Frank Arkell-A look back at his murder and filthy secret life over decades


Frank Arkell: How a vicious murder unmasked a city’s darkest secrets

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WARNING: This story contains graphic details that readers may find disturbing.

It was the death that could have pushed Wollongong over the edge.

In the late 1990s, the New South Wales city had become a cesspool of corruption and abuse involving civic leaders and Catholic priests, and was in the grip of a heroin epidemic, its streets littered with needles.

Then, 20 years ago on June 26, 1998, the gruesome bashing murder of former Wollongong lord mayor and state MP Frank Arkell helped break the curse that had dragged the steel city to its darkest depths.

Known as Mr Wollongong, Arkell, who was lord mayor from 1974-1991, had proudly coined the phrase ‘Wonderful Wollongong’ to describe the place he loved to work and play.

To many in high places he was the city’s saviour, but to others who knew his dirty secrets, including his predilection for young boys, he was a ‘rock spider’ who deserved what was coming to him.

‘I wanted to kill someone that day’

Arkell’s murder at the age of 62 came exactly a fortnight after the garrotting and decapitation of 59-year-old gay man David O’Hearn.

O’Hearn happened to live a few houses away from 19-year-old unemployed man Mark Valera — who was found guilty of both murders — in Albion Park, south of Wollongong city.

Police evidence revealed Valera posed as a gay man to gain access to Arkell’s West Wollongong home.

Once his quarry turned his back, Valera picked up a lampshade and hit his victim over the head with it more than 40 times.

Valera, who was wearing work boots, also kicked Arkell hard in the ribs, attacked his head with a glass ashtray, and strangled him.

Once the former mayor was dead, Valera punctured Arkell’s cheek and eye with badge pins found inside the home.

O’Hearn’s murder had been similarly brutal, verging on satanic.

His head had been cut from his body and his arm sawn off and used to draw a pentagram and an inverted cross in blood on the wall.

His body was cut down the front with a knife and his intestines removed.

“I had it in my mind that I wanted to kill someone that day,” Valera later told police. “I was really angry.”

A ‘very horrible’ man’s sickening demise

When asked later why he killed Arkell, Valera said he knew he was a paedophile.

“He is a very, very horrible man,” he said.

Southern Highlands-based police inspector John Klepczarek was an acting sergeant at Lake Illawarra at the time and remembers going to both crime scenes.

“The O’Hearn murder is by far the most gruesome I have ever come across in my career in the NSW Police,” he said.

“Considering what kind of tragedies and murders we have seen in the Illawarra, that is saying something.

“The mental state of the person who committed those crimes I can’t even begin to imagine. The time and effort to commit those crimes, it was absolutely horrific.”

Valera was found guilty of the murders and sentenced, in December 2000, to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment, never

Dirty old town

Steen, a proud gay man who today runs a tea shop and theatre company in Wollongong, knew Arkell “quite well”.

“Being in the arts and community sector we came across Frank all the time and I have to say when you meet Frank, [he was a] charming, lovely person to talk to, very good at hiding what he was up to in his private life,” he said.

“You can’t deny Frank did a damn good job at promoting the town, but you can’t deny that he also did a good job at smudging its name on the way out.”

For Steen, Wollongong in 1970s and ’80s was a dangerous place.

“I myself was beaten over the head and left for dead in a creek bed just for what I was wearing, so you kept quiet and you kept everybody else’s secrets,” he said.

There were well known gay beats operating where hoons would turn up to bash so-called ‘poofters’ for fun.

In a city peppered with many Catholic Church-run schools, there was also the dark scourge of child sexual abuse, which authorities all too often turned a blind eye to.

“I can tell you as an absolute fact that it did happen in one school because I was a victim of it, and I was only eight at the time,” Steen said.

“And all they did was just move the priest to another school where he did exactly the same thing all over again.

“Thankfully he is behind bars now.”

The royal commission that broke the stranglehold

Well before the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse came the Wood Royal Commission into Police Corruption, which was extended to investigate paedophilia.

It was a massive undertaking.

Starting in June 1995, it ran for 451 hearing days with evidence from 902 public witnesses, and cost an estimated $64 million.

The royal commission investigated claims Arkell and retired judge David Yeldham were potential paedophiles.

Arkell’s secret life preying on young boys did not become public until five years after he left public office, when state MP and anti-paedophile campaigner Franca Arena effectively outed him in state parliament.

She asked whether Arkell was W1, who was under investigation by the Wood Royal Commission for having sex with underage boys.

It set off a spiral of controversy that turned Arkell from a man who could do no wrong to a person widely despised and verbally attacked.

Yeldham took his own life in November 1996, while Arkell, who denied the allegations, was virtually forced into hiding before he had the chance to clear his name in court.

“Once the Franca Arena allegation became public, the charges then became public,” said Glenn Mitchell, honorary senior fellow in history at the University of Wollongong.

“Had he not been murdered in June 1998, some time in 1998 between June and December he would have been before a judge and jury in Wollongong Court defending the allegations and the charges against him.”

Probe uncovered rats’ nest

Some of the other names associated with paedophilia in Wollongong at the time included former mayor and businessman Tony Bevan, alderman Brian Tobin, parish priest Father Peter Lewis Comensoli and former Edmund Rice College principal Brother Michael Evans.

Bevan — reputedly known in paedophile rings as ‘Commander Hook’ — was investigated by the Wood Royal Commission three years after his death from cancer in 1991.

Tobin killed himself just two hours after being interviewed by investigators from the Wood Royal Commission paedophile team in 1996.

Evans also took his own life in Rockhampton in 1996.

“It was a sad time, a dark time, and with what was being uncovered in the Wood Royal Commission there was a feeling the place was pretty well evil,” current Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery said.

Current mayor counselled ‘delusional’ Arkell

After the Arena bombshell, Arkell’s life started to rapidly slide downhill.

“Several graffitists had put ‘W1 equals wanker’ and other words that I can’t repeat painted on his front fence,” Dr Mitchell said.

“He was the subject of several prank calls, one of whom was Mark Valera, his eventual murderer.”

It was around this time a new Uniting Church minister assigned to work in Wollongong’s Church on the Mall and its associated food kitchen catering for those living rough met Arkell.

That minister, Gordon Bradbery, who is now the mayor, said he found the retired politician “delusional”.

“I sat with him for quite a while and was convinced he was heading towards full-blown dementia.”

The Mayor said the Catholic Church had had an immense influence on the city when he arrived in 1996.

“There were locations in Wollongong where we had intense power in the Catholic Church. It could control the narrative,” he said.

He said the shackles of the past were thrown off in part by the Wood Royal Commission, but also the later ICAC inquiry into sex for development at Wollongong Council and the growing influence of the university.

Path to redemption

The city’s transformation, brought on by the necessity to progress past a narrow reliance on ever-shrinking industrial base, opened Wollongong up to greater scrutiny from the outside world.

“What I think probably opened it up more than anything else was the work of the university, just the fact that people were coming in here and asking questions and expecting a higher standard of accountability, transparency and good government,” Cr Bradbery said.

This extended to the moral behaviour of its citizens, with murder and paedophilia scandals doing little to enhance the image of Wollongong as a desirable location.

The Wood Royal Commission and association media publicity helped bring the skeletons out of the closet, but many still feel even now it remains a work in progress.

“[Royal commissions] are a wonderful part of the process, but unfortunately I don’t think they go far enough, because there are still people at the top covering their tracks,” Steen said.

The murders of Arkell and O’Hearn at the hands of Valera were not the only murders going on at the time — they were simply the worst of a very bad lot.

A bizarre additional chapter of the double murder played out when Valera’s sister, Belinda Van Krevel, pleaded guilty in 2003 to soliciting her boyfriend Keith Schreiber to murder her father Jack Van Krevel while she was pretending to sleep in the adjoining bedroom.

Schreiber, now imprisoned for life, was also the best friend of Valera.

The murder triangle serves as a reminder of how things have changed for the better and the need to remain vigilant against secrecy and complacency.

For Dr Mitchell the journey has been a difficult but necessary one.

“We have come along a very gut wrenching and torturous journey, but I think the destination we have reached is probably a better destination than anyone could have dreamed of,” he said.

Topics: murder-and-manslaughter, history, crime, wollongong-2500

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Breaking the Brotherhood-Digging up the bad old days of systemic police corruption and graft supported by the Government of the time


Background Information

FEATURE Moonlight State: The honest cop who helped blow the whistle on Australia’s most corrupt police force by Mark Willacy | ABC News | 12 Jun 2017 – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-12/four-corners-moonlight-state-afp-protected-chris-masters/8607314

FEATURE The Bagman, the secret codes, and the payments to a secret brotherhood of bent cops by Mark Willacy | ABC News | 12 Jun 2017 – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-12/fitzgerald-inquiry-files-reveal-inner-workings-of-corrupt-cops/8600046

Fact Check: Did Joh Bjelke-Petersen instigate the Fitzgerald inquiry? | ABC Fact Check | 20 Nov 2014 – http://www.abc.net.au/news/factcheck/2014-11-20/did-joh-bjelke-petersen-instigate-the-fitzgerald-inquiry/5889002

Journalism Matters: Fitzgerald inquiry resulted from basic reporting | The Courier-Mail | 7 Oct 2014 – http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/journalism-matters-fitzgerald-inquiry-resulted-from-basic-reporting/news-story/f34f2b0a95d86007fe12a9bd1a5c6c8a

Moonlight Reflections by Chris Masters | Griffith Review | Aug 2008 – Chris Masters reflected on the making and remifications of the Moonlight State investigation. https://griffithreview.com/articles/moonlight-reflections/

Queensland: Ten Years After Fitzgerald | Background Briefing | 16 May 1999 – http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/queensland-ten-years-after-fitzgerald/3565808

The Fitzgerald Inquiry | Crime & Corruption QLD | 1989 – The Fitzgerald report was tabled in Parliament in July 1989. It made over 100 recommendations covering the establishment of the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission and the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) and reform of the Queensland Police Force. Download the report here: http://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/about-the-ccc/the-fitzgerald-inquiry

Police inquiry turns blowtorch back on accusers by Paul Bongiorno | The Bulletin Archives | 26 May 1987 – https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1363645-the-bulletin-police-inquiry-turns-blowtorch-back.html

Sir Joh says PM has dingoed out on electorate | SMH Archives | 28 May 1987 – https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1363976-smh-sir-joh-says-pm-has-dingoed-out-on.html

RELATED 4 CORNERS PROGRAMS

Beyond Bethany | 3 Mar 2008 – Twenty years on Chris Masters assesses the Joh Bjelke-Petersen legacy. Watch Online

The Moonlight State | 11 May 1987 – Chris Masters’ investigation into Queensland police corruption led to the Fitzgerald Inquiry, resulting in over 100 convictions and the police commissioner being jailed. Watch Online


“The Joke” was a system of protection involving illegal gambling, bookies, and brothels in QLD for more than a decade, probably decades


Updated June 12, 2017 14:19:00

It was Queensland, the year was 1987, and the State’s police force was riddled with corruption. The brotherhood of crooked cops who gave the green light to illegal gambling and prostitution believed they were untouchable.

