Luke Batty, 11, dies in horrific attack by his father, Greg Anderson at Tyabb cricket oval


UPDATE 14/02/14

Victoria’s Chief Police Commissioner Ken Lay says police had been dealing with complaints against Anderson for at least a decade and there were five outstanding warrants for his arrest relating to domestic violence.

“We owe it to the community, we owe it to Luke, we owe it to Rosie to understand exactly what happened not only with police, but other services so the community can understand exactly what happened but I just hope that this may well be the next step to get so much better in the family violence space,”

 says police had been dealing with complaints against Anderson for at least a decade

says police had been dealing with complaints against Anderson for at least a decade

Killer dad Greg Anderson tormented family for years, faced arrest warrants and threatened to kill Luke’s mother

We can reveal that Greg Anderson should have been behind bars when he murdered his son.

Police failed to execute ­arrest warrants in the weeks leading up to Wednesday night’s horrific incident.

Anderson was a violent drifter who had tormented his ­estranged family for years.

The warrants were issued after he repeatedly failed to turn up at court on charges of assaulting Luke’s mum and threatening to kill her.

It is understood four separate warrants for his arrest were issued throughout January but police failed to apprehend him.

Victoria Police said that its investigations would look into “not only the events on the night, but also all relevant circumstances which preceded them”.

The force said it would not be commenting further.

On May 16, 2012, Anderson assaulted Rosie Batty by grabbing her by the hair, pushing her to the ground and kicking her before threatening her with a glass vase.

Ms Batty told police she feared her former partner suffered from some form of mental disorder.

Anderson was also arrested and charged after making threats to kill her on January 3 last year.

During the incident Anderson allegedly said to Ms Batty: “Right now I really want to kill you. I want to cut off your foot. I hope you have made a will.”

Anderson was arrested again by police on May 27 last year after attending his son’s football training.

Sources say Anderson, who was living in his unregistered car, had little to do with his son for years before re-entering his life and taking his mother through a long court battle.

Although known to Hastings and Frankston police, who felt sorry for Ms Batty, Anderson’s legal matters were ongoing so he didn’t have prior convictions at the time of his death.

Despite the incidents of domestic violence in the past two years, Anderson and Ms Batty had tried to work out ­access visits for Luke. In addition to the threats to kill and assault charges, Anderson was also facing a charge relating to accessing child porn.

He was arrested after viewing the porn at Emerald Hill Library on November 17, 2012.

Library staff noticed what he was looking at and raised the alarm. When Anderson was arrested he was found with a USB stick containing the child porn images.

Sources say Anderson had psychological issues but refused to be assessed or treated.

It is believed family had wanted Anderson to get counselling but he had refused.

Considering there were warrants out for Anderson’s arrest, questions have been raised as to whether he should have been allowed to have an access visit.

A man who shared a house with Anderson said he had to ask him to leave after being threatened with death.

The man, who did not want to be named, had lived with Anderson in Chelsea Heights since late last year but decided three weeks ago he had to go.

“We knew he had psychological problems but we found out recently how crazy he was,” the man said yesterday.

“He threatened to kill me. I had to take out an intervention order against him. I was meant to go

LUKE Batty was seen with his father after 6pm, when training finished, doing extra batting practice.

It is understood about 20 minutes later, the father was spotted bending over the motionless boy.

Police believe the child had been struck to the head with a cricket bat and attacked with a knife as he lay prone on the field. It was initially thought Luke may have suffered a sporting injury so ambulance officers were called. They were confronted by a bloodied, knife-wielding Mr Anderson.

Four police arrived soon after and were menaced by Mr Anderson, who reportedly asked to be shot as he advanced on them. Capsicum spray had no impact and, as he then closed on one policeman, that officer fired one shot to the chest, felling Mr Anderson.

Police then moved in and cleared the weapon away but Mr Anderson continued to struggle as paramedics tried to get him into an ambulance and off to hospital.

No car connected to the armed dad was found at the scene, leading police to believe he may have caught the train from Chelsea Heights to Tyabb. A premeditated suicide-by-cop scenario is one element of the probe into the tragedy.

The father made no attempt to leave the scene after the attack on his son and continued to advance on police as the risk of being shot escalated.

Police Association Secretary Greg Davies said there was then no option but to fire.

“There’s every likelihood this is suicide-by-cop. You’ve got a knife and they’ve all got firearms,” Sen-Sgt Davies said.

“It’s a police officer’s worst nightmare to see a young tacker apparently murdered by a man who turns out to be his father, who then advances on you with a knife. They (police) appear to have done everything possible to avoid this outcome.”

Veteran police were shocked at the brutality, one comparing it with the actions of child-killers Robert Farquharson and Arthur Freeman. “This is horrific and it’s in front of other kids,” one officer said.

HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
May 2012: Anderson unlawfully assaults Rosemary Batty at her home in Tyabb by grabbing her hair, pushing her to the ground and kicking her before threatening her with a glass vase. Later charged.

November 2012: Caught by staff at Emerald Hill library viewing child porn on a public computer. Charged by police with viewing child porn and two months later possessing child porn when officers find him with a USB stick containing the images.

January 2013: Anderson again attends Ms Batty’s home and allegedly threatens to kill her. Arrested later that day and charged.

April 2013: Fails to appear in accordance with his bail conditions at Frankston Magistrates’ Court.

January 2014: Warrants are issued for Anderson’s arrest after repeated failures to attend his court dates.

What a tragic awful crime, committed in front of kids and families who just finished cricket training. It must have been so hard for paramedics trying to save this cowards life after he had just murdered his own son in cold blood. My heart goes out to the mum who was also there and witnessed it…

WHY does this happen?

UPDATE 5.30 pm 13/02/14

Rosie Batty in ‘disbelief’ after son Luke killed on cricket oval by father Greg, who had history of mental illness

By Monique Ross

The mother of an 11-year-old boy killed by his father at a cricket ground in Victoria has spoken of her shock, and revealed her estranged partner had a history of mental illness and was the subject of an apprehended violence order (AVO).

Luke Batty with his mother Rosie

Luke Batty with his mother Rosie

Luke Batty was killed in front of horrified onlookers after a cricket training session at the oval in the small town of Tyabb, south-east of Melbourne, on Wednesday evening.

His 54-year-old father Greg was shot by police at the scene and died in hospital early this morning.

Luke’s mother Rosie Batty was at the cricket ground when the tragedy unfolded, after her son asked for “a few more minutes” with his father.

This afternoon she described her “shock” and “disbelief” and told reporters her estranged partner Greg was a man who loved his son but had suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness for two decades.

“Luke was nearly as tall as me. He was sensitive. He enjoyed his footy, he enjoyed his cricket,” she said.

Luke was nearly as tall as me. He was effervescent, he was funny. He wasn’t the best scholar but he was intelligent.

“He was effervescent, he was funny. He wasn’t the best scholar but he was intelligent. He enjoyed his school.”

She says Luke loved his father and “felt pain” because he knew he was struggling.

“He was a little boy in a growing body that felt pain and sadness and fear for his mum, and he always believed he would be safe with his dad,” she said.

“[I told him] ‘you’ll always love your dad. You won’t always like what they do or say, but you’ll always love your dad, and he’ll always love you’.”

Father had long history of mental illness

Ms Batty says she had known Greg for 20 years, and over that time his mental health deteriorated.

“[He went] from someone who brushed off losing a job to someone that was unemployable,” she said.

“He was in a homelessness situation for many years. His life was failing. Everything was becoming worse in his life and Luke was the only bright light in his life.”

She says Greg had been offered help, but he failed to accept it, instead choosing to “believe he was OK”.

She had an AVO against Greg, but says he loved Luke and there were no signs he would ever hurt their son.

No-one loved Luke more than Greg, his father. No-one loved Luke more than me. We both loved him.

“You’re dealing with someone who’s always had problems, and they start out small and over the years they get bigger, but he’s still the father,” she said.

“He loved his son. Everyone that’s involved with children would know that whatever action they take is not because they don’t love them.

“No-one loved Luke more than Greg, his father. No-one loved Luke more than me. We both loved him.”

She says people thought she was the one at risk, and some had urged her to return to her home country.

“Doctors, psychologists, everyone said to me, why don’t you go back to England and live there? But Luke wanted to be here,” she said.

“His school was here, his friends were here. And I had decided that was the right choice.”

‘Family violence happens to everybody’

Ms Batty says if there is a silver lining to be found in the tragedy, it will be increased awareness about the issue of family violence.

“I want to tell people that family violence happens to [anybody], no matter how nice your house is, no matter how intelligent you are,” she said.

“When you’re involved with family violence, friends, family judge you, the woman. The decisions you should make, the decisions you don’t make.

I want to tell people that family violence happens to [anybody], no matter how nice your house is, no matter how intelligent you are.

“You’re the victim, but you become the person that people condemn.

“The people here reading this will say ‘why didn’t she protect him, why didn’t she make certain decisions’.

“But when you actually finally decide enough is enough, and decide to go through a court process, you do not know what the outcome will be.

‘What I want people to take from this is that it isn’t simple. People judge you, people tell you what you should do. You do the best you can.”

She says she does not regret allowing Greg to have a relationship with his son despite the problems, as her “guiding star” was ensuring Luke knew he was loved by both of his parents.

Mother first thought it was an accident

Ms Batty says her son died after what was “just a normal cricket practice”.

“Most of the kids and parents had gone. Luke came to me and said, ‘could I have a few more minutes with my dad’ because he doesn’t see him very often and I said, ‘sure, OK’,” she said.

“There was no reason to be concerned. I thought it was in an open environment.”

She says when she realised something was wrong, she thought an accident had happened and tried to call an ambulance.

“I tried to ring but couldn’t ring because I was too stressed. I looked for help and I ran towards help, screaming ‘get an ambulance, this is really bad’,” she said.

“I thought Greg had accidentally hurt him from a bowling accident … and that Greg’s anguish was because he had hurt Luke accidentally.

“I was screaming, I was inconsolable.”

Paramedics called to the sports ground on Frankston-Flinders Road treated the boy but were unable to revive him.

Police are refusing to give more details of the incident, but some witnesses say a cricket bat was used.

Ms Batty says it was only later that she realised that what happened to Luke was not an accident.

“What I saw that I thought was Greg comforting Luke and helping him with what I thought was an accident, wasn’t necessarily what I saw,” she said.

“The full extent of what happened I don’t want anyone, other than the [coroner], to know.

“Luke was killed by his father. No-one else including myself needs to know the details of what he actually did.”

‘Police acted the way they needed to act’

Homicide detectives have spoken to several children who saw Luke die and then watched as police then shot his father.

Officers say they shot the man in the chest after he threatened them with a knife. Police say they tried to subdue him with capsicum spray but that did not work.

Greg, from Chelsea Heights, was flown to Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital, where he died about 1:30am.

Ms Batty says police did not do anything wrong.

“The police acted the way they needed to act. In the past Greg has been confrontational and difficult,” she said.

“The police had no other option.”

She says Greg had not violated terms of the AVO by attending the event.

“It was allowed from the intervention order. It was a public place, I believed he was safe,” she said.

“It was just a little cricket practice. There was people there, I believed he was safe.”

Ms Batty says she is grateful for the support of loved ones, and will soon be joined by family who are travelling to Australia from England.

February 13, 2014 12:02PM

EMOTIONAL friends have paid tribute online to an 11-year-old boy who was stabbed to death on the Mornington Peninsula last night.

Luke Batty was horrifically killed by his father during cricket training at Tyabb Cricket Ground about 6.30pm yesterday.

Paramedics frantically tried to revive the Grade 6 student, but he died at the scene from head injuries.

Tributes to the slain boy began pouring in on social media last night, with one Facebook page attracting nearly 6,000 members by 9am.

Carol Bennett said she was “so sorry that you were taken so early in your life and in such a horrific way.”

Tahila Williams wrote: “It’s sad to see such a young boy have his life taken away from him when he had done nothing wrong.”

Yvette Wagg said: “Very sad and shocked to hear this devastating news… Condolences to all”.

After the attack four police officers tried to subdue his knife-wielding father with capsicum spray before shooting him in the chest, witnesses said.

The Chelsea Heights man, 54, was taken to The Alfred hospital where he died about 1.30am, Victoria Police spokeswoman Natalie Webster said.

“I can confirm that the male that the police shot was the father of the deceased boy,” Commander Doug Fryer said last night.

The boy’s mother was at the ground.

“We’ve had an absolute tragedy here tonight,” Commander Fryer said from the scene.

“It’s a horrific scene.”

Speaking this morning, Commander Fryer said it had been a “shocking time” for the boy’s family, the witnesses at the scene and the officers involved.

“Our members were confronted by an incident that thankfully, it’s very rare when it happens, but when it does, they put their training into practice,” Commander Fryer told 3AW.

“They used an option that they thought appropriate and unfortunately we’ve now got two people dead.”

Commander Fryer said the boy’s mother, who was estranged from his father, was “in close proximity to where this happened”.

“I don’t know how a mother gets past losing her son in these sorts of ways,” he said.

Children were at the ground for cricket training and Commander Fryer said police wanted to speak to anyone who witnessed the incident.

“We spoke to a lot of people last night,” he said.

“Because cricket practice had just finished, we think there were probably kids down there and parents down there that may have seen something who we haven’t yet spoken to.

Luke’s classmates were told of his tragic death this morning when they arrived at Flinders Christian Community College in Tyabb.

The flag was flying at half-mast as parents, students and teachers rallied around each other.

Luke was remembered as a popular, happy child who loved life and enjoyed his sport at an emotional school meeting this morning.

Executive principal Jill Healey said the death of the popular Year 6 student was “an absolute shock and a tragedy”.

“There were lots of tears this morning,” she said.

She said the school community was coping as well as could be expected, and that counselling had been arranged for all those affected by Luke’s death.

Luke’s friends plan to hold a vigil for the 11-year-old at the cricket oval where he was killed.

The small community is reeling from the horrible crime and friends have already begun to bring flowers.

Taylor Cuthbertson, 15, said a friend of hers was a witness to the horrible scenes.

“He was just crying when he was telling me what happened.

“It’s so horrible.”

Emergency services were called to the oval on Frankston-Flinders Rd in Tyabb about 6.30pm yesterday following the vicious attack.

Witnesses said when officers from Mornington police station arrived, the father turned on them with a knife, forcing them to shoot him.

The man was flown to The Alfred hospital, where he later died.

The incident shocked the local community, with one resident describing it as “bloody horrific”.

Tyabb Cricket Club officials would not comment about the incident last night, saying it was “too raw”.

But the club’s junior cricket co-ordinator, Ron Dyall, said the boy — in grade 6 at Flinders Christian Community College — had played for the club for two or three years and was also an avid footballer.

Mr Dyall said he was devastated by what had happened.

“As his coach, I knew him pretty well,” he said.

“My own son plays in his team. I’m trying to figure out how to break it to him, and how we’re gonna deal with the kids.”

Local Wayne Murray, 64, said he heard what he thought was fireworks about the time of the shooting.

He said “a shiver (ran) down my spine” when he learned the sounds were gunshots.

“I heard a couple of pop pops,” he said.

“It didn’t sound unusually loud. I’ve never seen anything like this. It doesn’t happen here.”

Melissa, 37, who did not wish to give her surname, said her father had also heard gunshots.

“We heard helicopters going over the oval,” she said. “I have an 11-year-old. I was nearly in tears when I heard.”

Commander Fryer said four local officers were confronted by the knife-wielding man when they arrived about 6.40pm.

“They’ve attempted to use less than lethal force (OC foam). They’ve attempted to talk him down. That has been unsuccessful,” he said.

“They have then discharged a firearm, hitting that male once in the chest.”

Commander Fryer said police were still working to ­determine what caused the local boy’s death.

He could not confirm reports the boy was being beaten by his father with a cricket bat when police ­arrived, but said he suffered “significant injuries”.

 

 

 

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Adrian Bayley Pleads Guilty to Rape – Not Guilty to Murdering Jill Meagher


Jill Meagher

Adrian Bayley admitted raping and strangling Jill Meagher in a Melbourne laneway, but has pleaded not guilty to her murder.  The 41 year old will stand trial in the Victorian Supreme Court after the Deputy Chief Magistrate found there was enough evidence for a jury to convict him.  Bayley pleaded guilty to one count of rape in the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday and not guilty to murder and another two charges of rape.

UPDATE 5TH MAY 2013

Adrian Bayley arriving at court 5th May 2013

Adrian Bayley arriving at court 5th May 2013

ADRIAN Bayley has arrived at the Supreme Court for a hearing over the death of Melbourne woman Jill Meagher, where he is expected to plead guilty to charges of murder. More to come…

Bayley, 41, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on March 12 to one count of raping Ms Meagher.

He pleaded not guilty to her murder and two of three counts of rape.

Bayley was set to stand trial over the murder in a Brunswick laneway in September – a year after the crime that shocked the nation.

Last moments of Jill Meagher’s life

  • by: Paul Anderson – From: Herald Sun
  • March 13, 2013 8:59AM

THE man accused of murdering Jill Meagher ran out of petrol after burying the Irish-born ABC employee in a shallow grave, according to court documents.

A police summary of the case against Adrian Bayley, tendered in court, was released to the media after Bayley’s committal hearing yesterday.According to the summary, on the night of September 21 last year, while Ms Meagher was out celebrating with friends in Brunswick, Bayley was arguing with his girlfriend at Swanston St’s Lounge Bar.

The pipeline layer, 41, was arguing with her about “jealousy and possessiveness”. His girlfriend left and returned to their home in Coburg.

“The accused (Bayley) attempted to contact his girlfriend by phone; however, she refused to answer or return text messages and phone calls,” the summary stated.

Bayley left the Lounge Bar at 12.25am and caught a taxi home. There, he changed into a blue hoodie jumper, the summary said.It was about 1am when Ms Meagher, 29, left the Brunswick Green Hotel with a friend and walked to the Etiquette Bar.

Her friend left soon after, twice offering Ms Meagher a ride in a taxi. But she declined, deciding to walk the short distance home.

On her way, outside Chemist Warehouse, she asked a group of three people for a cigarette and had a “short friendly conversation” with the trio.

She then continued on her way along Sydney Rd, towards Hope St. Bayley was in the area by that stage, and saw Ms Meagher walking alone.

