, with his mum.”

Carlie Sinclair was last seen alive by her partner Danny Deacon at their business premises, ‘Darwin Decorative Concrete’, late in the evening of Tuesday June 18.

Acting on information received early on in the investigation, Detectives and members of the Territory Response Group searched bushland and water courses in the vicinity of Parap, Stuart Park and Berry Springs. A search warrant was also executed at a Parap location, with soil samples gathered.

Two vehicles of interest were nominated back in early July, and Detectives are still calling for anyone who may have witnessed a white Hi-Ace van or late model silver Toyota Rav 4 around the Parap, Stuart Park, Cox Peninsular Road or Berry Springs area on the evening of June 18 or before midday on June 19 to contact Police.

“Detectives involved in this investigation are not prepared to give up. Every tiny shred of information is being thoroughly examined,” said Detective Sergeant Henrys.

“We would like to thank the community for their support thus far, and Police are very keen to speak to anyone who has information about Carlie’s disappearance.

“Somebody knows something. Somebody has the vital piece of information that will help us piece together this suspicious disappearance, and find some justice for Carlie, her parents, and her two-year-old son, Alex.

Carlie’s mother and father, Marlene and Robert, and brother, Kristian, have not given up on finding Carlie, and urge anyone with any information about Carlie’s disappearance to contact Police.

“Next Wednesday, while everyone celebrates Christmas with their families, we will be still wondering what happened to Carlie,” said Marlene Sinclair, Carlie’s Mum.

“If you know anything, anything at all, please call the Police. The small piece of information you have may be just what the Police need to make a breakthrough.”

You can report information to the Police anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

“Since the day the matter was reported to Police a team of investigators have been working on this case. We have not stopped and will not stop.”

“We continue to follow up on a number of matters and revise the evidence, statements and information we have already collected, looking for new leads to act on.

“We are determined to find out what happened to Carlie and to locate any person or persons that may have been involved in her disappearance,” concluded Detective Sergeant Henrys.

If you have information about the suspicious disappearance of Carlie Sinclair, please contact Police on 131 444, or make an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. You may be eligible for a reward.


                                         Carlie SINCLAIR

Police hold grave concerns for the wellbeing of missing mother of one, Carlie Sinclair, who has not been seen since the evening of Tuesday 18 July 2013 and are calling on assistance from the public to locate her.

Ms Sinclair, who resides in Stuart Park, was last seen on the evening of Tuesday 18 June and has not been heard from since. Ms Sinclair is described to be of Caucasian appearance, solid/heavy build, with blonde hair which she wears in a pony tail. She was last seen wearing a black mini-skirt, a horizontal striped black and white top with sleeves and brown ‘Havaianas’ thongs.

Police urge anyone who may have seen Carlie, who may have had contact with her since Tuesday, or who may know of her whereabouts, to contact Police on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Northern Territory Police Force

Missing Woman Carlie Sinclair – Update

Northern Territory Detectives investigating the suspicious disappearance of Ms Sinclair from Parap on Tuesday 18 June are currently searching an area in Acacia.

Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Henrys from the Major Crime Squad said Police had received fresh information concerning a vehicle in the vicinity of Livingstone Road.

“We are concentrating on an area of bushland and water courses close to the road. Members from the TRG and Crime Command are using a helicopter to co ordinate the search.

“Police continue to hold grave concerns for the welfare of Ms Sinclair and urge any person who has information to come forward.”

Anyone who may have information is asked to call Police on 131 444 or they may make an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Christmas is Carlie Sinclair’s birthday – she has been missing for six months

SIX months ago a Territory woman disappeared from Parap sparking a major crime investigation.

Carlie Sinclair was last seen by her partner Danny Deacon at their business premises, Darwin Decorative Concrete, in the evening of Tuesday June 18.

Her two-year-old son, Alex Deacon, will spend Christmas – also Carlie’s birthday – without his mum.

Acting on information received early on in the investigation, detectives and members of the Territory Response Group searched bushland and water courses in the vicinity of Parap, Stuart Park and Berry Springs. A search warrant was also executed in Parap, with soil samples gathered.

Police are also still seeking anyone who may have seen a white Hi-Ace van or late model silver Toyota Rav 4 around the Parap, Stuart Park, Cox Peninsular Road or Berry Springs area on the evening of June 18 or before midday the following day.

“Somebody knows something. Somebody has the vital piece of information that will help us piece together this suspicious disappearance, and find some justice for Carlie, her parents, and her two-year-old son, Alex,” said head of Operation Samburu, Detective Sergeant Tony Henrys.

Det Sgt Henrys thanked the community for their support so far.
Carlie’s mother and father, Marlene and Robert, and her brother Kristian, have not given up hope of finding Carlie and urge anyone with information about her disappearance to contact police.

People can do so by ringing 131444 or making an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. 

Hopes re-enactment could bring results one year after Carlie Sinclair went missing

POLICE have scoured waterways, bushland and drains; they have doorknocked homes, reviewed CCTV footage and made several high-profile calls for help.

Still the desperate search for Darwin mum Carlie Sinclair continues.A year on from her disappearance, four Northern Territory detectives are working full-time on the baffling case: re-examining evidence, reinterviewing people and poring over old statements.

It is all they can now do to bring closure to her loving family – parents Marlene and Robert, brother Kristian and, most importantly, her three-year-old son Alex.

Carlie, who would now be 36, was last seen by partner Danny Deacon at their Parap business, Darwin Decorative Concrete, on the evening of June 18, 2013. Mr Deacon told investigators the pair had an argument during a drink and she walked off.

Police suspect foul play and Mr Deacon, who has since moved to Perth, remains the only suspect.

“He was the last person to see her and he was in a domestic relationship with her,” investigator Acting Commander Tony Fuller said.

“He will remain a suspect until he’s eliminated.”

But building a case is difficult with no body and the trail has gone cold.

Acting Commander Fuller would not comment on the couple’s relationship, what evidence police have uncovered, or what lines of inquiry they were pursuing. But he said there were no “fresh” leads and her bank cards had not been touched since June 18.They have ruled out suicide and her devotion to Alex has all but ruled out the possibility she ran away.

“The mostly likely scenario is she met with foul play that night, by person or persons unknown to us at this stage,” Commander Fuller said.