“The level and systemic nature of it, reaching to all levels, including the highest political levels, was truly a shock to me.” Leading Criminal Investigator

There was a conspiracy of silence, from within the Queensland Government and all the way up to the highest levels of the force. The nature and the extent of the corruption sickened the honest cops, who operated in a world where they could trust no-one

Breaking the Brotherhood – Monday 12 June 2017

“‘Break his camera and break his mouth too!’ was the order.” Chris Masters, ‘The Moonlight State’ (1987)

It was Queensland, the year was 1987, and the State’s police force was riddled with corruption. The brotherhood of crooked cops who gave the green light to illegal gambling and prostitution believed they were untouchable.

“The level and systemic nature of it, reaching to all levels, including the highest political levels, was truly a shock to me.” Leading Criminal Investigator

There was a conspiracy of silence, from within the Queensland Government and all the way up to the highest levels of the force. The nature and the extent of the corruption sickened the honest cops, who operated in a world where they could trust no-one.

“There were times that I actually feared for my life and for the life of my family. It was clear to me that we had institutionalised corruption taking place.” Undercover Operative

A small band of brave crime fighters, and their families, took the enormous risk to trust a journalist with the State’s darkest secrets. The result was ‘The Moonlight State’, perhaps the most explosive true story ever told on Australian television.

“There is another side to the Sunshine State. Despite some wholesome attempts to pretend otherwise, the Queensland Government has not managed to stop the devil at the border. In the Sunshine State, sex is a great little earner.” Chris Masters, ‘The Moonlight State’ (1987)

Chris Masters’ landmark report prompted one of the most important anti-corruption investigations in Australian history, the Fitzgerald Inquiry, which led to the jailing of the Queensland Police Commissioner.

But the whole story of how the whistle was blown has never fully been told. Now the key players who put their trust in Chris Masters have come forward to tell their story, on camera, for the first time.

“I’m sitting there with my wife at home, because I knew when it was going to air, and I’m watching it. And I had this silly grin on my face, but it was also teary because we actually made it, we survived. The story got to air.” Whistleblower

“I believe that fate brought (us) together and that something had to be done.” Undercover Operative

The program also reveals the shocking lengths corrupt police went to, to try to silence the whistleblowers, and reporter Chris Masters.

“My son had been walking home from school and a car had pulled up beside him and told him that his father was going to be killed.” Undercover Police Officer

“Things got very scary, and a very powerful syndicate of organised criminals and corrupt police realised that they had an illicit empire to protect and they started to play nasty.” Chris Masters

Thirty years on from ‘The Moonlight State’, leading law enforcement figures warn that every police force today must remember the lessons of those dark days so they can never be repeated.

Breaking the Brotherhood, reported by Mark Willacy and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 12th June at 8.30pm EDT. It is replayed on Tuesday 13th June at 10.00am and Wednesday 14th at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.00pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.

First posted June 12, 2017 13:43:00


Moonlight State: The honest cop who helped blow the whistle on Australia’s most corrupt police force – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


Moonlight State: The honest cop who helped blow the whistle on Australia’s most corrupt police force

June 12th, 2017 Updated about 2 hours ago

It was an unusual assignment, and Australian Federal Police officer Dave Moore wasn’t happy about it.

“I had a call to go and visit the assistant commissioner,” he recounted.

“He asked me to keep a lookout for a bloke by the name of Chris Masters from Four Corners.”

To Mr Moore, babysitting a journalist was not part of his remit.

“I’ll be honest, I told [my assistant commissioner] I didn’t want to do the job,” he said.

But an order was an order.

It was 1987, and the AFP hierarchy had information that Masters was in danger.

He wasn’t at risk from the criminal underworld, but from the corrupt members of the Queensland police.

“It was made very clear that they were concerned for Chris’s safety,” said Mr Moore, speaking for the first time about the AFP’s secret role in protecting the Four Corners reporter.

“So we put the resources of the AFP, discreetly, behind keeping a lookout for Chris.”

‘We were being watched and shadowed’

Masters was getting too close to a brotherhood of bent cops and their network of graft and corruption, an arrangement known as “the Joke”.

What was the Joke?

The Joke was a vast system of graft and protection involving illegal gambling, starting price bookmakers, brothels and massage parlours that stretched back decades in Queensland.The dirty money flowed to the police, particularly to several senior members of the infamous Licensing Branch, who in exchange for regular cash payments turned a blind eye to vice.

In its later and most lucrative form, the Joke was administered by Jack Herbert, who, by the time it all came crashing down, was passing on nearly $60,000 a month in protection money to police.

Herbert was estimated to have received more than $3 million in payments.

In early 1987 The Courier-Mail ran a series of articles about unchallenged vice in Brisbane.

Then in May, The Moonlight State program was broadcast on Four Corners, revealing that police were being bribed to protect vice in Queensland.

The next day the acting premier Bill Gunn called a judicial inquiry.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry would run for two years and hear from more than 300 witnesses.

Evidence from the inquiry would lead to four government ministers and police commissioner Terry Lewis being jailed.

Other police would go to prison, while senior officers — including the assistant commissioner Graeme Parker — would give evidence in exchange for indemnity from prosecution.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry would also lead to the establishment of Queensland’s first anti-corruption body.

Stretching back several decades, the Joke was a system of protection payments that flowed from brothel owners, SP bookies and illegal gaming operators into the hands of corrupt police.

It was worth millions, and the Joke’s tentacles reached right to the top of the Queensland force.

In late 1986, early 1987, Masters had been sniffing around Brisbane’s red light district of Fortitude Valley for weeks talking to pimps, prostitutes and disgruntled police.

His inquiries were making the brotherhood nervous.

“We were being watched and shadowed,” Masters recalled.

“I didn’t really know that until Dave started to point out people who were surveilling me.”

Mr Moore says he first met Masters “up at the Tower Mill [Hotel]”.

“It became quite apparent to me that there was someone paying quite a lot of attention to Chris across the road,” he said.

“We later found out it was a hired vehicle which was being used by officers of the [Queensland] Police Force.”

The plan to frame Chris Masters

As Masters got closer to cracking the Joke, the police brotherhood knew it had to destroy the Four Corners reporter before he destroyed them.

“They took him extremely seriously, to the point where they were on the brink of literally setting him up,” said Matthew Condon, the author of a three-book series on police corruption in Queensland.

“The plan was that they would plant an underage boy in Masters’ hotel room in the city and ultimately, whether they could prove it or not, the mud would have been thrown against Masters to discredit him.”

Masters would only be told of the plan to stitch him up many months later, after The Moonlight State had gone to air.

“I learnt of it through [former rugby league player] Tommy Raudonikis. He’d heard of it from a police mate and he then tipped off my brother Roy who told me,” Masters said.

“But when it was all supposed to happen I wasn’t in Brisbane, I was back in Sydney.”

The plan revealed the lengths the corrupt Queensland police brotherhood was prepared to go to protect the Joke.

It had flourished for years under the stewardship of a man known as “the Bagman”.

Jack Herbert was a former police Licensing Branch detective who for years was the conduit between the crooks and the cops.

He doled out hundreds of thousands in bribes to corrupt police.

Masters travelled the state speaking to and interviewing people about the Joke.

On May 11, 1987, The Moonlight State went to air on Four Corners.

“The pivotal thing about The Moonlight State and why it caused an earthquake was that for the first time, what Masters achieved, was a link between criminal figures, the underworld and corruption and police,” Condon said.

“That’s what caused so much drama and why it was an astonishing piece of television journalism.”

For Masters, the day after The Moonlight State would bring fresh drama.

“I wake up to the sounds of my own heartbeat,” he said.

“These are scary moments, sometimes the worst moments because you’ve done your best, you’re pretty much exhausted, but then a whole new battle begins.”

That battle would become the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

It would run for two years, hear from 339 witnesses and see the police commissioner, Sir Terence Lewis, jailed and stripped of his knighthood.

Also convicted were senior police and Valley kingpin, Gerry Bellino, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for paying bribes.

As for Jack “the Bagman” Herbert, he escaped jail by rolling over and telling all to the inquiry.

Watch Four Corners’ Breaking the Brotherhood at 8:30pm on ABC and iView.

The Moonlight State, the 1987 report that prompted the Fitzgerald Inquiry, can be viewed in full on the Four Corners website.

Topics: law-crime-and-justice, police, qld, australia

First posted about 4 hours ago

Contact Mark Willacy


en.wikipedia.org

Fitzgerald Inquiry – Wikipedia


The Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct (the Fitzgerald Inquiry) (1987–1989) into Queensland Police corruption was a judicial inquiry presided over by Tony Fitzgerald QC. The inquiry resulted in the deposition of a premier, two by-elections, the jailing of three former ministers and a police commissioner who was jailed and lost his knighthood. It also led indirectly to the end of the National Party of Australia‘s 32-year run as the governing political party in Queensland.

History

The inquiry was established in response to a series of articles on high-level police corruption in The Courier-Mail by reporter Phil Dickie, followed by a Four Corners television report, aired on 11 May 1987, entitled “The Moonlight State” with reporter Chris Masters. Both reports highlighted prostitution, gambling and possible police corruption.[1] With Queensland‘s Premier of 18 years, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, out of the state, his deputy Bill Gunn ordered a commission of inquiry the day after the television report was broadcast.