“(Bayley) has run up from behind Ms Meagher before slowing to a walk as he approached her.” The Police summary said

Bayley would later tell police: “I was just walking ahead of her and we’d already interacted on Sydney Rd and that’s when she rang her brother. She was actually telling me about her father.”

Ms Meagher called her brother, Michael McKeon, at 1.35am to talk about their sick father.
Mr McKeon said he would call her back in a minute or two. He would try, but his sister’s phone would ring out several times.

Ms Meagher’s husband, Tom, knew his wife was out for drinks with workmates.

At 1.37am, he sent her a text message from their home: “Are you okay?”

The Chief Crown prosecutor, Gavin Silbert, SC, told the court it was 1.38am when Bayley “accosted” Ms Meagher and “proceeded to drag her into a laneway on Hope St between Oven St and Sydney Rd, where he has raped and strangled her”.A bin and parked car in a laneway off Hope St, Brunswick, where Jill Meagher's handbag was found

Bayley later told detectives: “I actually apologised. I can’t imagine how she felt but I know how I felt. All I thought was, ‘What have I done?’ “

Mr Silbert told the court: “(Bayley) has left the body of the deceased in the laneway and returned to his home address, where he has collected a shovel and his white Holden Astra.”

At 1.47am, an extremely worried Tom Meagher sent his wife another text.

“Answer me, I’m really worried,” it read.

He sent another at 2.07am: “Please pick up.”

The court heard Bayley returned to the laneway at 4.22am and put Ms Meagher’s body into the boot of the car.

He drove to Blackhill Rd, Gisborne South, where he buried Ms Meagher by the side of the road.

“I cried, man, and I dug a hole . . . I didn’t cry for me,” Bayley told detectives.

Tom Meagher, meanwhile, had searched the Brunswick streets in vain.

Adrian Bayley as he was taken into custody in the back of a police car. Picture: Stephen Harman

“I kept trying to ring her but there was no answer,” he said in his police statement.

Bayley was driving home from Gisborne when his car ran out of petrol near the Calder Highway.

He managed to wave down motorist Dayle Watkins, who drove him to a nearby service station.

There, about 6am, he filled a jerry can with petrol.

Mr Watkins then drove Bayley back to his vehicle.

On September 27, after investigating the crime scene and gathering evidence, including CCTV footage and phone records, homicide detectives arrested Bayley.

“After investigators informed (Bayley) of the evidence implicating him, he made admissions,” the police summary stated.

“(Bayley) stated that it was due to the argument that he had had earlier in the night with his girlfriend, that (Bayley) had an angry and aggressive demeanour which he transferred onto the deceased.”

Yesterday, Bayley pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and two counts of rape.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of rape.

EDITED RECORD OF INTERVIEW WITH ADRIAN ERNEST BAYLEY TENDERED TO COURT 

Adrian Ernest Bayley

BAYLEY: You know what? I hope I never get out, because you know why I hope that, because then no one else ever has to be hurt because someone hurts me. I don’t deal with – with hurt very well. You know it wasn’t really my intention to hurt her, you know that? When we conversed, I swear to you man – I swear to I’d – I’d just – I spoke to her and she looked – she looked distraught. Does that make sense?

DETECTIVE:Yeah it does.

BAYLEY:She didn’t look happy.

DETECTIVE:Yeah it does.

BAYLEY:And I spoke to – I spoke to hear, you now and said, look, I’ll just – I’ll – I’ll help you, you know. That’s what I said to her and she was like fu… anyway it doesn’t matter. She flipped me off and that made me angry, because I was trying to do a nice thing. You know that?

DETECTIVE: Yeah yeah.

BAYLEY: She looked distraught.

BAYLEY:She looked distraught, you know. She looked like she was lost … always try to do the right thing some – you know, most of the time and I didn’t take well to her response, you know. I just don’t wanna go through it in detail. That – I can’t.

DETECTIVE: What happened to Jill?

BAYLEY:They should have the death penalty for people like me.

DETECTIVE:I can’t tell you what’s gonna happen.

BAYLEY:No well – that’s what I hope.

DETECTIVE:So you said she fobbed you off and you got angry. Tell me what happened then?

BAYLEY:Oh I just got pissed off and I actually walked off and she followed. I actually walked in front of her and she followed.

DETECTIVE:Yep.

BAYLEY:And it just got worse.

DETECTIVE:Tell me what happened.

BAYLEY:(Starts to cry) … like a big sissy man.

BAYLEY:I wanna do the right thing. It’s not fair on any of this to – it’s not fair of any of this stuff to have happened, let alone her family and stuff too.

DETECTIVE: Yeah.

BAYLEY:Not knowing.

DETECTIVE:Would you be willing to come with me and show me?

BAYLEY:I’ll try. I’ll do my best man.

DETECTIVE:I appreciate that.

BAYLEY:I’m not sure how to get there.

BAYLEY:I know what I’m saying to you. It’s not fair for this to have happened, and it’s not fair on her family and its not fair on them not knowing. It’s not fair.

DETECTIVE:Um. I understand why you don’t want to go into the detail. I understand that totally. Um how – how did she die?

BAYLEY: (Starts to cry). I strangled her.

DETECTIVE:Sorry?

BAYLEY: (Continues to cry). What have I done? What have I done man?

DETECTIVE:And where did that happen?

BAYLEY:On Hope Street.

DETECTIVE:How did she come to get in the laneway?

BAYLEY:we – we walked past it.

DETECTIVE:yeah

BAYLEY:That far down Hope St. I didn’t take her from the street, or – you know?

DETECTIVE: Yeah and then?

BAYLEY:And we were just talking you know? We weren’t – there was no argument, there was no – it was just talking. And then um …

DETECTIVE:Alright.

BAYLEY:I was just walking ahead of her and we’d already interacted on Sydney Rd, and that’s when she rang her brother. She was actually telling me about her father.

DETECTIVE:Right

BAYLEY:You know? And I was just – I was trying to be nice and – she kept going from being nice to nasty, to nice, to – you know what I mean?

DETECTIVE:Yep.

BAYLEY:And it just sort of ended up in the alley. I cant remember yeah, you know what I mean, 100 per cent, like how it ended up. We were just sort of – we were standing there.

DETECTIVE: Um how did you – how did you strangle her?

BAYLEY:With my hands.

DETECTIVE:With your hands. And once that had happened, what did you do?

(interview interrupted by knock at door, then resumes)

BAYLEY:I didn’t run.

DETECTIVE:You didn’t run?

BAYLEY:(starts to cry) That’s not it man. I actually apologised.

DETECTIVE:To her?

BAYLEY:But I didn’t run. I didn’t – didn’t know what to do. It’s a horrible feeling man.

DETECTIVE: Yeah.

BAYLEY:I can’t imagine how – how she felt, but I know how I felt. It’s not nice man, its not nice. And all I thought was what have I done? That’s all I thought. That was the thought in my head, what have I done after I said sorry. I didn’t know what else to say, man. I don’t know what else to say.

DETECTIVE:And what happened to her belongings?

BAYLEY:The phone I smashed. Just the other stuff I threw.

DETECTIVE:You walk to the side, you get the shovel. Tell me what you do.

BAYLEY:I cried man, and I dug a hole.

DETECTIVE:Yeah

BAYLEY: I cried man, And I didn’t cry for me, you need to understand that. I didn’t cry for me, just like I’m not crying for me now.

Jill Meagher

TIMELINE

Saturday September 22, 2012

  • 1.30am: Jill Meagher leaves Bar Etiquette in Sydney Rd, Brunswick, in Melbourne’s inner-north to walk home. CCTV from the Dutchess Boutique captures both Ms Meagher and Adrian Bayley walking past.
  • 1.38am: Mr Bayley allegedly grabs Ms Meagher and drags her into a nearby laneway off Hope St.
  • 1.40am – 1.45am: Neighbours hear a woman yelling from laneway. After a few minutes the yelling stops.
  • 2am: Tom Meagher tries calling his wife’s mobile phone.
  • 4am: Mr Meagher leaves his home in Lux Way – not far from the scene – to go and look for his wife.
  • 4.22am: It is alleged that having gone home to Coburg in Melbourne’s northern suburbs for a shovel, Mr Bayley returns in his white Holden Astra.
  • 4.26am: Car allegedly drives off with Ms Meagher’s body in the boot.
  • 6am: After continuing to call his wife’s phone all night without luck, Mr Meagher reports her missing.

Sunday September 23

  • 12.30pm: A Facebook page is set up in the hope somebody saw Ms Meagher.
  • 3.15pm: Police release public call for information about Ms Meagher’s disappearance.

Monday September 24

  • 6.30am: Ms Meagher’s handbag found in lane off Hope St. Police believe it was planted the day before.
  • 8.50am: Homicide squad takes over the case.
  • 1.45pm: Forensic officers recover evidence from the lane way. Detectives interview Mr Meagher.

Tuesday September 25

  • 12.30pm: Forensic police search the Meagher home and take away their car and bags of items for testing.
  • 3.55pm: Police release footage from the Dutchess Boutique of Ms Meagher and a man in a blue hoodie.
  • 6.15pm: Police return to the Meagher home and search again.

Thursday September 27

  • 2.30pm: Mr Bayley arrested in Coburg.
  • 3.58pm: Police interview with Mr Bayley begins.
  • 10pm: Interview suspended while police travel to a site allegedly nominated by Mr Bayley.

Friday September 28

  • 3am: Mr Bayley remanded at an out-of-sessions hearing after being charged with murder.
  • 4am: Ms Meagher’s body is taken away by coronial staff after being recovered from a shallow grave at the side of Black Hill Rd in Gisborne South, north of Melbourne.

What happened to Jill Meagher? Well allegedly Raped and Murdered by Adrian Bayley


This bloke is one dirty dog with plenty of form, including sexual violence! I have started a new thread based on his arrest, charges and beyond today for discussion moving forward… here is the link

Update – alleged rapist and killer leads police to shallow grave this morning

September 28, 2012 6:31AM

Jill Meagher’s body found, Adrian Ernest Bayley, charged

Adrian Ernest Bayley has been charged with the rape and murder of Jill Meagher, her body was found 50km away from Melbourne. This is allegedly an image of the despicable mongrel dog

The alleged-Adrian Ernest Bayley

With this disgusting crime there are more than one victim, my personal apologies and thoughts go to Tom Meagher, the husband of Jill, who had to endure the scrutiny and suspicion of being a suspect in her disappearance from early on in the investigation.

It is the first place they go looking when a partner disappears, the police the media the social media. Random Opportunistic crimes of this nature in Australia very rarely happen like this in the city, if anywhere.

How wrong a lot of us were this time. Robbo

THE Coroner has removed the body of Jill Meagher from a shallow grave near a remote road about 50km northwest of Melbourne.

Police made the discovery early this morning on Black Hill Road at Gisborne South, about 15 minutes drive from the Calder Freeway.

Coroners remove the body of Jill Meagher from a shallow grave near Black Hill Road, 50km northwest of Melbourne.

The body was in a shallow grave near a tree about five metres from Black Hill Road.

The Coroners Office put the body into a white van just before 4am after detectives finished their five-hour investigation of the scene.

An autopsy will be conducted today.

Police say they were led to the scene by the man charged with the murder and rape of Ms Meagher.

Adrian Ernest Bayley, 41, was remanded at an out-of-sessions court hearing shortly before 3am that lasted only 90 seconds at St Kilda Road Police Station.

The bail justice told Bayley he should not be given bail given the seriousness of the charges against him.

She asked him whether he understood the charges, to which he replied a simple “yes”.

Asked whether he wanted the charges read to him, the accused said “no”.

The accused wore a blue T-shirt, jeans and red-and-black Nike runners and showed no emotion as he sat with his chin in his hand.

Police will allege Bayley raped and murdered Ms Meagher on the morning of September 22 in Brunswick.

He will appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court later today.

This morning’s events came after police swooped on the suspect’s Coburg home at 2.30pm and took him to the St Kilda Rd Police Complex where he was interviewed.

Police will allege he is the man seen on CCTV wearing a blue hoodie top and talking to Ms Meagher on Sydney Rd early on Saturday Rd moments before she vanished.

UPDATE TONIGHT 7PM 27/09/12

31 yr correction 41 yr old man from Coburg has been arrested in relation to Jill’s disappearance- More to come

POLICE have arrested a man over the disappearance of missing woman Jill Meagher.

A 41-year-old Coburg man will be charged with her abduction and murder.

Police swooped on the man late today at his home and took him to the St Kilda Rd Police Complex where he was being interviewed. No charges have yet been laid.

The Herald Sun has been told police have no other suspects and it was allegedly an opportunistic crime.

His arrest by the homicide squad missing persons unit came a day after police released CCTV video of a man wearing a hoodie, who was seen talking to Ms Meagher, 29, at 1.43am on Saturday as she walked home.

Police have not said if the man who has been arrested is the person in the hoodie.

Ms Meagher’s brother, Michael McKeon, was overwhelmed when told of the arrest. Police fear Ms Meagher was abducted while making the short walk home from a Sydney Rd bar in Brunswick.

This sad situation is becoming more mysterious and sinister as each day passes

UPDATE MIDDAY 27/09/12

THE CCTV footage video makes for some interesting new possibilities, the end result is what is important no matter how police get to it. One person in the video has already come forard and provided a statement. Others are urged to do the same as reports of new CCTV has been made available.

Here is a interactive map of the Bridal Boutique from which the current CCTV footage came from (I hope it works)

Also someone sent me this video, which shows the path Jill may have taken with all the info available.

The walk from where Jill Meagher was seen on CCTV to her home

A video walk from the last confirmed sighting of missing Brunswick woman, Jill Meagher, down Sydney Road onto Hope Street, the lane where her handbag was found on Monday morning and to her home on Lux Way. Note: the purpose of the video is to show the distance and landmarks on this route only. It is no way implying that this is route Jill took in the early morning of September 22, 2012. For those of you in Brunswick and familiar with the area, this is not made for you. Rather, this video is made for those not familiar with the area- By Matt Mitchell

Update 11.55am 26/09/12

POLICE have confirmed that they will release “relevant” CCTV footage into the disappearance of Jill Meagher today. Says a lot, very selective in what they are releasing

Homicide Squad Det-Insp John Potter said the footage would be released after he provides an update on Ms Meagher’s disappearance at a press conference at 1pm. Will post video on completion folks

Update 10.30am 26/09/12

‘Mystery man captured on CCTV’ on morning Jill Meagher disappeared

THE image of a mystery man who could be following Jill Meagher is being analysed by police investigating the ABC employee’s disappearance, according to reports.

Missing woman Jill Meagher in a picture from her Facebook page

Police twice search Jill Meagher’s home

Hunt for Jill intensifies

Detectives at Jill’s home

A man was pictured in the same frame of CCTV footage with Ms Meagher on the morning she disappeared, and police will decide whether the image of that man will be released today, 3AW reported this morning.

Homicide detectives spent five hours in total inside the Melbourne home of the missing woman yesterday, leaving at 8.20pm with filled brown paper bags.

The search for clues continued after the last known moments of Ms Meagher were recovered, with crucial CCTV images showing the Irish national just minutes from home in the city’s inner north.

A time stamp on the footage places Ms Meagher, 29, walking north on Sydney Rd in Brunswick less than 100m before Hope St, where her bag was found just around the corner.
As the probe enters its fifth day, the homicide squad’s Detective Inspector John Potter said they did not have a suspect but it was odd there was no evidence of a struggle in Hope St, where her bag was found in a laneway.

update 4.20pm 25/09/12

UPDATE: MISSING person Jill Meagher has been captured on CCTV in the early hours of Saturday morning, police revealed this afternoon.

Homicide Squad detectives said the footage shows Jill walking north along Sydney Rd, Brunswick, just south of Hope Street, at 1.41am.

update 3.30pm 25/09/12

BREAKING Police have removed bags full of potential evidence from the apartment of Tom and Jill Meagher

Police have removed bags full of potential evidence from the apartment of Tom and Jill Meagher

September 25, 2012 11:58AM

Jill Meagher, 29, was last seen leaving Brunswick’s Bar Etiquette about 1.30am on Saturday

Jill Meagher, 29, was last seen leaving Brunswick’s Bar Etiquette about 1.30am on Saturday

UPDATE: POLICE are probing whether missing woman Jill Meagher’s handbag was planted as a decoy to distract the investigation.

Meagher outside the Brunswick Police station amid the search for his wife Jill.

Recommended Coverage

Police find items of missing woman

ABC radio employee missing in Melbourne

Search for missing woman Jill Meagher

Ms Meagher, 29, failed to arrive home following a five-minute walk from Bar Etiquette to her Lux Way apartment after leaving a friend in Sydney Rd, Brunswick, early Saturday.

Questions about the handbag have emerged as more than 60 calls were made to Crime Stoppers about the disappearance of the Irish-born woman, with other women reporting abduction attempts in the vicinity of where the ABC worker vanished from Melbourne’s inner-north.

Police today are examining the calls prompted by pleas for information about the case.

Homicide Squad Det-Insp John Potter, who is spearheading the investigation, told the Herald Sun it was odd that a police search of the area on the weekend which “left no stone unturned” had failed to locate the handbag, which police were alerted to early yesterday.

“On Sunday police conducted a full line search up and around Hope St,” he said.

“There’s two options – the original search found nothing and then on Monday the bag was found by a local resident.

Police find items of missing woman

Police say they’ve found items they believe to belong to an ABC radio employee who disappeared in Melbourne.

“You’ve got to ask which is true.”

He said the bag was found in a “clearly visible” spot on the ground in a laneway off Hope St.

“We’ve got to look at the possibility of the bag being placed there late on Sunday or early Monday morning,” he said.

He said the bag’s contents had been untouched, except for Ms Meagher’s mobile phone which was missing.

“Her cards and the other contents were still inside. She hasn’t accessed the bank or anything like that,” he said.

He said questions raised surrounding the discovery of the bag had prompted investigators to re-examine whether Ms Meagher had even left Sydney Rd in Brunswick the night she disappeared.

“One would now argue that we don’t know for sure if she actually walked up Hope St,” he said.

“We don’t know whether she made it that far.

“We hold grave concerns for Jill’s welfare – the fact the bag was discovered so close to home and the fact this disappearance is totally out of character for her.”