Tomorrow it will be exactly one year since Carlie was last seen alive and police are making another public push for information.

“There must be someone out there who saw something or heard something that quite possibly hasn’t heard about Carlie’s disappearance,” Acting Commander Fuller said.

“It gets taxing over time, but those officers are very committed and they’ve only got one thing on their mind – that’s to get answers for young Alex.”

Police want to speak to anyone who has information, or who saw a white HiAce van or late-model silver Toyota RAV4 around the Parap, Stuart Park, or rural areas on the evening of June 18 or before noon the next day. Information can be given anonymously to police on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

A Channel Nine special featuring re-enactments and interviews with Carlie’s family, friends and partner Danny Deacon will air tomorrow night in the hope of prompting someone to come forward with information.The project, shot on a shoe-string budget, has been more than four months in the making and taken presenter Jonathan Uptin and senior cameraman Graham Morrison beyond Darwin to Perth and Brisbane.

The re-enactments feature volunteer actors and are meticulous on detail, right down to the make and model car Carlie was driving when she went missing.

“One of the best things was there were so many people who volunteered their time and resources – these are people who didn’t want money,” Mr Uptin said. “Hopefully we’ll get a breakthrough; someone might be able to come forward.

“It’s something I’ve become emotionally invested in – it’s absorbed my life and I really want closure for the family. It sounds cliche but it’s true.”

The half-hour special will air at 6.30pm and lead into the second State of Origin clash between NSW and Queensland on Nine.

HOW IT UNFOLDED

JUNE 18, 2013: Carlie Sinclair is last seen by partner Danny Deacon at their Parap business, Darwin Decorative Concrete.

JUNE 28, 2013: Police search an area off Livingstone Rd, Acacia, after a tip-off Mr Deacon’s 4WD was seen in the area on June 18. It is one of several searches.

JULY 3, 2013: Mr Deacon asks Carlie to come home, saying: “Carlie, if you can hear this, you need to know that we both miss you very much, Alex and I are struggling on a daily basis.”

JULY 18, 2013: Mr Deacon reveals police have been watching his every move. He tells the NT News: “It is not nice being accused of it but at the end when you face reality that is what I expect them to do.”

DECEMBER 22, 2013: Days before what should have been Carlie’s 36th birthday, police and mother Marlene issue another public appeal for assistance.

JUNE 17, 2014: The eve of the one-year anniversary of Carlie’s disappearance. Police still count Mr Deacon as the only suspect, but say there are no fresh leads.


 

 $250,000 reward offered to find Carlie Sinclair

A $250,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the disappearance of Darwin mother, Carlie Sinclair in 2013.

The reward includes a recommendation of indemnity from prosecution for any accomplice who gives information leading to a conviction, provided he or she did not actually commit the crime.

Chief Minister Adam Giles announced that the Government had approved a reward to help Police in their search for the person or persons who may have taken the life of Sinclair.

“Around midnight on Tuesday June 18 last year, Police believe the young mum left her business address at number 209 Stuart Highway in Parap after an argument with her partner,” Mr Giles said.

“She left behind her personal belongings, her car and her young son.

“She has not contacted her family or friends since which relatives say is completely out of character.

“Her bank accounts have not been touched since the day she was last seen and Police suspect she may have been murdered.”

Despite an intensive, year-long Police investigation, they have been unable to find her or those responsible for her disappearance.

A team of detectives has interviewed witnesses, viewed CCTV footage, conducted aerial and ground searches of the local area and organised information stands in Parap to no avail.

It is hoped that the offer of this substantial reward may provide an incentive for someone to come forward with what they know, saw or heard.

“A single piece of information, no matter how small, may hold the key to solving this crime,” Mr Giles said.

“Carlie Sinclair’s family, particularly her young son, deserve answers about what happened to her and who was responsible.

“I urge anyone with information to contact 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”

The allocation of the reward will be at the discretion of the Police Commissioner.

Police struggle in search for Carlie Sinclair, $250,000 reward offered

Northern Territy Police say they are at the end of the line in their investigation into the disappearance of Darwin mother Carlie Sinclair, and are announcing a $250,000 reward to try an re-ignite interest in the case.

Ms Sinclair disappeared on June 18 last year, and Police Commissioner John McRoberts said the anniversary was a good time to try and get fresh leads.

“Rewards are something that are considered when the investigation gets to a point at which we have exhausted all other avenues. We are now at that point,” Mr McRoberts said.

“I think it is also fitting that we use the 12-month anniversary as an ideal opportunity to generate a great deal of public interest,” he said.

It is kown that Ms Sinclair left her business in Parap with her partner Danny Deacon at their Parap business, Darwin Decorative Concrete.

She was not seen again and her bank accounts have not been touched since in the past 12 months.

She was the mother of a three-year-old boy, Alex, when she went missing.

“This is a substantial reward that seeks to identify information that can lead to the successful prosecution of someone who was involved in the disappearance and potential murder of Carlie Sinclair,” NT Chief Minister Adam Giles said.

Mr Giles said he was not aware of the NT ever paying out reward money in relation to previous crimes.

Update Martin Place siege: Hostages taken in Lindt Chocolate shop-Ends in tragedy


This is a very serious situation taking place live on TV. All sorts of reporting about who and why they have taken hostages…Lets hope the hostages get out alive- UPDATE Unfortunately that has not been the case. I personally think they needed to react much much earlier and take the asshole out.The dust will settle and all that will be analysed. My thoughts are really with the family and friends of hostages both dead and alive.

There are hundreds and hundreds of bouquets, it’s probably about 15 metres by 15 metres and growing rapidly… the thing that struck me is that these aren’t just random bouquets, people have gone to the effort of writing personal notes to the families and to the victims.

ABC 702 reporter John Donegan

sad update this morning, he also made hostages film this tape yesterday afternoon causing great anguish and stress, as the hostages cannot understand why a few simple demands had still not been met (in their eyes) which would enable their release.Compelling viewing (removed by youtube ATM)

sheikh-haron-october2014_redacted

letter-to-pm-tony-abbott-1nov13_redacted

about-sheikh-haron

Hauntingly I have been able to find his website via the archives online and check out this ominous warning in relation to channel 7 and something they broadcast quite a while ago, in 2011 (Click image to enlarge

Haron promise


 

A good insight, until we get the official reports from the enquiry I will not be posting any more news media…

Sliding door tragedy of the Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place

 AT 9.44am on Monday, the sliding doors closed at the Lindt cafe. Seventeen hours later, two lives would be lost and an evil sham sheik would have changed our nation forever.

