Woman and baby boy in 20th-floor death plunge-Murder Suicide


Woman, child die falling from internal balcony from Docklands apartment

Police tape marks the scene where a woman and child died after a balcony fall in Melbourne’s CBD. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Wes Hosking, Anthony Dowsley

A WOMAN and a four-month-old baby have died after an apparent fall from an apartment balcony in Melbourne’s CBD.

The pair were found just after 10.30am in an apartment building at the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets.

Family are at the scene with one yelling “oh no” when told of the news.

It is understood the woman, 31, plunged from a balcony high in the City Point building.

Police are with distraught family. The deaths are not being treated as suspicious.

The bodies of a woman and child were found just after 10.30am. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

The bodies of a woman and child were found just after 10.30am.

The exact circumstances of where the child was are unknown at this point.

It is believed the woman may have been residing above 20th floor.

Paramedics entered the building to attend to someone who may have become distressed about 1.30pm.

Later, a family could be seen talking with police and social workers in the foyer of the building just before 2pm.

A priest earlier entered the building to console family, and the coroner is on the scene.

A senior police officer has told media they will not be making any comment about the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, but police confirmed the ages of the pair in a statement.

“A 31-year-old woman and a 4-month-old child were located deceased at an apartment building in Docklands this morning,” a statement read.

The Melbourne CBD location where a mother and child have died in a horror fall.

The Melbourne CBD location where a mother and child have died in a horror fall.Source:Herald Sun

The pair are believed to have fallen from an internal apartment balcony. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

The pair are believed to have fallen from an internal apartment balcony.


A resident, Alex Champ, said he was unaware of the incident. He said families, children and travellers stayed in the high rise.

“You get all people and young ones (living here), he said. “There is an internal area where there is a drop.

“It’s just crazy to think it’s just a few floors above me.”

A small section of the east bound Bourke street lane has been reopened by police near where it meets Spencer St.

Police are working to identify the mother and child. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Police are working to identify the mother and child.

Police have been speaking to staff at the Chocolate Frog Cafe, which is in an older building which fronts the tall apartment complex behind it.

Earlier Victoria Police spokesman Alistair Parsons said: “Police are currently at an apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands where a woman and a child were located.”

“The yet to be identified woman and child died at the scene,’’ he said.

“At this early stage it is believed they may have fallen from an internal balcony.”

The exact circumstances surrounding the incident were yet to be determined.

Police have cordoned off the area and are speaking to witnesses.

Paramedics were called to the area but could not assist the pair.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

The pair died near the corner Spencer and Bourke Streets. Picture Yuri Kouzmin <br />

The pair died near the corner Spencer and Bourke Streets.

Originally published as Woman, baby die in balcony fall


Woman and baby boy in 20th-floor death plunge: ‘Gut-wrenching scream’ as woman, 31, jumps from balcony of her luxury Melbourne apartment holding 4-month-old ‘believed to be her son’

 

  • Woman and baby plunged to their deaths from a balcony in Melbourne
  • The four-month-old boy is believed to have been her son
  • The father ‘collapsed in shock’ when he arrived at the Docklands building
  • Emergency services were unable to revive the woman, 31, and baby
  • The pair’s identities are yet to be determined as investigations continue

Witnesses heard a ‘gut-wrenching’ scream as a woman, 31, and a four-month-old baby boy died in an apparent murder-suicide when they plunged to their deaths from a balcony in central Melbourne.

The woman was carrying the baby, believed to be her son, when she took her own life at the City Point apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands.

Police confirmed they were not looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths and a report would be prepared for the coroner

Witnesses heard 'gut-wrenching' screams after a woman, 31, and a four-month-old baby died when they plunged to their deaths from a balcony in central Melbourne. Police speak to a witness

Witnesses heard ‘gut-wrenching’ screams after a woman, 31, and a four-month-old baby died when they plunged to their deaths from a balcony in central Melbourne. Police speak to a witness

They say the pair fell from a balcony inside the 35-storey building about 10.30am on Thursday and died at the scene.

Police have also said a damaged balcony was not the cause of the woman and baby’s fall.

Their bodies were discovered in a courtyard of the building, where apartments have sold for more than $400,000.

The 31-year-old woman lived on the 20th floor with the baby boy’s father who is said to be devastated, according to Herald Sun.

He collapsed in shock when he arrived at the scene and was taken to hospital, 7 News reported.

Police are looking to establish if she had leapt to her death from a sixth-floor balcony, according to the ABC.

She is believed to have been holding the baby at the time.

Witness Christine Harms told The Age she heard someone yell out, ‘Oh no, oh no’, after the incident.

‘A lady went into the alleyway and then there was some screaming,’ Ms Harms said.

‘It was gut-wrenching to hear.’

The woman was carrying the baby when she took her own at the City Point apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands. Pictured are police at the scene

The woman was carrying the baby when she took her own at the City Point apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands. Pictured are police at the scene

Police say the pair plummeted from a balcony inside the 35-storey building about 10.30am on Thursday and died at the scene

Police say the pair plummeted from a balcony inside the 35-storey building about 10.30am on Thursday and died at the scene

Relatives and friends visited the apartment block early on Thursday afternoon.

A man who knew the woman said they were left shocked by the incident, adding: ‘We don’t know what happened.’

A Victoria Police spokesperson said initial investigations led them to believe the pair fell from an ‘internal balcony’.

‘The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are yet to be determined,’ she said.

Police were unable to confirm the relationship between the woman and baby.

Paramedics were also called to the scene but they were unable to revive the pair, a Victoria Ambulance spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.

More than a dozen uniformed and plain-clothed police and eight police cars closed off the scene – at one of Melbourne’s busiest intersections – with some taking bagged items out of the building.

Investigators started to leave shortly after 3pm and the footpath at the front of the building was reopened as police tape was removed.

Traffic detours were in place until about 1.30pm.

For confidential help, call Lifeline at 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Pictured is an apartment inside the City Point building on Bourke Street

Pictured is an apartment inside the City Point building on Bourke Street

She reportedly lived on the 20th floor but police are looking into if she leapt to her death from a sixth-floor balcony. Above is an image of another apartment at City Point

She reportedly lived on the 20th floor but police are looking into if she leapt to her death from a sixth-floor balcony. Above is an image of another apartment at City Point

The foyer inside the City Point building, where apartments have sold for more than $400,000

The foyer inside the City Point building, where apartments have sold for more than $400,000

The family of the woman, who lived on the 20th floor, are said to be devastated by the tragedy. Pictured is the City Point apartment building

Bikie taskforce Echo raid Seabrook home in Melbourne’s west


 an hour ago

Bikie taskforce Echo police are currently executing warrants on a home in Melbourne’s west. Picture: Nicole Garmston

A SENIOR Mongol bikie has been arrested and a 3D printer seized during a raid in Melbourne’s west this morning.

Echo Taskforce detectives arrested two men and a woman, all with links to the Mongols OMCG, after raids in Seabrook and Oakleigh South earlier today.

A man arrested at the Seabrook property. Picture: Nicole Garmston

A woman is arrested during raids at the property. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Homes in Mintaro Way in Seabrook and Fleming Court in Oakleigh South were raided at 6am.

Ammunition, 3D printers, equipment for manufacturing firearms and a small amount of drugs were seized from the Seabrook property.

A 26-year-old Seabrook man and a 27-year-old Seabrook woman were arrested.

An allegedly stolen motorbike was seized from the Oakleigh South property and a 29-year-old man was arrested.

Middleton was bailed last month after he was arrested for drug and violence offences.

He was released with conditions a magistrate described as the “strictest she’s ever set”.

The 26-year-old’s partner Renee Comeadow was also arrested.

Evidence gathered in relation to bikies. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Police leave the scene with evidence. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Middleton was granted bail last month by magistrate Margaret Harding, who said he needed to be reunited with his family after five months on remand.

Ms Harding had wanted Middleton to hand in his bikie colours as a condition of bail, but backed away after she was told other bikies could threaten Middleton’s family because that was a “sign of disrespect”.

Police seized his Mongols vest this morning.

A police officer carrying a Mongols jacket leaves the scene. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Visitor outside the property. (black top)  Picture: Nicole Garmston

Middleton had told the magistrate he would not wear the club’s colours while on bail.

Other conditions included a $300,000 surety, daily reporting to police, a strict curfew, non association with witnesses and bikies.

Middleton, a father of a two-year-old, also promised to stay out of parts of Port Melbourne and Werribee as a condition of release.

Middleton and his partner Comeadow turned up at Sunshine Hospital at 8.15pm on November 1 last year after the OMCG member was shot in the knee.

Police arrived and searched Comeadow’s car where they allegedly found around 500 grams worth of ecstasy, a rubber gun grip and 4.2mm ammunition cartridges.

Middleton was charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of ecstasy and possession of ammunition.

Detective Senior Constable Andrew Broad, a member of the Echo Taskforce, told Melbourne Magistrates’ Court at the time that a search carried out at the couple’s home in Seabrook also resulted in officers finding a gun and a “substantial” amount of drugs.

Comeadow was charged with possessing a commercial quantity of ecstasy and storing ammunition after police searched her car at the hospital.

The search of the couple’s home allegedly uncovered a handgun and more drugs, the court heard.

Defence lawyer Sarah Pratt, representing Comeadow last year, said: “There is no allegation Ms Comeadow is in an OMCG.”