Insp Potter said it was now thought that Ms Meagher left Bar Etiquette after 1.30am, and it was unclear whether she left with by herself, with others, or got into a car.

No CCTV footage was available from Bar Etiquette, making it harder for police to piece together her night.

Det-Insp Potter urged any patrons of Bar Etiquette in Sydney Rd to contact Crime Stoppers immediately as they could “hold the key” to establishing a detailed timeline of Ms Meagher’s movements before she disappeared.

CCTV examined as cops probe more kidnap fears

Insp Potter said police would also continue to review CCTV footage from nearby businesses.

The spike in reported abductions and kidnappings comes as Ms Meagher’s family made desperate pleas for her return.

Ms Meagher’s mother, Edith McKeon said her daughter would have fought any attacker.

“Whoever (has her) just let her go, let her (go),” she said.

“Even though she’s tiny I think she would have fought.”

Insp Potter said police were investigating claims women have been followed by a car in the same area that Ms Meagher disappeared.

“Some of them (the claims) have not been reported to police and we need those people to contact us,” he said.

The calls come as messages of support continue to be posted on a Facebook page dedicated to finding the Irish national. Help us find Jill Meagher has more than 50,000 likes.

Brunswick nightlife attracts hipster crowd

The desperate search for Ms Meagher comes as Victoria Police figures show reported abduction and kidnap offences have skyrocketed in the region, up from 226 in the previous financial year to 291, a rise of 28.8 per cent.

There were 611 offences recorded in this category in 2011-2012, and 159 of those occurred on the street.

has also been posted on the Facebook page.

Official reports show:

ON June 24, a 34-year old woman reported that she was attacked on Albert St in the early hours.

ON May 6, a man attempted to abduct a woman as she walked along Mitchell St towards Sydney Rd.

The man covered the woman’s mouth and forced her to the ground but she was able to fight him off. Police believe he threw kerosene in the woman’s face before he fled.

IN July 2010, a 29-year-old woman walking her dog through Gilpin Park was struck on the head, dragged and thrown to the ground before a man attempted to sexually assault her at knifepoint.

 Charlie Bezzina examines the scene

IN January that year a 13-year-old girl was assaulted by a man behind a church on Saxon St after being lured from Sydney Rd.

Police fear the ABC staffer has met with foul play.

Insp Potter said Ms Meagher’s will be forensically examined.

ABC fear for colleague

“I think there is always concern for the community when something like this happens,” Insp Potter said.

“The biggest problem is we don’t know what has happened to Jill so I would say people should be cautious when walking along the street at night.”

Insp Potter said somebody must know what happened to Ms Meagher.

“It’s not too late to tell us or indeed if Jill can hear this, please contact us,” he said.

Delays hamper police inquiry

In a heartfelt plea, her husband, Thomas, said he was going through “hell” with only hope keeping him going. “It’s just devastating,” he said.

“I just hope somebody saw something or she will just walk through the door.”

Hoping for a clue on Jill’s path

He said he couldn’t allow himself to believe his wife was no longer alive.

Mr Meagher has appealed for help from the public using Facebook and flyers posted around the area.

“I just want as much out there as possible,” he said.

“It’s Friday night on Sydney Rd, it’s busy – people have to have seen something. Somebody has to have seen Jill at some stage.

“I just want people to really think if they’ve seen anything at all.”

Mr Meagher rejected suggestions his wife was going through any personal problems.

Brother Michael McKeon, who arrived from Perth on Sunday, said Ms Meagher phoned him about 1.45am on Saturday to check on their father, who recently had a stroke.

“I suppose I was the last one to talk to her,” he said.

“She was just calling to see how things were. She hung up and she just sounded a little worried.

“I called back a few times and she never answered.

“It sounded like she was on her way home.”

Mr McKeon described his sister as happy-go-lucky, fun-loving and always positive.

“It’s not like her at all,” he said.

“She always does what she says she is going to do.”

Speaking of his parents, he said: “They’re just distraught and worried and just hoping for the best.”

Jill is described as being of a fair complexion, 165cm tall, slim build, long curly black hair and brown eyes.

She was wearing a blue dress, black jacket, black patterned stockings and high heels.

WHAT a difference a day makes to a homicide investigation.

On Monday the police hunt for the missing Jill Meagher concentrated on streets she might have used to walk home from a Sydney Rd bar in the small hours of Saturday morning.

Police ran crime scene tape across half a dozen streets and lanes in one seedy light-industrial block, apparently spurred on by the discovery of her handbag in a narrow side street early on Monday.

But by yesterday morning things had changed.

None other than the chief commissioner cast doubt on whether it was Ms Meagher who dropped the bag the night she vanished.

Chief Commissioner Ken Lay hinted the bag might have been “planted” by an unknown offender in an attempt to distract investigators – who, he said, had already searched the area where the bag turned up.
But the homicide rulebook states that before widening the search, detectives first have to eliminate the people closest to the missing person.

That means the proud young man, photographed with his bride in the good times they shared, now has to endure the routine procedure of being treated like a potential suspect.

Within three hours of the chief’s cryptic statement, the search had swung from the mean streets where the bag was found to the nearby modern apartment block where Thomas and Jill Meagher have lived for about a year.

Just after midday two homicide detectives had returned to the Meaghers’ first-floor apartment to run the worried young husband once more through the exact sequence of events in the hours his wife vanished.

Then the cavalry arrived.

Two vans parked on a nearby council reserve. In them was a team of four forensic crime scene analysts, dressed head to toe in blue protective clothing and carrying a pile of oversize empty paper bags.

They, too, trooped upstairs into the rear apartment on the first floor.

They did not use the lift that takes residents and their shopping or luggage up and down from the ground-floor internal carpark enclosed under the three residential floors.

The apartment was so full of forensic specialists looking for clues that Tom Meagher and his wife’s brother Michael McKeon had to sit outside on the balcony at the rear.

For more than two hours the pair sat in glum silence, fiddling with their mobile telephones. They were joined at one point by a female detective wearing rubber gloves.

Mr Meagher was showing the strain of four days of hell. He appeared not to have shaved since the weekend and his eyes were red.

Earlier, before the forensic team started combing the apartment, he and his brother-in-law had put on a brave face by laughing and joking with camera crews outside the apartments.

There was no joking by 4pm when the forensic team finally emerged with half a dozen brown paper bags, all full.

Police said no evidence was taken from the flat, but it looked as if a lot of material had been removed for testing at the forensic laboratories at Macleod, which has hi-tech equipment to test DNA and fingerprints.

Early in the day, Tom Meagher told the Herald Sun he would consider talking about his ordeal.

But he later got in touch to say he would be too busy going through some details with the police.

While investigators combed the Meaghers’ apartment yesterday, their colleagues pinpointed security camera footage of Jill Meagher taken at 1.41am on Saturday morning in Sydney Rd, just south of Hope St.

This tallies with information from the staff at Bar Etiquette, the fashionable nightspot where the beautiful and popular young Irishwoman had a last drink after a long night out with colleagues from the ABC radio studios in Southbank.

Bar Etiquette staff stopped serving and locked the door to new customers at 1am.

But it let existing customers out over the following half hour or so.

It seems beyond doubt Ms Meagher left the bar just after 1.30am and walked north up Sydney Rd, apparently alone. She had earlier told work colleague Tom Wright she was happy to walk home alone after he twice offered to escort her.

Sometime after that, she vanished.

The investigation is continuing.

ANALYSIS: THE Investigator Charlie Bezzina examines the scene where ABC radio worker Jill Meagher went missing.

As an investigator I’m scratching my head.

The first thing you do is to ask yourself why someone would pick Jill out.

If in fact foul play is involved, it is still possible she may well still emerge safe and sound and we hope that is the case.

Something isn’t quite right to me. If it’s a robbery, they take the bag and go. Why take the victim?

Looking around the scene, it’s a very good spot to launch an attack or assault or abduction.

More pictures from the search scene

Its industrial and there’s not people living here, even though it’s near Sydney Rd.

The lighting is poor.

I suspect everyone until I can rule them out of the investigation.

And there are some crazy people whose behaviour you just can predict.

She had her ATM card but there is no facility for police to check her card movement – we have to wait until business hours Monday.

You are in the hands of the corporate world.

It’s so crucial to investigators but we just don’t have that clout. Police and crime happen 24 hours a day seven days a week and it’s a problem for investigators that we can’t do it.

Your chances of solving a case are best in the first 24 hours. It’s now been more than 48 hours.

I’m surprised they didn’t conduct a line search sooner. The line search will indicate any evidence, including forensic.

They would be looking for blood, anything that will indicate a crime has been committed.

With missing persons, you need to do things early to get the evidence. Time is of the essence. It’s critical to make an assessment early in the piece if it is serious.

There might be reasons for it, but my usual process would be a line search along the route.

Only about 50-60m is cordoned off, but widening it would include searching drains, rooftops, front yards.

If she was hurt, you’d think she would have been found.

Getting someone to go somewhere against their will is not easy, and would need a car.

Someone else might have been leaving at the same time and followed her from the bar, so its important to track down people who were at the bar at the same time.

You have to open up your mind to looking at any criminal reports in that area – there may have been reports of attempted abductions, burglaries, peeping toms.

I’d be going to all the local bars to ask regulars if they saw anything. People often won’t come to you so you need to go to them.

I’d suggest flooding the area next Friday night and saturate the area around midnight, talking to people who may have been out at the same time the week before.

You never write off that someone may have simply left. It would still be open that she may have gone missing by choice.

That’s why you speak to neighbours, including at previous addresses. We need to get to know the victim.

The handbag being found doesn’t really add much to the picture – it may have been planted there, it may have been discarded there on purpose or fallen accidentally.

The area is an industrial area and would be very quiet at that time of the morning

There would have been activity alone Sydney rd., but once she turns off that, it’s quiet

If we take it it’s an abduction, they are very rare.

Homicide would come out to oversee things as its not clear as yet whether it is a homicide or not.

Someone may have been infatuated with her, stalked her. Is it opportunity, or planned?

Ms Meagher’s brother, Michael McKeon, believes he was the last person to speak to her.

Mr McKeon, who arrived from Perth yesterday, said Ms Meagher called him in the early hours of Saturday to check on their father who recently had a stroke. He believes she called at about 1.45am.

“She was just calling to see how things were,” Mr McKeon said.

“She hung up and just sounded a little worried.

“It sounded like she was on her way home.

“I called back a few times and she never answered.”

Mr McKeon described his sister as happy go lucky, fun loving and always positive.

“It’s not like her at all,” he said.

“She always does what she says she is going to do.”

It is now more than 48 hours since Ms Meagher was last seen after mysteriously vanishing following a night out with work friends.

Ms Meagher had been drinking for several hours at The Brunswick Green bar on Sydney Rd before catching a final drink at nearby Bar Etiquette, where she was a regular.

Police will door knock in Melbourne’s north today as the hunt for the 29-year-old, who works as a unit coordinator with ABC radio, intensifies.

She insisted that she wanted to walk home alone, a friend has revealed.

Her distraught husband, Thomas, is still holding out hope his wife will walk through the door safe and well.

Mr Meagher said he was going through hell as he anxiously waited for news about his wife.

“I’m just trying to push on,” he said.

“I just hope somebody saw something or she will just walk through the door.”

He said he couldn’t allow himself to believe his wife was no longer alive.

Mr Meagher has appealed for help from the public using Facebook and flyers posted around the area.

“Friday night on Sydney Rd it’s busy – people have to have seen something,” he said.

“Somebody has to have seen Jill at some stage.”

Mr Meagher told 3AW radio station this morning that he rang his wife’s mobile phone “non-stop” from 2am to 6am on Saturday with no success.

He also went out looking for her at about 5am.

“Her phone has gone flat,” he said.

Det Acting Sgt Steve Bull said police were treating the disappearance of Ms Meagher very seriously.

“We have concerns for her safety. This is totally out of character for Jill and we just haven’t been able to find her,” he said.

Phone records which could shed vital clues into the disappearance of Ms Meagher are due to be retrieved today.

ABC Local Radio has released a statement about the disappearance of Ms Meagher.

“Friends and colleagues of Jill Meagher are saddened and concerned by the news of Jill’s disappearance,” the statement said.

“Jill is the Unit Coordinator of Local Radio Victoria. She is a highly valued and much loved member of the Local Radio team.

“Our thoughts are will Jill’s family and friends during this very difficult time.”

ABC colleagues also told of their distress today.

“Jill works with us here at 774 ABC Melbourne. She is our unit manager. She keeps the place running. She is a delightful colleague and it’s impossible to imagine that something bad may have happened,” 774 host Jon Faine said.

Reporter Rochelle Hunt said Ms Meagher’s disapperance “was one of the most difficult stories any of us at the ABC has had to try and cover”.

“Jill is a dear friend and colleague of ours and hasn’t been seen since Saturday morning,” Ms Hunt said.

“I know everyone at the ABC is absolutely distraught at the moment.”

Another ABC colleague, Tom Wright, told the Herald Sun he was the last person to see Ms Meagher.

Mr Wright offered to walk her home, but she declined.

“I said, ‘can I walk you home?’, because it’s late at night, and she said: ‘No, no I live around here, I know it really well, don’t worry’. I said goodbye and I said, ‘really, you don’t want me to walk you home?’, and she said: ‘No, no, no’,” Mr Wright said.

An Irish cousin of Ms Meagher’s said that her family is “desperate” for information on her whereabouts.

The cousin, who didn’t wish to be named, told the Herald Sun that Ms Meagher’s parents were “distraught” at hearing of their daughter’s disappearance and were hoping that police would be able to uncover more details by examining CCTV footage.

“My mother has been speaking with her mum and dad in Perth and they really just feel as if their hands are tied,” he said.

“Her brother has travelled from Perth to Melbourne but they are all just waiting to get more information from police.”

The man said that Ms Meagher’s family, which includes relatives in Spain and England, continued to be baffled by her mysterious disappearance.

“As far as we know she was out with colleagues and she was very close to her home when she went missing,” he said.

“That’s what’s killing us.”

The cousin, who last saw Ms Meagher when she visited Ireland last year, described her as a “bubbly” person with a “big time happy-go-lucky” outlook on life.

He said that they had stayed in touch via Facebook and occasional visits since she moved to Australia from her home town of Drogheda on Ireland’s east coast.

He said Ms Meagher’s disappearance was “all over” the Irish national news.

He is now helping to support a social media campaign spearheaded by Ms Meagher’s husband, which is already being followed by Irish celebrities including pop-group Westlife

Ms Meagher, who moved to Australia from Ireland three years ago, had been drinking with work friends from ABC radio and lived a short walk from the bar.

Mr Meagher said he was “freaking out”.

“She didn’t take her purse out, so she didn’t have any identification or anything on her other than her bank card,” he said yesterday.

“We’ve checked with all the hospitals, but I think that someone has done something to her.

“I fear that because it’s not something she would do without contacting anybody.”

Mr Wright said Ms Meagher had expressed some anxiety about her job, but otherwise seemed upbeat.

“She said to me she was having some sort of mid-life crisis – she didn’t really expand on it,” he said.

“There was nothing to suggest disappearing as abruptly as she did.”

Mr Wright said he was riddled with guilt about not taking her home.

Although she was captured on CCTV in at least one bar, the vision has not helped the investigation, police said.

“We still have more to review, but we’re hoping someone may have seen her and can shed a bit further light on what her movements might have been,” a spokesman said.

A Facebook page has been set up and people are sending Ms Meagher’s image to other networking sites in the that hope someone comes forward with information.

Colleagues, friends and relatives have also put out appeals for public help on Twitter, using the hashtag #JillMeagher

Ms Meagher is described as being of a fair complexion, 165cm tall, slim build, long curly black hair and brown eyes.

She was wearing a blue dress, black jacket, black patterned stockings and high heels.

Anyone with information on Ms Meagher should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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'Fixed' horse race revealed as LES SAMBA murder probe steps up


On the wrong track

August 7, 2012

A murdered racing identity, tainted jockeys and money laundering. Throw in gangster Tony Mokbel and no wonder police suspect corruption in the industry.

‘Fixed’ horse race revealed as murder probe steps up

Horse race at the centre of a betting investigation may have links to the murder of horse trainer Les Samba, police say, as a $1 million reward is offered for information.

LES Samba was a complex man: controversial trainer of thoroughbred horses, doting father, one-time male stripper, renowned judge of horse flesh, friend of gangsters, police target and one-time father-in-law of champion jockey Danny Nikolic.

Samba was also a man of many secrets. Most would die with him when he was fatally shot in February 2011 in Middle Park, an inner-city Melbourne suburb better known for its up-market Victorian-era houses than colourful racing identities and murder.

But investigations into unsolved murders, especially high-profile ones, have a way of not going away. As public pressure for arrests builds, detectives dig harder and harder, hoping for a clue that will lead them to a killer. Sometimes they’ll find things that they weren’t expecting.

It was one such finding that recently led Victoria Police command to quietly move the probe into Les Samba’s death from the homicide squad to a new group of investigators.

The Purana taskforce is best known for solving most of Melbourne’s very public gangland murders. But some in Australia’s multibillion-dollar horse racing industry know Purana for another reason. Between 2006 and 2009, during the taskforce’s quest to link Tony Mokbel’s money to murder or drug trafficking, Purana detectives became accidental experts in corruption in horse racing.

Among their discoveries was that a small number of jockeys, trainers and bookmakers had received substantial under-the-table payments from the Melbourne gangster.

It was potentially explosive information, but Purana’s priority then was murder and drug trafficking. So, apart from a brief flurry of activity in the form of interviews with racing identities and seizing a few assets linked to racing figures, much of the information it found about corruption in the industry – from illegal tipping by jockeys to money laundering by bookies – was boxed up and left to gather dust in the archives. Purana moved on to other matters. So, too, did those in racing, politics and the police force who believed the multibillion-dollar sport had been left tainted and vulnerable by the failure to weed out those whom Mokbel had corrupted.

But now that killing on a Middle Park street is again casting light in places some in racing have long preferred to remain in darkness and raised fresh questions about whether authorities have been doing enough to rid Australian sport of corruption.