HE orders a skinny flat white.

He is in a hurry, yet there’s time to admire the vaulted ceilings of the former bank chamber.

The four well-dressed ladies around the corner seem so happy. Here’s an old fellow alone at a table. Then, they call his name. “Chris?” Wow. That was quick.

Chris Kenny does not see a middle-aged man with the scruffy beard, a father of four who likes his coffee.

He is sitting at a table, a sawn-off shotgun in a blue bag, chatting with the cafe manager.

Kenny, a senior journalist at The Australian, is walking out the door.

His phone is ringing and his mind is elsewhere. It’s 5AA, a South Australian radio station, for a pre-arranged interview.

Kenny sits at an outside table, a few metres from the automatic doors. He discusses the state Liberal Party’s apparent need for generational change.

As he finishes, three motorcycle police pull up with sirens blaring.

A woman tells officers she has tried to enter through the cafe’s sliding doors. They have been locked shut.

UNIMAGINABLE END FOR A PERFECT LIFE

10 FATEL FAILURES THAT LED TO TRAGEDY

NINE SILENT MINUTES THAT BEG SO MANY QUESTIONS

DUMP HIS BODY AT SEA, MUSLIM LEADERS SAY

BARISTA ELLY CHEN ESCAPED WITH LIFE

Kenny’s interview started at 9.40am. He may have been the last person to walk through the sliding doors of the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place.

He belongs now with David Johnson, the Lindt cafe worker given the day off, and his colleague Bruno, who turns up just before 10am for his shift.

He belongs with us, on the outside, if only just, in the chaos of sirens and roadblocks, where the confusion is captured by a Sydney cabbie blocked in Elizabeth St: “Bastards. Terrorism in Sydney. My god.”

INSIDE the cafe, palms are pressed against glass.

The mood Kenny witnessed has dissolved in the theatrics of a movie scene, starring a villain who delivers bad lines for the next 17 hours.

Eighteen staff and customers have been ordered to put their hands up.

They have been told to lie down. There are screams and sobs. Someone vomits.

The man with the bandana and the shotgun wants to be called “the brother”.

He says he is from the Islamic State. He says he has bombs.

Man Haron Monis is doing what he has done since he arrived in Australia in 1996.

As a proclaimed IS extremist, he is pretending to be something he is not: until recently, before the most unlikely of conversions, he was a Shi’a – not Sunni — Muslim.

He has terrorised before, by words and deeds, though not like this.

He has chosen an unusually nice grouping of people to menace.

John O’Brien, the 82-year-old, is on his annual ritual of a coffee after his eye check-up upstairs. Three lawyers, including Katrina Dawson and her pregnant colleague Julie Taylor are catching up.

Dawson is indulging a daily routine in being here: she had asked along another friend this morning, but she had missed the call.

Among four Westpac people is the Indian father, Viswakanath Ankireddy, who would ring his wife during the crisis and his colleague, Puspendu Ghosh, still abuzz from a recent skydive. Selina Win Pe is with them to discuss IT issues: soon, under threat of a gun, she will be making demands of a prime minister.

The cafe staffers, their fellow prisoners, share a genuine camaraderie that defies many workplaces.

Tori Johnson, 34, is the sort of manager who sticks his tongue out in Christmas Party photos.

He is from a close-knit family: he hopes to one day marry his partner of 14 years, Thomas Zinn.

The staff share qualities with their customers that Monis can not claim.

They laugh in their spare time. They love. They have much to give and stand to be missed.

They belong on the outside. Monis, it subsequently seems, has never belonged.

Monis has a plan.

 Like all his plans it runs short of a logical conclusion. As far as it goes, it succeeds within the first hour or so.

His impact is almost Dystopian. The streets are emptied and barricades rise. Trains are stopped and offices are evacuated.

The Martin Place Christmas tree suddenly soars like a relic from another era.

Elly Chen, normally a smiley 22-year-old, is working only her sixth day at the cafe.

She holds up a black flag with white Arabic text to the window, directly behind the cafe company’s Christmas message.

It is an opening shot in Monis’ message which, like all of Monis’ messages, runs foul of logic.

And there is a lag, almost as if the world is granted time to process events.

For hours, no one is saying what is going on. Monis wants to speak to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. He wants his siege to be announced as an attack by ISIS.

He orders an ISIS flag delivered. He has hostages deliver these messages to news outlets from about noon.

It’s still unclear how soon dialogue is established with police negotiators.

John O’Brien was one of the first to escape. Picture: Toby Zerna

John O’Brien was one of the first to escape. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Corp Australia

O’BRIEN has a headache when he spots his chance.

It’s maybe five hours since he would have left of his own accord, perhaps for a hit of his beloved tennis.

He, along with lawyer Stefan Balafoutis, has been allowed to go to the toilet.

They spot a green button at the bottom of a glass door and wonder if the button will open the door. They discover it does.

The cameras track their first uncertain steps on the street, driven by an overwhelming mix of relief and adrenaline, while TV commentators fumble for the right verb — release or escape?

Chen’s expression captures the same anguish and fear when she spills into the street soon afterwards.

She has followed colleague Paolo Vassallo, and precedes Bae Jie-Un.

Monis is enraged by the escapes. He speaks of “an eye for an eye”. None of his demands have been met.

What would have followed had they been — he promised limited releases of hostages for each — is unclear.

Jarrod Hoffman is one of several hostages ordered to spread Monis’ gospel.

It is probably Hoffman, a 19-year-old student, who rings 2GB’s Ray Hadley.

Hadley reports hearing a Middle-Eastern Australian voice giving instructions in the background.

More calls are later made to the Daily Telegraph and TV stations.

Hoffman explains that he is on speaker and that he has a gun pointed to his head. “If someone else runs, someone dies,” Hoffman explains.

Later in the day, Monis orders hostages to record video messages for media organisations.

They are sinister viewing. The hostages speak of “we”, as if they are willing.

Some look more nervous than others. Taylor is businesslike: “We are here with … ummm our brother, who has asked for three simple things, and the first is that Tony Abbott calls him, live in the media, to have a short conversation. . . we can’t understand why that hasn’t happened.”