Police spokeswoman Melissa Seach said: “The warrant is part of an ongoing Echo Taskforce investigation in relation to perverting the course of justice.”

david.hurley@news.com.au

VISAS cancelled: Bikies protest at Federation Square

FEATURE: How we’re smashing outlaw bikie power

TARGETED: Outlaw bikie gangs feel heat

DRIVE-BY: Bikie war link to strip club shooting

SPECIAL: More outlaw bikie reports


 

Standover man and convicted killer Walid “Wally” Ahmad shot dead at Bankstown


“Despite extensive searches by detectives from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad, a 48-year-old, who is wanted by virtue of an arrest warrant, has not been found,’’ police said today.

A senior officer has told the Daily Telegraph that while Elmer could be hiding from police there is a possibility he has been killed.

Police said he may also be hiding for fear he may be targeted by associates of Walid Ahmad.

 

Police inspect the burnt-out remains of a vehicle used during the Ahmad shooting. Picture: Getty Images

 

SYDNEY’S escalating gangland war in the southwest may have claimed another victim with the disappearance of a man wanted for questioning over the murder of major crime figure Walid Ahmad.

Ahmad, 40, a Mr Big of Sydney crime, was shot dead as he sipped coffee at a rooftop cafe at Bankstown shopping centre. It’s believed it was payback for the shooting of Safwan Charbaji, 32, outside Ahmad’s business on April 9.

Fawaz Mohammed Elmir is wanted for his alleged involvement in the shooting at the smash repair shop and warrants have been issued for his arrest.

Elmir, who was at the smash repair yard and related through marriage to Mr Charbaji, has vanished.

Fawaz Mohammed Elmir.Source:Supplied

Walid Ahmad.Source:Channel 7

 

“Despite extensive searches by detectives from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad, a 48-year-old, who is wanted by virtue of an arrest warrant, has not been found,’’ police said today.

A senior officer has told the Daily Telegraph that while Elmer could be hiding from police there is a possibility he has been killed.

Police said he may also be hiding for fear he may be targeted by associates of Walid Ahmad.

Originally published as Man wanted over gangland shooting disappears

Police are investigating a shooting in Sydney’s south-west that left one man dead and two people injured.

MOMENTS before shots rang out at a Bankstown shopping centre this morning, a man rushed into a shop inside screaming, “There’s not enough f***ing time”.

Standover man and convicted killer Walid “Wally” Ahmad was shot dead and two others were injured at the centre when an unknown person opened fire inside Bankstown Central, in Sydney’s southwest, just before noon.

Police are now hunting two people over the attack, a man who opened fire and another who drove a getaway car.

A 32-year-old woman, believed to be friends with Ahmad, is recovering in hospital alongside Ahmad’s bodyguard, a 53-year-old man.

A woman working in a cosmetics store inside the centre told news.com.au that a man and a woman rushed into the shop moments before the shooting.

“Where’s store security? Where’s store security? Can you call them?” the distressed woman said.

She banged her hand on the counter, saying “call them, call them!”

But the man said: “There’s not enough f***ing time.”

The pair then ran towards an escalator, which leads to the third-level gym, cafe and carpark, where the shooting occurred.

It is not known who the people were or if they were hurt in the shooting.


Shooting victim Walid “Wally” Ahmad.

‘IT’S CLEARLY TARGETED’

Bankstown police commander Detective Superintendent David Eardley confirmed a 40-year-old man is dead and two others were injured in the shooting.

Police believe the gunman did not act alone and a burnt-out white Mercedes connected to the crime has been found in Greenacre.

While police have not confirmed the identity of the victim, he said police would also be looking at the connection with another shooting at Condell Park earlier this month.

“It’s clearly targeted; this is not a random shooting,” Det Supt Eardley said.

“People need to understand and feel safe to go about the streets and their daily lives.”

He also urged those connected to the crime not to take matters into their own hands.

“Leave it to us to investigate … there is no need to resort to any activity that would jeopardise themselves or others.”


A burnt-out Mercedes car that was found shortly after a shooting in Bankstown. Picture Craig Greenhill

‘COME GET ME! HE’S DEAD!’

The niece of the victim Walid “Wally” Ahmad told news.com.au: “It’s my uncle. He’s the victim.”

The woman was at a family gathering at a home nearby when she received a phone call that her uncle had been shot.

She said she received a panicked call from Ahmad’s daughter, her cousin, as she raced to the Bankstown Central shopping centre.

“She said, ‘Come get me! He’s dead! He’s dead!’” the shocked niece told news.com.au

“I need to get to her. She’s all by herself, she’s alone.

When asked who may have targeted Ahmad, the niece said: “I don’t know. The most important thing is finding my cousin.”

Later, news.com.au witnessed the niece and the daughter hug as they were reunited.

The shopping centre’s management ushered family members to a nearby coffee house, where more than a dozen police officers were gathered.

An elderly woman, believed to be the mother of the victim, was seen slumped in a wheelchair, quivering, with her hands covering her face.

The family were agitated as they left the area, demanding that no pictures be taken.


One of the victims of the Bankstown Centro Shopping Centre shooting being loaded into an ambulance. Picture: Channel 10 / Twitter

MISTAKEN IDENTITY?

Today’s shooting took place at a major shopping centre, formerly known as Bankstown Centro, on the corner of Stacey St and Rickard Rd, in Sydney’s southwest.

Witnesses told news.com.au that the shooting happened in the centre carpark outside Michael’s Coffee House, near Crunch Fitness gym and Rebel Sports store.

People who parked close to the scene have been told by police they could not move their cars, and some have resorted to taking the bus home.

Early reports said a man aged about 40 went into cardiac arrest. The body is believed to still be at the scene.

It is understood two people have been detained at the scene, including an unidentified, handcuffed man pictured. Police told news.com.au that nobody had been formally arrested.

A Bankstown resident working at the shopping centre, who asked not to be named, told AAP that “police arrested the wrong people to start with”.

He said a Mercedes was stopped and searched by police on the corner of Jacobs St and Rickard Rd, but police failed to find a weapon.

“It happened in front of us,” he said. “They handcuffed the wrong person.” He said police found the right car, a black four-wheel drive, at the rooftop car park near the gym.


A man is detained at the scene. Picture: TNV

Police have warned drivers to avoid the area around the centre because of traffic delays.

“There were a couple of screams and you just wondered if they were kids or something,” Mr Davis said.

“It was surreal really.

“I suppose I’m feeling really fortunate that I wasn’t there (at the tome of the escalator).”

STANDOVER MAN

The victim is a known standover man with a previous manslaughter conviction.

It is believed Ahmad is connected to a fatal shooting at smash repair business, A Team Smash Repair, where one man, Safwan Chabaji , was shot dead in April in Condell Park.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that he has been on the run since the fatal shooting.

Mr Ahmad was previously convicted of the 2002 killing of Mayez Dany in Greenacre.


A woman was taken to hospital after a shooting at a Bankstown shopping centre. Picture: Channel 9

Officers were called to the shopping centre about 11.50am after reports of a shooting. There were unconfirmed reports of eight shots being fired in the carpark.

A witness having coffee outside a nearby cafe said she heard the commotion and everybody got up and started walking away.

A Channel 7 video shows one of the victims being asked whether he was OK as he was being wheeled away on a stretcher.

When asked what happened, the victim said: “Firework”.


Shooting at Bankstown shopping centre. Picture: TNV

The previous shooting at the smash repair business left one man, Safwan Charbaji, 32, dead with gunshot wound to the chest. Another, Abdullah El Masri, 35, was left in a critical condition after being shot in the face. He remains in an induced coma.

The shooting happened on the afternoon of April 9 in Condell Park, a suburb of Bankstown.

Witnesses reported hearing an argument before a number of shots were fired.

At the time, authorities said the men were known to police.

“We believe that the people did know each other,” a police spokesman told media on Saturday, adding that it was unclear whether the men were shot by a third party.

“It’s quite possible that a meeting has taken place.”


A man is being taken to hospital on a stretcher after a shooting at Bankstown. Picture: Channel 9

A local shop worker told news.com.au Ahmad was one of her “favourite customers.”

“When I had first met Walid he had recently been out of jail,” she said.

“But he was always a sweet man, had brought in his little girl and his wife a few times.

“Could never say no to the lollies she’d want to buy.

“Anyway I understand people are different, but I only had an employee-customer relationship with him.

“I’m sure his wife is very heartbroken though.”

At least six ambulances and a dozen police cars were at the scene and television footage showed paramedics putting a man on a stretcher.

Police said they arrived to find two men and a woman injured; one of the men died at the scene.

A crime scene has been established, which will be examined by detectives and forensic specialists.

The shopping centre car park has been closed as a precaution.

Anyone with information that could assist police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


Man shot dead outside Sydney shopping centre

Fri 29 Apr 2016, 3:52pm

A gunman is at large after a “targeted” shooting in Sydney’s south-west that has left one man dead and two other people injured.

  • A 40-year-old man is dead after shooting at Bankstown Central Shopping Centre
  • A man and a woman who were injured have been taken to hospital
  • Police say the shooting was targeted and the gunman did not act alone

Emergency crews were called to the car park of Bankstown Central Shopping Centre on Rickard Road just before midday.

On arrival police found three injured people – two men and a woman. A 40-year-old man died of his injuries at the scene.

A 60-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman were treated by paramedics for wounds to their lower legs before being taken to hospital.

Detective Superintendent David Eardley said the shooting was targeted.

“This isn’t a random shooting, it was clearly targeted to the man who has died of gunshot wounds,” he said.

“I can assure the Bankstown and neighbouring communities not to be concerned about this incident.

“You will see a large number of police resources around the Bankstown area. That’s purely a proactive stance by us to again provide some reassurance to the community that it is safe.”

Detective Superintendent Eardley said he was unaware of any arrests so far, but there was evidence the gunman did not act alone.