About two months after Samba’s death, after a seemingly unremarkable race at Cranbourne in Melbourne’s outer south-east, a fresh police file was created. It dealt with suspicious betting, some very familiar names in racing and allegations of race fixing. Murder was, once again, leading police back to the track.

Purana taskforce detectives began investigating corruption in horse racing during a probe into Tony Mokbel’s drug trafficking.

Samba, who once worked with Sydney gangster Abe ”Mr Sin” Saffron, earned his early racing notoriety with his involvement in doping horses in the 1980s. Tax and policing authorities also kept tabs on him. Between 1999 and 2002, Samba was investigated by the National Crime Authority and the Tax Office over his failure to declare income of $1.2 million.

Samba was banned from training horses because of his link to corrupt racing identities and so focused on buying them for his wealthier associates, including Sydney property developer Ron Medich.

Former Victorian chief steward Des Gleeson recalls Samba as a man often close to controversy, but with racing in his blood. In 1969, Samba was the strapper for Rain Lover when it won the Melbourne Cup.

”He raced horses successfully right through New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria,” says Gleeson.

If Samba’s involvement in the sport was colourful, Mokbel’s activities in the racing world were technicolour. But both are examples of the ease with which bad men can shrug off scandal and remain closely associated with a sport whose integrity is supposedly more closely guarded than any other. Mokbel’s early introduction to the sport was as leader of the ”tracksuit gang”, a group of punters who bet heavily and frequented racetracks dressed in designer tracksuits. From there, he gained a strong foothold in the industry.

One prominent trainer who dealt closely with Mokbel’s drug trafficking brother Horty once told The Age that what the Mokbels did for a living was neither his business nor concern. The trainer’s indifference seemingly remained even when Horty arranged for a $475,000 horse bought by this trainer to be paid for in cash.

The stewards suspected what was going on, but had no powers to stop it. Their pleas for police help to curb Mokbel’s growing influence on racing in the early 2000s fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t until the gangland killings erupted and the Purana taskforce was assigned to map and destroy Mokbel’s crime empire that the true extent of his corrupting influence in racing began to emerge.

Between 2006 and 2009, Purana found information that suggested that Mokbel had paid licensed bookmakers in return for their help laundering his money.

Former detective inspector Jim O’Brien, the head of the Purana taskforce between 2005 and 2009, says Mokbel used third parties to punt for him and ”breaking down the amounts of those bets so that they weren’t subject to Austrac [anti-money laundering agency] reporting by bookmakers”.

Mokbel also corrupted jockeys by ”slinging” them cash payments in return for inside information about their mounts, a practice that can lead to a jockey being disqualified.

The biggest thing to flow from Purana’s confidential findings about Mokbel’s racing activities was a report by former judge Gordon Lewis in 2008. But despite the seriousness of the matters Lewis investigated, his inquiry had no real powers.

Lewis could not force people to be interviewed or to obtain evidence. His report was limited to broad findings, including the sensational claim that criminal activity in the sport was ”rampant” and that jockeys, trainers and bookmakers had formed inappropriate relationships with criminals.

Yet after the Lewis inquiry and Purana’s work, not a single bookmaker was charged or was stripped of their bookie’s licence. Nor was any jockey found to have ”tipped” to Mokbel subjected to further investigation or any penalty.

O’Brien says the failure to follow up on his taskforce’s early work exposed the sport to ”a potential threat going forward”.

Among the champion jockeys scrutinised over their dealings with Mokbel was one of Australia’s best riders, Danny Nikolic.

In the early 2000s, Nikolic had been one of several jockeys, including Jimmy Cassidy, who grew close to Mokbel. Nikolic rode several horses owned by the Mokbel family and, according to well-placed racing sources, fed Mokbel information that Mokbel used to inform his betting (an allegation understood to be documented in police intelligence files, but which Nikolic denies).

After the pair’s relationship petered out – a racing source says Mokbel lost big after a bad tip from Nikolic – the champion rider appeared to move to safer pastures. Marriage and fatherhood was on the horizon. In 2006, when Nikolic married his girlfriend Victoria, his new father-in-law, Les Samba, looked on.

In early 2010, Nikolic was again in the sights of racing authorities. Victorian stewards had gathered phone and betting records and believed that before several races, Nikolic had spoken to associates who then made ultimately successful lay bets (betting on a horse not to come first) on Nikolic’s mounts. The stewards suspected Nikolic had repeatedly passed inside information about his mounts to punters close to the Nikolic family.

But, without police powers, the best case they could mount was circumstantial. So, once again, they asked police for help and once again they were denied it.

”The police told [the stewards] … to go it alone,” according to one source, who says that one of the sticking points was that police said that no complainant (such as a punter who had lost money as a result of the alleged misconduct) had come forward to enable them to initiate an inquiry.

When the stewards presented their circumstantial case before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board, they lost. The board found that ”the evidence relied on by the stewards as a basis for drawing an inference that Nikolic communicated the chances of his mounts raises suspicions about what transpired but harbouring suspicions about conduct is not sufficient to prove the charges”.

SAMBA appears to have had no idea someone wanted him dead. He’d travelled from Sydney to Melbourne in late February last year to attend the yearling sales and was staying at the classy Crown Metropol Hotel.

On Sunday, February 28, he made the short trip in his hire car to Beaconsfield Parade in Middle Park. He arrived about 9.30pm. A short time later, witnesses heard an argument and then gun shots. Samba died at the scene.

Within hours of the shooting, journalists were calling Nikolic asking if he’d heard that his former father-in-law (by then Nikolic had separated from Samba’s daughter) was dead.

”Obviously I’m very surprised and very shocked that Les has been killed,” he told one reporter.

”I didn’t have much to do with the bloke so I wouldn’t know anything about why this could happen.”

Nikolic would later voluntarily speak to police about Samba’s death. But homicide detectives would make their own moves as well. In early April, they searched the Gold Coast home of Danny’s brother, former trainer John Nikolic.

The police have disclosed nothing linking Danny or John to Samba’s murder, and The Age is not suggesting there exists any information of such a link.

Yet for reasons known only to them, detectives appear to have kept an eye on the pair. A fortnight after John Nikolic’s home was searched, Danny was riding at Cranbourne in Melbourne’s outer south-east.

It was an unremarkable race day: a relatively small crowd dotting the grandstand or watching events over pots and parmas at the trackside bar and bistro.

Even those closely surveying race six would have seen nothing out of the ordinary. Aside from raising some minor points, the stewards didn’t dispute the race outcome: the favourite, Retaliate, had come second, beaten by a horse called Smoking Aces ridden by Nikolic.

But if observers could have factored in the betting and the identity of those backing Nikolic’s mount, interest may have been stirred. Racing sources, including those with direct links to the race, say that associates of the Nikolic brothers punted relatively heavily on Smoking Aces. They won a combined total around $200,000. Something strange was going on.

Shortly after the race, the homicide detectives investigating Samba’s murder called in police chiefs. Yesterday, police revealed why, publicly confirming that as a result of inquiries undertaken during the Samba probe, detectives are investigating allegations of race fixing involving the ride of Smoking Aces at Cranbourne. (Several months ago, The Age contacted police with information about the race found while researching integrity in sport. Police requested nothing be published until this week.)

It’s understood that Danny Nikolic and another champion jockey, Mark Zahra, are being investigated about whether they conspired before the race to alter its outcome. Both jockeys, along with John Nikolic, have declined to comment on the allegations.

If police have been slow to move on racing corruption in the past, they are making all efforts to appear to be on the front foot in the wake of this week’s revelations. They recently moved the probe into the Samba murder and the alleged race fixing to the Purana organised crime taskforce. Yesterday, police posted a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrests of Samba’s killers.

One of Victoria’s most senior organised crime detectives, Superintendent Gerry Ryan, told The Age: ”We’ll leave no stone unturned. So that means we’ll look at a number of races and, you know, a number of areas that unfold as the investigation goes.

”It’s important … at the end of this investigation to make sure that the integrity in racing here in Victoria and nationally is squeaky clean.

”Certainly I believe that if we’re able to solve the race fixing and solve the issues that are emerging, we will certainly solve the murder.”

Second top rider faces probe

August 7, 2012

A SECOND champion jockey, Mark Zahra, has become embroiled in the Smoking Aces race-fixing scandal.

The Age can also reveal that the Australian Federal Police and the Tax Office are joining Victorian detectives in probing the 2011 murder of former horse trainer Les Samba and in an offshoot investigation into corruption in the racing industry.

It is understood that police are following a national and international money trail, and the role of the AFP will be to follow leads across Australia and overseas.

Racing industry sources also revealed that the Australian Crime Commission – the nation’s peak criminal intelligence body – has questioned up to a dozen figures in connection with the race-fixing probe.

Zahra and fellow leading jockey Danny Nikolic are under investigation by organised crime detectives over allegations that they helped fix a race last year.

Zahra is being investigated for allegedly conspiring to ride his horse, Baikal, in a way that would reduce the chances of the race favourite, Retaliate, and favour Nikolic’s mount, Smoking Aces.

The race, won by Nikolic, was held at Cranbourne in April last year. Punters associated with Nikolic collected up to $200,000 in betting returns.

Zahra is one of Australia’s leading jockeys and has just returned from a stint in Hong Kong to prepare for the Melbourne spring carnival.

Nikolic and Zahra have both declined to answer questions about the Smoking Aces affair.

Detective Superintendent Gerard Ryan said: ”Racing is not only limited to here in Victoria, it’s here nationally and internationally and we know that our jockeys travel the world, so we

need to have a look [at] exactly what they’re up to.

”The Australian Federal Police, the Australian Taxation Office and other law enforcement agencies are embedded into the Purana taskforce as a part of this investigation.”

Victoria’s racing integrity commissioner, Sal Perna, has called on state and federal authorities to do more to safeguard the sport.

In NSW and other states, the oversight regime is less independent and weaker than in Victoria, and Mr Perna, along with other anti-corruption experts, want national laws and standards to be introduced to protect racing and other sports.

Mr Perna said such inconsistencies ”can’t be good” for racing. ”We want the same standard to apply when it comes to integrity right across the board,” he said.

The Age can also reveal that convicted drug trafficker Horty Mokbel has resurrected his brother Tony’s ”tracksuit gang”, which was a group of big punters – including organised criminals and racing figures – who bet big and formed close ties with jockeys, bookmakers and trainers.

The Age has observed Horty and this new group of track-suited punters meet almost daily outside a suburban TAB outlet in Melbourne.

Among them was underworld identity Paul Sequenzia, who part-owns the most successful horse in harness racing, Sushi Sushi.

Mr Sequenzia, who had drug trafficking charges against him dropped in 2004, was also part-owner of Em Maguane, one of the first horses in Australia to test positive for the performance-enhancing drug EPO.

While members of Tony Mokbel’s old tracksuit gang are barred from Victorian racetracks and the Crown Casino – on the actions of former chief police commissioner Christine Nixon – Mr Sequenzia and several members of the re-formed group are not. This is despite police intelligence revealing they are a major threat to the integrity of racing in Victoria.

Yesterday, Victorian Racing Minister Denis Napthine and Racing Victoria chief Rob Hines defended the integrity of the sport, and federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy said she would assess the latest allegations before responding.

”Police are saying they’re looking at one race out of many, many thousands that are conducted in Victoria each year,” Mr Napthine said.

”I have every faith and belief that racing in Victoria is run at the highest level of integrity.”

Mr Hines called for the statutory authority to be given greater powers to weed out race fixers and wrongdoers and urged the industry to have closer relations with police.

He said he had ”no concerns” about what names might be uncovered during the investigations, but emphasised his belief that the $4 million a year spent by Racing Victoria on its integrity services ensured that the industry was overwhelmingly straight.

The biggest problem, he said, was Racing Victoria’s inability to act against unlicensed people if there was sufficient activity to warrant investigation.

He said a VCAT decision two years ago preventing Racing Victoria from acting against unlicensed individuals had stymied its ability to police the sport much as it would like.

”That is a limitation, a gap in the integrity system of racing.”

Stand down riders amid fix claims

August 7, 2012

RACING Victoria Ltd stewards should today stand down jockeys Dan Nikolic and Mark Zahra from riding indefinitely pending further investigations into the most dreaded curse that can befall horse racing, race fixing.

Such allegations against both Nikolic and Zahra, reported in today’s Age and featured last night in the ABC’s Four Corners program, are damaging like no other scandal could be for a sport that exists solely because some people have (enough) confidence to bet on horses. But confidence can be a fragile intangible.

The gambler is a predictable yet versatile beast. Wins are celebrated and losses mostly shrugged off. But one thing a gambler dislikes is being cheated. He won’t stop gambling but rather move on to something else. There are casinos, pokies and sports betting.

No matter the result of the police investigation into the Cranbourne race in April last year won by Nikolic aboard Smoking Aces, RVL must stand down any licensed person identified in the investigation. The presumption of innocence is a worthy ideal, but to uphold it in this case is to risk allowing the sport to be turned into a circus on the eve of the spring carnival.

It was revealed last night that Zahra and Nikolic are under investigation by the organised crime detectives over allegations that they allegedly helped fix the race in April last year. Zahra is being investigated for allegedly conspiring to ride his horse, Baikal, in a way that would reduce the chances of the favourite, Retaliate, and favour Nikolic’s mount, Smoking Aces.

Smoking Aces was backed from $10 into $5 just before the race. Zahra’s mount Baikal, who finished in front of just one horse, drifted from $7 to $14 by race time.

RVL chief executive Rob Hines confirmed yesterday that stewards will open an inquiry into investigations once they obtain information from Victoria Police, but stressed that the investigation was into one race only. That may be the case, but in these matters, perception is king, especially as the investigation into the Cranbourne race came about only following police probes into another criminal matter. The obvious question remains.

Although neither have been prominent in recent jockeys’ premierships, both are regarded as big-race riders.

Zahra was due to take his first mount since May at Geelong today, but the horse, Kukri, was scratched from race six. Nikolic is booked for one ride today – Dunharrow in race three – as well as two at Sandown Hillside tomorrow.

Racing Victoria seeks more power

August 7, 2012

RACING Victoria chief executive Rob Hines yesterday called for the statutory authority to be given greater powers to weed out race fixers and wrong doers, urged closer relations with the police and declared that transparency and the full pursuit of probity issues were in the interests of all concerned in the multi-billion dollar industry.

Hines said he had ”no concerns” whichever names were uncovered in the investigations into alleged race fixing – revealed yesterday by The Age – but stressed his belief that the $4 million a year that RVL spent on its integrity services ensured the industry was mostly corruption free.

The biggest problem RVL faced, he said, was its inability to take action against unlicensed personnel if there was sufficient activity to warrant investigation.

Hines added that, despite the adverse headlines it is good for racing to have these matters discussed in the open.

”I don’t think it’s a negative,” he said.

”We need a clean sport, we need people to believe in it and trust in our sport. The more we do to root out these issues the better the sport will be rather than try to push it under the carpet or not talk about it. We have to get on top of it. We welcome the Victoria Police’s renewed focus on this. We have been collaborating on this particular investigation for several months.

”The allegations pertain to one race only at Cranbourne. We have not been asked or made aware of any other races involved in this investigation. We are waiting for the police investigation to reach a stage where we can legally obtain the information and then use it as evidence to open a stewards inquiry.

”When these issues arise they are related to betting. When you have this much money, billions of dollars invested in an industry, there will always be a few people looking to take advantage for financial gain. That’s just life.

”The vast majority of our participants, whether they be licensed or unlicensed, do this genuinely and honestly.

”There is a small group that will be looking to take advantage. We have to try and keep on top of that group.”

Hines said that a VCAT decision two years ago preventing RVL from taking action against unlicensed individuals stymied its ability to police the sport as much as it would like.

“That is a limitation, a gap in the integrity system of racing. We cannot have jurisdiction over (some) people who are making their living out of racing through betting or being commission agents or whatever,” he said.

“We requested of the government immediately after that decision, and consistently over the past two years, that they find a way to provide racing with jurisdiction over unlicensed persons … they haven’t shut the door on us, but we would like the power.”

Hines said he didn’t believe that the allegations, in which controversial jockey Danny Nikolic has been named, would damage confidence in the sport as it heads into the spring carnival.

“It’s always unwelcome to have this kind of publicity. But I would rather have the publicity, and have people know that we are fighting these things and fixing these things than not have the publicity and it to be much more widespread,” he said.

“We do not believe there is endemic corruption in the sport. That would be very damaging for racing, and the message we want to get out to people is that over 4000 races a year this is one race and a small group of people trying to take advantage.”

Asked if the industry was prepared for what might be a messy fall out, Hines was adamant.

“I think it would be very good for racing if this is cleaned out. I have no concerns if there are people implicated whether through the Purana Taskforce or some other way and this comes to light. It can only be good for racing,” he said.

“We really welcome their renewed focus. In the last six months they have genuinely turned their attention to these matters. We have a good co-operation, its much better than it was.”

Police probe racing corruption

August 6, 2012

Nick McKenzie, Clay Hichens and Richard Baker

‘Fixed’ horse race revealed as murder probe steps up

Horse race at the centre of a betting investigation may have links to the murder of horse trainer Les Samba, police say, as a $1 million reward is offered for information.

POLICE are investigating a string of top Australian horse-racing figures, including champion jockey Danny Nikolic, for alleged race fixing in what is shaping as the biggest corruption scandal to hit the sport in decades.

Nikolic, at least one other leading jockey, a former trainer and several other well-known racing identities across Australia are under investigation by Victorian organised crime detectives for allegedly conspiring to fix the outcome of a race last year.

Detective Superintendent Gerard Ryan confirmed that police were investigating race fixing in Victoria involving a horse called Smoking Aces in 2011. The suspected race fix was uncovered during the probe into former trainer Les Samba’s murder and is understood to have yielded participants a total of up to $200,000 in betting returns.

After a joint Age/Four Corners investigation, it can also be revealed that police today will announce a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Samba’s killers.

”I believe that if we’re able to solve the race fixing and solve the issues that are emerging, we will certainly solve the murder,” said Superintendent Ryan in an exclusive interview.

Other corruption issues tied to racing across Australia are also understood to be under scrutiny as a result of inquiries into the killing of Samba in February last year.