Mother-of-three Marcia Mikhael has been pressed into Facebook postings by early afternoon. Her formalness is unusual in the social media age, but then again, her words read like a poor joke.

Like Taylor, she is a very successful person, a Westpac executive and fitness business owner. Yet no one inside the cafe can argue against Monis, a nobody in the outside world.

Onlookers feel surges of futility.

Yet only the hostages burn with the violation of being manipulated as pawns. Only they can properly express the growing fear reflected in increasingly tense messages.

“Dear friends and family…” Mikhael’s Facebook message reads.

“The man who is keeping us hostage has asked for small and simple requests and none have been met. He is now threatening to start killing us.”

Such communications are unprecedented, at least in Australia.

They are a product of a new age of technology and terror. Media outlets mostly heed police bans and do not publish or broadcast Monis’ messages.

Yet Monis grabs some underground traction. He resorts to YouTube and these video messages are said to spread.

The hostages’ families, meanwhile, are fretting.

“Please do not share or spread any messages released by the hostages as the terrorist is using them as a means of communication,” writes Mikhael’s niece. “This could put my aunty and the others in grave danger.”

Another hostage, Fiona Ma, uses Facebook as a source of hope. She has been posting and reading messages throughout the day, prompting this latter message: “I’m getting your messages everyone! Thank-you you beautiful souls…Guys I love each and everyone of you.”

OVER 17 hours, Monis does not get what he wants.

Instead, he muddles and confounds.

In doing so, like in his past, he inspires others to rise above his “antics” — as one acquaintance puts it — and seek to overcome the hurt he inflicts.

The hostages have a world’s prayers. It isn’t enough, not on this battleground, not even with hundreds of heavily armed cops just metres away. Monis has an unfair advantage. He has unpredictability — and his gun.

His skittishness grows later in the day. He paces and herds the hostages from one end to the other — this followed rotations when hostages held their hands on the windows.

He shouts and uses Louisa Hope, an MS sufferer with a walking stick as a “shield”. Later, Monis still grips her as he started to tire, despite the protests of her 68-year-old mother, Robyn.

The refusals of her and O’Brien to yield to an armed crazy man’s wishes sound like the makings of folklore.

O’Brien has refused to hold Monis’ flag or lie on the floor for him. Monis, according to a report in The Australian, leaves him alone after this.

It is many hours after O’Brien has gone.

Australia has gone to sleep, knowing the police will wait it out. It is about 2am, and fear and exhaustion are major factors.

The next 15 minutes stand to be forensically analysed in months ahead. For now, we must rely on witness accounts and unofficial sources.

We know that a plot has been hatched after Monis says “it will be in the morning”.

Comic book fan Joel Herat, 21, is a ringleader. A group of hostages figure that death will follow inaction.

A single shot rings out at 2.04am. It is said that the bullet slams into a door or the ceiling. Is it a warning shot aimed at dissuading those hostages who soon appear, arms raised, in the street? Herat shepherds a pregnant 30-year-old Taylor before making his own exit.

The hostages have smashed a side-door lock to escape. Ankireddy’s father sees his son’s escape on Indian TV.

Hostages were forced to hold up an Islamic flag at Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.

Hostages were forced to hold up an Islamic flag at Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place. Source: Supplied

The cafe is darkened. It’s said that Johnson now tackles Monis and tries to grab his gun. It makes sense that Johnson would try to free his fellow hostages.

Such an act sounds true to his nature.

One newspaper report says that Johnson is beaten around the head before being killed with a head shot by Monis’ gun.

This may be the 2.13am shot that is played again and again the next day, the shot that leads a technical support sniper, perched at a Channel 7 window opposite, to say into his microphone: “Hostage down. Window two.”

What follows is officially known as the “emergency action plan”. Police in night goggles break in, setting off what looks and sounds like an indoor fireworks display. Stun grenades echo. Dozens of rounds are fired.

The outburst is timed at 34 seconds. When it ends an alarm rings and there is screaming. Monis is dead.

His shield Louisa Hope is shot in the foot, her mother Robyn in the shoulder.

Katrina Dawson is fatally wounded. Her loss, like Johnson’s, is inexplicable, and the floral memorial for their loss will lend itself to easy comparisons with Princess Diana’s death in 1997. It will seem so right that Johnson loved flowers.

It will seem so wrong that Dawson’s children, aged eight, five and three, wake the next morning to the worst news.

According to Channel 7, Monis greets the rush of officers with a lament: “Look what you’ve made me do.”

AS epitaphs go, Monis’ final words sound about right.

They befit a predator long practised in the role of playing the victim. They also raise questions about Monis’ goals. The only obvious thread in his public history, besides its oddness, lies in his drives. His religious and moral principles hold no coherence. His need for attention, however, is a constant. Publicity for Monis has never been a byproduct so much as an outcome.

In upturning his past in the days after his death, the thoughts of one of his previous victims jump out.

Man Haron Monis and Amirah Droudis.

Man Haron Monis and Amirah Droudis. Source: News Limited

Joan Senger once received a letter from Monis. Her son, Craig, an Australian trade official, had been killed in the 2009 Jakarta terror bombing.

Monis’ words had been hurtful and insulting. Speaking in 2013, Mrs Senger appears to have figured out Monis long before he stopped a city with a gun.

“I just don’t think he thinks like normal people think,” she said.

Unpredictable. Unhinged. Paranoid. These terms are used by those who knew Monis best. He was well-known to others as the sick sod who had linked fallen soldiers and bushfire victims to obscure religious scriptures.

He had been seeking sympathy since he first chained himself to a pole at the NSW Parliament House in 2000, when he demanded his family be brought from Iran and introduced himself as “Ayatollah”.

Those who knew him knew he played at roles. He was the “sham sheikh”.

He was the “peace activist”. Yet his performances served to mask the villain within. Monis tended to be scorned rather than feared, even though his history is potted with extreme violence and misogyny

Martin Place gunman caught on CCTV before siege

Update 10.50AM 16/12/14

THE manager of the Lindt cafe who was fatally shot in the Martin Place siege is being praised as a hero, responsible for allowing others trapped in the cafe to escape.

Tori Johnson, 34, was wrestling a gun from hostage-taker Man Haron Monis when he was killed.