“We had information of a white Mercedes vehicle being used and I can confirm that vehicle has been located burned-out in the Greenacre area,” he said.

He urged anyone associated with the incident not to take matters into their own hands.

“Leave it to us to investigate and leave it to us to identify the people involved. We will put them before the courts, they will be dealt with under our law,” he said.

“There is no need to revert to any type of action that will jeopardise their family and the public.”

Detective Superintendent Eardley said the incident could be connected with a fatal shooting at nearby Condell Park earlier in April.

“We’re certainly not ruling out any links. We’re looking at all opportunities and all avenues of investigation. Certainly there has been a shooting in this area, in the Condell Park area,” he said.

“That is subject to Strike Force Admiralty. Those detectives will be reviewing the incident today and see if they can identify any linkages.”

The shopping centre car park has been closed as a precaution and drivers have been asked to avoid the area.

Fatema Islam was in the shopping centre car park when the shooting happened.

She said she initially thought the gunshot sounds may have been someone dropping something at the nearby gym.

“I looked back and there was nothing, and then suddenly one lady came running and crying and saying ‘oh there’s a gunshot, there’s a gunshot’. And I just freaked out,” she said.

“I looked back, but there was nothing, no car was there, no person or nothing.

“I didn’t see any dead body or nothing. When I went inside [the shopping centre], at that time, all the police and everyone came.”

Bankstown resident Bessy Axiotis said she did not feel safe shopping at the centre.

“[It’s] very sad, because there’s children around, there’s families. It’s a very busy time,” she said.

“I came up and at that time that’s when everyone was screaming and running around. I didn’t actually see what happened, but it was just chaotic.

“Everyone was running, everyone just ran back in and then the police came.

“I shop here all the time, but now you think ‘OK, I’ve got to shop somewhere else now, because Bankstown isn’t safe’. It’s very upsetting.”

Homeless man Reginald Mullaly, had $70 in his wallet but $30,000 in the bank when his body was found


As a society it should not matter where someone ranks in in life when a  murder occurs.Their death MUST be investigated to the fullest extent.So maybe with some info from someone we can find out what really happened to Reggie Mullaly?

January 18, 2016

Left to die under a bridge

The body of Reginald Mullaly, 69, was found in September 2015 under a bridge in Bathurst, with 11 stab wounds to his arms and chest. Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000.

Every day Reginald Mullaly would stir from his makeshift shelter under the Denison Bridge and take the $8-$9 cab ride into Bathurst’s CBD.

Twice a week, he would stroll into the Reliance Credit Union and withdraw a few hundred dollars from the almost $30,000 he had in his bank account.

This money would be spent on pies at a bakery, cans at the bottle shop and a loaf of bread to feed the ducks on the banks of the Macquarie River.

Dawn, the sister of homeless man Reginald Mullaly, holds a photo of him.Dawn, the sister of homeless man Reginald Mullaly, holds a photo of him. Photo: Kate Geraghty

His spare change would go into the guide dog donation tin at Liquorland.

It is this money that police suspect might have led Mr Mullaly, who chose the life of a vagabond despite the thousands in his bank account, to be targeted in a vicious and fatal attack.

The 69-year-old homeless man’s body was found lying under the bridge he called home on September 20, 2015.

The shelter under Denison Bridge in Bathurst where Reginald Mullaly slept and where his body was found.The shelter under Denison Bridge in Bathurst where Reginald Mullaly slept and where his body was found. Photo: Kate Geraghty

He was clutching a tissue and was holding it up against a bloody wound on his temple. Small blood spots dotted rocks that formed his sleeping nook.

A blanket, given to him by staff at the bakery, covered his bottom half and his boots were off, as if he had settled in for the night.

Days later, staff at the Newcastle Morgue removed his six layers of clothing and found 11 stab wounds on his body.

A bag where Reginald Mullaly's body was found.A bag where Reginald Mullaly’s body was found. Photo: Kate Geraghty

“It’s a cowardly attack on a vulnerable member of the community,” Detective Senior Constable Adrian Graham said.

Mr Mullaly was last seen about 3.15pm on Thursday September 17, when a taxi dropped him off at his usual spot near Lions Club Drive.

Police are still hunting for the person or persons responsible for Mr Mullaly’s death but they believe his financial status, in stark contradiction to the itinerant life he led, may have been a motive.

A hat where Reginald Mullaly was found.A hat where Reginald Mullaly was found. Photo: Kate Geraghty

While detectives found about $70 in Mr Mullaly’s wallet at the crime scene, his attackers may have been disappointed to find he did not have a bank card to access the money in his account.

He inherited tens of thousands of dollars after his mother died a few years ago but resisted putting it towards accommodation.

It was no secret that Mr Mullaly had money but the exact figure would fluctuate depending on who you spoke to in town.

Reginald Mullaly was last seen getting out a taxi on September 17 last year.Reginald Mullaly was last seen getting out a taxi on September 17 last year. Photo: NSW Police

Twice a week he would withdraw enough cash to cover his daily routine, which seldom changed.

Some days he would sit beside Kerry Hodge, as he strummed his guitar and sang Johnny Cash songs on the Howick Street footpath.

“With his little bag alongside him, he would have a bit of a beer hidden and he kept it so nobody could see his beer,” Mr Hodge said.

Detective Senior Constable Adrian Graham stands near the shelter where Reginald Mullaly's body was found.Detective Senior Constable Adrian Graham stands near the shelter where Reginald Mullaly’s body was found. Photo: Kate Geraghty

“But I knew and I didn’t mind because he never, ever, ever, said anything to upset me.

“Then he would come along with bread and feed the little sparrows.

“Now that he is gone, I am feeding the sparrows for him.”

Reginald Mullaly's sister Dawn holds a lock of his hair.Reginald Mullaly’s sister Dawn holds a lock of his hair. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Mr Hodge, who was one of the last people to see “Reggie” alive, had heard that Mr Mullaly often knocked back offers for accommodation.

Despite his generosity, people would sometimes confront Mr Mullaly for money, Mr Hodge said.

One of five children, Mr Mullaly was well known in the area, having grown up fishing and shooting on a property near Newbridge, about 30 kilometres outside Bathurst.

Kerry Hodge, a friend of Reginald Mullaly and one of the last people to see him alive.

Kerry Hodge, a friend of Reginald Mullaly and one of the last people to see him alive. Photo: Kate Geraghty

He moved between the family property and his sister Dawn’s house in Bathurst and worked as a wardsman at the Bathurst Base Hospital and a shearer in adulthood.

But it was his penchant for a drink and Dawn’s loathing for alcohol that often caused their relationship to become unstuck.

“He lived with me for 13 months and just one day he would pick up with fellas that he knew,” Dawn said.

“He always knew he could come back [to my house] but the conditions were no drink and you smoke your rollies outside.”

They were simple conditions that would have put a roof over his head. Yet Mr Mullaly wanted to do things his way, even if it meant sleeping in the dirt between two bridge pillars.

“Say he lived with you and you had the TV too loud, if you started the mower or vacuum cleaner or you were watching Home and Away on TV, that would be enough to make him pack up and leave,” Dawn said.

“He packed up and left in what he stood up in.

“I just don’t understand it because Dad was a hard worker and mum was and the four of us girls don’t drink.”

 

 

Despite their differences, Dawn always kept a caring eye on her drifting brother and was there when he needed help.

On Wednesdays, Mr Mullaly would meet Dawn’s daughter at the river, where they would feed the ducks together. Sometimes he would return with his niece to Dawn’s neat and comforting home.

If he didn’t show up, Dawn would go looking for him. Once she reported him missing.

Those who knew Mr Mullaly conceded that, while sometimes he was gruff, he caused nobody any harm.

“It doesn’t matter if you live in a mansion or under a bridge, you don’t deserve to be murdered,” Dawn said.

“There is someone out there that knows what happened and I’m just hoping they come forward.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact Bathurst police on 02 6332 8699.

What happened to $34 million from Aboriginal fund on Groote Eylandt?


A matter of trust…

05/11/2015

It was millions of dollars in mining royalties that was meant to be spent for the benefit of the Groote Eylandt community.

Instead, tens of millions were spent on 156 cars and boats, fridges, a barge, gambling at the casino and charter flights.

The latest chapter in the extraordinary saga played out in the Darwin Supreme Court on Monday.

The former public officer of Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust (GEAT), Rosalie Lalara, had earlier pleaded guilty to misappropriating almost $500,000.

Her bail was revoked and she is now behind bars awaiting sentencing.

A total of $34 million disappeared from the GEAT coffers between 2010 and 2012, leaving just $400,000 remaining in the account.

While Lalara has pleaded guilty to a fraction of the missing millions, exactly what happened to the rest remains a mystery.

But those involved in the case said little of it appeared to have been spent on housing, education or the needs of the community.

Jacqueline Lahne was brought in as the interim operations manager at GEAT when the trust was put into administration in 2012.

“My initial impression was that there was a group of people [on Groote Eylandt] who were literally living like rock stars,” she said in an interview with the ABC.

Chartered planes, vehicles waiting for them at airports, they owned multiple vehicles and boats themselves. They had access endlessly to cash for their lifestyles and then for their families.

Groote Eylandt, a remote island off Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, regularly appears at the top of the Northern Territory’s richest postcodes.

It earns millions each year in royalties from the nearby South32 manganese mine.

Since its inception in the early 1960s, the trust has earned more than $200 million in royalties.

Lalara told the ABC she is not responsible for all the money that went missing.

“They accuse me of being a thief and I don’t steal,” Lalara said in an interview with the ABC.

Lalara was the community’s go-to person on the trust and said not everyone was happy with the trust’s rules on how royalty money should be spent.