The suspected corruption being investigated involves race fixing, money laundering, tax fraud and tipping, in which jockeys are paid secret commissions for giving punters inside information. Some of the alleged conduct under investigation may breach criminal laws or the rules of racing.

Racing figures suspected of involvement in the Smoking Aces affair are believed to have arranged for two jockeys to ride in a fashion that would reduce the race favourite’s chances of winning and boost Smoking Aces’ chances of success.

So serious is the alleged racing corruption that Victoria Police has moved the Samba probe to the Purana organised crime taskforce.

”We’ll leave no stone unturned. So that means we’ll look at a number of races … and a number of areas that unfold as the investigation goes [on],” said Superintendent Ryan.

”But it’s important, at the end of this investigation, to make sure that the integrity in racing here in Victoria and nationally is squeaky clean.”

Samba was shot dead on Beaconsfield Parade in Middle Park on the evening of February 27 last year. Nikolic, a leading jockey and Caulfield Cup winner, married Samba’s daughter, Victoria, in 2006. They had separated some time before Samba’s death. The Age is not suggesting Nikolic had any involvement in the murder.

Nikolic declined to answer questions about Smoking Aces and did not respond to a list of questions sent to his lawyer on Thursday evening.

The revelations cast a cloud over the integrity of the nation’s multibillion-dollar racing industry and the regime in place to safeguard it.

Top police and racing officials – including former Victorian chief steward and AFL corruption consultant Des Gleeson – are calling on the federal and state governments to boost the anti-corruption regime in Australian sport.

Mr Gleeson called on governments to urgently fill major holes in the system by introducing a national sporting integrity body, nationwide standards and race and match-fixing laws.

“[This] should have been done yesterday .. before there’s an almighty scandal in sport in Australia,” he said.

The former head of Purana, Jim O’Brien, said the oversight of racing had been ”extremely poor”, partly due to the insufficient powers held by racing stewards and the absence of sustained police attention.

The former detective inspector described as surprising the failure of authorities to further investigate and hold to account racing figures identified by Purana – between 2005 and 2009 – as having been corrupted by drug boss Tony Mokbel.

“It’s not good for the industry and, you know it, it also creates a potential threat going forward,” Mr O’Brien said.

The Smoking Aces inquiry is not the first time Nikolic’s activities have been under scrutiny. In early 2010 Nikolic was charged by Victorian racing stewards with leaking information about several of his mounts to punters, who then successfully bet on the horses to not finish first.

The Age can reveal that, in that case, a request from stewards to police for assistance to help gather more evidence was denied. The stewards persisted with a circumstantial case, but Nikolic was cleared by the racing disciplinary board in June 2010 on the basis that the evidence presented was insufficient to prove the case.

Police began quizzing suspects, including trainers and jockeys, earlier this year in connection to the Smoking Aces case.

Superintendent Ryan conceded that, in the past, police ”did take our eye off the ball”, but he said Victoria was now leading the country in fighting corruption in racing and other sports. ”We needed to get back into this arena and we have.”

Victoria Police recently became the only force in Australia with a dedicated sport corruption response model, which is led by a superintendent and which can draw on experts including specialist detectives and forensic accountants. Two detectives have also recently been appointed to oversee all intelligence gathered about corruption in horse racing.

Superintendent Ryan said: ”Anyone that’s involved in any criminal enterprise in any shape or form and particularly in organised crime, we’ll come chasing it and we’ll make sure that the integrity in any sport, particularly racing … will be upheld.

”Whether it’s a jockey or a trainer or any person involved in it, we will chase them and we will charge them and put them properly before a court of law.”

Anti-corruption measures are much weaker in some states and sports than in others. Victoria is the only state with a full-time racing watchdog.

The NSW government’s efforts to introduce independent scrutiny of its scandal-tainted harness and greyhound racing industry have been beset by problems, with the most recent watchdog appointed, former NSW 0mbudsman David Landa, resigning in protest. He told an investigation by The Age and Four Corners that the oversight model in NSW was ”a fraud on the public” because it lacked any independence or powers.

The Age has been investigating corruption in racing since last year. After racing sources revealed concerns about a race involving Smoking Aces, The Age approached Victoria Police in April and was asked by senior police to withhold reporting on the matter until this week.

For more on the Age/Four Corners investigation, watch Four Corners tonight at 8.30

Inside Mail – 6 August 2012

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: The sport of kings and the occasional crook.

Welcome to Four Corners.

Colourful racing identities have always been a part of racing, even though the term has often been a euphemism for shady characters who might be up to no good. Understandable when you consider the number of race meetings taking place around the country every day of the week. With billions of dollars changing hands each year.

Those billions invariably include an unknown amount of illegally obtained money, usually from drugs, that washes through the betting system and comes out clean. One drug baron is reputed to have laundered $80 million in this fashion.

Our story tonight shows how corruption and criminal behaviour on the track are widespread and increasingly difficult to scrutinise. But while horse racing authorities and police often have parallel interests, there’s far less co-operation than you might think, and that police are no taking a close interest in some of Australian racing’s best known names. One trigger for renewed police interest in the industry has been their investigation into the murder of racing identity Les Samba in Melbourne.

And Victoria Police today announced a reward of $1 million for information leading the arrest of his killer or killers.

Reporter Nick McKenzie has been investigating corruption in sport since last year and this investigation by Four Corners and the Age newspaper is the result.

NICK MCKENZIE, PRESENTER: It’s just after nine o’clock on a Sunday night as a guest at Melbourne’s exclusive Crown Metropol Hotel heads out in his hire car.

Les Samba, a colourful Sydney racing and business figure, is in town for the thoroughbred yearling sales.

But tonight he’s on his way to a fateful rendezvous.

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN, VICTORIA POLICE: For some unknown reason he had an appointment in Beaconsfield Parade. And he went to that spot. Why he went there and who lured him there we don’t know. So that’s what we’re asking the public to ah really put those last few moments together for us.

JOHN SILVESTER, SENIOR CRIME WRITER, THE AGE: Now why you would decide to meet someone in a street when you were in a major hotel, you could have come in, they could have come to see you, have coffee. Perhaps he didn’t want to be seen with those people. That’s why he chose that what he thought was neutral ground.

NICK MCKENZIE, REPORTER: Samba had a history of dubious business and racing connections. He once worked for Sydney gangster Abe Saffron, and more recently was a close associate of Sydney property developer Ron Medich, who is presently facing murder charges in New South Wales.

JOHN SILVESTER: He certainly showed no indication that he was in fear of his life. However, he was a fellow who knew some very dangerous people. There were business dealings which were non-racing which could have gone pear shaped. He was entrepreneurial and so he went where the money was. So he had many colourful friends, some of them with short tempers.

(Reconstruction plays)

NICK MCKENZIE: As he parked his car and made his way along the dark street, Les Samba was apparently unaware that he was walking into an ambush.

(Sound of gun fire)

(Excerpt from ABC News report 27 February, 2011)

FEMALE REPORTER: Middle Park, one of Melbourne’s most affluent suburbs, last night became scene of what police say was a premeditated hit.

UNIDENTIFIED DETECTIVE: Ambulance unit attended the scene but this male was found deceased.

FEMALE REPORTER: Mr Samba began to run but was shot several times in the body and head.

DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JOHN POTTER, VICTORIA POLICE (27 February, 2011): This is a clearly horrific incident to happen in a residential street in Melbourne.

(End excerpt)

NICK MCKENZIE: One of the city’s most upmarket bay-side addresses became the site of a major homicide investigation over the following days.

Police seemed sure of an early breakthrough.

DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JOHN POTTER: We’re confident we will solve this case, we have a number of persons of interest that we’re looking at. And we’ll continue to work through this case.

NICK MCKENZIE: Almost 18 months later, the murder of Les Samba remains unsolved.

But tonight Four Corners can reveal that the police investigation has lifted the lid on allegations of organised crime networks and high-level corruption in horse racing.

Is it correct to say that it’s opened up a real can of worms in respect of racing corruption and if so, how big a can of worms?

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: What, what I can say is that we’ve had to have a look at the racing industry. And doing that as a part of our investigation we need to have a look at has organised crime influenced racing in Victoria and racing anywhere within Australia.

NICK MCKENZIE: Within weeks of the shooting, Les Samba’s daughter, Victoria, made an emotional public plea for information.

(Excerpt from press conference with Victoria Samba)

VICTORIA SAMBA, DAUGHTER: My dad has been taken from us in such a horrific way but no-one can take away the beautiful memories I have of him.

(End excerpt)

NICK MCKENZIE: Victoria Samba was married to leading jockey Danny Nikolic, who has steered his mounts to victory in some of the nation’s biggest races, including the Caulfield Cup.

Nikolic and Victoria Samba had separated some time before Les Samba was gunned down.

JOHN SILVESTER: Les had involved himself hands on in looking after his daughter which created some bad blood. And that’s one of the areas of course police naturally would look at.

Detectives soon turned their attention to Danny Nikolic, along with others in the racing world, hoping for any clue that would shed light on Les Samba’s murder.

(Question): Is Danny Nikolic or his brother John persons of interest in the ongoing investigation?

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: They’re people we have spoken to and we’d probably like to speak to further, as is a number of other people in the racing industry.

JOHN SILVESTER: In fact Danny Nikolic, the jockey, voluntarily went to police and spoke to them. And that was a long time ago and he hasn’t been charged. So he of course should be afforded the presumption of innocence.

RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): .. racing, great line out … fast away, Dubai Opera sped to the lead from Cyclone Sarah, Stacks on Max and Tycoon Rob going fast with Smoking Aces as they …

NICK MCKENZIE: Two months later, Danny Nikolic was back in the saddle for a race at Cranbourne on Melbourne’s south-eastern fringe.

RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): … Smoking Aces …

NICK MCKENZIE: His horse was called Smoking Aces.

RACE CALLER: … been getting back in the field by retaliating …

NICK MCKENZIE: During the race, the stewards responsible for guarding the integrity of the sport were watching closely.

RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): by Opera and Smoking Aces – first up from …

NICK MCKENZIE: To the eyes of experienced turf-watchers, it was a masterful win by Danny Nikolic on Smoking Aces.

(Question): So Patrick, how’s Nikolic’s run at the moment?

PATRICK BARTLEY, SENIOR RACING WRITER, THE AGE: Nikolic’s riding the, the absolutely magic race. He’s aware of the favourite, where it is. He’s aware …

NICK MCKENZIE: Watching that race, ah, um, would the average punter have sniffed something unusual?

PATRICK BARTLEY: I couldn’t see, no. I there was good and bad luck and it went the way of Danny and it didn’t go the way of the favourite.

NICK MCKENZIE: What was unusual was the relatively heavy betting on Danny Nikolic’s horse on the day of the race, and the identity of the punters who collected up to $200,000 in winnings.

What’s more, the stewards weren’t alone in scrutinising the outcome of the race.

(Question): Are you investigating race fixing?

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: That is one of the allegations that that has been levelled yes.

NICK MCKENZIE: And is there a certain race in particular under, under investigation?

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: There is a certain race under investigation that we’ve made aware of that we need to have a look at.

NICK MCKENZIE: And that’s the race at Cranbourne, the Ride of Smoking Aces?

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: That is correct, yes.

NICK MCKENZIE: The alleged conduct of certain prominent racing figures in connection to the ride of Smoking Aces here at Cranbourne casts a huge cloud over the sport.

It also raises questions about whether authorities and governments have been failing to safeguard an industry worth billions.

SAL PERNA, VICTORIA RACING INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER: The whole vision ofa sport, particularly racing, is that the best animal’s going to win on its own merits. And anything that detracts from that is disgraceful.

DES GLEESON, FORMER CHIEF STEWARD, RACING VICTORIA: Racing is entirely dependent, or significantly dependent on the gambling dollar. And it’s important that people have confidence when they do place a bet that they’re going to get a run for their money.

(Footage of a race meet)

NICK MCKENZIE: From gala metropolitan race meetings to mid-week country fixtures, racing is big business.

Last year Australians spent more than $14 billion betting on thoroughbreds.

The track has long been a drawcard for punters representing a cross section of society, including cashed up criminals, who’ve been targeting the sport for decades.

JOHN SILVESTER: Now in Melbourne your major gangsters can’t actually go and knock on the door at the Melbourne Club and come in and meet judges over stilton and port. But in the racing industry people just blend in and inside information is the currency of the day

NICK MCKENZIE: By the late 1970s Robert Trimbole had graduated from king of the Griffith marijuana trade to membership of a crime syndicate which imported millions of dollars worth of heroin into Australia.

JOHN SILVESTER: According to New South Wales intelligence reports, at one stage he had 13 jockeys on his payroll. His diary when it was seized had numbers of judges, racing officials, jockeys, race callers. And there were a serious of illegal phone taps put on his phone before he fled Australia in 1981. And those tapes showed him talking to jockeys routinely, getting tips and even sharing tips with police.

His bets used to be $20,000 cash. He still lost money. But it’s not about making a profit, because if you can turn say 100 per cent of dirty money into 75 per cent clean money through the track, you’re in front.

NICK MCKENZIE: From their first ride onwards, jockeys across the country are warned that the rules of racing prohibit them passing on inside information or tips about the races they’re competing in.

DES GLEESON: The jockeys are not permitted to tip and under the rules jockeys can’t receive any benefit at all, whether it be financial benefit or otherwise, from anyone other than the owners of the horses. So it’s generally considered that, you know, jockeys are there to ride the horses and give them every possible chance of winning but they’re not in the game for tipping horses and receiving benefits from doing that.

NICK MCKENZIE: In 1995 Australian racing faced a very public crisis.

Revelations that police phone taps had caught Sydney jockeys passing inside information to the head of a drug syndicate and allegedly fixing races hit the headlines in what became known as the Jockey Tapes Scandal.

BOB CARR, FORMER NSW PREMIER (in NSW Parliament, 1995): This government is determined to drive corruption from racing.

RACE CALLER: They won’t catch Jimmy Cassidy, he spears away running home .. Hot Zephyr in front and he’s going to make it six.. Cassidy, the man, the genius.

NICK MCKENZIE: At the centre of the scandal, one of the biggest names in Australian racing: jockey Jim Cassidy, who rode Kiwi from last place to a celebrated win in the 1983 Melbourne Cup.

RACE CALLER (Melbourne Cup, 1983): And here’s Kiwi … Kiwi is flying and Kiwi got up to win the Cup from Nobel Comment and Mr Jazz.

(Excerpt from ABC News 1986)

REPORTER: 6am, Rosehill Racecourse, another opportunity for Jim Cassidy to talk to the horses he’ll be riding at the weekend.

JIM CASSIDY, JOCKEY: By talking to the animal itself and letting it have confidence in you nine times out of 10 you’ve always got full control.

(End excerpt)

NICK MCKENZIE: When the Australian Jockey Club launched its own inquiry into the jockey tapes scandal, Jim Cassidy admitted he hadn’t just been discussing race tactics with his mounts.

(Excerpt from news report plays)

REPORTER: How you feeling Jim?

LAWYER: He’s got no comment …

NICK MCKENZIE: AJC chief steward, John Schreck, who led the investigation into the Fine Cotton scandal a decade earlier, brought disciplinary charges against Jim Cassidy and two other jockeys implicated by the phone taps.

He was not surprised that a subsequent New South Wales Crime Commission investigation found insufficient evidence to lay criminal charges.

John Schreck maintains it’s virtually impossible for a corrupt jockey to guarantee that a horse will win but it is possible to manipulate the outcome of a race.

JOHN SCHRECK, FORMER CHIEF STEWARD, AJC: You can turn a good thing into a certainty by running the race in a way to suit the good thing. And so, therefore, the manipulation of a race is not impossible unfortunately. I’d like to tell you that it is, but it’s not.

NICK MCKENZIE: The stewards found Jim Cassidy guilty of conduct prejudicial to racing, by pretending to fix races in return for money, and disqualified him from setting foot on a racetrack for three years.

JOHN SCHRECK: He was making this suggestion to the person, the drug dealer guy, that he could fix races and all sorts of things. And of course he wasn’t doing that in, and he couldn’t do that, he wasn’t able to do that. Cassidy was just conning the guy, and successfully, which is not to Jim Cassidy’s credit of course, but that was what was going on.

NICK MCKENZIE: Jim Cassidy appealed against his disqualification, which was later reduced to a 20 month suspension.

JIM CASSIDY (archive footage): There’s life after racing but Jimbo will be back don’t worry about that.

RACE CALLER (Melbourne Cup, 1997): Doremus is coming at him, Doremus after Might and Power… Might and Power and Doremus they … oh it’s close Doremus runs, Doremus runs to the outside. Can he have done it a second time?

NICK MCKENZIE: By 1997 Jim Cassidy was back on the track and celebrating his second Melbourne Cup victory on Might and Power.

RACE CALLER 2 (Melbourne Cup, 1997): What a great finish; that is one of the great finishes in history.

NICK MCKENZIE: He was also forging a relationship with another big punter who would soon earn an even bigger reputation as a major drug trafficker. His name was Tony Mokbel.

DES GLEESON: He was big. Ah he was a big player. He was wagering enormous amounts of money and not only Victoria but right round Australia

JOHN SILVESTER: Tony Mokbel and Bob Trimbole were very similar. They loved the races but they were both extremely personable men. They were likeable. People liked to be with them.

NICK MCKENZIE: Leading crime reporter and author John Silvester, who documented Melbourne’s deadly gangland wars, witnessed Mokbel’s rise in the late 1990s.

As his drug empire grew, Mokbel became a regular at the racetrack, with a crew of cronies nicknamed the Tracksuit Gang who put down large cash bets on his behalf.

JOHN SILVESTER: These were a group of men who would place bets on horses up and down the eastern seaboard in a plunge. On one occasion all with sort of all $100 notes, and when they won they demanded to be paid with new $100 notes. And the Purana Task Force believe that the Mokbel industry, the company, put through $80 million in gaming over this period of time.

NICK MCKENZIE: Tony Mokbel’s influence was not confined to the betting ring.

Despite being charged with drug trafficking in 1998 and again in 2001, Mokbel was being seen around Melbourne, keeping company with leading jockeys.

Victoria’s chief steward, Des Gleeson, became so concerned he warned both Jim Cassidy and his younger rival, champion jockey Danny Nikolic, to stay away from Mokbel.