Photo

Hero hostage: Cafe manager Tori Johnson was killed attempting to disarm the gunman.

It is understood the cafe manager decided to take action when the hostage-taker begun to doze off after the siege had been ongoing for 17 hours.

He lunged at the gunman’s weapon, enabling others to flee.

The second hostage killed has been identified as Katrina Dawson, 38. The mother-of-three is the sister of well known Sydney lawyer Sandy Dawson.

Katrina Dawson

Katrina Dawson

Ms Dawson was tragically killed trying to defend her pregnant friend, AAP reports.


 

Sydney siege: Two hostages and gunman dead after heavily armed police storm Lindt cafe in Martin Place

Tue 16 Dec 2014, 7:51am

Paramedics remove a person, with bloodstains on the blankets covering the person, on a stretcher after the end of the Sydney siege on December 16, 2014.

Paramedics remove a person, with bloodstains on the blankets covering the person, on a stretcher after the end of the Sydney siege on December 16, 2014.

About 2:10am (AEDT) there was a confrontation between police and self-styled Iranian cleric Man Haron Monis, who had taken 17 people hostage inside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Martin Place on Monday morning.

Police said shots were fired and as a result, the 50-year-old gunman was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

It is not clear if the two hostages who died, a man aged 34 and a woman aged 38, were shot by the gunman or killed in the crossfire.

Monis, who was granted political asylum in Australia, took staff and customers in the cafe hostage shortly before 10:00am (AEDT) on Monday.

He was on bail for a string of violent offences, including being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.

Monis was also facing more than 40 sexual and indecent assault charges and had a conviction for sending offensive letters to families of deceased Australian soldiers.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott issued a statement commending the “courage and professionalism” of the police and other emergency services involved.

“Australians awoke to the news this morning that the siege in Martin Place has ended,” he said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two deceased hostages, the wounded and the other hostages.”

This morning, NSW Premier Mike Baird addressed a media conference and said: “I come before you with the heaviest of hearts. Unbelievably overnight, we have lost some of our own in an attack we never thought we would see here in our city.

“In the past 24 hours, this city has been shaken by a tragedy that none of us could have ever imagined. The values we held dear yesterday we hold dear today. They are the values of freedom, democracy, and harmony.

“These defined us yesterday, they will define us today, they will define us tomorrow. Our first thoughts and prayers this morning are with the innocent victims of this horrendous, vicious attack.”

Following the confrontation, two women were also taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, while a male police officer is in a non life-threatening condition after a gunshot wound to his face.

The police operation has concluded and the investigation into the entire incident will be overseen by the Professional Standards Command, a police statement said.

“All information will be provided to the coroner who will determine the cause of, and make any findings about, the events leading to the deaths,” the statement said.

Loud explosions and yelling could be heard from near the cafe at about 2:00am (AEDT) before officers rushed inside.

Just before police stormed the building, at least five hostages came running from the cafe with their hands up and one man lay down on the floor as police patted him down.

Minutes later what appeared to be gunfire and explosions could be heard.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the situation changed suddenly inside the cafe, allowing more of the hostages to escape.

Police then made the quick decision to put their emergency action plan into place and they moved inside the building.

Thanking all the officers involved in the siege, Commissioner Scipione said: “I want to point out they have saved lives, they have saved many lives.”

He said of the hostages: “I can only imagine the terror that they’ve been through. They are very brave people who in many cases were buying a cup of coffee and they got caught up in this dreadful affair.

“We should reflect on their courage, the courage that they displayed during the many hours in that room.”

He said it was an isolated incident and urged: “Do not let this sort of incident bring about any loss of confidence of working or visiting our city.

“It was the act of an individual. This should never destroy or change the way of our life.”

Soon after police entered the cafe, paramedic crews who had been stationed at the scene throughout the day were seen carrying people out of the building on stretchers, and one patient could be seen being resuscitated.

ABC reporter Siobhan Heanue said there were two volleys of gunfire and loud explosions, in the middle of which screams could be heard.

“The sound ricocheted throughout the tall buildings around the area… and hostages started pouring out of the building,” she said.

“Some running, some able to walk, some with their hands up, and some being carried by ambulance staff.”

An exclusion zone around Martin Place remains, with roads still closed, but the police presence has significantly diminished.

The ABC’s Nick Dole said police were working to secure the scene.

“Exactly what is going on inside we don’t know but we have seen evidence that perhaps police from the bomb squad would be in there,” he said.

“So police are working through the Lindt cafe to at least make it safe for investigators to go through.

“We’ve seen a robot – what looks like a police robot.

“Police are working very hard to make the crime scene safe so the investigation can continue.”

Hostages have been taken to a number of hospitals in the city.

Shortly after Monis locked the hostages inside the cafe, some were seen with their hands up while others were made to hold a black flag with Arabic writing against a window.

Heavily armed police officers took up positions in the pedestrian area, which was cleared for several blocks.

Several hours later, at about 4:00pm, two men ran from a front door of the cafe while a man wearing a Lindt apron came out of a side door.

About an hour later two women who worked at the cafe ran from the building.

Martin Place Cafe Siege: Man Haron Monis named as gunman

Sydney siege gunman identified

THE man who held several people hostage in a Sydney cafe for over 18 hours is a self-styled ‘sheik’ with a long history of run-ins with law enforcement.

Man Haron Monis, 50, is believed to have been killed when police stormed the Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place in a hail of gunfire shortly after 2am this morning.

Pic of Sheikh "man Monis" Haron charged with writing offensive letters to widows and fami

Sheik Man Monis Haron charged with writing offensive letters to widows and families of fallen Aussie soldiers outside Downing Court today. Source: News Limited

Monis, also known as Sheikh Haron and Mohammad Hassan Manteghi, was on bail on a charge of accessory to murder, relating to the death of his ex-wife, who was allegedly stabbed and set alight in a stairwell of her Sydney apartment complex last year.

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Monis’s current partner has been charged with murder over the incident.

On granting bail, Magistrate Darryl Pearce saying the Crown’s noted the case against Monis was weak.

In March this year he was charged with more than 50 sexual offences including the 2002 sexual assault of a young woman which was allegedly carried out under the guise of ‘spiritual healing’.