“They say, ‘Oh, it’s our money, you should spend this money on us. Why you keeping the money, what for? It shouldn’t be up there in the bank, it should be down here spent’,” she said.

Court documents in a separate case allege Lalara was involved in the purchase of 156 cars and boats at a total cost of $5 million.

A barge and real estate in Cairns were also bought with trust money.

The documents alleged cash cheques to a total value of $3.5 million were written from the trust account and fraudulently recorded against funeral costs.

Millions remain unaccounted for due to poor record keeping

In court documents in civil proceedings against Darwin’s Skycity casino, it is alleged Lalara gambled more than $1 million of trust money.

“If I had a million dollars would I be gambling it? No, thank you. That is all bad,” she said.

“We went and bought a whole heap of stuff … maybe fridges, washing machines, even air conditioners, yeah, beddings, beds, mattresses, yep.”

But what exactly has happened to the remaining $33 million is unclear.

Ms Lahne said that many millions remain unaccounted for because GEAT kept poor records.

She believes non-Indigenous businesses who preyed on the trust received a large percentage of the missing millions.

“I guess we’d call them carpetbaggers wouldn’t we?” she said.

“They’re people, or sharks, that prey on vulnerable populations.

“They find that organisations are limited in their governance structures and capacity, they work their way in there.”

Court documents alleged one operator who did business with the trust regularly charged 30 per cent commission to the trust.

“Vehicles that had been purchased by the trust weeks before for perhaps $35,000, were sold on for $5,000 or $10,000 in cash,” Ms Lahne said.

“So the trust automatically lost a portion of cash and the vehicle disappeared, plates were destroyed, it’s gone.”

Purchase of cars for teens triggered ‘distrust’

Not all of the community were benefiting from the largesse.

It was the purchase of cars for kids barely in their teens that caused the community outrage and made them act.

“Thirteen-year-old girls getting bought a car and 15-year-old boys getting a boat,” said Keith Hansen, who has lived on the island for 25 years and is married to a local beneficiary.

“That’s when the distrust really came into place, when they were buying for a birthday for a 13-year-old girl a flash Ford Falcon sedan.”

Groote Eylandters told the ABC that 300 locals confronted Lalara about the trust’s finances on the oval in the town of Anuragu in early 2012.

Punches were thrown, the police were called and there were multiple arrests.

On March 12, 2012 more than 500 locals signed a petition which was sent to the Northern Territory Attorney-General, saying “many millions of dollars have been wasted and corruption is rife … no-one is game to do anything for fear of retribution”.

The Government stepped in and a statutory manager was appointed.

Ms Lahne worked alongside the statutory manager and said she was “shocked” when she arrived on Groote Eylandt.

“I would have expected with all the years of royalties going into that island to see more supporting infrastructure, better local health services, better support agencies that the trust might be investing in but there was no evidence of that,” she said.

But Lalara said she was put under great cultural pressure by beneficiaries to keep buying things for them with money from the trust.

“I reckon I was stuck with the two worlds. White-man world, white-man way and blackfella way. And what I was trying to do was to do it our way, and it’s not written in the book,” she said.

“We try to balance the both sides so it doesn’t how you say … ruin things. But it obviously ruined [things].”

Lalara is angry that the community has not defended her since charges were laid against her in 2013.

“The community is the fault and I say they are gutless and they are coward and it’s their fault all this happened,” she said.

“Now everybody’s … happy sitting behind their cars and steering wheels and that they don’t even want to help [me].”

Auditors under the microscope

In a separate case, three international companies employed to give financial and legal advice to GEAT’s trustees are now being sued.

In a civil case in the Darwin Supreme Court, GEAT is alleging KPMG, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Minter Ellison failed to detect numerous “irregularities” in the trust’s operation in the 18 months that $34 million was spent.

Trust lawyers claim if the firms had performed their duties diligently they could have prevented tens of millions of dollars being misspent.

“The flag could have been raised years ago,” Ms Lahne said.

The ABC approached KPMG, Deloitte and Minter Ellison, which have combined to fight the civil claims against them. They all declined to comment.

Despite $200 million being paid in royalties to the trust over the past 50 years, Ms Lahne said there was little evidence on the island of the wealth received by the 1,800 Aboriginal beneficiaries of GEAT.

“I think they are a very strong community, they’re on their land, they’re on country and they’re really quite traditional in my experience,” Ms Lahne said.

“I think the lost opportunity is incalculable. I think generations to come will look back … and say ‘look what we could have had’ you know from that money, had it been invested properly.”

It was high drama in the Darwin Supreme Court earlier this week when Lalara sacked her lawyer and handed in an unsigned document that claimed judges appointed in Australia after 1901 did not have valid legal powers, and therefore no judge had the standing to decide her case.

Lalara’s bail was revoked and she is now in custody. Her next court appearance is set down for December 21.

 

Craig Handasyde: Former DHS disability worker jailed for 12 months over sexual abuse of male clients


 They always have an excuse these snake bellies…12 friggin months for OVER a decade of abusing vulnerable people in his professional care as a Department of Human Services disability support worker.Most of his eight victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.

16/09/15

A former Department of Human Services disability support worker who sexually abused a number of disabled male clients has been jailed for 12 months.

Craig Handasyde, from Croydon, abused his victims in a number of residential facilities between 1997 and 2011.

Most of his eight victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.

Handasyde abused his victims at the residential units, at swimming pools, in showers and in one case at a motel, during outings or “reward” trips “put in place by the DHS”.

In some instances of abuse, Handasyde would walk around the DHS facilities naked and get into bed with his victims as they lay helpless. On other occasions he masturbated clients, and induced them to masturbate him.

On at least one occasion he ignored attempts by one victim to push him away.

He handed himself into police last year after confessing the abuse to his wife and a pastor at his church.

Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 counts of committing indecent acts against a person with a cognitive impairment.

In sentencing Handasyde, Judge Gavan Meredith said the families of his victims felt a “sense of loss and betrayal” at the “gross and egregious breach of the trust that was placed in [him]”.

Your formative years were marked by your bullying and a sense of isolation, you were described as passive and unable to assert yourself.

However, the judge said the offending was not likely to have ever come to light if Handasyde had not confessed.

He also said Handasyde was genuinely remorseful, had pleaded guilty early and was at low risk of re-offending.

The court heard Handasyde, 48, was also responding well to treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, which stemmed from physical abuse by his father as a child, and from witnessing the physical and sexual abuse of his mother by his father.

Family members of a number of Handasyde’s victims were in court to hear the verdict, as was Handasyde’s wife.

Perpetrator’s sexuality was ‘repressed’ by religious upbringing

Judge Meredith said Handasyde’s mother confided in him during his early adolescence that his father was sexually and physically abusing her, which left him feeling helpless.

Handasyde realised he was gay when he was young, but felt unable to express this due to his religious upbringing, and was bullied at school.

“Your formative years were marked by your bullying and a sense of isolation,” Judge Meredith said.

“You were described as passive and unable to assert yourself.”

Handasyde trained as an orchardist, but eventually gained qualifications to work in the disability sector.

He confided in his wife before their marriage that he was sexually attracted to other men, but promised not to act on his feelings.

The couple had eight children, but an earlier hearing was told Handasyde’s wife believed sex should only be for procreation.

Handasyde began watching gay pornography while working in the residential units, and the offending often took place after this.

He confessed to his wife in 2013 that he was watching gay pornography, and later confessed to abusing the men.

He then resigned from the DHS.

Long history of mental health issues, now being addressed

Judge Meredith said Handasyde was suffering from “chronic” post-traumatic stress disorder, which had only come to light since his offending was revealed, but that expert evidence suggested he had “significantly improved” with treatment.

The judge said Handasyde has also been assessed by experts as being at low risk of offending, and that “a constant theme was [his] sincere remorse and desire to make amends for [his] offending”.

Handasyde’s prospects of rehabilitation are good, the judge said, but it was necessary that he serve a term of imprisonment, despite the defence arguing that a community corrections order was appropriate.

Handasyde will be subject to an order for two years after his release.

Judge Meredith said that if Handasyde had not confessed and pleaded guilty, he would have imposed a sentence of two-and-a-half years.

Victim’s family trusted Handasyde, feel let down by department

Outside court after the hearing, the mother of one of Handasyde’s victims said her son had been scarred by the abuse, and was now on medication to deal with the trauma.

“Because he was there such a long time, you think you can trust them,” she said.

“[My son] went to Melbourne when he was three years old, they told me it was the right thing to do because there was no education for him in Geelong.

“So that’s what happened and I trusted the people, I trusted the department and obviously that’s not happened. They haven’t looked after him.”

From other news sites:

  • The Age: Ex-DHS carer Craig Handasyde jailed for one year for abusing disabled men
  • Geelong Advertiser: DHS carer jailed for string of sexual abuse crimes against people with a disability
  • The Australian: Ex-Vic carer jailed for sexual abuse
  • 3AW Radio: Craig Handasyde, 48, sentenced to 12 months jail over sexual abuse of eight disabled men in care

    abc.net.au

    DHS disability worker admits abusing deaf, blind patients

    By court reporter Peta Carlyon

    Updated 31 Aug 2015, 5:49pmMon 31 Aug 2015, 5:49pm

    A former Department of Human Services disability support worker whose lawyer said he was deeply religious and in denial about this sexuality has admitted abusing a series of male patients over 13 years across Melbourne’s east.

    Craig Handasyde, 47, of Croydon, pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to 11 charges of committing an indecent act with a cognitively impaired person by a worker.