DES GLEESON: We spoke to quite a number of licensed persons, not only jockeys, trainers as well, and advised them to be careful with who they associated with.

NICK MCKENZIE: Do you think Mokbel was getting inside mail from jockeys?

DES GLEESON: No I don’t think so. Mr Mokbel won money, he lost money. He he was a big player but he wasn’t always successful. He lost huge amounts of money from time to time and I think he was an impulse punter as well. But we’ve no evidence that he was getting information from jockeys, no.

NICK MCKENZIE: But Des Gleeson did not know all that was going on behind the scenes.

He readily admits he was working with one arm tied behind his back, without police powers to tap phones, examine bank accounts or launch full police-style investigations.

DES GLEESON: The stewards don’t have the powers that the police have. We don’t have powers to intercept phone calls or anything like that. We don’t have powers to, as I said, speak to unlicensed persons. And that’s where we need the cooperation of the civil authorities if the need arises.

As Mokbel’s reach into the sport grew, racing officials formally asked police for help on two occasions. But their pleas fell on deaf ears.

DES GLEESON: When the racing squad was disbanded in late 90s there was a complete void until basically 2005 where we received very little information, if any information at all from the civil authorities. And that was disappointing from our perspective.

NICK MCKENZIE: And during that period Mokbel was growing his presence in racing?

DES GLEESON: He was, yes. He was at that time certainly. He’s – he was certainly gaining momentum during that period.

NICK MCKENZIE: With the police effectively sidelined, Mokbel’s relationship with the jockeys, trainers and bookies blossomed, and suspicions grew.

JOHN NOTT: Clearly Mokbel because of being privileged with information, he got four-to-one and seven-to-two and three-to-one, and Joe public wandering in and out of his TAB each day or getting onto his phone account for the market mover, he’d be copping the $3 or $3.10. And there’s the advantage to be had from so-called inside information.

NICK MCKENZIE: A 50 year veteran of trackside punting, John Nott often saw the tracksuit gang in action as they laid big bets for Tony Mokbel.

JOHN NOTT, PUNTER: I noticed that when he backed a Cassidy mount it went particularly well, often won or ran very well. But when he backed two or three others in a race and Cassidy was riding one of the short priced runners, I’ll say it never won or almost never won.

NICK MCKENZIE: Leading bookie, Frank Hudson, had no qualms about taking Tony Mokbel’s cash, even while Mokbel was free on $1 million bail after being arrested and charged with running a $1 billion dollar drug empire.

(Referring to photograph of Tony Mokbel and Frank Hudson)

After this photograph of Mokbel placing bets with Hudson was published by Melbourne’s Herald Sun in 2004, authorities finally moved to ban Mokbel from the track.

JOHN NOTT: There was certainly nothing done until the photo appeared in the paper. I mean he was standing beside Frank Hudson and it was almost a posed photo. So it was no secret.

NICK MCKENZIE: It was only amid the growing death toll of Melbourne’s gangland war that Tony Mokbel’s empire was systematically targeted by a new police task force named Purana.

(Question): Before Purana came along how focused was the Victoria Police in dealing with this Mokbel corruption in racing issue?

JIM O’BRIEN, FORMER HEAD, PURANA TASKFORCE: Well they weren’t. Basically the police department had dropped the ball on anything to do with the racing industry. There was no racing squad, there was nobody monitoring what was happening on the track. It became – basically we, it was a periphery to the investigation we were doing. So yeah there was, there was nothing.

RICHARD LINDELL: In 2005, the Purana taskforce got a new boss, Inspector Jim O’Brien.

O’Brien’s priority was uncovering Mokbel’s involvement in drug trafficking and murder as well as targeting his assets.

Purana discovered Mokbel was cleaning drug money by betting with bookmakers in a manner that would avoid the attention of anti-money laundering agency Austrac.

JIM O’BRIEN: We were well aware of his connection with racing in Victoria. But a lot of the time it was about using others to place those bets on his behalf and breaking down the amounts of those bets so that they weren’t subject to Austrac reporting by bookmakers.

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: There was information being passed on from people within the racing industry to certain individuals that probably placed bets on a knowledge basis that put them ahead of the average punter; that people were utilising bookmakers illegally; and that probably horses were in a third party name and things such as that.

JOHN SILVESTER: There were phone taps that police had which connected Tony with a number of jockeys and trainers. In fact I think seven prominent racing officials ended up being subpoenaed to give evidence at the Australian Crime Commission when they started to follow the money.

NICK MCKENZIE: Before long, police moved in on Mokbel’s assets, which ranged from sports cars to property worth millions of dollars.

Tax authorities also took action in connection to a unit in this apartment tower, which was ostensibly owned by bookie Frank Hudson but which Mokbel helped finance. Hudson was told to cough up unpaid tax linked to this property.

Purana also scrutinised the dealings of trainer Peter Moody, now famous as the trainer of Black Caviar.

In late 2007, Moody was leasing stables owned by the Mokbel family.

He’d also been training a horse called Pillar of Hercules, which was registered in the name of Moody’s wife and the wife of a Mokbel family associate.

But according to a Supreme Court affidavit lodged by Purana, the $475,000 horse had “in fact been purchased by Tony Mokbel’s brother Horty and its ownership details falsified so as to avoid detection by police.”

JIM O’BRIEN: It was paid for by money that was delivered in garbage bags.

NICK MCKENZIE: A bit of a red flag you’d think?

JIM O’BRIEN: Well you’d think that’s not the normal way people do business.

NICK MCKENZIE: In October 2007, Purana seized Pillar of Hercules, alleging in the same affidavit the thoroughbred was bought “as part of a large scale money laundering operation in an attempt to cover up the extent of monies derived from drug trafficking.”

DES GLEESON: That was one instance where we did work closely with the Victoria Police who gave us information in relation to the ownership of the horse. And we immediately stopped it from racing and the horse was sold.

NICK MCKENZIE: Do you think the trainer in question had questions to answer about his role in the affair?

DES GLEESON: Oh we did question Mr Moody at length about the whole scenario but no action was taken against Mr Moody at the time, no.

NICK MCKENZIE: Why not?

DES GLEESON: No evidence to support the charge being laid.

NICK MCKENZIE: Purana investigators also began to zero in on the money Mokbel was paying jockeys.

Four Corners has confirmed they gathered evidence that Mokbel had paid tens of thousands of dollars in secret commissions to jockeys in return for tips. Purana identified at least two leading jockeys were on the Mokbel payroll.

(Question): Why was it helpful for Mokbel to have that in inside information?

JIM O’BRIEN: Well it’s helpful in relation to him being able to launder his assets. I suppose if he’s got odds on favour it’s going to, even if it’s very short money, if he puts up $20,000 and gets $21,000 or $22,000 back he’s still, he’s cleaned that money. He’s got some, he’s got something to show ‘oh this money I won on a bet’ or, you know, ‘I had a bet on such and such a date and here’s a record of it and I can call that bookmaker at my trial if I ever get charged.’

NICK MCKENZIE: Four Corners has confirmed that Jim Cassidy privately admitted to investigators that he’d received almost $100,000 from Mokbel in exchange for tips.

But publicly, Cassidy has denied any improper dealings with Mokbel, instead calling him a friend who he respected.

JOHN SCHRECK: Even in those days, the whole world knew that Mokbel wasn’t much chop and I think it would’ve been better for a high profile race rider like Jim Cassidy to have been saying different things from that.

NICK MCKENZIE: In 2007 investigators also documented allegations that, like Cassidy, Danny Nikolic had enjoyed Mokbel’s largesse.

Nikolic rode at least five horses owned by Mokbel or his associates, but publicly denied ever leaking him any inside mail. No evidence to the contrary was ever produced.

Purana’s investigation should have been a wake-up call for racing. In a way, it was.

The Victorian government commissioned a report from a former judge, Gordon Lewis, which drew on Purana’s investigation into Mokbel to conclude that criminal activity in racing was “rampant”.

Lewis’s 2008 report called for an overhaul in the policing of the sport, finding that “bookmakers, trainers and jockeys” had “improper associations with known criminals.”

RACE CALLER: Racing now, Splendid Choice …

NICK MCKENZIE: But since the release of the Lewis report not a single bookmaker, jockey or trainer has faced any serious repercussions over their dealings with Tony Mokbel.

RACE CALLER: .. note with Hoss Amore winning and Jimmy Cassidy on board.

NICK MCKENZIE (question): How many people in racing, jockeys, trainers, bookies, licensed people actually have been held to account over their dealings with Tony Mokbel?

JIM O’BRIEN: None that I know of.

NICK MCKENZIE: Does that surprise you?

JIM O’BRIEN: Yeah it is surprising.

CHRIS MUNCE, FORMER JOCKEY (to press pack, 2006): Oh steady boys!

NICK MCKENZIE: The way Hong Kong dealt with the case of champion Australian jockey Chris Munce in 2006 stands in stark contrast to the failure of Australian racing to investigate jockeys, trainers and bookies linked to Tony Mokbel.

(Excerpt from News Story on Chris Munce)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (to press): Come on boys, out of the way)

REPORTER: The Melbourne Cup winning rider was detained at his house just hours before scheduled to board a flight to Australia.

(End excerpt)

NICK MCKENZIE: Chris Munce was arrested with betting details and thousands of dollars in cash in his pockets after lengthy surveillance by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption.

(Excerpt from News Story on Chris Munce)

REPORTER: Munce was one of seven people arrested after an investigation Hong Kong’s corruption watchdog the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Those detained included four suspected illegal bookmakers. ICAC alleges Munce either recieved or stood to receive almost $300,000 in exchange for tips he provided.

(End excerpt)

JOHN SCHRECK: In the Munce case, he was deemed to be an employee of the owner of the horse, and he was selling that information to others for profit and therefore was in breach of the law of the land. And went to jail for it.

NICK MCKENZIE: Was that a harsh penalty?

JOHN SCHRECK: Oh no, not at all in my opinion, not at all. No, he knew what the situation was when he went there, as all of them do that go there. And you do the crime, you do the time.

NICK MCKENZIE: Chris Munce was convicted and served 20 months in jail. The Hong Kong Jockey Club gave him an additional suspension which should have prevented him from riding anywhere in the world for almost a year after his release.

But New South Wales racing authorities allowed him back on the track with 10 months of his suspension still to run.

JOHN SCHRECK: The penalty wasn’t reciprocated by Racing New South Wales, it was by all the other states of Australia but not by Racing New South Wales. And so he was allowed to ride back in Australia pretty well straight away. The whole thing was most unfortunate, it should never have happened that way.

NICK MCKENZIE: Without the investigative backup enjoyed by their Hong Kong counterparts, in 2010 Victorian racing authorities were forced to ask again for police help.

Stewards suspected that Danny Nikolic was breaching the rules of racing by passing inside information about his mounts.

Four Corners can reveal that, once again, the Victoria Police declined to help, and left the stewards to go it alone.

REPORTER (2010): Authorities were alerted to Nikolic’s activities after suspicious bets were placed with the betting exchange, Betfair, which allows punters to bet on horses losing.

DANNY NIKOLIC (2010): Good mornnig everybody. I’m here to clear my name.

NICK MCKENZIE: The racing disciplinary board found there was insufficient evidence to prove the charges against Danny Nikolic and he was cleared.

DANNY NIKOLIC (to press, 2010): I was quietly confident, I know that I’ve done nothing wrong. So I was just hoping that the RAV (Racing Association of Victoria) board would see it my way. And I’m very happy now.

NICK MCKENZIE: Were the racing authorities correct to bring the case given they lost?

SAL PERNA: Ah yes, I think that was clearly vindicated by the Appeals and Disciplinary Board. When they heard the charges. The circumstantial evidence if you like, was very, very strong and the Board said that they were very justified in preparing that case.

INTERVIEWER: What couldn’t the racing authorities get in terms of evidence and why couldn’t they get it?

SAL PERNA: Look I think it’s fair to say that the content of the conversations between Danny and the people that were putting the bet on was the, the missing part.

SAL PERNA (to co-investigator): Which is the horse we’re looking at Paul.

PAUL: We’re looking at the one that’s second from the inside out of what we’ll call there barrier five. If you just watch the action of the jockey this should pretty well explain what I was talking about earlier.

NICK MCKENZIE: Sal Perna is Victoria’s full-time Racing Integrity Commissioner, a role created as a result of the Lewis report.

It’s the first appointment of its type in the country.

SAL PERNA (to co-investigator): So is he allowing himself to get boxed in there?

NICK MCKENZIE: While Sal Perna enjoys only limited investigative powers of his own, he’s been striving to get police and racing officials to work together.

(Question): Did you find when you first arrived that the police were sitting on information about corruption in racing that was not being passed to racing authorities and vice versa?

SAL PURNA: Yeah, I think that’s a fair comment.

Part of the difficulty with police releasing information is that some information’s protected by legislation, telephone intercepts for example. And that information can’t be given to non-law enforcement areas.

NICK MCKENZIE: Unbeknown to Sal Perna, a new controversy featuring some familiar names was just around the corner.

After the death of Les Samba early last year, Danny Nikolic continued riding, knowing he was under police scrutiny.

On the 12th of April homicide detectives raided the home of his brother John, a former horse trainer based on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Two weeks later, Danny Nikolic was here at Cranbourne preparing for his ride on Smoking Aces.

RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): Racing… great line out, Tycoon …

NICK MCKENZIE: The race favourite was Retaliate.

(Footage of race plays)

RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): .. back on the fence… Retaliate has got horses all around him .. he’s last…

NICK MCKENZIE: Also riding in the race was jockey Mark Zahra on Baikal.

Four Corners can reveal that police are investigating whether Nikolic and Zahra had allegedly conspired to reduce Retaliate’s chances of winning, and improving Smoking Aces’ prospect of success.

RACE CALLER (Cranbourne): Smoking Aces wins first up from Retaliate, Dubai Opera third from …

NICK MCKENZIE: Figures linked to the race have alleged to Four Corners that associates of Nikolic had bet heavily on his mount, and that police have recently been quizzing jockeys, trainers and punters about the ride in question.

At a recent race meeting, Four Corners tried to interview Danny Nikolic, who’d just ridden a series of winners.

(at races): Danny I’m Nick McKenzie from Four Corners, We’re not actually here to ask you about today’s race …

DANNY NIKOLIC: Not interested …

NICK MCKENZIE: We’re here to ask you about Smoking Aces Danny. Can I ask you a couple of questions about Smoking Aces?

(Question): Is Danny Nikolic a person of interest in the race fixing investigation?

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: As I said it’s a current investigation and we’ll … I can’t comment on that particular phase of it at this stage

NICK MCKENZIE: Jockey Mark Zahra also declined to answer questions about the Cranbourne race.

Racing sources have confirmed to Four Corners that associates of Nikolic in Melbourne and interstate made bets on Smoking Aces that earned them a combined total of up to $200,000.

(On phone) G’day Paul my name’s Nick McKenzie, reporter for Four Corners, ABC TV. I’m investigating certain race which I believe you had something to do with Cranbourne last year involving ride of Smoking Aces, can I ask you a few questions about that?

Four Corners tried to speak with one punter linked to the win.

(Hanging up phone): No he’s hung up

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: We know that there are a number of identities that we need to talk to interstate and bits and pieces. But at this particular stage we’re concentrating on Victoria. But there are a number of areas that we know, what we need to have a look at.

Detective Superintendent Gerry Ryan is overseeing the police inquiry into the alleged race fixing and the Samba murder.

He’s revealed to Four Corners he’s called in Purana to tackle the fresh allegations of corruption.

GERRY RYAN: We’ll leave no stone unturned. So that means we’ll look at a number of races and you know and a number of areas that unfold as the investigation goes. But it’s important to, at the end of this investigation, to make sure that the integrity in racing here in Victoria and nationally is squeaky clean.

NICK MCKENZIE: Whatever the outcome of that investigation, the former head of Purana, Jim O’Brien, says authorities are yet to prove they can effectively combat corruption in sport.

(Question): How good has that job of protecting the integrity of racing been in your view?

JIM O’BRIEN: It’s not been good at all. It’s been extremely poor and in part brought about because you know the stewards themselves who look after those codes haven’t got the teeth – they’re not investigators for a start.

NICK MCKENZIE: But Gerry Ryan says authorities in Victoria have learned from the mistakes of the past.

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: Look, yes we can say that we did take our eye off the ball. And that’s why Purana is so strong today because we we realised that we needed to get back into this arena and we have.

NICK MCKENZIE: And those who say that the police will never be able to to catch a race fix they’re not up to the task?

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: Well that’s what they said about the gangland slayings and what, what’s happened there? We’ve put them all behind bars.

NICK MCKENZIE: Victoria’s racing integrity chief, Sal Perna, says that even if state police and racing officials get it right, if the rest of the country doesn’t follow suit, it will be for nothing.

(Question): If you’re a jockey in Victoria at the moment, you know, you can go interstate and possible have far less scrutiny over your activities.

SAL PERNA: Yes, I would agree with that.

INTERVIEWER: How unhealthy is that?

SAL PERNA: Well, it can’t be good. It creates vulnerabilities and we don’t want that. We want the same standard to apply when it comes to integrity right across the board.

In New South Wales, two harness racing stewards and a trainer are facing criminal charges over alleged corruption.

The state’s greyhound racing industry also has a history tainted by scandal.

Last year the New South Wales government appointed former ombudsman David Landa, to oversee the integrity of both racing codes.

But within months he quit both posts, believing his role amounted to window dressing.

DAVID LANDA, FORMER NSW INTEGRITY AUDITOR: I felt that apart from the role being ineffective and not capable of performing what I felt the legislators may have intended. It was a fiction and it was a fraud really on the public.

NICK MCKENZIE: A fraud on the public?

DAVID LANDA: Yes because they were led to believe that there was an integrity auditor capable of dealing with issues that ought to be dealt with, matters of integrity, matters of honesty, matters of fair dealing and that those powers were not able to be performed.

NICK MCKENZIE: In the new world of internet betting, people can bet to win or lose, and on any number of other outcomes in almost any sport, anywhere.

SAL PERNA: They create opportunities for people to corrupt players, to do certain things that they can benefit from by betting on. We’ve also got a new model now with betting exchanges where you can actually bet on an animal to lose, and that hasn’t been part of the Australian culture today. So they do present challenges.