The allegations aired in the media were not new; they had surfaced from time to time and some news organisations had been forced to pay damages to aggrieved people who alleged their reputations had been damaged (Bjelke-Petersen himself was notoriously litigious in response to unfavourable press coverage). Ian Callinan drafted the terms of reference for the inquiry as well as appearing before it.[2] While the terms of the inquiry were initially narrow, restricted only to the specific allegations raised against specific persons named in the media over a period of just five years, Fitzgerald used his moral authority to lever the inquiry into a position of being able to inquire into any relevant matter. The terms of reference for the Commission were extended twice.[1]

This enabled him to set a new precedent for commissions of inquiry and Royal Commissions in Australia generally, using innovative methods such as indemnities from prosecution for key witnesses to secure vital evidence. The inquiry was initially expected to last about six weeks; it instead spent almost two years conducting a comprehensive investigation of long-term, systemic political corruption and abuse of power in Queensland. Public sittings were held on 238 days, hearing testimony from 339 witnesses.[1]

On 28 August, a Licensing Branch sergeant, Harry Burgess implicated Jack Herbert, and assistant commissioner Graeme Parker. Parker confessed and implicated police commissioner Sir Terry Lewis on 16 September.[3]

The inquiry would eventually outlive the Bjelke-Petersen government. Mike Ahern became the new Premier after Bjelke-Petersen was deposed by his own party.[4] Evidence revealed by the investigation (including testimony from Bjelke-Petersen himself) caused significant political damage and an internal power struggle within the National Party, resulting in Bjelke-Petersen resigning as Premier after his unsuccessful attempt to have the Governor of Queensland sack all of his ministers after they deposed him as party leader.

The inquiry’s special prosecutor was Doug Drummond QC. It was Drummond who decided not to retry Bjelke-Petersen after the hung jury.

Findings

Fitzgerald’s report was submitted on 3 July 1989.[1] Based on the inquiry’s final report,[5] a number of high-profile politicians were charged with crimes; notably Queensland Police Commissioner (Sir) Terry Lewis was charged with corruption.

Bjelke-Petersen himself was charged with perjury in respect of evidence given to the inquiry. The jury in the case remained deadlocked, bringing about a mistrial.[6] In 1992 it was revealed that the jury foreman, Luke Shaw, was a member of the Young Nationals, was identified with the “Friends of Joh” movement and had misrepresented the state of deliberations to the judge. According to an ABC TV analysis, “A later inquiry conducted by Justice Bill Carter found the selection process had been manipulated by …ex-police officers …helping to put Joh before a jury led by Young Nationals member, Luke Shaw.”[7] A special prosecutor announced in 1992 there would be no retrial because Sir Joh, then aged 81, was too old.

Jack Herbert had been the bagman, collecting bribes for police commissioner Terry Lewis from 1980. Lewis himself had been a bagman for former commissioner Francis Bischof.[3] Lewis was convicted (and subsequently stripped of his knighthood).

Leisha Harvey former health minister, was charged with misappropriating of public funds as part of an investigation resulting from the findings of the inquiry. She spent one year in jail.[4] Don Lane, former transport minister, was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment for falsifying expense accounts.[4] Lane’s resignation resulted in the 1989 Merthyr state by-election. Brian Austin, another former health minister, was convicted of misappropriating public funds. Hinze’s resignation led to the 1988 South Coast state by-election.

The Queensland Police Special Bureau was formed on 30 July 1940 and renamed Special Branch on 7 April 1948. It was criticised for being used for political purposes by the Bjelke-Petersen government in the 1970s and 1980s, such as enforcing laws against protests (sometimes outnumbering the protesters or using provocateurs to incite violence so the protesters could be arrested[8]) and investigating and harassing political opponents.[9] It was disbanded in 1989 following a recommendation by the Fitzgerald Inquiry.[9] Special Branch destroyed its records before Fitzgerald could subpoena them.[9]

In large part due to public anger over the revelations in the Fitzgerald report, the National Party was heavily defeated in the December 1989 state election, which brought the Australian Labor Party to power for the first time since 1957.

Recommendations

The two most significant recommendations were the establishment of the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) and the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission which was to review electoral boundaries.[1] The need for Freedom of Information legislation in the state was noted, as was the need to review laws relating to public assembly and guidelines for the disclosure of pecuniary interests of parliamentarians. The CJC was to be responsible for investigating specific individuals mentioned during the inquiry.

The police culture of the state was also criticised. Aspects such as loyalty to fellow police officers, police not enforcing laws against other police and criticism of other police being impermissible[clarification needed] were condemned because they led to misconduct, inefficiency and contempt for the justice system.[1] Many of the inquiry’s recommendations were implemented by Wayne Goss, the first Labor Party Premier of Queensland in 32 years.

Cultural depictions

Bjelke-Petersen’s trial was later the subject of a TV movie, “Joh’s Jury“.[10]

Margot Hutcheson painted a picture of the inquiry, Wasn’t the Fitzgerald Inquiry Fun?[11]

In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Fitzgerald Inquiry was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a “Defining Moment”.[12]

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct, “Fitzgerald Inquiry report”, Government Printer, Brisbane, 1989.

Further reading

FOR more than three decades, Queensland Police simply called it “The Joke”.

And for the crooked cops who were in on it, along with a cavalcade of pimps, gamblers, prostitutes, drug dealers and politicians, being part of the punchline was lucrative business.

When The Courier-Mail finally exposed the system of corrupt payments with the landmark reporting of journalist Phil Dickie in 1987, it was clear the operation had penetrated the highest echelons and darkest recesses of life in the Sunshine State.

Police Commissioner Terry Lewis and other corrupt officers were caught taking bribes from a pool fed by bookies and brothel owners, such as Geraldo Bellino.

Vic Conte

The main beneficiaries were the police. Courier-Mail journalist Matt Condon, who has written a best-selling ­trilogy about that era, wrote The Joke was an “elaborate, multi-million dollar scheme of kickbacks from illegal gambling, SP bookmakers, brothels and escort services”.

At its zenith in the mid- 1980s, the system’s meticulous bookkeeper Jack “the Bagman” Herbert was raking in so much cash he was running out of places to store it in his luxury, riverfront apartment at East Brisbane.

By 1987, he was chan­nelling about $56,000 a month to police to protect SP bookmakers, casino and brothel operators from any serious law enforcement.

By then, the system was brazenly operating in the open, secure in its institutional hold on the police force and protection from the National Party government of then premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Bagman Jack Herbert

Detective Sergeant Tony Murphy

Dickie’s investigative skills eventually shattered The Joke’s sense of impunity as he exposed the chain of money flowing to the police’s notorious Licensing Branch.

Reports in The Courier-Mail and an expose by ABC journalist Chris Masters on Four Corners led to the Fitzgerald inquiry, which finally finished The Joke in 1989 as three government ministers and police commissioner Terry Lewis were jailed.

Want to see more?( 6 more photos in collection )Continue to full gallery

In the final instalment of his trilogy, All Fall Down, Condon details a 1984 document written by serving police that provided forensic insight into The Joke’s structure, operation, breadth and membership.

It traced the system back to the 1950s, when the force was riven by factional fighting between Irish Catholics and the Masons.

The Joke then flourished under Frank Bischoff, who was commissioner from 1958 to 1969. Bischoff initiated Lewis, who was a young detective at the time, into the system and groomed him as a future successor.

Police Commissioner Frank Bischoff.

Notorious poker machine king, businessman and yachtsman Jack Rooklyn.

Lewis readily accepted his new duties, becoming one of the notorious Rat Pack, which included Herbert and detectives Tony Murphy and Glen Hallahan.

Murphy, who later rose to be assistant commissioner, allegedly coined the term The Joke and ensured that the Rat Pack controlled its operations. He was known as The Godfather.

The rest of The Joke operated as a series of autonomous cells led by an officer known as a “control”. Controls answered to another control on the level above them but would not deal with any other person, insulating the Rat Pack from being ­exposed. Citing the document, which was sent to then opposition police spokesman Kevin Hooper, Condon said the Rat Pack used police resources to corrupt politicians, government departments and leaders of industry.

“Illegal tapping of phones and use of sophisticated electronic surveillance gear, control of illegal gambling, prostitution at all levels and the keeping of comprehensive files on citizens of prominence are all ways in which this group of men are able to get appointed to high rank in the department,” the document said.

“There is not a level of ­society that these men do not have contacts and informants who work for them either through fear of exposure or for monetary gain.”

Hector Hapeta

Graeme Parker

 

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Bourke Street Mow down Tragedy by Dimitrious Gargasoulas…. Standby (lost last edit)


Accused Bourke St driver Dimitrious Gargasoulas tells court ‘I am the saviour’

Posted about 5 hours ago

The man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens of pedestrians during a driving rampage through Melbourne’s CBD has told a court he is “the saviour”.

For the first time since he allegedly drove his car through the Bourke Street mall in January, Dimitrious Gargasoulas appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court via video-link on unrelated charges.

The 26-year-old’s lawyer had previously told the court that he had been too ill to attend.

Dressed in a black jumper and white t-shirt, Gargasoulas smiled during the brief hearing and interjected on several occasions.

He said, “Your Honour, I wanted to tell you something”, and later spoke about the Bible and the Koran, yelling, “Aboriginal law is identical to Muslim law”.

His lawyer spoke over the top of him, warning him that members of the media were in court.

Gargasoulas then said: “All the law is illegal.”

Later, he said: “Your Honour, did you know the Muslim faith is the correct faith according to the whole world? And I am not guilty.”

Before his video-link was switched off, he called out: “I am the saviour.”

Gargasoulas faces charges for theft and other offences allegedly committed in early January and late last year, including driving on the wrong side of the road to evade police in St Kilda.

The matter has been adjourned until May.

Gargasoulas is also due to reappear in court in December, for a separate hearing in relation to six charges of murder, 28 of attempted murder and conduct endangering life following the Bourke Street tragedy in January.