His victim, 27 at the time, allegedly saw an advertisement for ‘spiritual consultation’ in a local newspaper and contacted him.

Man Haron Monis ‘Spiritual healer’ arrested for sexual and indecent assault — SCC Sex Cri

Man Haron Monis ‘Spiritual healer’ arrested for sexual and indecent assault — SCC Sex Crimes Squad Source: Supplied

He told her he was an expert in astrology, numerology, meditation and black magic and advised her to visit his clinic.

Monis arrived in Australia as a refugee from Iran in 1996 and first became known to the public when he was charged with sending offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers who had died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the letters Monis called one Australian Digger ‘the son to a dirty pig, and to a dirty animal’, and urged the Diggers’ families to call on the government to pull troops out of Afghanistan.

In court Monis claimed he was a ‘peace activist’ and that his rights to free speech were being trampled.

Haron Monis was charged for sending hate letters to families of soldiers killed in Afghan

Haron Monis was charged for sending hate letters to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Here, he is pictured appearing for sentencing at the Downing Centre. Source: News Limited

It’s believed Monis lost a High Court appeal against his conviction just last Friday — an event which may have precipitated his decision to stage the Sydney siege.

Shortly before 9.45am yesterday morning Monis entered the Lindt cafe in the heart of Sydney, armed with a sawn-off shotgun and taking up to 20 hostages, several of whom managed to escape yesterday.

Emergency personnel wheel an injured hostage to an ambulance overnight. (AP Photo/Rob Gri

Emergency personnel wheel an injured hostage to an ambulance overnight. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith) Source: AP

After a prolonged period of silence overnight, several hostages desperately fled the cafe before police stormed in shortly later.

Live images of the ensuing firefight were beamed around the world as one loud blast, possibly from Monis’s shotgun, was heard. It was followed by dozens of shots from automatic weapons and flashes from the tactical officers’ flash grenades.

Armed tactical response officers and emergency workers attend the scene (AP Photo/Rob Gri

Armed tactical response officers and emergency workers attend the scene (AP Photo/Rob Griffith) Source: AP

Several ambulances rushed an unknown number of people to hospital as medical teams performed CPR on people in Martin Place. One police officer was seen with blood rushing from his head.

It’s believed three people, including Monis, have died as a result of the firefight.


A man is holding several people hostage at Martin Place cafe

Staff and customers at the Lindt cafe hold what is believed to be a jihadist flag up agai

Staff and customers hold up what is believed to be a jihadist flag up against the window of the Lindt cafe. Source: Channel 7

  • As many as 30 people being held hostage at Lindt cafe
  • Police say at least one gunman involved
  • Incident not being treated as terrorism yet
  • Motivation of gunman unknown – but police have finally spoken directly with him
  • PM Tony Abbott urges calm: “The whole point of politically motivated violence is to scare people.”

HOSTAGES have emerged from the Lindt Cafe in central Sydney where they have been held by a gunman since just before 10am this morning.

Five people have now left the cafe which has been at the centre of a hostage crisis that has paralysed central Sydney and shocked Australia.

Their escape comes after NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn confirmed hostage negotiators were now speaking directly with the gunman.

“Police negotiators have had contact and will continue to have contact,” she said.

Two female Lindt employees ran from the building just before 5pm. Three other hostages, all men, ran from the cafe earlier this afternoon and are now speaking with police.

It was not immediately clear if any of the hostages were released or if they had escaped.

Hostages inside the café have spoken to media outlets. Two hostages have spoken to Sydney radio station 2GB while Ten News is reporting that they have also spoken to two hostages.

One of the hostages runs towards police from Lindt cafe in the central business district

One of the hostages runs towards police from Lindt cafe in the central business district of Sydney. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

A terrified woman runs from the Lindt Cafe

A terrified woman runs from the Lindt Cafe Source: Supplied

A terrified Lindt employee runs to safety

A terrified Lindt employee runs to safety Source: Supplied

Two of the first hostages to get away came out of the front door while the third came out of a fire door. All had their arms raised in the air.

Dramatic television images showed the terrified hostages running free from the buiding and being shielded by heavily armed police.

One was a man in a white shirt and blue jacket, another wore a white shirt, while the third was clearly the Lindt cafe worker dressed in black.

David Faktor, spokesman for St Vincent’s Hospital, told news.com.au that they have received “one male patient and he is in a satisfactory condition”. Mr Faktor would not comment on anything else in relation to the man’s condition but said “he is fine”.

The hospital is on standby for anything else that might eventuate from the siege.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressed media tonight and praised police and security services for their work.

“I’ve received messages of support from a number of international leaders and I thank them for their encouragement on this difficult day. It has been a difficult day, it has tested us

He added that “like Australians in all situations, we have risen to the challenge”.

A hostage is seen outside the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place.

A hostage is seen outside the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place. Source: Getty Images

Two hostages run to safety outside the Lindt Cafe.

Two hostages run to safety outside the Lindt Cafe. Source: Getty Images

Dramatic scenes outside the Lindt Cafe as hostages run free after six hours of being held

Dramatic scenes outside the Lindt Cafe as hostages run free after six hours of being held captive. Source: Getty Images

The five hostages escape followed reports that as many as 50 people being held by a gunman at the popular cafe. However, when asked this afternoon about the number of hostages NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said: “That sort of number does not equate to what we are assuming.”

At least one offender took hostages at the popular Lindt chocolate cafe, in Martin Place, just before 10am.

Some members of staff could be seen wearing their shop aprons and standing with their hands up at the windows. There is also a black and white flag being held up in a window. It is believed to be the Black Standard, a flag that has been hijacked by jihadists and Islamists.

Hostages have reportedly called Channel 9 news late this afternoon – the second time media outlets have been called by those inside the cafe.

It’s believed hostages have been forced to call the television network.

This morning at least two calls were made to 2GB host Ray Hadley. He later spoke to the mother of an 18-year-old apprentice plumber who texted his mother from inside the cafe.

When she asked him how he was he replied: “I’m okay Mum, I can’t talk”. She hasn’t heard anything since then.

Deputy Commissioner Burn said police had spoken with the gunman for the first time since the siege began.

Three hostages escape Lindt cafe siege

Her information was that the remaining hostages hadn’t been harmed.

She said the gunman’s motivations were not known and it wouldn’t be helpful to “speculate”.