    Key points

    • Craig Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 charges
    • Victims were blind, deaf and unable to communicate
    • Handasyde wanted to appear to be a happily married heterosexual man, court heard
    • Victim became “very disturbed” after abuse

    The abuse occurred across residential facilities in a number of suburbs, and in some cases involved long-term clients between 1998 and 2011.

    Most of his victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.

    Handasyde also abused his victims at swimming pools, in showers and in one case a motel, during outings or “reward” trips “put in place by the DHS”.

    In some instances of abuse, Handasyde would walk around the DHS facilities naked and get into bed with his victims as they lay helpless.

    On at least one occasion he ignored repeated attempts by one victim to push him away.

    The court heard Handasyde was a highly qualified disability development services officer with an advanced diploma in disability work.

    He had also undertaken a range of extra courses over the years, including “dual disability” and “communications about behaviour for better outcomes”.

    Handasyde resigned from the DHS in 2013.

    He handed himself in to the sex crimes unit at the Knox police station last year because he “wanted to make admissions about sexually abusing DHS clients over 13 years”.

    The court heard Handasyde was a religious man who wanted to clear his conscience in the eyes of God.

    Two pastors were among 13 people to provide references for him.

    ‘A happily married heterosexual man’

    Handasyde’s lawyer Paul Higham told the court his client was deeply religious.

    He was also homosexual, Mr Higham said, but was intent on presenting himself publicly as “a happily married, heterosexual Christian father,” leading to a secret life.

    Craig, you were meant to look after him, not cause him distress. You were meant to care for him, not abuse him.

    Victim’s mother

    The court heard Handasyde met his wife within the church and wrote her a letter before they got married, telling her he was “same-sex attracted”.

    “She struggled to accept it, but accept it she did,” said Mr Higham.

    The couple had eight children who were home-schooled and the court heard Handasyde’s wife believed sex was for procreation only.

    “What emerges is a picture of a man who is extremely passive and lacks the ability to assert himself,” Mr Higham told the court.

    Mr Higham said Handasyde “prefers harmony over conflict”, and described his client’s denial of a large part of his identity as “a tragedy”.

    Handasyde’s wife was in court and wept as their home life was detailed to the families of her husband’s victims.

    ‘I trusted you with my son’: Mother of victim

    The courtroom was packed with the parents and relatives of the men Handasyde’s had abused.

    The mother of one victim told the court Handasyde’s offending had turned her son into a “very disturbed young man”.

    “Craig Handasyde ruined his happy nature,” she said.

    “Craig, you were meant to look after him, not cause him distress.

    “You were meant to care for him, not abuse him.”

    The woman told Handasyde she had welcomed him into her family’s home on many occasions and felt betrayed.

    “You enjoyed our food and hospitality as a thank you for bringing him home,” she said.

    “I always worried whether I’d done the right thing, sending him to Melbourne.

    “You’ve proved me right. I trusted you with my son who I love so much.”

    The father of another victim told the court his son “could not even understand simple verbal statements” and would “never be able to care for himself”.

    The man said he and his wife entrusted their son to a trusted care provider in the DHS and “for many years we thought he was safe”.

    “We are very disturbed,” the victim’s father said.

    “We can’t ask him about how he felt … the thought of what he [Handasyde] might have been doing … the real torture is not knowing.”

    The victim’s father told the court, he and his wife had noticed a marked change in their son’s mental state 15 years ago, when he became more aggressive.

    “At the time, there was no reason for his behaviour change,” he said.

    “In hindsight, we now wonder if he could have been affected by sexual abuse.”

    He told the court, his son would not have been able to tell anyone about the abuse or warn others who were vulnerable and exposed.

    Handasyde is expected to be sentenced at a later date.

    First posted 31 Aug 2015, 3:09pmMon 31 Aug 2015, 3:09pm


    DHS carer jailed for string of sexual abuse crimes against people with a disability

  • DHS carer jailed for sex abuse

    Craig Handasyde.

    A GEELONG mother has vowed to continue to fight for her disabled son’s safety after his carer of 15 years was today jailed for sexually abusing him.

    The mother, who can’t be named for legal reasons, said she didn’t think the one-year jail term former Department of Human Services disability worker Craig Gilbert Handasyde, 48, received was adequate but she was relieved to see him behind bars.

    Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 counts of indecent act with a person with a cognitive disability by a care worker — including three which covered multiple offences — over a 13-year period of offending against eight victims.

    The mother told Geelong Advertiser all the victims’ families were hurting and now didn’t know who they could trust.

    She said her once-happy son was on more anxiety medication and was deeply traumatised.

    The court heard he had repeatedly tried to fend off Handasyde, who had cuddled, masturbated and exposed himself to his victims.

    ACCUSED BROKE MUM OF THREE’S JAW

    “The only way to stop it happening again is to speak out,” she said.

    “All through (my son’s) life I’ve had to fight.”

    The mother hopes to see changes made at DHS facilities including CCTV in common areas and a minimum of two staff on at all times.

    In sentencing Handasyde to jail and a two-year Community Corrections Order, Judge Gavan Meredith said the victims were defenceless and dependent on Handasyde and their difficulty communicating ensured they couldn’t raise the alarm.

    Judge Meredith said the families’ Victim Impact Statements spoke of how the offending had caused them to doubt their decision to place their loved one in care.

    He accepted the crimes could only be prosecuted due to Handasyde’s confession and that he would find prison difficult due to his depression and post-traumatic stress, but said his “gross and egregious breach of trust” required it.

    Judge Meredith said the community must expect significant punishment for abusing a position of trust. He ordered Handasyde be under supervision and receive psychological treatment for the duration of the CCO.

    “Every attendance will serve as a reminder of the inappropriateness of your behaviour,” he said.


     

Music promoter Andrew McManus is one of five men who have been arrested over an alleged cocaine smuggling ring.


Andrew McManus, promoter to stars including Aerosmith, Laura Dundovic and KISS, arrested in international cocaine ring bust… after police trace $700,000 in cash he claimed was ‘for a Lenny Kravitz concert’

  • Music promoter Andrew McManus was arrested and charged by police
  • It is alleged the 54-year-old was part of an international drug trafficking ring
  • The investigation began when $702,000 was found in a hotel room in 2011
  • McManus claimed the money was payment for a Lenny Kravitz concert 

A prominent Australian music promoter is one of five men who have been arrested over an alleged cocaine smuggling ring.

A four-year joint investigation between NSW Police and the United States’ FBI led to the arrests of the group of men.

Detectives arrested three men in Sydney on Thursday night while a fourth man – 54-year-old music promoter Andrew McManus  – was arrested at Melbourne Airport, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Music promoter Andrew McManus has been arrested as part of an alleged international drug trafficking ring 

 Music promoter Andrew McManus has been arrested as part of an alleged international drug trafficking ring

It has also been reported the detained Sydney men were crime figure Craig Haeusler, Kings Cross solicitor Michael Croke and Auburn pastry shop owner Zeki Atilgan.

McManus has been charged with perverting the course of justice, two counts of intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly participating in a criminal group.

A fifth man was arrested in the US by the FBI for drug offences and money laundering, NSW Police said in a statement.

US businessman Owen Hanson Jr was arrested while playing golf in San Diego, the Herald reported.

McManus and Miss Universe Australia 2008 Laura Dundovic in 2008

Andrew McManus and music legend Stevie Nicks pose at The Melbourne Cup in 2005

McManus (left with Laura Dundovic and right with Stevie Nicks) was arrested along with crime figure Craig Haeusler, Kings Cross solicitor Michael Croke and Auburn pastry shop owner Zeki Atilgan

Andrew McManus has been responsible for bringing Aerosmith, KISS, Lenny Kravitz and Chris Isaak (pictured above with McManus in 2008) to Australia

 Andrew McManus has been responsible for bringing Aerosmith, KISS, Lenny Kravitz and Chris Isaak (pictured above with McManus in 2008) to Australia

He was charged with perverting the course of justice, two counts of intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly participating in a criminal group

NSW detectives started investigating the alleged syndicate in August 2011 after a bag of $702,000 in cash was found in a man’s Sydney hotel room.

WHO IS ANDREW MCMANUS?

Andrew McManus, who owns McManus Entertainment, has been responsible for bringing Aerosmith, KISS and Lenny Kravitz to Australia.

He was forced to declare bankruptcy when the ATO discovered he had a $2.4 million tax debt after he was left $4.2 million out of pocket when deals and tours fell through.

McManus had to sell off his fleet of luxury cars and extensive property portfolio to cover his substantial debts.

The music promoter made headlines again back in 2011 when he was linked to a bag of $702,000 in cash that he claimed was payment for a Lenny Kravitz concert.

Four years later, he was arrested for his alleged part in a international cocaine ring, along with three Sydney men and a US citizen.

A court case was brought against NSW Police for the return of the cash when McManus claimed the bag was his and the money was payment for a Lenny Kravitz concert when he toured Australia.

But the police won and in late 2014 conducted raids in Sydney and Victoria, which netted $68,000 cash, drugs, steroids, documents and electronic equipment.

The operation also uncovered information regarding the alleged importation of 300kg of cocaine from Mexico to Australia via the US.

Since then, police have been investigating alleged drug trafficking between Mexico, the US and Australia, and associated money laundering.

Australian Crime Commission NSW manager Warren Gray said ‘investigations like this one affirm the effectiveness of “following the money'”‘.

NSW Police have charged a 55-year-old man with perverting the course of justice, intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly participating in a criminal group.

A 65-year-old has been charged with perverting the course of justice, three counts of intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly participating in a criminal group.

A 32-year-old man was charged with two counts of money laundering.