2017 Melbourne car attack

2017 Melbourne-Bourke Street Car Attacks Arrest.jpg

Police arrest the alleged perpetrator at 555 Bourke St

Location Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Date 20 January 2017 (2017-01-20)
1:30 pm (AEDT)
Attack type Vehicular attack
Deaths 6
Non-fatal injuries 36
Perpetrator Dimitrious Gargasoulas[1]

On 20 January 2017, around 1:30 pm AEDT, a car was driven into pedestrians in the CBD of Melbourne, Australia. Six people were killed and at least thirty others wounded, three of whom sustained critical injuries.[2][3] Police have alleged that the victims were intentionally hit, and have charged the driver of the vehicle, Dimitrious Gargasoulas, with six counts of murder.[4]

Background

The red Holden Commodore car used in the attack was stolen from a man who lives in the same block of flats as Gargasoulas. Upon being interviewed, the car owner alleged that on the night of 18 January 2017, Gargasoulas entered his flat with a bible, sat down, started burning it and threw it into his face. After this, he said that he flicked it on the floor and was then punched by Gargasoulas.[5]

It is alleged that Gargasoulas stabbed his brother in a flat in Windsor in the early hours of 20 January 2017, leaving the brother in critical condition.[5] He then took his pregnant girlfriend hostage; she was later released on the Bolte Bridge.[6]

Attack

There are videos of the man driving and behaving erratically at the intersection of Flinders Street, St Kilda Road and Swanston Street, outside the entrance of Flinders Street railway station. Two men, year 12 student Tevita Mahina and his cousin Isaac Tupou attempted to stop him, hitting the windscreen with a baseball bat. The driver continued north-bound up Swanston St western-side footpath at speed towards the Bourke Street Mall, turned left onto Bourke Street southern-side footpath and struck more than 20 pedestrians. The car was brought to a halt and the driver was shot in the arm by a police critical incident response team and arrested in front of 555 Bourke Street.[7] A child and two adults died at the scene,[8] while another man died in hospital before the end of the day, and a three-month-old baby boy the evening after the attack.[9] A sixth person died on 30 January.[10]

Victims

Floral tributes to victims of the attack at a memorial at the Western end of the Bourke Street Mall.

Among the victims was a 10-year-old girl, who died on 20 January,[11] as well as a three-month-old baby boy who died on 21 January. The others were a 25-year-old man, a 22-year-old woman, a 33-year-old man, and a 33-year-old woman.[12][13][10]

A memorial for the victims was held in Federation Square on 23 January,[14] and floral tributes were left by members of the public at nine locations along the Bourke Street Mall.[15] On 30 January it was announced that a permanent memorial garden would be established, and that donations approaching AU$1,000,000 had been made to the Bourke Street Fund for the families of the victims.[16] On 31 January, the inorganic tributes were removed from the mall for storage by the Melbourne City Council, and the floral tributes taken for composting for the Victims of Crime memorial near State Parliament.[17]

Perpetrator

Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police Graham Ashton confirmed that 26-year-old Dimitrious “Jimmy” Gargasoulas[18][19] had previously been remanded into custody and was known to police having a history of illicit drug use, family violence, and mental health problems.[20]

In the days before the attack, Gargasoulas began to post messages on Facebook about “religion, God, Satan, heaven and hell”, which writers for The Age described as “rambling and often nonsensical”.[5] According to the Daily Express and Greece based TornosNews.gr, the perpetrator is a GreekTongan Australian.

Gargasoulas’ father told Seven News “he’s not the Jimmy I used to know” and he would “scratch his son off his books”, while his mother told News.com.au she is ashamed to be his mum, and she wanted her son to “die in hell”.[21]

Police reported that the perpetrator was “not on our books as having any connection with terrorism … He has been coming to our attention more recently, over recent days, in relation to assaults, family violence related assaults”.[19] The perpetrator had allegedly stabbed his younger brother for being gay.[22]

According to an eyewitness, Gargasoulas repeatedly shouted “Allahu Akbar”, often linked to Islamic terrorism. Police later asked Melbourne Herald Sun reporter Andrea Hanblin to remove her video interview of the eyewitness who made these claims.[23][24]

Timeline of events

14 January 2017
  • Police charge Gargasoulas at Prahran police station with speeding on the wrong side of the road and ignoring a police direction to stop. Police oppose bail, but Gargasoulas is granted bail for a 20 January court date.[25]
18 January 2017
  • Gargasoulas attacks Gavin Wilson, his mother’s ex-partner, by thrusting a burning Bible in his face and stealing his car.[26]
19 January 2017
  • 9:26 pm: Gargasoulas ‘checks in’ at Dogs Bar, St Kilda, on Facebook, posting: “Thinking. About what to do with them lol.”[27]
  • 10:00 pm: Gargasoulas is refused entry to Dogs Bar as he is suspected to be under the influence.
20 January 2017
  • 12:30 am: Gargasoulas returns to Dogs Bar, in a maroon-coloured car believed to be the same car he stole from Wilson, later to be used in the attack. Patrons report that he smashes glasses and plates.[27]
  • 2:15 am: Police are called to an address in Raleigh Street, Windsor, after reports are lodged of two men fighting. Both victim and Gargasoulas are gone by the time police arrive.
  • 8.04 am: Gargasoulas is spotted driving in the background of a Today “live cross” which is reporting on the Windsor stabbing. The man rolls down the car window and waves his hat at the news camera.[28]
  • 11:30 am: Police follow the car along tram tracks in Clarendon Street in South Melbourne and unsuccessfully attempt to arrest Gargasoulas at a South Wharf intersection.
  • 11:45 am: Police spot the car weaving through traffic on Williamstown Road in Yarraville, west of Melbourne. Police pull back due to safety concerns as the car is being driven “erratically and dangerously.” The police air wing tracks the car as it moves toward the city.[29]
  • 1:30 pm: Emergency services are flooded with calls with reports of a car doing burnouts outside Flinders Street Station.
  • 1:33 pm: The car in question drives north up Swanston Street.[30]
  • 1:35 pm: The car then allegedly struck a number of pedestrians in the vicinity of Bourke Street Mall, before proceeding further along Bourke Street, past intersection with Queen Street.
  • 1:37 pm: Reports of multiple shots fired, Gargasoulas is pulled from the car on William Street.
  • 2:30 pm: Ambulance Victoria state that they are treating 20 people in Bourke Street, many of them sustaining serious injuries.
  • 2:30 pm: Victoria Police release a statement confirming that the situation has been “contained”, one person has been arrested and another dead.
  • 3:20 pm: Police confirm at a press conference that three people have died and the incident was not terrorism-related.
  • 9:00 pm: Police confirm that a fourth person had died in hospital.
21 January 2017
  • 10:53 pm: Police confirm that a fifth person (a three-month-old child) had died in hospital. [31]
23 January 2017
  • Gargasoulas is excused from court by the magistrate, claiming that he is feeling unwell. He is charged with five counts of murder.[32]
30 January 2017
  • Police confirm a 33 year old woman has died in hospital due to her injuries. This raises the death toll to 6.

Responses

The Royal Children’s Hospital treated many children injured in the attack

Police urged the public to share their testimonies and collaborated with over 300 witnesses.[33] Graham Ashton, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner, was quick to dismiss claims the attack was an act of terror, but supposed it instead a consequence of an alleged stabbing which had developed into a crime spree. Victoria Police maintain religion was not a significant motivation.[34] In an interview the day after the attack, Andrew Crisp, Deputy Police Commissioner, stated that police were hoping to interview and charge the suspect later in the day. He said that the fact that the suspect had been out on bail would be looked into by police. He congratulated everyone who dealt with the situation, stating “We saw the best of people yesterday. The support they gave to people on the street, it was amazing.”[35]

Politicians

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten offered their prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims of the attack and their families.[36]

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews stated that “this was a terrible crime – a senseless, evil act” and promised that “justice will be done”.[37] Then the Victorian Government established a fund to provide financial assistance for the families of the deceased, and made an initial donation of $100,000.[38]

A review of the Victorian bail law will be undertaken.[39]

See also

References

  1. Jump up ^ David Hurley, Shannon Deery, Cassie Zervos and Kara Irving (21 January 2017). “Melbourne CBD rampage driver Dimitrious Gargasoulas allegedly warned ‘I’ll take you all out’ in chilling Facebook post”. Herald Sun. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  2. Jump up ^ Butt, Craig (20 January 2017). “As it happened: CBD horror, four dead, 31 hospitalised as car knocks down pedestrians”. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  3. Jump up ^ “Four dead in man’s Melbourne crime spree”. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  4. Jump up ^ “Bourke Street attack: Sixth murder charge for Dimitrious ‘Jimmy’ Gargasoulas”. The Age. 31 March 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  5. ^ Jump up to: a b c “Bourke Street driver identified as James ‘Jimmy’ Gargasoulas”, Tammy Mills, Beau Donelly and Chris Vedelago, The Age, 20 January 2017.
  6. Jump up ^ “‘Die in hell’: Parents disown alleged rampage driver”. au.news.yahoo.com. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  7. Jump up ^ “Four dead in man’s Melbourne crime spree”, AAP, 20 January 2017.
  8. Jump up ^ “Death toll could rise from Vic car attack”. yahoo.com. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  9. Jump up ^ “Melbourne car attack: Bourke Street death toll reaches five after three-month-old baby dies”. ABC News. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  10. ^ Jump up to: a b McKay, Zervos, Holly, Cassie. “Blackburn South woman dies in hospital after Bourke St rampage”. Herald Sun. Retrieved 31 January 2017. 
  11. Jump up ^ https://www.theage.com.au/victoria/bourke-street-chaos-10yearold-girl-thalia-hakin-killed-in-cbd-carnage-20170121-gtw40v.html
  12. Jump up ^ Miletic, Carolyn Webb, Daniella (22 January 2017). “Bourke Street attack: City in mourning after baby boy dies, taking death toll to five”. 
  13. Jump up ^ “Two victims of CDB rampage named”. Herald Sun. 22 January 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  14. Jump up ^ Burin and staff, Margaret (24 January 2017). “Melbourne car attack: Bourke Street victims remembered at vigil in Federation Square”. ABC News. 
  15. Jump up ^ DAVIES, HAMBLIN, FLOWER, HURLEY, BRIDGET, ANDREA, WAYNE, DAVID (23 January 2017). “Love flows for CBD massacre victims”. Herald Sun. 
  16. Jump up ^ “Bourke Street tributes left for victims of attack to be removed as appeal nears $1 million”. ABC News. 30 January 2017. 
  17. Jump up ^ Woods, Emily (31 January 2017). “One bunch at a time, Bourke Street’s floral memorial is carefully moved on”. The Age. 
  18. Jump up ^ “How The Bourke Street Rampage Was Quickly Claimed To Be ‘Islamic Terrorism'”. 
  19. ^ Jump up to: a b “Driver accused of deadly carnage in Melbourne CBD named”, Herald Sun, Andie Hamblin, Padraic Murphy, Mark Buttler, 20 January 2017.
  20. Jump up ^ Ltd, Australian News Channel Pty. “Four killed in Melbourne CBD attack”. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  21. Jump up ^ “‘His dad called me an Aussie sl*t,’ says old friend of Melbourne driver”. NewsComAu. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  22. Jump up ^ “‘No one could’ve predicted what he did'”. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  23. Jump up ^ “BREAKING: Terror Attack in Australia? Vehicle Plows into Pedestrians in Melbourne”. Homeland Security. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  24. Jump up ^ Lion, Patrick (2017-01-20). “Police deny Melbourne rampage was terrorism after witness ‘heard Allahu Akbar”‘”. mirror. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  25. Jump up ^ Cooper, Adam (23 January 2017). “Bourke Street: Alleged killer refuses to appear in court”. The Age. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  26. Jump up ^ “Melbourne CBD attack: Timeline that led to Bourke Street tragedy”. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  27. ^ Jump up to: a b “Melbourne CBD horror: Driver seen at Dogs Bar before Bourke Street attack”. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  28. Jump up ^ “Bourke Street tragedy: Driver appeared on TV hours before pedestrians killed”. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  29. Jump up ^ “Melbourne car incident: What happened where?”. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  30. Jump up ^ “CCTV footage shows pedestrians dodging Melbourne driver”. ABC. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  31. Jump up ^ “Five deceased following Bourke Street Mall incident in Melbourne”. Victoria Police. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  32. Jump up ^ Cooper, Adam (23 January 2017). “Bourke Street: Alleged killer refuses to appear in court”. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  33. Jump up ^ “Melbourne car attack: Leaders pay respects to Bourke St victims, Premier mulls changes to bail laws”, Loretta Florance and Frances Bell, ABC News, 22 January 2017.
  34. Jump up ^ “Four dead after shots fired and car rampage in Melbourne CBD”, Andrew Koubaridis, Debbie Schipp, Matt Young, Emma Reynolds, news.com.au, 22 January 2017.
  35. Jump up ^ “Four killed, 30 injured after car mows down pedestrians in Melbourne”, Helen Davidson, Calla Wahlquist and agencies, The Guardian, 21 January 2017.
  36. Jump up ^ “Australian leaders react to the car rampage in Melbourne’s CBD”. The Canberra Times. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  37. Jump up ^ “Statement on Bourke Street”, Daniel Andrews, 20 January 2017.
  38. Jump up ^ “The Bourke Street Fund”, State Government of Victoria.
  39. Jump up ^ “Deadly Bourke St rampage prompts bail law reform in Victoria”. ABC News. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 