The incident has not been branded a terrorist attack yet, but police have confirmed they have “moved to a footing consistent with a terrorism event” in their response.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione earlier told reporters it remained a hostage situation “but we are ready to escalate if we need to”.

They did not have “direct contact” with the hostage-taker.

“We’re working through that – at this stage we’ve not got extensive communications … We are not dealing directly with him.”

It was not clear what the offender’s motivation was.

Lindt Australia CEO Steve Loane told news.com.au at the scene this morning he believed there are 40 to 50 people inside the cafe, including customers and staff.

Other reports are suggesting there may only be 13 hostages and police have since said they believe there to be fewer than 30 hostages.

Police handcuffed a man 200m from the cafe siege but a police statement has since clarified the arrest was unrelated to the siege.

Jihadist flag at city centre siege

One of the men believed to be holding people hostage: Courtesy: Channel 7 Source: Channel 7

Jihadist flag at city centre siege

Picture: Courtesy of Channel 7. Source: Channel 7

The National Security Committee of Cabinet has met for briefings on the situation this morning.

At a press conference this morning Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government did not know whether the hostage situation was politically motivated.

“We don’t yet know the motivation of perpetrator, we don’t know whether it’s politically motivated although there are indications it could be,” he said.

“The whole point of politically motivated violence is to scare people… Australia is a peaceful, open and generous society and nothing should ever change that and that’s why I urge all Australians to today to go about their business as usual.”

Mr Abbott urged all Australians to go about their business as usual but if anyone noticed anything unusual they should call the National Security Hotline 1800 123 400.

He said that the ordinary business of government would go on and the Budget update would be released as planned.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said this afternoon: “We are being tested today in Sydney. The police is being tested, the public is being tested, but whatever the test …we will remain a democractic, civil society.

“There could be some disruption obviously, we are asking also to be patient … we will get through this.”

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione confirmed an “armed offender” was involved. Police were doing everything in their power to bring the situation to a “peaceful outcome”.

“We have a number of incidents that people believe are connected to the city events

a lot of people concerned when they see police vehicle drive down their street, (that area is involved). This is not the case.”

He said there were a number of officers on standby and was satisfied with the response so far. “It’s as good as you will get anywhere.”

Major landmarks in Sydney, including the Sydney Opera House, have been evacuated as polic
Police are patrolling landmarks around Sydney in response to the Martin Pl hostage siege.

Police are patrolling landmarks around Sydney in response to the Martin Pl hostage siege. Source: Getty Images

In a statement earlier, Mr Abbott said he had also spoken with NSW Premier Mike Baird and “offered him all possible Commonwealth support and assistance”.

“This is obviously a deeply concerning incident but all Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner,” he said.

Mr Baird said his thoughts and prayers were with those affected.

“I’ve spoken to Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione & have full confidence NSW Police are working effectively to resolve the situation,” Mr Baird said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he had spoken with Mr Abbott this morning and offered him the Opposition’s full support.

“Our thoughts and prayers today are with the innocent people involved … (and) also with their families who are seeing this incredibly distressing situation unfold, along with the rest of Australia.

“Australians can be assured that we are one when it comes to keeping Australians safe.”

Tactical response officers arrive at the scene. Picture: Toby Zerna

Tactical response officers arrive at the scene. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Corp Australia

Siege at Martin Place.

Siege at Martin Place. Source: Supplied

Earlier today, Sydney talkback show host Ray Hadley reportedly spoke to one of the hostages inside the cafe off air.

A spokesman for 2GB said Hadly spoke to someone who he believed was a hostage inside the cafe.

The radio presenter called the number more than once and passed the name and details onto the police.

The Sydney Opera House, which was evacuated earlier today, has cancelled tonights performances, while police have urged people to stay away from the central city tonight for their own safety.

International reaction to the crisis has been swift with Canadian PM Stephen Harper tweeting his support and US President Barack Obama being briefed on the situation at the White House.

Lindt Cafe released the following statement on their Facebook page.

“We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and kind support over the current situation at the Lindt Chocolate Café at Martin Place. We are deeply concerned over this serious incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the staff and customers involved and all their friends and families. The matter is being dealt with by the authorities and we are waiting for any updates from them.”

Also on Facebook were pages supporting the gunman, including one called “Lindt cafe bombers supporters facebook page”. Facebook swiftly removed the page, and urged users to report any offending pages immediately for them to remove.

Police have set up an exclusion zone around the cafe in Martin Place.

BUILDINGS EVACUATED

A Lindt cafe worker who managed to get out of the building told Nine News: “Everyone was sitting down, the door was locked. There was one guy walking around with a hat and a beard.”

Channel 7 reported that a woman told police that she saw a man near the cafe at 9.44am carrying a blue sports bag with what she thought was a gun inside.

The chocolate shop is 30 or 40 metres from the Channel 7 offices so they have cameras trained on the building. Channel 7 was evacuated.

Martin Place is home to several prominent buildings, including NSW Premier Mike Baird’s office, the Reserve Bank of Australia, Westpac Bank and the Commonwealth Bank headquarters as well as the US embassy and the Seven Network. The Supreme Court, Sydney Hospital, State Library of NSW, and NSW parliament were also in lock-down.

The Sydney Opera House was also in lock-down for a short time as authorities enacted a cluster of security measures across the city.

The US Consulate has also been closed.

Seven reporter Chris Reason is currently on the corner of Philip and Hunter St where all five floors of Channel 7 staff were evacuated. He told news.com.au that he is with several hundred people from Seven and surrounding buildings.

He confirmed that police entered Channel 7 at 10am to use their building as a viewing point after the incident first happened at 9.44am.

Sydney siege: Heavily armed police run near Martin Place
Courtesy of Channel 7.

Courtesy of Channel 7. Source: Channel 7

A map of Sydney shows where the Martin Place Lindt Chocolate cafe is located.

A map of Sydney shows where the Martin Place Lindt Chocolate cafe is located. Source: News Corp Australia

At 10.20am the entire building was evacuated and the central hosting duties was transferred to Melbourne to broadcast out of there.

Police have erected a large black shield to cover the corner of the Lindt Store from view.