NICK MCKENZIE: The explosion of internet and exotic betting has sparked debate about the policing of sport across the country.

JOHN SCHRECK: horse racing’s not too bad, there are things go on that’s simply inexcusable, of course there are. But generally speaking it’s not too bad. So I don’t there’s any need for any national integrity controller all over the sport, no. I think the States should be left to their own device, that’s the way it’s been for 150 years and I think it’s been pretty good.

NICK MCKENZIE: Does there need to be a national body?

SAL PERNA: I think there does so that we can work together on it and address issues not only nationally but internationally. It’s about bringing in specialists that are, specialist investigators, specialist analysts and wagering analysts, and bringing in all the bodies together so they can share information and work out how to do it in a concerted way.

JOHN SILVESTER: The iron law of crime is where there is a demand there will be a supply. As soon as a Tony Mokbel is locked up there is someone else to take their place. So it’s about getting the structures right with racing because right now there would be somebody somewhere chatting to a jockey trying to get some inside information. And if he’s got a pocketful of drug money, then he’s got a better chance of getting the answer he wants to hear.

NICK MCKENZIE: Tony Mokbel is now serving a 30 year prison sentence for drug trafficking, but there’s another Mokbel still on the punt.

His brother Horty, another convicted drug trafficker, has been banned from racetracks and the casino by order of the Victorian government.

But over several weeks Four Corners observed him and a group of fellow punters in tracksuits placing numerous bets at a suburban Melbourne TAB.

Horty Mokbel’s regular companions include underworld identity and racehorse owner Paul Sequenzia.

Sequenzia, the brother in law of murdered gangster Mark Moran, had drug trafficking charges dropped in 2004.

Sequenzia is part-owner of a horse called Em Maguane, in 2009 it became one of the first horses in Australia to test positive for the performance enhancing drug EPO (Erythropoietin).

In the racing world, Tony Mokbel’s place is most likely already filled.

JIM O’BRIEN: There’s plenty of succession planning in criminal organisations and someone else will just step up and fill his shoes. So it won’t go away.

JOHN SILVESTER: Now it’s not just a matter of Tony Mokbel or Bob Trimbole but it could be a crime syndicate from anywhere in the world who could target a sport, one game, one event, one cricket match, one over, one ball, and that’s the new challenge.

NICK MCKENZIE: Despite commitments from the federal and state governments, there are still no specific laws dealing with match or race fixing.

Without a national sports integrity body some states and sports remain well behind the others when it comes to confronting the challenge of corruption.

(Question): How urgent are those changes needed?

DES GLEESON: Well, I think they should have been done yesterday but as soon as possible before there’ll be an almighty scandal in sport in Australia.

NICK MCKENZIE: That scandal may have already arrived.

The fallout from Les Samba’s murder and allegations of corruption at the highest levels in racing still has a long way to run.

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDANT GERARD RYAN: Certainly I believe that if we we’re able to solve the race fixing and solve the issues that that are emerging, we will certainly solve the murder.

INTERVIEWER: Are you confident the murder of Les Samba will be solved?

GERRY RYAN: I’m confident it will be solved, yes.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Four Corners asked jockeys Danny Nikolic and Mark Zahra on the allegations raised by they both declined.

Bookie, Frank Hudson, and jockey, Jim Cassidy, also declined to be interviewed.

Four Corners also asked trainer Peter Moody to talk about his dealings with Horte Mokbel; he also declined.

End of transcript

Background Information

LATEST NEWS UPDATES

Top racing figures embroiled in corruption scandal | ABC News | 6 Aug 2012 – Police are investigating a string of top Australian horse racing figures, including champion jockey Danny Nikolic, for alleged race fixing, in what is shaping up as the biggest corruption scandal to hit the sport in decades. By Nick McKenzie, Clay Hichens and Richard Baker.

Police offer $1m reward over Samba murder | ABC News | 6 Aug 2012 – Victoria Police have offered a $1 million reward for information about the death of racing identity Les Samba… Purana Taskforce detectives are leading the investigation and believe it was not a random shooting.

$1 million reward announced – Les Samba murder | Vic Police | 6 Aug 2012 – Victoria Police has today announced a $1 million reward for information regarding the death of Les Samba in Middle Park on Sunday 27 February, 2011. Read the press release.

RELATED DOCUMENTS AND REPORTS

Purana Taskforce Affidavit | Oct 2007 – The Supreme Court affidavit lodged by the Purana Taskforce relating to the seizure of the racehorse Pillar of Hercules. [PDF 530Kb]

Own motion investigation into Greyhound Racing Victoria | Victorian Ombudsman | Jun 2012 – The Victorian Ombudsman, Mr George Brouwer, tabled this report in Parliament in June. Download the report here. [PDF 334Kb]

Combating serious crime and corruption in sport | ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security | Nov 2011 – This paper details the actual and potential challenges, and impact, of gambling and corruption practices on sports in Australia.

Threats to the integrity of professional sport in Australia | Australian Crime Commission | Apr 2011 – Organised criminal groups currently have a limited presence in professional sports in Australia. However, there are vulnerabilities within the sector, with the principal threat to the integrity of professional sports being the use of inside information. A report from the ACC.

Sports Betting Review – Report and Government Response | 31 Mar 2011 – The report of the 2011 Review of Victorian Sports Betting Regulation completed by Mr Des Gleeson and the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Review are on the Department of Justice website.

A Guide to the Racing Industry in Australia 2010-2011 | ARB – The 2010/11 edition of the Australian Racing Fact Book was published by the ARB in December 2011. [PDF 2.73 MB]

Productivity Commission Gambling Inquiry | 23 Jun 2010 – The Productivity Commission concluded a public inquiry into gambling in June 2010. Read submissions and the full report.

Australian Racing Board Submission | 23 Jun 2010 - Read the ARB’s submission to the Productivity Commission Gambling Inquiry. [PDF 1506Kb]

Report on Integrity Assurance in the Victorian Racing Industry (Lewis Report) | Aug 2008 – In March 2008, Judge Gordon Lewis was commissioned to consult with racing industry controlling bodies and stakeholders with the objective of identifying options to ensure that integrity assurance within the industry is of the highest standard. Judge Lewis met with representatives from the major racing codes, police, media, government, industry associations and committees, appellate bodies, veterinary groups, individuals, and wagering companies. Read his recommendations.

ADDITIONAL READING

Dogs for revamp on bets at work | The Age | 21 Jun 2012 – Victoria’s greyhound racing industry will be overhauled after an inquiry found that some of the sport’s top officials engaged in punting on races and awarding multimillion-dollar contracts without due process. By Nick McKenzie.

Former dogs-racing boss placed bets, mismanaged | The Age | 20 Jun 2012 – Nick McKenzie Victoria’s top greyhound racing official engaged in inappropriate conduct by betting on races during his lunch breaks and overseeing sub-standard multi-million dollar contracts, according to a report. By Nick McKenzie.

Greyhound Racing NSW makes new Greyhound Racing Integrity Auditor | Australian Racing Greyhound | 7 Jun 2012 – GRNSW today announced the appointment of Graham Gorrie to the position of Greyhound Racing Integrity Auditor.

Video: Harness racing under scrutiny | 7.30 | 23 Aug 2011 - Claims of corruption have surfaced in the world of harness racing, sparking an investigation into more than 20 drivers, trainers and owners.

Opinion: Rogue operators make battle to maintain integrity of sport more difficult | The Australian | 16 Jul 2011 – This has been a chilling week for Australian sport. Its exposure to manipulation by cheats and criminals has been shown to be raw and dangerous. Corruption is but a few strokes on the computer away. By Patrick Smith.

Report finds organised horse racing industry is tainted by organised crime | Stateline Victoria | 15 Aug 2008 – The transcript of Josephine Cafagna’s 2008 report into horse racing corruption.

Top jockey took Mokbel cash in return for tips | Brisbane Times | 14 Jun 2008 – One of Australia’s leading jockeys, Jimmy Cassidy, accepted bundles of cash from alleged crime boss Tony Mokbel in return for tips about horses he was riding. By Nick McKenzie.

Fine Cotton mastermind scandal | The Daily Telegraph | 18 Apr 2008 – The mastermind of the infamous Fine Cotton Affair has struck again, with a multi-million dollar scam involving a $44 million horse race, a Gold Coast nightclub singer, a former rugby league great, an art swindle and Muslim terrorist death threats.

The day Munce had his meeting with destiny | SMH | 2 Mar 2007 – Chris Munce had one more appointment in Hong Kong before returning home to Australia in July. It was an appointment the Melbourne Cup-winning jockey wasn’t going to miss, but it would result in Munce’s life being up-ended.

RELATED FOUR CORNERS PROGRAMS

Own Goal | 8 Sep 2011 – The story behind Australia’s failed bid to host the World Cup and the impact it’s having on the beautiful game. Watch online.

In a Fix | 25 Oct 2010 – An investigation into the allegations of corruption and match fixing in the multi-billion dollar sport of international cricket. Flash Video Presentation.

50 Years: Horses for Courses | 10 Nov 1986 – Tony Jones’s 1986 report on racing, politics and the police prompted defamation charges. Watch online.

Protecting the integrity of racing

August 7, 2012

ONE WOULD be hard pressed to name a more symbiotic commercial relationship than that of betting and horse racing. Each derives huge financial benefit from the other. So it is, then, a matter of concern when that relationship is called into question through allegations of corruption.

The Age yesterday – in conjunction with Four Corners last night – reported that police were investigating well-known horse racing figures, including jockey Danny Nikolic, over the alleged fixing of a race at Cranbourne in April 2011, which was won by the horse Smoking Aces. The alleged tampering was uncovered during an investigation into the murder two months earlier of trainer Les Samba in Melbourne. There is no suggestion that Nikolic was involved in the death of Samba. There are, however, serious issues at play, such as allegations of money laundering, tax fraud and tipping, which involves jockeys disclosing inside information for commission.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton said yesterday there was no endemic corruption in horse racing. But, in an industry that must be seen to be conducted without the merest whiff of corruption, this is a case where one is one too many.

More than 4000 horse races are held annually in this state. Racing Victoria, in its report for 2010-2011, said that although 9000 horses had competed, ”the headlines were stolen by one horse, Black Caviar”.

This is true. But, as The Age has revealed more than once, there is more than one story to the industry, and those ones sow the seeds of doubts in the public’s mind as to the probity of what they are watching. Detective Superintendent Gerard Ryan, who confirmed the investigation, said it was important ”that the integrity of racing … is squeaky clean”.

It is towards this latter point that, more broadly, Victoria seems to be making progress. There is a police ”sport corruption response model”, which looks promising on paper. The proof will be in its results.

It would be naive to believe that all sport can be entirely clean. With such large amounts of money at stake, the temptation to cheat is always there. That being so, there is merit in the calls for a national body, with anti-corruption powers, to be established to maintain sport’s integrity.

Commenting on the Smoking Aces disclosures, Racing Victoria’s integrity commissioner, Sal Perna, said: ”My immediate response is, is the industry that bad?” Purely on the numbers, no. Yet integrity in sport is only as strong as its weakest link. It needs to be protected comprehensively by all governments.

 

 

 

 

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Prison officers arrested on drug trafficking ring with crims at Barwon Prison


This comes as no surprise actually folks but the ramifications will be wide and far…MORE TO COME

UPDATE 11/07/12

EXCLUSIVE: KILLER bikie Christopher Wayne Hudson and one of Australia’s most feared hitmen were allegedly able to run a drug ring with corrupt guards inside Victoria’s most secure jail.

 

Three Barwon Prison officers were arrested during raids in Geelong and the northern suburbs yesterday, after an eight-month investigation. Two have since been charged with drug offences.

Sources close to the operation claim one of the guards, a 40-year-old man from Grovedale, had formed a close relationship with the two killers and had been monitored having long conversations in their cells, as well as passing notes and other items under their doors.

Authorities are also concerned about information passed between the cells and out of the prison.

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Charlie Bezzina: Risk of mixing with the dark side

Barwon Prison security faces fierce scrutiny

Hudson, a Hells Angel, is serving a minimum of 35 years in jail over the 2007 CBD shootings of father of three Brendan Keilar, who died, and Dutch backpacker Paul de Waard.

The contract killer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is serving 32 years for the murders of Dorothy and Ramon Abbey in 1987.

Charges against him over the murders of police informers Terence and Christine Hodson were dropped.

The veteran trigger man is linked to some of Australia’s most infamous underworld figures and is suspected of multiple murders.

Last night a 40-year-old Grovedale man was charged with trafficking a drug of dependence, misconduct in public office, possessing an unregistered firearm, possessing a prohibited weapon and possessing and using a drug of dependence, while a 40-year-old Norlane man was charged with possessing and using a drug of dependence.

Both were bailed to appear in the Geelong Magistrates’ Court on 26 September.

A 31-year-old female prison officer from Norlane was interviewed and released pending further inquiries.

A 46-year-old Norlane man and an 18-year-old Delahey man, who were not Corrections Victoria staff, were released pending further inquiries.

Operation Puli, run by Victoria Police drug taskforce detectives, started in November after intelligence was passed on by Corrections Victoria.

Houses were raided in the Geelong area and at Delahey, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, from 7am yesterday.

Cannabis and prescription medication were seized.

Victoria Police acting Deputy Commissioner Jeff Pope said the suspect behaviour was confined to Barwon Prison, the state’s highest-security prison.

“It does seem to be isolated to this core group of prison officers,” Mr Pope said.

“One or two of these guards has formed a relationship with a small group of inmates that is inappropriate.”

Acting Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard said the guards worked across the prison and were not restricted to one particular section

An aerial shot of Barwon Prison WHERE SCREWS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AMID A drug trafficking RING INSIDE THE PRISON!

UPDATE 3.15PM 10/07/12

Those arrested were a 40-year-old Grovedale man, a 31-year-old Norlane woman, a 41-year-old Norlane man and a 46-year-old Norlane man.

Victoria Police officers swooped on several properties in the Geelong region connected to Barwon Prison from 7am, completing searches a short time ago.

Four prison officers have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by police and Corrections Victoria which has linked guards to inmates.

PRISON officers accused of running a drug trafficking ring with criminals have been arrested in a series of co-ordinated raids.

Victoria Police officers swooped on several properties in the Geelong region connected to Barwon Prison from 7am, completing searches a short time ago.

The Herald Sun understands four prison officers have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by police and Corrections Victoria which has linked guards to inmates.

Barwon Prison, near Geelong, houses the state’s worst convicted criminals, among them influential organised crime figures.

Gangland killer Evangelos Goussis, drug boss Tony Mokbel, and middle-eastern crime gang members are all housed at Barwon Prison, however no identities of inmates connected to today’s raids have been revealed.

Inappropriate relationships between staff and inmates at Corrections Victoria’s jail are considered a major security risk.

Staff at Barwon came under unprecedented levels of scrutiny following the death of  Carl Williams.

More to come …

Gerard Baden-Clay – Bail Application on Murder Charges June 21 2012


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As I type this Gerard Baden-Clay is sitting in a cell, awaiting news from his lawyers at to whether or not he is granted bail. Poor Gerard may have to cool his heels a little longer than he thinks as the Supreme Court can take 48 hours or more to consider any such application. He spent last night behind bars after being charged with the murder of his wife Allison. He was also charged with unlawfully interfering with a corpse.

It was nearly two months ago he phoned police to say the woman he called his “angel” had disappeared. Allison Baden-Clay was reported missing by her husband at 7.30am on April 20 2012  when he told police she had left the house the previous night and not returned.

The media frenzy has always been big, even before Allison Baden-Clay’s body was found, cold, soaked and muddy all alone  10 days later by a kayaker on the banks of the Kholo Creek at Anstead.

That has amplified and will only increase with each and every court appearance, as it will if and when there are any further arrests in relation to the murder investigation. There has been some rumblings in relation to what role the mainstream media play in the reporting of high-profile cases, as there are about social media and blogs like this one.

This is the information age, we are in the 21st century, over a decade in, it is 2012 and things are not going backwards. It is up to the courts and the law makers to ensure they keep up. Gone are the days of listening to news on the radio at 6pm to find out what has happened. We live in a real-time world now and as such we want to know what is happening in our lives. Knowledge is power and people have embraced having a voice  everywhere. Twitter, Facebook, email, Instant Messaging, Blogging the list goes on.

I started this blog nearly 2 years ago because I was frustrated by newspapers and radio asking for our opinions and then disregarding  it completely if it didn’t fit, or editing it to their liking. What was the point? If we could not have a say and discuss openly things that concern us, our families, and communities and instead be spoon fed certain info and not other vital facts, it defeated the whole purpose.

This blog nor any other, is yet to rightfully or wrongfully convict anybody, the courts do that with a Judge and Jury, as it should be. We can however have an opinion and seek the truth, fact from fiction, and there is not a lot anyone can do about the thoughts and feelings of millions of people around the world on blogs, water coolers, members lounges and anywhere else we want to have a view.

Whether you like it or not, this is the future and you better catch up. For people to suggest that 12 Aussies with average intelligence cannot sit in a trial and come to their own conclusions based on the evidence inside that court is pretty sad and to me says we are selling ourselves a bit short

Cheers Robbo

THIS SPACE IS RESERVED FOR ANY UPDATES ON BAIL AND OR OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Baden-Clay to seek bail next week

June 14, 2012 4:23PM

 ACCUSED murderer Gerard Baden-Clay will remain in custody for at least a week until his bail application is heard.

Lawyers lodged an application in the Supreme Court in Brisbane this afternoon indicating Baden-Clay, 41, would seek conditional release while he awaits trial for allegedly murdering his wife Allison and interfering with her corpse.

The bail application will be heard on June 21 and is expected to take 40 minutes. (let him get a weeks taste of life in jail….keep him comfy in there people)

Baden-Clay reported his wife and the mother of their three children missing from the family’s Brookfield home on the morning of April 20, saying she’d failed to return from a late-night walk.

The body of the 43-year-old was found on the banks of a creek at Anstead 10 days later.

Baden-Clay was arrested on Wednesday and faced the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday morning.

Wearing a checked business shirt and dark pants, Baden-Clay sat in the dock with his back to the packed gallery.

He did not speak during the 30 second hearing, and the matter was adjourned until July 9.