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39 dead in New Year ‘terror attack’ on Istanbul nightclub Reina


January 1 2017 – 9:06PM

Istanbul, Turkey nightclub attack: more than a dozen foreigners among the dead, say officials

Istanbul:  Police in Istanbul launched a manhunt on Sunday for a gunman who killed at least 39 people, many of them foreigners, at a nightclub packed with New Year’s revellers, in an attack officials described as a terrorist act.

The gunman shot his way into the Reina nightclub at around 1.15am local time, just over an hour into the new year, killing a police officer and a civilian as he entered before opening fire at random inside

Some witnesses spoke of multiple attackers, but officials have not confirmed this.

 

“A manhunt for the terrorist is underway. Police have launched operations. We hope the attacker will be captured soon,” he told reporters.

Turkey has imposed a media blackout after the attack, although the restriction doesn’t extend to officials, BBC reported.

Australian embassy officials are working with Turkish authorities to determine if any Australians are victims of the nightclub attack.

 

 

The nightclub, one of Istanbul’s most iconic that is popular with locals and foreigners alike, overlooks the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe and Asia in the city’s cosmopolitan Ortakoy district.

Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said the attacker had used a “long-range weapon” to “brutally and savagely” fire on people, apparently referring to some sort of assault rifle.

“One person first kills the police officer outside, and then a civilian,” the governor said. “Inside he rained bullets brutally, mercilessly over innocent people who were there just to celebrate the new year and have fun.”

 

People talk to medics in an ambulance near the scene of an attack in Istanbul. Photo: APThe Hurriyet newspaper cited witnesses as saying there were multiple attackers and that they shouted in Arabic.

 

Her husband Lutfu Uyanik was wounded in the attack.

 

 

 

Her husband was not in serious condition despite his wounds.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting. The mass killing at the nightclub was at least the fourth major attack in Turkey in less than a month, raising questions about the ability of the government, a NATO member and critical regional ally of the United States, to counter an array of threats stemming from the war across Turkey’s border in Syria, as well as an escalating conflict with Kurdish militants inside Turkey.

 

An image, reportedly of one of the gunmen involved in the attack at the Istanbul nightclub.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would fight to the end against all forms of attack by terror groups and their backers.

“As a nation, we will fight to the end against not just the armed attacks of terror groups and the forces behind them, but also against their economic, political and social attacks,” Erdogan said in a written statement.

“They are trying to create chaos, demoralise our people, and destabilise our country with abominable attacks which target civilians … We will retain our cool-headedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games,” he said.

On the European side of the country’s capital, about 12km from Istanbul, the suburb of Ortakoy is an international travel destination known for its food stalls and vibrant night life. The area is a mix of stone, brick and wooden buildings along pedestrian lanes.

Mehmet Kocarslan, the club’s owner, told the Hurriyet.com.tr news site that there had been increased security at the club for the past 10 days after US intelligence officials shared information about the planned attack. He said the attackers used Kalashnikov rifles.

Television footage showed dozens of ambulances rushing to the scene, and people fleeing, some walking with difficulty arm in arm.

Footage from the scene showed at least six ambulances with flashing lights and civilians being escorted out. NTV said police had cordoned off the area and an operation to capture the assailant was ongoing.

An AP photographer says police cordoned off the area about three kilometres away from the nightclub and reported multiple ambulances passing by.

President Barack Obama expressed condolences on Saturday over the attack and directed his team to offer US help to Turkish authorities, the White House said.

“This afternoon the President was briefed by his national security team on the attack in Istanbul,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement.

“The President expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost, directed his team to offer appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities, as necessary, and keep him updated as warranted.”

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, responded on Twitter, saying his thoughts were with Turkey after this “cowardly act of terrorism”.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Turkish friends,” he added.

Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Claus and others as street vendors, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Ankara and Istanbul have been targeted by several attacks in 2016 carried out by the Islamic State group or Kurdish rebels, killing more than 180 people.

Turkey is still recovering from a failed coup attempt that began July 15 in which at least 265 people were killed.

Although the coup effort sputtered in a matter of hours, Mr Erdogan responded with a sweeping, months-long crackdown targeting alleged dissidents across Turkish society.

In addition to arresting thousands of military personnel suspected of involvement in the coup, hundreds of thousands of civil servants, educational staff and journalists were purged.

The coup and the assassination of the Russian Ambassador Andrey G. Karlov in Ankara on December 19 raised concerns that the country’s security establishment had grown ineffective.

The turmoil also raised doubts about how well Turkey would be able to participate in international counter-terrorism efforts, especially with regard to the Islamic State.

DPA/Reuters/AP/New York Times/Washington Post


abc.net.au

39 dead in New Year ‘terror attack’ on Istanbul nightclub

 Sun 1 Jan 2017, 9:15pm

A gunman shot his way into an Istanbul nightclub packed with New Year’s revellers early on Sunday, killing at least 39 people and wounding almost 70 others in what the provincial Governor described as a terrorist attack.

Key points:

  • Istanbul city governor condemned the “terrorist attack” on the popular Reina nightclub
  • Around 500-600 people were thought to be in the club when the attack happened
  • The attacker was believed to have entered the premises dressed as Santa Claus, local media reported

The assailant shot a police officer and a civilian as he entered the Reina nightclub before opening fire at random inside.

“A terrorist with a long-range weapon… brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Governor Vasip Sahin told reporters at the scene.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the attacker was still at large and 69 people were being treated in hospitals following the shooting.

Mr Soylu said of the victims identified so far, 16 were foreign nationals. He did not provide any information on their countries.

In a statement, President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would fight to the end against all forms of attack by terror groups and their backers.

“As a nation, we will fight to the end against not just the armed attacks of terror groups and the forces behind them, but also against their economic, political and social attacks,” he said.

“They are trying to create chaos, demoralise our people, and destabilise our country with abominable attacks which target civilians … we will retain our cool-headedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games,” he said.

‘I had to lift several bodies from on top of me’

Around 500-600 people were thought to have been in the club when the attack happened at around 1:15am local time, broadcaster CNN Turk said.

The club lies on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait in the Ortakoy district, and some jumped into the water to save themselves and were being rescued by police.

Police with riot gear and machine guns backed up by armoured vehicles blocked the area close to the Reina nightclub.

Witness Sinem Uyanik, whose husband Lutfu Uyanik was wounded in the attack, told AP she saw several bodies inside the nightclub.

“Before I could understand what was happening, my husband fell on top me,” she said outside Istanbul’s Sisli Hospital.

“I had to lift several bodies from on top of me before I could get out.”

The attacker was believed to have entered the nightclub dressed as Santa Claus, private NTV television reported earlier.

Broadcaster CNN Turk initially said the attacker was thought still to be inside the building and that police special forces were preparing to raid it. NTV said the attacker’s whereabouts were unclear.

Dozens of ambulances and police vehicles were dispatched to the club in Ortakoy, a cosmopolitan neighbourhood nestled under one of three bridges crossing the Bosphorus, and home to clubs, restaurants and art galleries.

DFAT determining if any Australians involved

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the Australian embassy in Ankara was liaising with local authorities to determine if any Australians were caught up in the attack.

Reina is one of Istanbul’s best-known nightclubs, popular with locals and tourists alike.

Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Claus and others as street vendors, Anadolu reported.

Ankara and Istanbul have been targeted by several attacks in 2016 carried out by the Islamic State (IS) group or Kurdish rebels, killing more than 180 people.

Turkey, part of the US-led coalition against IS, faces multiple security threats including spill-over from the war in neighbouring Syria.

It has seen repeated attacks and bombings blamed on IS as well as Kurdish militants in recent months.

US President Barack Obama “expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost”, and said assistance would be offered to Turkish authorities.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag vowed that his country would press ahead with its fight against violent groups.