Mr Reason said: “It’s tense, people are obviously concerned for the people inside. During the initial minutes when the evacuation happened there was, of course, a lot of concern, a lot of anguish from some staff. But nobody resisted, we all followed police orders. Right now, outside the building there is a mix of curiosity and concern and hope that the people inside get out OK.”

Currently there are at least 100 police and tactical units stationed in Martin Place

“I was at a cafe right next to the Lindt Store when I noticed people suddenly running towards the building and looking in. At 9.45 I sort of approached and realised what was happening. At first we thought it was an armed holdup because the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) is next door and there were armoured vehicles outside. When we saw the hostages against the windows holding up the flags it was quickly apparent that this was severely urgent.”

When asked whether he thought why the men may have chosen Martin Place, he said: “It’s hard to tell, as we saw in the terror raids in September, Martin Place would be a target. It might not be iconic Sydney location but it is deeply symbolic, on top of our building (Seven) is the State Government, the treasurer the minister, beside it is the financial heart of Sydney with the reserve bank and right in the centre is the cenotaph and ANZAC memorial so it ticks so many boxes when trying to make a political statement.”

There are State Government agencies in the same building and police have shut down traffic in a wide perimeter surrounding the incident. Surrounding buildings are also in lockdown.

RELATED: Martin Place long identified as potential terrorist target

 

There is no confirmation yet whether this is a terrorist attack.

A police statement confirmed that they were dealing with an armed incident and specialist officers were attempting to make contact those inside a cafe.

“Some nearby offices have been evacuated as a precaution. Anyone else in the area encompassing Hunter, George, Elizabeth and Macquarie streets bordering Martin Place is directed to remain indoors and away from open windows. Anyone in the vicinity but outside that area is free to leave their buildings,” the statement said.

“Police urge members of the public to remain calm and note that an appropriate police presence is in place.

Elsewhere in Australia, security has reportedly been increased at the Gabba ahead of the cricket and the Lindt Cafe in Melbourne has been closed with police patrolling the streets outside.

TRANSPORT IMPACTED

The Martin Place train station is shut and trains and buses around the area are being diverted or stopped, including trains between Bondi Junction and Central. Roads are blocked.

A Transport for Sydney spokeswoman told news.com.au that conditions were still changing and they would follow directions from police.

“This is chilling,” said The Morning Show host Kylie Gillies of the scene as she watched on with host Larry Emdur from the Channel 7 news studios. The duo are now off air.

RELATED: Sydney trains cancelled, buses diverted

Frightening siege at Lindt cafe Martin Place Sydney

Frightening siege at Lindt cafe Martin Place Sydney

Sydney siege: Gunman takes hostages in Lindt cafe

Hundreds of armed police have sealed off Martin Place in Sydney’s central business district

Related Stories

At least one gunman has taken several people hostage at a cafe in the Australian city of Sydney.

Pictures on Australian television show at least three people with their hands up against a window, and a black flag with Arabic writing.

Hundreds of armed police have sealed off Martin Place in Sydney’s central business district.

New South Wales police have asked people to avoid the area.

An Australian Broadcasting Corporation reporter said that gunfire had been heard at the scene, the Lindt chocolate cafe – but this has not been confirmed.

No injuries have been reported from the incident, according to a police spokesperson.

At the scene: Wendy Frew, BBC Australia Editor Online

Martin Place is a public pedestrian thoroughfare through the heart of Sydney, joining its parliamentary, legal and retail districts.

It is full of media, members of the public and the police, with what appear to be anxious colleagues of people trapped inside the building, waiting for news. Several surrounding blocks are cordoned off.

Police are at this stage not giving media briefings at the site, there are dozens of police cards have arrived at the scene – with more continuing to come.

Sydney map

Police have also said that they are dealing with an “incident” at the Sydney Opera House which has been evacuated.

Local media are reporting that a suspicious package was found there on Monday, though it was unclear whether it was connected to the Martin Place incident.

Terror threat

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the Martin Place incident as “deeply concerning”.

“All Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner,” he said in a statement.

A National Security Committee of Cabinet has been convened for Monday morning, the PM’s office said.

Australia has been facing a growing terror threat in recent months, in part connected to the fight against the Islamic State militant group in Syria and Iraq.

In September, the largest anti-terror raids in Australian history were carried out in Sydney and Brisbane after intelligence emerged that people were planning to carry out random attacks on Australian soil.

Only one person was charged with terror offences.

Anti-terror legislation was passed in October, which critics said was too severe.

Mr Abbott has said the threat meant “the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift”.

About 70 Australians are believed to be fighting in the Middle East while another 20 have returned home.

Australia recently introduced tough legislation to combat the threat from returned fighters

The Lindt Cafe is located in a plaza in the heart of the city’s financial and shopping district that is usually packed with shoppers at this time of year.

It is home to the state premier’s office and the headquarters of two of the nation’s largest banks.

The state parliament house is also only a few streets away.


 

The Daily Telegraph

  • 12 hostages thought to be held
  • Public transport shut down between Central and Bondi
  • Channel 7 offices evacuated

A hostage has been forced to hold up an Islamic State flag in the window of a shop in Martin Place that is currently under siege.

It is believed there are 12 hostages in the store and an ISIS flag has been placed in the window.

Martin Place is the main financial area of the Sydney CBD.

The scene of a seige at the Lindt Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place.

The scene of a siege at the Lindt Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.

The scene of a seige at the Lindt Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place.

The scene of a siege at the Lindt Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.

Twitter image of a seige at the Lindt Cafe in Sydney's Maritin Place.

Hostages hold up an IS flag at Lindt Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.

Public transport between Central and Bondi Junction has been stopped.

Buses are diverting away from Elizabeth St and Hunter St.

There are various road closures in place and motorists are advised to stay away from the area.

In September Federal Police made a host of arrests after allegedly uncovering a plot to abduct a random Australian and execute them by beheading in a public place, possibly Martin Place and post the act on social media.

Hostage in the Lindt Cafe in Sydney's Maritin Place.

Hostage in the Lindt Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.

Lindt Cafe in Sydney's Maritin Place.

Lindt Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.

Just before 10am it is believed an attempted robbery was taking place when the offender then took a number of hostages inside the Lindt Chocolate shop.

The area has been cordoned off and police are urging people to stay away.

Police do not know how many hostages are in the shop or what the offender is armed with.

The Lindt shop is usually very busy with four or five staff at this time.

More to come.

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.

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