However he was brought back into court around one hour later where he consented to police obtaining “non-intimate” forensic samples from him as part of their ongoing investigation into his wife’s death.

Police did not elaborate on what forensic samples were sought, however this type of order can include hair from the head or beard.

After his appearance in court, Baden-Clay was taken to the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre at Wacol, west of Brisbane, where he will remain at least until his bail hearing.

Baden-Clay’s lawyer, Darren Mahony, indicated outside court his client would vigorously defend the charges.

At Brookfield, a chalkboard with “We love you Allison,” written on it in a love-heart has reappeared on the front fence of the Baden-Clay family home on Brookfield Road after being absent for several weeks.

New bunches of flowers have also been strung up to the family’s front fence, although there’s no one home to see them.

The Brookfield community is still in disbelief after Mr Baden-Clay was charged with his wife’s murder.

Former Vic cop Trevor Adair stole cash during house raid-BUT avoids jail


Former Vic cop Trevor Adair stole cash during house raid BUT avoids jail…On the surface it appears one rule for some, and not for others. Can you imagine Joe Blow not doing time for stealing nearly 10 grand. Here we have a copper who was stressed…Poor bugger…We all are mate…At least he has NOT still got his $90,000 a year job. His cop buddies bragged about him in court, I do not believe it was a one-off. Fraud Squad hey…Go figure…

A FORMER Fraud Squad detective was today given a suspended jail term for stealing $9120 from a Prada purse during a police raid on a house in connection with suspected credit card scams.

Trevor Adair leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court last week.

Trevor Adair, 42, had 22 years of otherwise unblemished service in the police force but had taken the cash in a spontaneous “moment of madness”, Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard.

Magistrate Elizabeth Lambden, in imposing a three-month jail term wholly suspended for a year, said the case involved a serious breach of trust and would normally attract a prison sentence. So why isn’t he doing time?

Adair, who was highly-regarded by colleagues, pleaded guilty to the theft and said the pressure of child support payments may have been a factor.

Magistrate Lambden said she took account of Adair’s heightened anxiety and depression at the time of the offence, coupled with marital problems in the aftermath of his father’s death.

Adair was alone in a bedroom of the Glen Waverley home when he came across the money – which the woman whose purse it was claimed had been accrued as winnings at Crown Casino and from fruit picking earnings.

It was found in Adair’s backpack in a police car outside the property after the police raid in January and Adair made full admissions, the court heard.

Defence lawyer John Kelly said Adair should be given some sentence benefit because of his ready admissions, contrition and loss of livelihood, as well as consideration that most charges of this type were contested in court and Adair had been given separate legal advice he could fight the charge. No doubt pleaded because other stuff would of come up.

“It’s a pretty brave and lonely step to take (in pleading guilty),” Mr Kelly said.

Adair, who was earning $94,000 a year with the force and paying $9000 a year in child support, resigned from the police and now works as a labourer and bottle shop attendant, the court heard.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment brain fade… I don’t understand it,” Adair told Ethical Standards Department investigators. Greedy bastard thought he would get away with stealing from the enemy obviously, and she must of screamed out theft before they left.Good on her…

Trevor Adair has avoided jail for stealing $9120 from a Prada purse during a fraud squad raid.

 

Have criminals got it TOO good in jail?


Every now and then I get a news item or a report on the telly that really spikes my attention. Whenever a story about prisoners either whining about conditions (like a paying renter does to a landlord, who actually have legitimate complaints and pay for the right) or an expose’ on what they get and don’t get in jail comes up, I get really frustrated. 

A  list was revealed from the ACACIA UNIT at Barwon prison, a haunt for the major crims in Victoria down the road from me. The other day we had a story about Fat Tony Mokbel, cooking his own food, as he did not LIKE the prison food…I could swear my head off, but I ask others not to so I wont….grrrrr

What happened to porridge for breakfast, some sandwiches for lunch and some meat and 3 veg for dinner. Dessert a few times a week?

I will tell you why, because surely it cannot just be me who thinks “No wonder they go back for more”. For starters, yes it is a sentence and their freedom is taken away, but bloody hell, not much else is. Just consider the savings on rent, electricity, food, clothes, dental, medical, entertainment, EDUCATION and all the books, materials and computers and stuff. Sports, recreation, pool tables, gym (think of the savings on gym membership!) all the legal aid they need. Transport…I could go on.

If one were unfortunate enough to be on the streets, but NOT commit crimes, maybe they should reconsider their career. I am not joking, think about all the benefits versus the negatives. What are they, let me think, ok you are behind 4 walls, and get locked in your room at night. The cost to the taxpayer is massive, and the jail population is growing. I bet my last dollar they grow by returning crooks who just throw the towel in and say it is too tough on the outside I am going back in…I’m better off inside…Some with money, may even think…Gee maybe even rent out my place for 400 a week while im here…leave jail and not pay back one bloody cent, have a nice kitty when I get out. pay the victim nothing either…I’m a mere poor prisoner…

Driven to court and back, unlimited free calls and correspondence to lawyers etc It makes my blood boil actually. I want the view of all you guys, I’m sure (well I hope) we also get the view from the other side, those who have been in, or have partners on the inside.

I will tell you know, it will take a lot of convincing to tell me that beyond all of the above, these poor people are suffering the lack of freedom etc. Well that IS the point of it all, the committed crimes, and suffer the consequences, my point is most Aussies would have no ides how generous these consequences are! Cheers Robbo

Barwon Prison in Victoria, which contains Victoria’s worst criminals

THE state’s most dangerous criminals are enjoying cut-price junk food and luxury items in our most secure prison.

While working families are struggling to meet grocery bills, our most heinous inmates jailed at Barwon Prison, including serial killers Peter Dupas and Paul Denyer, are living on discount smoked oysters, ice cream, popcorn and cheese.

The Herald Sun has matched prices at an inner-city supermarket chain with the Barwon Prison canteen, finding prisoners are saving up to 22 per cent compared with average consumers.

Overall, 16 items of a basket of 22 were cheaper at the Barwon Prison one-stop shop. The items were taken from 267 listed products available to prisoners.

The biggest win for the crooks was for John West Temptations, a mega-saving of a dollar from a supermarket price of $2.36.

Prisoners were also able to buy Mint Slices for $2.23, well under the supermarket price of $3.10, while Tim Tams were 10c cheaper than the going rate.

Other cut-price items at Barwon canteen included a 25-cent saving on Coon cheese, a 50c cut on a Gillette Mach 3 razor and a pack of Salada crackers down 35c.

But it wasn’t all red-spot specials for the bad guys.

Delicious Chocolate Royals were 20c up on the supermarket, Lipton tea (50s) 12c higher, baked beans 26c dearer while Palmolive shampoo was a rip off at the canteen, with a marked price of $5.41, 42c higher.

A Corrections Victoria spokesman said prison shops were run by each prison and no profit was made.

He said products were purchased directly by the prison, usually at wholesale prices.

“They are allowed to a purchase a basic range of items such as telephone credit, toiletries or food products in limited quantities from the prison shop,” the spokesman said.

“Prisoners pay for these themselves at no cost to the taxpayer.”

RMIT criminal justice advocate Peter Norden said people should be questioning the cost of building and staffing more prisons for more inmates – which is estimated at $500,000 a cell – rather than the price of food.

“They can get cheaper food in the prisons because it’s an expanding population,” he said, tongue in cheek.

“They can buy in bulk.”

Pam Greenbury, the mother of murder victim Tracey, said prisoners should not be getting sweets or any other luxury item, let alone at a discount.

“I wouldn’t like our daughter’s murderer to get any luxuries,” Mrs Greenbury said.

“Luxuries at a discounted price? I’d say no.”

Entire Sharma family found dead in home-Murdered by their father who hanged himself


Very sad situation in 2 states today, in the first what seems to be a murder suicide of a family of 2 children and 2 adults in Glen Waverley in Victoria as well as another murder suicide in NSW at Fishing Point. Updates a bit later on. Condolences to the families and friends of those left behind. It is a terrible way to end ones life, taking out other family members is never the solution and can never ever be accepted under any circumstances

UPDATE 09/05/12

HUNDREDS of mourners have gathered for the funeral of the tragic family of four who died in Glen Waverley last week.

Family and friends began farewelling Nilesh and Priti Sharma and their children Divesh, 5, and Divya, 3, in a joint funeral at the Springvale Botanical Cemetery at 1.15pm.

Family and friends began farewelling Nilesh and Priti Sharma and their children Divesh, 5, and Divya, 3, in a joint funeral at the Springvale Botanical Cemetery at 1.15pm.

The service was being conducted in Hindi before a private cremation.

The ashes are expected to be scattered in India or Fiji.

Four coffins were carried into a church in front of mourners still grappling with their sorrow.

Some people from the tight-knit community were paying their respects from outside the chapel that was at capacity.

Family friend Barbara Nagaiya said the grandparents were “devastated” about losing their grandchildren.

“They are very shocked. But now it’s done and gone, you can’t be angry. You still love your children and grandchildren,” she said.

Michael Sharman used his close friends’ funeral to plead for others to change their ways.

“If you have any problems try and sort them out. Talk to people – there is always a solution to everything,” he said.

“It’s shock and sadness. These things shouldn’t happen.”

Hindu Council Victoria president Pandit Abhay Awasthi said the deaths devastated the community.

“It shattered us,” he said. “It’s a sad day for the Indian community of Victoria.”

The family was found dead in their Glen Waverley home last Tuesday in an apparent murder-suicide.

Police were believed to be investigating whether Mr Sharma had turned on his family because he feared his marriage was breaking up.

The Herald Sun believes investigators are exploring indications the relationship between Nilesh and Priti was under stress in the period before last week’s tragedy.

Divesh and Divya were found in the beds where they are believed to have been murdered.

A relative who went to the Marcia Court house to check on the family saw one of the dead children through a window and alerted police.

The children and Mrs Sharma are believed to have been suffocated.

Mr Sharma was found hanged.

Sources who knew the family said they did not know Mr Sharma was under pressure or that he could be capable of killing his family.

They were not aware of him discussing any domestic issues which might caused the tragedy.

But they are now viewing a car smash involving the family in a different light.

All four were lucky to survive when a Honda driven by Mr Sharma ran off a road and hit a tree before bursting into flames in the Dandenong Ranges late last year.

Mr Sharma said he blacked out before the collision at Sassafras.

But many who had no reason to doubt four months ago are now wondering whether that was a first attempt at a tragic murder-suicide.

“Everybody thought it was an accident. It appeared on the surface to be an accident (but) there is a big suspicion hanging over that now,” said a source, who knew the Sharmas.

The Sharmas moved to Melbourne about 15 years ago.

Preetika Sharma, Nilesh, daughter Divya and son Diveish (obscured) pictured last week

update-It has been confirmed that the mother Preetika, the son,Diveish, and daughter Divya we found dead in their bedrooms andNilesh was found hanged in another area of the house…

Two adults, two children found dead in Glen Waverley house after welfare check

Uncle Abhay Singh said his daughter phoned him today to tell him the news that Nilesh Sharma, 36, his wife Preetika, 32, five-year-old son Diveish, and three-year-old daughter Divya were dead.

“I was devastated. I fell into pieces. It’s very sad,” he said.

He said the family attended his son’s birthday party last week and they seemed happy.

Mr Singh said the couple did not have marriage problems and he believed they died from a leaking gas tank.

“It’s a mystery,” he said.

“The kids were very amicable, well mannered, polite and well presented.

“We are all devastated. Very shaken – a whole family is destroyed.”

Mr Singh said Nilesh was an accountant and Preetika was also a professional.  He said the family survived a car crash in the Dandenong Ranges late last year.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said officers were called to a house in Marcia Court, Glen Waverley at 10.50am to make a welfare check.

They found the bodies inside. The property has been cordoned off.

“The homicide squad has been notified and are attending with the Monash Criminal Investigation Unit,” the spokeswoman said.

“The circumstances of the death are under investigation and are yet to be established.”

Neighbours have been left shocked.

“I saw a girl about mid 30s or 40s and a young girl there. They seemed ok so I wasn’t suspicious or anything,” neighbour Josh said.

Diveish Sharma, 5, and his sister Divya, 3, were found dead in the Glen Waverley home

“I only ever saw one child, a girl aged about 10.”

Another neighbour, George, said he saw a family of three often go into the house, with a child aged as young as four.

“I used to see him playing with his daughter,” he said.

“I feel terrible. I’ve been here 30 years and this has never happened.”

Police have cordoned off a home in Marcia Ct, Glen Waverley when four people were found dead. Picture: Derrick den Hollander

Another Marcia Court resident said he had no idea what had happened.

He said it was the first time he had seen police in the street.

“We are a very peaceful court. It’s a very small court,’’ he said.

“I have been here 22 years nothing (has) happened.’’

Horror in suburbia: four dead in house

May 1, 2012

Police outside the house in Marcia Court, Glen Waverley.

Police have confirmed that two adults and two children were the dead bodies found in the house at Glen Waverley.

The uncle of the two children, a boy and girl, aged 8 and 4, said the family were “absolutely shattered” on hearing the news.

“It’s a real mystery, we just do not know what has happened,” the uncle said.

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Abhay Singh said he visited the family regularly and they never seemed to have any problems.

“They were a really lovely family, very reserved. He was an accountant, she was also well qualified. It is shattering. I don’t know how anyone can recover from that.”

Mr Singh said he attended a birthday party with the family quite recently and all seemed well.

He said the father and mother of the children, aged in their 30s, had come to Australia from Fiji about 15 years ago and had lived in the Marcia Court home for about three years.

Homicide detective senior sergeant Dave Snare said police arrived at the scene about 11am today after receiving a call from someone concerned about the welfare of the family.

He said at this stage police were not looking for any suspects.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said police arrived to find four bodies inside the home. She could not give any information about the bodies, including their ages or whether they were members of the same family.

There is a strong police presence at the tree-lined court which has well-tended gardens and brick veneer homes.

“The homicide squad has been notified and are attending with the Monash criminal investigation unit,” the spokeswoman said.

“The circumstances of the death are under investigation and are yet to be established.”

The tiny court has now been sealed off. A silver sedan is parked in the driveway of the home where the bodies were discovered. There was also a red hatch outside.

A neighbour whose home backs on to the property where the bodies were found said a woman lived at the brick single-storey home and that she had a young daughter.

The neighbour said it was a quiet street and locals were shaken to hear about the deaths.

A police chaplain visited the home this morning.

Chaplain Jim Pilmer said that the dead were Hindus and he was trying to organise appropriate support for relatives.

“I will visit the next of kin and provide support to them,” the chaplain said.

Michael Sawaya, whose father is a long-time resident in the court, said a Fijian-Indian family had lived there for about three or four years.He believed they were a husband, wife and two children.

“Everybody knew the kids, they were real cute.”

The homicide squad’s detective senior sergeant Dave Snare is expected to reveal details of the deaths at a 3pm media conference.

Neighbours said the family living at the property kept to themselves and never appeared to be in any trouble.

http://media.theage.com.au/news/national-news/four-dead-in-suburban-home-3261507.html

 

Has Karen Cleave potentially perverted the course of Justice? Cops quiz watchdog over car crash


Well wont this open a can of worms this morning. This woman Karen Cleave, heads up the Public Service Ethical Standards, has been seemingly busted trying to pretend she was the driver of a Government car which crashed into a tree and written off with over $40,000 damage. Thank god (nobody was hurt as well) some neighbours ran out and witnessed her shenanigans. A young man (Since been identified as her 18y/o son) was seen crashing the car and was picked up by some people shortly after in another car. She was breathalysed and was negative, but what about the lad? What was the rush to get him out of there? She has been stood down…That is the good news.Now we better get a proper investigation and not a bloody cover up!

THE woman responsible for policing public service ethical standards has been stood down as police investigate a crash involving her government car.

Karen Cleave had allegedly told police she was driving the car when it hit a tree - causing about $40,000 damage - but later said her son, 18, had been behind the wheel

Karen Cleave had allegedly told police she was driving the car when it hit a tree – causing about $40,000 damage – but later said her son, 18, had been behind the wheel.

Ms Cleave is CEO of the State Services Authority and a key Baillieu government adviser.

The car was a write-off after the driver lost control and hit a tree in East Malvern.

Police were told by a woman at the scene that she had been driving the car. She was breath-tested and returned a negative reading.

But a resident later told police a young man had been driving when the car skidded on to the wrong side of the road and hit the tree.

Residents are believed to have told police two adults arrived in another car soon after the crash and the young man was driven away before police arrived. The accident happened in February. Why the delay in any action? What was the department told about the crash? Surely accident reports, Insurance had to be filled out?

Detectives from Prahran Criminal Investigation Unit are believed to have interviewed Ms Cleave, who earns almost $300,000 a year.

Police would not comment on the investigation yesterday, but a brief of evidence supporting possible charges against Ms Cleave is believed to have been submitted.

The services authority, which reports directly to the Premier, is responsible for improving the governance standards and professionalism of Victoria’s public sector agencies.

Its website says it reports annually on the adherence by public officials to public sector values, employment principles, codes of conduct and standards.

Ms Cleave joined the public service in the mid-80s and has managed several high-profile projects, including the gun buyback from 1996-98, a taskforce after major floods in East Gippsland in 1998 and the inquiry into the 2002-03 bushfires.

A government spokesman said the chairman of the services authority, Bruce Hartnett, had stood aside Ms Cleave “pending the outcome of the police investigation”.

The spokesman said family members of a public servant whose car was part of a salary package were permitted to drive the vehicle.

Ms Cleave is overseas and could not be contacted yesterday.

Senior public servant stood down over car crash

By Danny Morgan ABC news

The head of the Victorian public service’s ethical standards agency has been stood down after it was alleged she made a false report to police.

In February the chief executive of the State Services Authority, Karen Cleave, made a statement to police telling them she had crashed her car into a tree at Malvern, in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.

It is understood she later changed her statement saying her son was driving.

The authority’s chairman, Bruce Hartnett, yesterday ordered Ms Cleave to stand down while the investigation continues.

As chief executive of the State Services Authority, Ms Cleave is charged with making sure the public service operates ethically and professionally.

Premier Ted Baillieu says it was appropriate that she stand aside but refused further comment because of the ongoing police investigation.