“Turkey will continue its determined and effective combat to root out terror,” Mr Bozdag said on Twitter.

ABC/wires

Topics: terrorism, unrest-conflict-and-war, turkey

First posted about 11 hours agoSun 1 Jan 2017, 10:25am

Sydney crime figure Pasquale Barbaro shot dead, Joe Antoun’s death caught on video


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Nine people have been charged following the bloody execution of crime figure Pasquale Barbaro, after a series of police raids in Sydney.

Tuesday’s co-ordinated sting unfolded just after midday when heavily armed officers raided more than a dozen properties including four at Sydney’s Olympic Park.

A total of 13 search warrants were executed and nine men aged from 18-29 were charged.

“All those charged with substantive murder were charged in relation to Pasquale Barbaro,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

Barbaro was left for dead on a Sydney pavement. Image: Instagram
Nine people have now been charged over the 35-year-old’s death. Image: 7 News
Photo: NSW Police

Barbaro, 35, was shot dead on an Earlwood footpath two weeks ago.

Four of the nine men are facing murder charges and will appear in Sydney courts on Wednesday.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione launched Strike Force Osprey less than two weeks ago after a spate of bloody executions of notorious crime figures on Sydney’s streets.

“There is no end game. We will continue to target these individuals through methodical investigations and disruption strategies. There will be ongoing arrests. We will be protecting the State of NSW. We will be not tolerating any individual who has a total disregard for the community of this state and its laws,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Frank Mennilli said on Wednesday.

The other five men are facing criminal group charges and have court dates for December and January.

Photo: NSW Police
Photo: NSW Police
Photo: NSW Police

Officers from Strike Force Osprey worked with officers from Strike Force Raptor, which was set up in November last year investigating the activities of the Burwood Chapter of the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.

Both forces were involved in Tuesday’s raids.

During the raid more than 40 mobile phones, 11 cars, a safe, cash, stolen NSW Police ID was seized and will now be examined by specialist forensic accountants from the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad.

Police from Strike Force Raptor also seized 20 long arms, 23 hand guns, 15 prohibited weapons, including ballistic vests and masks, silencers, a stun gun, and a homemade pipe gun; ammunition, methylamphetamine, and ecstasy, police said on Wednesday.

With eight shooting deaths over the past 17 months in Sydney, police have vowed to stamp out gangland warfare.

Just weeks before Mafia figure Barbaro was shot in Earlwood as he was getting into his Mercedes on November 14, hitman Hamad Assaad, 29, was shot in Georges Hall on October 25.

Pasquale Barbaro pictured with Brothers for Life leader Farhad Qaumi. Source: 7 News
The shooting scene. Source: 7 News

In April, gangland kingpin and convicted killer Walid Ahmad, 40, was killed in a spray of bullets on the rooftop car park of Bankstown Central shopping centre.

His murder is believed to be in retaliation for the fatal shooting of Safwan Charbaji outside a Condell Park panel beater several weeks earlier.

The month before that Michael Davey was shot dead in a driveway in a drive-by shooting in Kingswood. Believed to be a member of the Rebels motorcycle gang, Davey had escaped injury during a shooting at a shopping centre the previous year.

Police hunt for gangland killer

Police forensice teams establish a crime scene after Pasquale Barbar (inset) was killed. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Police forensics teams establish a crime scene after Pasquale Barbar (inset) was killed. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Police from the NSW Public Order and Riot squad arrive at the scene this morning. Picture: AAP

Police from the NSW Public Order and Riot squad arrive at the scene this morning. Picture: AAP

The crime scene in Earlwood. Picture: Bill Hearne.

The crime scene in Earlwood. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Pasquale Barbaro.

Pasquale Barbaro.


Who was Pasquale Barbaro?

Updated about 7 hours ago

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was a notorious Sydney crime figure and part of a family with known links to the Calabrian mafia, from Italy.

The 35-year-old’s murder last night at Earlwood in Sydney’s inner west was one of several targeted shootings in Sydney this year.

The Barbaro family is well known to police and the criminal underworld.

His grandfather, who was also named Pasquale Barbaro, was murdered in a gangland hit in Brisbane in 1990 after turning police informant.

A cousin — another Pasquale Barbaro — was murdered in a hit in Melbourne in 2003 alongside notorious crime figure Jason Moran.

His uncle, yet another Pasquale Barbaro, is currently serving a 30-year sentence over a massive ecstasy bust — the world’s biggest — discovered in Melbourne in 2007.

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro — killed last night in Earlwood — survived a targeted shooting in Leichhardt in November last year.

Why was he targeted?

There are a number of theories.

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was due to face the Sydney District Court in December over the production of the drug ice (crystal methamphetamine).

Crime journalist Keith Moor says there are suspicions Mr Barbaro may have been a police informant.

“The suspicion is he was probably killed for breaking the code of ‘omerta’ which is the code of silence,” Mr Moor said.

“The suggestion I’m getting is the dead Pasquale Barbaro was telling tales about the operations of the Calabrian mafia — as was his grandfather way back in the 1990’s.”

Equally, Mr Moor said the killing could be because of something unrelated to gang crime.

“He was involved in a number of criminal offences [including] drugs,” Mr Moor said.

“He’s obviously made some enemies [and there have been] attempts on his life in the past.

“It could boil down to something as simple as a domestic — there have been a number of Calabrian crime figures murdered because they’ve left their wives or slept with the wrong person,” he said.

One thing is clear according to NSW Police Superintendent David Johnson: Mr Barbaro was “clearly the intended victim” of last night’s Earlwood shooting.

Links to other shootings

There was a failed hit on Pasquale Timothy Barbaro‘s life in November last year.

Hamad Assaad, who was shot dead at his Georges Hall home just two weeks ago, was one of the major suspects in that attempted hit.

The Assaad shooting on October 25 has links to another targeted shooting in Bankstown in May.

Superintendent David Johnson said at a press conference today that police can’t comment on whether the murders are related.

“I can’t comment on the homicide investigations or strike forces as they are set up,” Mr Johnson said.

“I can’t say whether these matters are related because I don’t know the answer to that.”

The Calabrian Mafia in Australia

Crime journalist Keith Moor said the Barbaro family’s crime history stretches back decades in Australia.

“They’re going back way before the 1977 murder of Donald Mackay in Griffith,” Mr Moor said.

“The dead Barbaro from Sydney overnight… was literally born into the Calabrian mafia.

“It’s a trait that’s passed on from father to son,” he said.

Mr Moor said the Calabrian mafia is more active than people might realise in Australia.

“If anyone smoked a joint in the 60s, 70s, 80s — and lets face it a lot of people did — they were lining the pockets of the Calabrian mafia,” he said.

“They gradually got into the heroin trade… then they expanded to ecstasy.

“They basically recognised what the next big thing was in the drug market.”


Police found the man, 35-year-old Pasquale Barbaro, on an Earlwood footpath after being alerted to a shooting at about 9.40pm on Monday.

And a grey Audi Q7 found burned out in Sydney’s inner west could be the getaway car used in the execution-style shooting of a man linked to Sydney’s criminal underworld, say police.

Execution of standover man filmed

Meanwhile, the front door execution in 2013 of standover man Joe Antoun, a known associate of underworld figure George Alex, was captured on CCTV and played for a Sydney courtroom today – hours after Pasquale Barbaro was gunned down outside Alex’s home.

Mr Antoun was gunned down on the doorstep of his Strathfield home in Sydney’s inner west on December 16, 2013, in a contract killing allegedly arranged by Brothers 4 Life boss Farhad Quami and his brother Mumtaz.

Farhad, 34, and Mumtaz Quami, 31, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Antoun, who worked as a debt collector.

In their trial, CCTV footage was played showing a hooded figure waiting for several minutes before pulling out a handgun and firing several times.

The Daily Telegraph reported Crown Prosecutor Ken McKay SC told their NSW Supreme Court trial before a judge alone Antoun was at home with his wife when a camera showed a man at their front door.

“(Mr Antoun’s wife) went to a window and looked out and saw a person and called out to that person, asking who it was. The person she heard say, ‘It’s Adam. I’ve got a package for Joe’,” Mr McKay said.

“At about this time, Joseph Antoun opened the front door. There was a wire security door which was still closed. As he opened the door, Mr Antoun was shot a number of times and died in his house, it seems very quickly after being.”

The court heard, according to The Daily Telegraph, that before Antoun’s death his former business partner Elias “Les” Elias had agreed to purchase Mimtaz Qaumi’s Erina Kebab House for $190,000.

Mr Elias is in the Philippines, according to a police witness, and declined to provide a statement for the trial.

The confronting CCTV footage was shown hours after Barbaro’s execution this morning outside Mr Alex’s Earlwood home.

CCTV of Joe Antoun shot at his Strathfield home

Police investigation

NSW Police believe it could be linked to the killing of Mr Barbaro. “That vehicle has been towed for forensic examination,” Superintendent David Johnson told reporters.

Supt Johsonn said the victim, who had been visiting someone in the street, had been “shot a number of times”.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward so homicide investigators can piece together a chain of events that includes the Audi. Supt Johnson acknowledges some of the victim’s associates might not be keen to contact police.

“Given the sort of nefarious activities these people are engaged in, clearly it is in their best interests to come forward and speak to police,” he added. “These people [the shooters] are dangerous people.”

‘Targeted attack’

Early investigations suggest it was a targeted attack and Larkhall Street was cordoned off today as forensic teams examined the area.

Barbaro’s grandfather and cousin were both killed in gangland hits and there had been unconfirmed rumours Pasquale Barbaro was an informant for the NSW Crime Commission.

Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro and his coulsin Pat Barbaro

Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro and his cousin Pat Barbaro

Gabriela Pintos lives at the end of street and said she heard gunshots late at night.

“We heard the gunshots … another maybe four gunshots and a couple of minutes later there was someone screaming,” she told AAP.

Another resident told AAP he heard as a many as seven really loud bangs in two bursts and saw a car speed away.

“You knew straight away what it was … I looked out the front and saw a car speed off,” the man, who wanted to be identified as John, said. Witnesses also reported seeing a car with three or four men wearing hoodies parked nearby ahead of the shooting.

He ‘may have broken the mafia code’

Barbaro may have been gunned down in Sydney because he was talking to the authorities, according to a journalist who’s written a book on the Barbaro family.