NSW detectives started investigating the alleged syndicate in August 2011 after a bag of $702,000 in cash was found in a man's Sydney hotel room. Above is one of the three Sydney men being arrested on ThursdayNSW detectives started investigating the alleged syndicate in August 2011 after a bag of $702,000 in cash was found in a man’s Sydney hotel room. Above is one of the three Sydney men being arrested on Thursday

The trio have been charged with money laundering, perverting the course of justice, intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly participating in a criminal group

Police raided the homes of three men in Kellyville, Miranda, and Sydney CBD following the extensive investigationPolice raided the homes of three men in Kellyville, Miranda, and Sydney CBD following the extensive investigation

The group of men have been bailed to appear at Sydney courts at later dates. NSW Police are also seeking to extradite a US citizenThe group of men have been bailed to appear at Sydney courts at later dates. NSW Police are also seeking to extradite a US citizen

The group of men have been bailed to appear at Sydney courts at later dates.

NSW Police is seeking the extradition of a 33-year-old US citizen to Sydney on arrest warrants for money laundering, perverting the course of justice and intent to defraud by false or misleading statement, as well as an additional charge of drug supply of a large commercial quantity.

Detectives from the Organised Crime Squad are currently in San Diego, California, working with the FBI.

A number of search warrants were executed, with officers seizing cash, gold, silver, cannabis and documentation.


Drug trafficking, money laundering bust sees five men, including Melbourne music promoter, arrested in joint NSW Police-FBI investigation

Updated about 2 hours ago

Music promoter Andrew McManus was arrested in Melbourne last night. (Getty Images: Kristian Dowling)

Five men, including Melbourne music promoter Andrew McManus, have been arrested following a joint FBI and New South Wales police investigation into international drug trafficking and money laundering.

An investigation was launched after police seized more than $700,000 from a man at a Sydney hotel in 2011.

NSW Police faced legal action for the return of the money, with a claim being made that it was payment for an international band who had toured Australia, but the case was thrown out of the Supreme Court and investigations continued.

Last year, New South Wales and Victoria police raided five properties, seizing more than $68,000 in cash and steroids.

Detectives say they also uncovered the importation of 300 kilograms of cocaine from Mexico to Australia, via the United States.

Following a joint operation with the FBI in San Diego, California, police last night arrested McManus, 54, in Melbourne.

McManus’ promotion companies have brought a number of high-profile entertainers to Australia, including Kiss, Mötley Crüe and Stevie Nicks.

A 65-year-old Sydney solicitor and two other New South Wales men were also charged.

Subsequent searches at a home in Kellyville, in Sydney’s north-west, uncovered cash, steroids and cannabis.

New South Wales Police are also trying to extradite US citizen Owen Hanson, 33, to Sydney so he can be charged.

He was arrested by FBI agents in the parking lot of a golf course in near San Diego, California, where he remains in custody on US federal drug charges, according to a statement from the FBI.

“The commitment made by the detectives and others involved in this investigation has been outstanding — they never lost focus on the job at hand,” commander of the Organised Crime Squad, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, said in a statement.

“As recent investigations have shown, it is now clear that organised syndicates impacting NSW are often transnational in nature.

“Whilst this presents us with challenges, those who undertake these activities need to understand that being outside the jurisdiction will not save you.”

Australian Crime Commission state manager NSW Warren Gray said that, in this instance, “following the money” led to the discovery of criminal activity.

“The collaborative work between NSW Police and the FBI, and multiple partner agencies, is highly commendable and this outcome is a great result for the Australian community,” he said.

theage.com.au

Andrew McManus at centre of storm

Kate McClymont

Big business: Andrew McManus in his office.Big business: Andrew McManus in his office. Photo: Teagan Glenane FCN

Controversial music promoter Andrew McManus has unwittingly revealed an important career lesson to tax evaders: if you are going to boast about ripping off the Australian Tax Office, don’t confide in the police.

His bizarre admission emerged last week in a court case involving the promoter, a bag full of cash, international rock acts including Fleetwood Mac and Lenny Kravitz and crime figures from Australia and the US.

“I’m not a dickhead but… if this went to the ATO, I’d be cooked again.”  

Andrew McManus

During an investigation into the source of the $702,000 cash found in a Sydney hotel room in 2011, McManus claimed the money was his. He boasted to police if they came round to his house “right now” they would find a safe with “600 large sittin’ in it”.

Legends: International rock act Fleetwood Mac.Legends: International rock act Fleetwood Mac.

When the police asked about the source of the money, he said, “This isn’t going anywhere?” He then offered that the “600 large” came from a Lenny Kravitz tour.

Advertisement

 He told police that he used 20 crew members to “sneak” the cash in from New Zealand.

“I’m not a dickhead but… if this went to the ATO, I’d be cooked again,” he volunteered.

Legal fight: Sean Carolan at the Supreme Court in Sydney.Legal fight: Sean Carolan at the Supreme Court in Sydney. Photo: Photo: Janie Barrett

Documents tendered during a recent battle in the NSW Supreme Court over the money have revealed that McManus also accepted $450,000 in cash from the outlaw Perth bikie gang, the Coffin Cheaters.

He also admitted to police that he withheld funds from rock groups including international stars Fleetwood Mac.

McManus also confided to police about the financial fallout from his involvement in the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal.

The saga of the suitcase full of cash had its origins in May 2011 when McManus was staying at the luxurious InterContinental hotel in Macquarie Street, a short walk from Sydney’s Circular Quay.

In his hotel room he had a number of plastic shopping bags crammed with $10,000 bundles of cash totalling $702,000. His long-time friend and associate Craig Haeusler emptied the bags into a suitcase.

Haeusler, a drug kingpin who served five years in jail for running a multi-million dollar drug ring supplying methamphetamines to Sydney’s eastern suburbs, then gave the money to a young American, Owen Hanson jnr.

Haeusler told police he had been introduced to Hanson by a Chinese gambling identity and that the pair had bet on the NFL in America.

Hanson, who moved hotels every few days, was nicknamed “Dispose” by his Australian friends because of his propensity to dispose of pre-paid mobile phones.

Haeusler later told police that McManus was repaying Hanson who had  stumped up the deposit McManus needed for a ZZ Top tour.

The suitcase of cash was then hidden by Hanson in the ceiling of a rented apartment in Kent Street for three months. In August he handed the suitcase of cash to his personal trainer, Sean Carolan.

On August 11, 2011, police received an anonymous tip-off that the occupant of room 3026 in the Hilton Hotel had a gun. The occupant, Carolan, a former cage fighter and racehorse trainer turned personal trainer, didn’t have a gun — but he did have a black suitcase containing McManus’s $702,000, which the police seized.

Carolan’s subsequent legal fight to recover the money has brought to light a bizarre series of events.

On the night police seized the cash, Carolan said he was merely minding the money for Hanson, who didn’t want to lose any more at the casino.

CCTV footage from Star City casino obtained by the police shows earlier that day Carolan and Hanson were in a heated conversation with Robert Cipriani, a well-known American high roller who calls himself Robin Hood 702 (702 is the telephone code for Las Vegas).

Police records note that Cipriani “is well known to the casino and is currently of interest to the Australian Federal Police”.

The day after the cash was seized, Cipriani left for Los Angeles.

During the investigation into the suitcase, police interviewed Hanson by videolink from the Beverly Hills police station in Los Angeles. “Do you want me to tell you the, the full story of how basically this money was laundered…?” Hanson offered.

He said the cash had come from McManus but, contrary to Carolan’s initial version, Hanson claimed he had given the money to Carolan to invest in Carolan’s weight loss clinic.

As well as expressing concern at Hanson’s use of the word “laundered”, Justice Richard Button noted in his judgment on Monday, “There is no satisfactory explanation why Mr Hanson would invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in the business concept of a personal trainer who resided in a foreign country and whom he had known for no more than several weeks.”

Justice Richard Button refused to hand the $702,000 back to Carolan, saying he was not convinced he was “lawfully” entitled to the money.

Carolan was ordered to pay the police costs.

When he was interviewed by police in April 2012, McManus told them the money was his. “It’s pretty obvious though. I gave someone 700 large, and you’ve found someone with 700 large. It’s my 700 large.”

McManus told the police that the cash was part of a business deal where he was repaying the money to Hanson, who had lent him cash as a deposit for a ZZ Top tour but now he wanted it back to fund a Lenny Kravitz tour.

“In essence, I delivered back 700 grand I now need to borrow it again. As quickly as possible,” he said.

He also said; “It’s not the proceeds of crime, it’s the [proceeds] of Andrew McManus.”

McManus made remarkable admissions during his record of interview with police. He has since claimed he was under the influence of morphine  and alcohol at the time.

The rock promoter volunteered to police that he had been “under suspicion by the NRL, for making player payments to rugby league players”.

This was a reference to the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal in 2010 when it was revealed that McManus had facilitated extra payments to Storm players including Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater.

His company, Andrew McManus Presents, would bill the Storm for “promotional” events. The money would be then be channelled by McManus’s company through to several Storm players.

The Storm were later stripped of their points and previous premiership titles.

Neither the players nor McManus were accused of any wrongdoing but McManus told the police of the fallout which included the Australian Tax Office going through him like a dose of salts.

“Although I did make tax payments on each player payment, I never actually got them to sign a full stat dec. So, of those players, they decided that they would fine me…between 30 per cent and the 49 per cent.”

He said he had to pay the ATO $120,000 per player, which totalled $2.4 million. “It crushed my company…Andrew McManus Presents International,” he told police.

Because of his ensuing financial difficulties he said he used friends and associates to help fund tours. McManus mentioned that Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger and his brother Andrew had invested in his concert tours.

He said on five or six occasion, Michael Kroger had “put cash in and then I’ll, you know, fold it out.”

A spokesman for Michael Kroger said it was “a standard financial arrangement”.