Journalist Keith Moor says the latest Pasquale Barbaro to die might have been killed for the same reason his grandfather was – he may have been “telling tales outside of school and breaking the code”.

“There could be other motives but that is a line of inquiry the homicide squad in Sydney will be pursuing,” the author of Busted told ABC TV.

Moor believes Monday night’s shooting could be difficult to solve because traditionally the Calabrian mafia are reluctant to talk to authorities. “I’m presuming that none of the Barbaro family will be willing to help police,” he said.

“They’ll probably do their own investigation into what happened.” The journalist said the problem for police trying to crack down on the Barbaros was that, as soon as one was knocked down, another seemed to pop up. “That’s been going on for generations,” he said.

Asaad shooting

The death comes two weeks after another crime figure, Hamad Assaad, was shot dead outside his Georges Hall home.

Mr Assaad was a key suspect in the execution of standover man Walid Ahmad at a Bankstown shopping centre in April.

Infamous underworld figure Jason Moran and Past Barbaro were gunned down in Essendon in 2003.

Infamous underworld figure Jason Moran and Past Barbaro were gunned down in Essendon in 2003.

That killing was thought to be in retaliation for the shooting homicide of Safwan Charbaji outside a nearby panel beater two weeks earlier. Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro was gunned down in Brisbane in 1990 while his cousin Pat Barbaro was shot dead in a car park in Melbourne in 2003.

The Pasquale Barbaro sentenced in 2012 jail over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

The Pasquale Barbaro sentenced in 2012 jail over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Another cousin, also called Pasquale, was involved in what was described as the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Some 15 million pills were hidden inside tinned tomatoes and shipped by the Calabrian mafia from Italy to Melbourne.

– With AAP


What a turn up-Matthew Leveson’s former partner Michael Atkins helping in search for body


Matthew Leveson’s former partner Michael Atkins helping in search for body

3.16pm 10/11/16

The partner of missing Sydney man Matthew Leveson is assisting police in a search for a body at the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, police have confirmed.

Michael Atkins, 53, has been helping police with their inquiries since Friday after being compelled to give evidence at an inquest.

Mr Leveson, 20, was last seen outside Sydney nightclub ARQ with Mr Atkins on the night he disappeared.

His body has never been found.

In February 2012, a $100,000 reward was announced for information leading to the discovery of Mr Leveson’s body.

In 2009, Mr Atkins was acquitted of murdering his former partner after a trial during in which he exercised his right to silence.

This morning, he was due to resume giving evidence for a sixth day at an inquest in Sydney but the hearing was adjourned until 2:00pm.

It is believed homicide detectives have been negotiating with Mr Atkins and his lawyers since Friday.

Deputy state coroner Elaine Truscott compelled Mr Atkins to give evidence and granted him immunity from prosecution, which means any evidence he gives cannot be used against him in a criminal trial.

Police said detectives received information that led them to the Royal National Park this morning.

An extensive search is being conducted of the area and a crime scene has been established.

Police have cordoned off an area of bush about four kilometres from the Waterfall entrance to the Royal National Park.

At least four detectives are on site and a forensics van is parked on the side of the road.

A bushwalking track is inside the crime scene area.

Mr Leveson’s parents Faye and Mark Leveson spoke briefly outside Glebe Coroner’s Court.

“I’m sorry but for the time being, we just can’t talk to you. The police have asked me not to say anything at this stage, we’ve got to respect that,” Mr Leveson said.

“So please understand and be patient, when we can talk to you, we will, but for right now we just can’t say anything. So thank you all for your interest … it’s really appreciated.”

Atkins apologised to Mr Leveson’s parents during inquest

During the inquest, Mr Atkins apologised to his missing partner’s parents “for their loss” while answering questions about Mr Leveson’s presumed death.

Mr Leveson’s parents stood with their arms wrapped around each other facing Mr Atkins as he gave evidence.

Counsel assisting the inquest Lester Fernandez asked Mr Atkins to address the Leveson family.

Mr Atkins told the family he was sorry for their loss but said he did not kill Mr Leveson.

More on this story:

Michael Atkins tells police where he buried Matthew Leveson’s body

A MAN acquitted of murdering his young lover has told police where he buried the body.

Detectives have spent two days at the Royal National Park south of Sydney with electrician Michael Atkins as he has finally broken his silence on what happened to the body of Matt Leveson, 20, and has taken police to his possible grave sites.

Police have also requested help from the rescue squad to provide a drone to help search the rugged bushland.

Matthew Leveson was last seen in 2007. Picture: supplied

The inquest into Matt’s disappearance in 2007, after he left a Sydney nightclub with Mr Atkins, has been adjourned today pending the shock development.

Matt’s family, Mark and Faye Leveson, were with their other two sons at Glebe Coroners Court today as they waited for the news they had hoped for — where their son’s body is so they can bring him home to bury him.

Mr Atkins was acquitted in 2009 by a jury of the murder and manslaughter of Matt, with whom he lived at Cronulla.

Parents of Matthew Leveson, Faye and Mark, at the Coroners court in Glebe today. Picture Renee Nowytarger

He was compelled to give evidence at the inquest but given immunity from prosecution if he told the truth at the inquest into what happened to Matt — but on Friday he admitted to having lied to the court about his police interview.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2007

Matthew Leveson was last seen leaving ARQ nightclub at Surry Hills about 2am

SEPTEMBER 25, 2007

Matthew Leveson, aged 20, reported missing by concerned relatives after he failed to arrive at work and could not be contacted.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2007

Matthew Leveson’s car found by police at Waratah Oval in Sutherland.

OCTOBER 2009

Michael Atkins acquitted by a jury of Mr Leveson’s murder and manslaughter

FEBRUARY 2012

A $100,000 reward was announced for information leading to the discovery of Matthew Leveson’s body.

TODAY:

Police have launched a search in the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, in connection with an ongoing investigation into missing man Matthew Leveson.

It is understood that police used Mr Atkins confession to having lied as leverage to get him to confess to where Matt’s body is.

He had told police when he was interviewed after Matt’s disappearance, he claimed to have been asleep in the couple’s flat and woke up to find Matt missing but he was confronted with CCTV footage of him buying a mattock and duct tape at Taren Point Bunnings.

CCTV footage of Michael Atkins leaving the cash register at the Bunnings Store at Taren Point.

The receipt for the purchase with Mr Atkins fingerprint on it was found in Matt’s car which was discovered at Waratah Oval five days after he disappeared.

Mr Atkins had first told the inquest last week that he had told police the truth in the interview.

Then on Friday he admitted that he had lied to them because he was “scared” of them — and therefore lied to the inquest.

Police have today launched a search in the Royal National Park in Sydney’s Sutherland shire.

  • Matthew Leveson: Michael Atkins loses appeal, must give evidence at inquest into lover’s death

    Updated 12 Oct 2016, 4:42pm

    Michael Atkins, who was acquitted of murdering his lover Matthew Leveson, must give evidence at a coronial inquest into the younger man’s death in 2007, a NSW appeal judge has said.

    Mr Atkins was the last person to see Mr Leveson alive,outside the Sydney nightclub Arq in September 2007.

    Mr Leveson’s body has never been found.

    Mr Atkins was later acquitted of murder and manslaughter.

    He exercised his right to silence during his trial in 2009 and is expected to give evidence about the matter for the first time.

    Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott ordered Mr Atkins to address the inquest, and he appealed against the order in the Supreme Court.

    In dismissing his case, Justice Lucy McCallum said:

    “The right to silence is, of course, important. But so is the coroner’s jurisdiction.”

    Under an order given by the coroner, Mr Atkins’ evidence cannot be used against him in a criminal trial.

    ‘We just want to bring Matt home’

    Mr Leveson’s mother, Faye Leveson, cried outside the Supreme Court and begged Atkins’ family to encourage him to reveal anything he knew.

    “It’s our world, it’s our family” she said.

    “How do you tell your other two boys, how do you tell them you can’t give them their brother back? It’s just not fair.”

    Ms Leveson said she hoped the inquest would help the family locate her son’s remains.

    “We just want to bring Matt home. That’s all we want,” she said.

    Mr Atkins will give evidence at the coronial inquest at Glebe Coroner’s Court on October 31.

    First posted 12 Oct 2016, 11:36am


    Matt Leveson inquest: Witness tells of threesomes with Michael Atkins, the man acquitted of missing man’s murder

    HIS arms around his young partner, this is Michael Atkins and Matt Leveson on their last night together.

     

    It was taken at Darlinghurst’s Arq nightclub in September 2007 and just hours later Matt, 22, would be missing and Mr Atkins, 52, would later be charged and acquitted of his murder.

    Their friend, given the pseudonym John Burns, has told the inquest into Matt’s death how he took this photograph at Arq either late on September 23 or early on September 24, 2007.

    It has been tendered to the inquest at Glebe Coroners Court today.

    Mr Burns told the inquest of his sexual threesomes with the couple.

    He said he only had sex with his friend Matt Leveson, 20, and Matt’s partner Michael Atkins, 52, because he wanted to get closer to Mr Leveson.

    Mr Burns is believed to be the last person to have spoken to Matt, albeit by text message, before he went “missing” after leaving Darlinghurst’s Arq Nightclub with Mr Atkins in the early hours of Sunday September 23, 2007.

    CCTV footage of Michael Atkins at Bunnings Store at Taren Point.
    Michael Atkins and Matt Leveson on the night before Mr Leveson went missing.

    Mr Atkins, who the inquest has heard lied to police about being at home later that Sunday when he was caught on CCTV buying a mattock and duct tape from Bunnings, was charged with Matt’s murder but acquitted by a jury in 2009.

    Mr Leveson’s body has never been found.

    Mr Atkins, now living in Brisbane, did not give evidence at his trial but he has been subpoenaed to give evidence at the inquest. He is sitting in a Sydney courtroom packed with Matt’s family and friends listening to the evidence of Mr Burns.

    Mr Burns told the inquest that Mr Atkins used to “hit on” the young men at Arq by giving them free drugs — ecstasy and GHB.

    He said the three men had sex together twice and after that, he noticed a difference in the relationship between Matt and Mr Atkins who had been living together in Mr Atkins’ Cronulla unit.

    He said Matt did not appear to want to be around Mr Atkins as much and there was an “obvious distance” between them.