McManus also boasted of withholding cash ticket sales from bands such as Fleetwood Mac. “I sold over $700,000 in cash tickets, because people wanted the best tickets, they come to the office, they ring up or email.”

“I’m not sharing it with the band…the cash stays in Andrew McManus’s pocket,” he told police.

McManus also told the police that he had accepted $450,000 in cash from the Coffin Cheaters, an outlaw motor cycle gang who were promoting the Perth leg of the ZZ Top tour.

During his police interview, McManus was accompanied by his lawyer and former partner in a Sydney nightclub, Michael Croke.

Croke, who represented Haeusler in his drug trial, also acted for McManus, Hanson, Haeusler and finally Carolan in the latter’s unsuccessful attempt to have the money returned.

During the case, Haeusler was pacing up and down the corridor outside the Supreme Court in Sydney.

McManus declined to comment for this story. He has issued a media release suggesting revelations about the suitcase and the cash were “gutter journalism by a bottom feeder” and that the articles had been written under “the protection of impossible deformation (sic) laws.”

Former state director of the Victorian Liberal Party, Damien Mantach, busted embezzling $1.5 million in the election campaign funds.



money hungry 2

abc.net.au

Embezzlement allegation: The Liberal Party will have to rebuild trust

The Drum

Opinion

Fri 21 Aug 2015, 9:58am

It’s the thousands of ordinary Liberal Party members who should feel most outraged at the alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million of campaign funds. And the party hierarchy will have to work hard to earn their trust back, writes Terry Barnes.

The Victorian Liberal Party is in a state of deep shock after revelations its former state director, Damien Mantach, is accused of embezzling $1.5 million of party funds over a number of years.

While investigations are continuing, Victorian Liberal president, Michael Kroger, has emailed party members saying that Mantach is the only person in the frame, and all will be done to recover as much of the missing funds as possible.

It appears a breathtaking $1.5 million of party funds was diverted for personal benefit. Victorian Liberal parliamentary leader, Matthew Guy, said that what was taken was “a very significant portion of the money raised by the party in fundraising … People did a lot of work to get that. We all feel completely gutted and furious”.

There certainly will be former Victorian Liberal MPs closely defeated in last November’s state election whose anger will be, like Guy’s, white-hot, sharing his view that the missing funds could have saved their campaigns. Current marginal seat federal MPs will feel likewise. But having escaped with their parliamentary pensions or severance packages, they personally got off lightly.

What really angers and disappoints about Mantach’s alleged actions is that they were not really stealing from a mere corporate entity, the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia. Nor did they ruin the large corporate donors and high net worth individuals who donate to political parties, because that is part of what they do to build political networks, relationships and influence.

No, the grand embezzlement and the governance failures that allowed it to happen are above all an utter betrayal of, and insult to, thousands of ordinary Liberal Party members and supporters across Victoria who are not wealthy or personally powerful but are the soul of the party.

They’re the ones who turn out in all weather at election times to support MPs and candidates, door-knock, stuff letterboxes and talk up the Liberal cause to anyone who will listen.

They’re the ones who greet you at the polling booth on election days with a smile and a how-to-vote card, and look forward to bantering with voters and their counterparts from other parties.

They’re the ones who faithfully attend branch meetings, local party events, run the trivia and soup nights, and buy the tickets in the raffle that inevitably is a part of any political gathering – and donate back the prizes.

They’re the ones who drive up to hundreds of kilometres to attend party councils and pre-selection conventions.

They’re the ones who organise local electorate fundraising functions, work tirelessly to make them well-attended and successful, and cheerfully endure the proverbial rubber chicken and drinks at bar prices, because they buy their own tickets as well as sell them.

They’re the ones who pay membership subscriptions or respond to bigwigs’ circular appeals for donations. Many may not be able to afford to give much, but their trickles join to become a funding river for the party: a river, it seems, that can easily be dipped into by the unscrupulous.

And they’re the ones who are most entitled to feel gutted and angry at what has happened.

As a group, most ordinary members of the Liberal Party are older and more conservative than their MPs. They are often retired, and volunteer for party work because it gives them the satisfaction of furthering a cause, or an MP or candidate, they believe in passionately.

Others are young activists with stars in their eyes and idealism in their hearts.

Unlike the likes of Malcolm Turnbull, most Liberal rank-and-file members don’t have palatial mansions to go home to, nor much spare cash. Contrary to the Liberal silvertail image, many members and local Liberal supporters are students, pensioners or self-funded retirees on very modest incomes, and donate what they often can ill afford.

Yet they do so willingly and turn out for the party because they believe, as the Victorian Division’s website is bannered, that “The Liberal Party exists to provide high quality governments that empower people to solve the major challenges they face in their lives”.

This grassroots faith is what’s been shaken to its core by what has happened.

The Liberal organisation will recover and be reformed. As incoming Victorian president earlier this year, taking office just as Mantach left, Kroger was refreshingly open and honest with his members and the public as soon as the appalling situation was confirmed. That welcome candour is a good start to rebuilding trust in a crisis.

But just as with former Health Services Union leaders Craig Thomson, Michael Williamson and Kathy Jackson, this is yet another case of an elected or appointed official feeling somehow entitled to take advantage of the so-called “little people” who are their rank-and-file members, even though ultimately they owed everything to those they betrayed.

This week’s revelations, be they Mantach’s alleged activities or Jackson’s humiliation in court, should remind elected and appointed office holders in political parties and politically-active organisations alike that respecting the trust of their members and the public is fundamental to public life and a healthy democracy. Their position and status is a conferred privilege, not a personal fiefdom.

Fortunately, most of these office holders, across the political spectrum, work very hard to earn and retain that trust.

The Victorian Liberal Party will likely find, as the HSU has found, and indeed as federal MPs are finding with ongoing public anger over abused parliamentary “entitlements”, when the bond of trust with their ordinary members and supporters is broken, it is very, very hard to restore. But if it looks to its grass roots members, and respects and honours their values, aspirations and commitment in reforming its governance and accountability, the party will recover better and stronger for this scarifying experience.

Terry Barnes is a policy consultant, former senior Howard government adviser and member of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party. Twitter: @TerryBarnes5.


abc.net.au

Tasmanian Liberals assure members former state director repaid all money

Thu 20 Aug 2015, 7:23pm

The Tasmanian Liberals have assured members the party is not affected by allegations former state director Damien Mantach stole $1.5 million from the election fund of the Victorian Liberal Party.

The police fraud squad is investigating the allegations against Mr Mantach, who served as state director in both Tasmania and Victoria.

The money is alleged to have vanished over four years to fund Mr Mantach’s lifestyle in Victoria.

Tasmanian Liberal Party president Geoff Page used Facebook to confirmed that Mr Mantach did owe the Tasmanian branch money in 2008.

“I have today been advised that Mr Mantach had in 2008 a liability for personal expenses to the Tasmanian division totalling $47,981.78, which was fully repaid by Mr Mantach to the division upon his departure in March of that year,” he said.

Mr Page went on to assure members he was confident no other funds had gone missing.

“As the debt was settled in full the Division considered the matter closed,” he said.

“The Tasmanian division has robust internal financial processes which, in keeping with our obligations to our membership have been periodically reviewed and continually improved since 2008 and are annually audited.”


abc.net.au

Police to investigate Liberal Party $1.5m embezzlement claims

By Jean Edwards

Thu 20 Aug 2015, 7:27pm

The police fraud squad is investigating allegations former Victorian Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach embezzled around $1.5 million of election campaign funds.

The money is alleged to have vanished over four years to fund Mr Mantach’s lifestyle.

An audit of the party’s finances after last year’s state election loss uncovered unauthorised financial transactions linked to Mr Mantach, with money missing from both state and federal campaign funds.

The Victoria Police fraud and extortion squad has been called in to investigate.

Liberal Party president Michael Kroger said Mr Mantach had admitted to wrongdoing.

“We feel profoundly betrayed and terribly disappointed with what’s happened,” Mr Kroger said.

Key points:

  • Liberal Party accuses former state director of embezzling $1.5m
  • Alleged theft happened over four years
  • Victoria Police fraud and extortion squad called in to investigate
  • Party believes Mantach took the money to fund his lifestyle

He said the party believed Mr Mantach had acted alone.

“We’re not aware that anyone at the party head office or any officials had any involvement at all,” he said.

It also emerged that Mr Mantach repaid tens of thousands of dollars during his time as state director of the Tasmanian branch.

In a letter to members posted on Facebook, Tasmanian Liberal president Geoff Page said in March 2008 that when he left the role, Mr Mantach fully repaid a liability of nearly $48,000 for personal expenses.

Mr Page said the division considered the matter closed and had robust internal financial processes.

Mr Kroger said he did not believe the missing money influenced the 2014 election result, or that it would affect the next federal election.

Liberal leader Matthew Guy said the party was furious at what he called a “pretty basic effort at embezzlement”.

“We want our money back,” he said.

“We want this matter sent to the police and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that justice is done.

“I saw someone making a comment that we’re white hot with anger, that’s just the start of it.”

Mr Kroger said the missing money was confined to the party’s Victorian division and he was confident some of it could be recovered through assets bought with the funds.

Mr Kroger conceded the Liberal Party had failed to properly monitor spending.

“Obviously it should have been picked up years ago — it wasn’t,” he said.

Former premier Denis Napthine, who led the party during last year’s campaign, said he was surprised and bitterly disappointed by the allegations.

The party’s administrative committee met this morning to discuss how to deal with the missing money.

Mr Mantach has been contacted for comment.


Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 20/08/2015

Reporter: Madeleine Morris

Victoria’s Liberal Party has been blind-sided by claims a former Director stole $1.5 million of funds with the fraud squad investigating allegations and branch members asking if other financial dealings are suspect.

Transcript

SABRA LANE, PRESENTER: Victoria’s Liberal Party has been blindsided by allegations its former director stole $1.5 million of party funds.

The party believes Damian Mantach siphoned off the money using fake invoices and Victoria police is now investigating.

Liberal politicians are furious and say the loss is a slap in the face to party members.

Late today, the Tasmanian Liberal Party confirmed Mr Mantach had to repay tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses he racked up while director of that state’s party.

Madeleine Morris reports.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER: We’re white hot with anger. That’s just the start of it.

DENIS NAPTHINE, FORMER VICTORIAN PREMIER: I’m surprised, I’m shocked, I’m bitterly disappointed.

MADELEINE MORRIS, REPORTER: Sombre-faced and genuinely shocked, Victorian Liberal MPs arrived this morning to be briefed on the alleged theft of $1.5 million by one of their own.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER II: We just want to get to the truth and the bottom of the matter.

MICHAEL KROGER, LIBERAL PARTY VIC. BRANCH: Good morning, everybody. Well as you know, the Liberal Party is today referring some matters to the Victoria Police relating to the unauthorised removal of some party funds from the party head office, solely the work of one person. It should’ve been detected a long time ago. It wasn’t, which is regrettable. And the party’s obviously gonna make sure that this never happens again.

MADELEINE MORRIS: That person is Damien Mantach, the Victorian Liberal Party’s state director until March this year. The party believes that over a period of four years, Damien Mantach siphoned off money from Victorian Liberal headquarters via fake invoices for fake work.

The irregularities were uncovered when new state Liberal president Michael Kroger ordered a forensic audit of the accounts when he took over after last year’s disastrous state election.

NICK ECONOMOU, POLITICAL ANALYST: The state Liberal Party is in a bit of trouble and it’s been subject to a great deal of internal tension. There’d been problems within the parliamentary wing of the party. That contributed of course to the Liberals’ defeat at the last state election. And we also know that there were all sorts of tensions in the party organisation, the party membership.

DENIS NAPTHINE: I’m absolutely devastated, but particularly for the candidates across the state of Victoria who worked extremely hard, for the Liberal Party members and volunteers who worked extremely hard. This is a real shock to all of us.

MADELEINE MORRIS: That includes Angelo Kakouros, chair of the party’s South Barwon branch. He’s been fielding calls from party members all day.

ANGELO KAKOUROS, CHAIR, LIBERAL PARTY SOUTH BARWON BRANCH: It is a lack of trust and great, great disappointment.

MADELEINE MORRIS: But Mr Kakouros says his branch has been worried about the former state director for some time.

ANGELO KAKOUROS: I’ve had concerns with Damien Mantach for the last three to four years as a state director and personal experience and just the way things have operated and the communication between Damien, the administrative committee and some of the people within the organisation with their communication here locally in our area.

NICK ECONOMOU: It’s a very, very big task to try and keep track of what’s going on and to keep paid full-time officials answerable and accountable in what is essentially a voluntary organisation. The state treasurer of the Liberal Party would be a volunteer after all. Now, on top of this we’re getting increasing regulation to try and regulate the flow of donations. … But I suspect that that may be encouraging clever people to be a bit tricky here and try and find ways to squirrel resources away.

MADELEINE MORRIS: Today, Michael Kroger admitted there was a systemic problem with the Liberal Party accounting and changes were being made.

MICHAEL KROGER: More people in the accounting section and different oversights in relation to levels of authorised expenditure and a greater role for the party finance committee and more attention on these matters by the party executive.

MADELEINE MORRIS: It’s not the first time Damien Mantach has been in the headlines. Two years ago, he was investigated and ultimately cleared over payments he authorised to a former Liberal staffer who quit after being implicated in a scandal that snared the Police Minister.

And late today, the Tasmanian branch of the Liberal Party confirmed Mr Mantach had to repay nearly $48,000 in personal expenses when he was Tasmanian branch state director.

The fallout today extended all the way from Spring Street to Canberra.

BRENDAN O’CONNOR, FEDERAL LABOR MP: In 2013 the Prime Minister said, and I quote, “I know Damien Mantach well. He’s a person of integrity. So let’s see where this investigation goes. He has my confidence.” Does the Prime Minister agree that this ringing endorsement is yet another failure of judgment on his part?

TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINISTER: But I can inform the House that matters concerning the individual in question have this morning been referred to the Victorian Police.

MADELEINE MORRIS: Today, no answer at the Mantach family home and Damien Mantach couldn’t be reached on the phone.

There is palpable shock here in Victoria that this could’ve happened to the party which prides itself on good financial management, particularly amongst Liberal rank and file. One branch chair told me it was like finding out the priest had been stealing from the collection plate. But there’s also relief it’s been uncovered by the party’s new state leadership.

ANGELO KAKOUROS: Michael Kroger, the state president, he’s doing a fantastic job in order to bring honesty and transparency back into the party.

MADELEINE MORRIS: The impact for the party may yet be felt in the place it will hurt most: the coffers.

NICK ECONOMOU: The Liberal Party really does rely heavily on membership fees and donations, so I think something that might damage the reputation of the party’s fundraising ability could be really seriously damaging to the Liberal Party.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER III: I think this is simply a matter of we’ve been robbed. We want our money back and we want justice done. Police will investigate and i think that’s all I should say at this point in time.

SABRA LANE: Madeleine Morris reporting.


Rachael Brown reported this story on Thursday, August 20, 2015 12:20:47

 abc.net.au

 Fmr Vic Liberal state director accused of stealing $1.5m from party over four years
 TRANSCIPT

ELEANOR HALL: Let’s go now to Victoria where that state’s branch of the Liberal Party is having some trouble of its own.

The Liberal leader Matthew Guy has accused the former state director of the Victorian Liberal Party, Damien Mantach, of embezzling $1.5 million in the election campaign funds.

Mr Guy says his party is “white hot” with anger, and that the funds could’ve made a difference in last year’s election.

In Melbourne, Rachael Brown reports.

RACHAEL BROWN: The Liberal Party says discrepancies were uncovered during a forensic audit of the party’s funds after last year’s state election loss.

The party’s former state director Damien Mantach is being accused of stealing $1.5 million over four years, but the audit continues.

Mr Mantach has not responded to the ABC’s calls.

Liberal party members were called into a crisis meeting this morning, and heading in, the party leader Matthew Guy made no attempt to mask his feelings.

MATTHEW GUY: We are furious; we want our money back.

RACHAEL BROWN: The matter has been referred to the Victoria Police Fraud and Extortion Squad, which says it’s investigating the disappearance of funds, but can’t comment further.

Mr Guy says, if the allegations prove true, it’s a massive betrayal of trust.

MATTHEW GUY: An enormous part of our election war chest, enormous. People did a lot of work to get that. I mean, we have a fundraising team who’ve done a huge amount of work; they’re always under a lot of scrutiny as you can imagine, and a lot of pressure.

But they’ve done a huge amount of work. We’ve got a lot of supporters, a lot of branch people who have worked their guts out for this party. And for what it appears to be one individual to do this to us leaves us bitterly cold.

RACHAEL BROWN: The Liberal party leader says the funds could’ve changed last year’s election result, which saw Labor’s Daniel Andrews dismissing the Napthine Coalition government.

Denis Napthine, who led the Victoria’s first one-term government in 60 years, says the fraud allegation is shocking and bitterly disappointing.

The party’s new president, Michael Kroger, has released a statement saying, when the audit turned up suspicious transactions amounting to $1.5 million between 2010 and 2014, Damien Mantach was asked to explain himself.

It was after this discussion that the party’s administrative committee voted to refer the matter to police.

Mr Kroger admits there’s a weakness with the Liberal Party’s checks and balances.

MICHAEL KROGER: Yeah, well on this occasion they clearly failed. So yep, quite up front about that. I’ve only been in the job four months, as you know. This has been going on for four years, so you know, it should have been picked up before and wasn’t, unfortunately.

RACHAEL BROWN: But he says there won’t be a clean out of branch holders, that the alleged fraud didn’t extend to other employees, officials or office bearers, and was limited to the party’s Melbourne headquarters.

He says civil action hasn’t been decided on.

MICHAEL KROGER: We’re sensitive to a number of issues, including the fact the person involved has a wife and family, and there are other matters which we want to take into account. But yes, we’ll be recovering a good deal of the funds in a cooperative relationship with the person involved.

RACHAEL BROWN: Mr Kroger says he doesn’t know where the money’s gone.

And he’s hit back at a suggestion that this is in a similar vein to the trade union boss Kathy Jackson being forced to repay $1.4 million of misappropriated members’ funds.

MICHAEL KROGER: When the Liberal party becomes aware of a serious matter like this, what do we do?

We investigate it quickly, we report it to the appropriate authorities, who in this case will be the Victoria Police. We don’t hide it; we don’t ignore it; we deal with it.

On the other hand, it’s taken a royal commission at massive public expense bringing these union and Labor leaders kicking and screaming before the public to get any type of information from them at all, at massive public expense. And even now they want to sack the umpire.

RACHAEL BROWN: One commentator has told The World Today that there might be more to this than meets the eye.

Damian Mantach stepped down from the director’s job in March. A couple of years ago he was one of the senior Liberals secretly recorded during the police command crisis that led to Ted Baillieu resigning as premier.

The commentator says this audit and slur on a former power player in the executive committee might have more to do with the ongoing power struggle and factional rifts at the upper levels of the Victorian Liberal party.

ELEANOR HALL: Rachael Brown with that report.


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