    Mr Leveson was last seen leaving Arq nightclub.
    Matt Leveson who police believe was killed on in 2007, although his body has never been found.
    Michael Atkins arrives at Glebe Coroners Court in Sydney today for the inquest. Picture: Mick Tsikas

    On the evening of September 22, 2007, he met up with Matt and Mr Atkins at Arq where Matt was his usual energetic, happy self, bouncing around to the music, he said.

    The inquest has heard that Mr Atkins told police that he had take Matt home because he was sleepy but Mr Burns said Matt had told him he did not want to leave the nightclub.

    In one of a series of text messages, Matt told Mr Burns that Mr Atkins was “taking me home and won’t let me stay!”

    In another text, Matt said: “He needs to f***ing get over himself.”

    Mr Burns told the inquest that Matt had earlier told him that Mr Atkins was very controlling and he had not been able to go out on his own since their relationship began.

Georges Hall shooting: Hamad Asaad shot dead in ‘drive-by’ attack linked to Bankstown shopping centre execution of Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad


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Georges Hall shooting: Man shot dead in ‘drive-by’ attack

‘Too wild for his own good’: Suspected gangland trigger man gunned down in Sydney

Six months after standover man Walid “Wally” Ahmad was gunned down in a brazen and very public execution, the man suspected of pulling the trigger has suffered a similar fate.

Hamad Assaad, 29, had been on the police radar after he was identified as a key suspect in the death of Mr Ahmad, who was shot as he sat in a cafe outside Bankstown Central shopping centre in April.

A man believed to be in his twenties, has been shot dead in Georges Hall, south west Sydney.

Investigators believe Mr Assaad was aligned to a rival family, which some of the Ahmads had been pitted against after another shooting outside Wally Ahmad’s smash repairs in Sydney’s south-west.

“He was on the other team,” one source put it.

It is not yet certain whether Mr Assaad’s death was in response to his widely rumoured role in the death of Mr Ahmad, who was at the helm of one of south-west Sydney’s infamous families.

Investigators suspect two gunmen and a driver were lying in wait in a black car near Mr Assaad’s Georges Hall home on Tuesday morning for him to emerge.

At about 9.20am, he walked out of his family’s Sturt Avenue home with a 12-year-old boy, whom he was about to drive somewhere.

After moving one car from the garage, Mr Assaad was getting into another when two gunmen opened fire.

“This is a targeted shooting,” Homicide Squad Detective Chief Inspector Grant Taylor said.

“These individuals obviously wanted to kill him, there is no doubt about that.”

Mr Assaad was shot “many” times, police say, and despite attempts to revive him he died on his driveway.

Neighbours said they heard a rapid succession of up to six gunshots, which sounded like they came from a semi-automatic weapon.

“I was about to go in mum’s car and I heard boom boom boom,” said the daughter of Sturt Avenue resident Sonya Aleksandrova.

“I was like, ‘Mummy, mummy shut everything please hide, shut the doors, shut the windows’.”

Mr Assaad’s mother emerged from their home, hysterical, after the shooting to find her bloodied son. Traumatic scenes followed.

Many relatives and friends flocked to the taped-off crime scene throughout the day, with one man caught jumping into the Assaad home back yard.

Wally Elriche, the one-time bodyguard for Salim Mehajer, was among a small group of men circled by police at the rear of the Assaad home.

He was not arrested but another man was loaded into the back of a police truck and taken away.

At another side of the crime scene, Mr Assaad’s distraught grandmother demanded officers let her past the police tape.

“They won’t let me see my son’s son,” she said.

“He hasn’t done anything at all. Go catch the drug dealers, gun dealers, they are killing people.”

The latest shooting has fuelled concerns about retaliation, with the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad part of the push to try to quell those concerns.

“We are always concerned about any potential retaliation from events like this,” Inspector Taylor said.

An obvious line of inquiry for police is whether Mr Assaad, a well-known figure in the south-west criminal community, was killed in retribution to Wally Ahmad’s demise.

However, police stressed they were keeping all avenues open.

Mr Assaad had previously escaped a conviction for the murder of Mohamad Alahmad, 37, who was shot six times as he sat in his BMW in the driveway of his South Granville home in 2007.

It was alleged at the time that Mr Alahmad’s ex-wife was in a relationship with crime boss Nasser Kalache but had started talking to Mr Alahmad about a possible reconciliation.

Mr Assaad was then under orders to kill Mr Alahmad with another man.

He beat the charge and was found not guilty in 2010.

In the wake of his death, a friend revealed Mr Assaad had run for Kalache for years.

“He was too wild for his own good,” he said.

“He was a really nice kid but you could direct him [to do something].”

The Homicide Squad now has three murder investigations in 2016 with possible links to the Ahmad family conflict.

It started with the shooting of Safwan Charbaji, 32, outside Wally Ahmad’s Condell Park smash repairs in April.

The conflict erupted between members of the Elmir and Ahmad family over a bizarre $100,000 kidnapping plan.

Mr Charbaji was killed and another man was shot in the jaw but survived.

Wally’s brother, Mahmoud “Brownie” Ahmad, is one of a handful of men police suspect used a gun that day. He travelled to Lebanon after the shooting.


Boy witnessed dad’s drive-by shooting death

LAURA BANKS, JACK HOUGHTON and DAVE MEDDOWS, The Daily Telegraph

A MAN — who was a suspect in a gangland hit at a Bankstown shopping centre earlier this year — was gunned down in the driveway of a south western Sydney house as he was getting ready to take his young son to school.

Hamad Asaad, 29, who was shot repeatedly in the driveway of a Georges Hall house just before 9.30am, was a suspect in the murder of Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad, who was gunned down in the carpark of Bankstown Central in April, police sources told The Daily Telegraph.

Ahmad was killed in a hail of bullets when he was ambushed in the midday attack, where two other bystanders were also shot.

Police believe Ahmad’s killing may have been retribution for the murder of Safwan Charbaji earlier in April outside Ahmed’s smash repair shop in Condell Park.

A sheet covers the body of a man gunned down in a driveway in Georges Hall.

Asaad was also acquitted in the murder of Mohamad Alahmad who was shot while getting into his BMW outside his Granville home in August 2008.

It is believed Mr Alahmad’s wife Eman Hamawi had left him and entered into a relationship with crime boss Nasser Kalache but was considering reconciling with the murdered man.

Asaad collapsed in the driveway suffering multiple gunshot wounds about 9.30am. He died a short time later.

There are reports he had been shot in the head.

The man’s body was covered with a white sheet and a large quantity of blood could be seen on the concrete.

Paramedics had worked to save the man but he died at the scene.

A crime scene was set up and police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are involved in the investigation.

The sister of the victim broke down trying to get to her brother.

With tears streaming down her face, the woman begged police guarding the scene to let her in.

“Please, he’s my brother,” she said before being told she could not enter.

The woman ran off towards another distressed person waiting in a car.

A visibly distraught man is held back by friends and police at the scene. Picture: AAP
Asaad’s visibly distressed mother was helped from the scene by police and an unknown man..
Police had to earlier hold back this distraught man, believed to be the victim’s brother, who was trying to gain access to the crime scene.

A man wearing a hoodie was also seen pleading with police to be let into the crime scene, shouting the victim was his brother.

Police were also seen leading an older woman from the scene, but it is unclear if she is related to the man.

Chief Inspector Grant Taylor said the shooting was “targeted” and unfolded in a matter of seconds.

He confirmed the man had ties to Middle Eastern crime gangs.

“He was moving one car out of the driveway when he was shot multiple times,” he said.

“His mother was home at the time. She is hysterical as you can imagine.”

Insp Taylor said the victim was being “observed” by the shooters before the attack.

“The motivation behind this murder is not really known and it would not be the right thing for us to speculate,” he said.

“The family is very distraught.”

An employee of nearby Pool and Spa Warehouse, Robert, told The Daily Telegraph he heard eight to 10 shots, and ran outside to see a car speed from the location.

“We heard the shots going off and walked out and saw I’m pretty sure a black Mercedes fly up the road,” he said.

Police have since confirmed the vehicle was a black Audi sedan.

Robert said it sounded like more than one gun was used in the shooting.

“It sounded like there were six (shots) from one gun and then I heard another shot that sounded like it came from another gun,” he said.

Dozens of police raced to the scene after reports of the shooting.
Police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are among those at the scene.

His colleague Raj Goundar, 50, agreed.

“I think it was an automatic weapon because it went dudududud really fast,” he said.

“It was not a simple one shot, there were a lot of them.

“It is scary but if you hang with the wrong crowd this happens.”

The shooting took place at Sturt Ave, Georges Hall


 

JACK HOUGHTON, LAURA BANKS and DAVID MEDDOWS The Daily Telegraph

A MAN shot dead on a south-western Sydney driveway this morning was a suspect in a gangland hit at a Bankstown shopping centre earlier this year.

Hamad Asaad, 29, who was gunned down in the driveway of a Georges Hall house just before 9.30am, was a suspect in the murder of Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad, who was gunned down in the carpark of Bankstown Central in April, police sources told The Daily Telegraph.

Ahmad was killed in a hail of bullets when he was ambushed in the midday attack, where two other bystanders were also shot.

Police believe Ahmad’s killing may have been retribution for the murder of Safwan Charbaji earlier in April outside Ahmed’s smash repair shop in Condell Park.

A sheet covers the body of a man gunned down in a driveway in Georges Hall.

A sheet covers the body of a man gunned down in a driveway in Georges Hall.Source:News Corp Australia

Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad was ambushed and shot dead at Bankstown Central in April. Picture: Seven News

Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad was ambushed and shot dead at Bankstown Central in April. Picture: Seven NewsSource:Channel 7

CCTV shows the moment Ahmad was shot in the April attack.

CCTV shows the moment Ahmad was shot in the April attack.Source:Supplied

Asaad collapsed in the driveway suffering multiple gunshot wounds about 9.30am. He died a short time later.

There are reports he had been shot in the head.

The man’s body was covered with a white sheet and a large quantity of blood could be seen on the concrete.

Paramedics had worked to save the man but he died at the scene.

Paramedics had worked to save the man but he died at the scene.Source:News Corp Australia

A crime scene was set up and police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are involved in the investigation.

The sister of the victim broke down trying to get to her brother.

With tears streaming down her face, the woman begged police guarding the scene to let her in.

“Please, he’s my brother,” she said before being told she could not enter.

The woman ran off towards another distressed person waiting in a car.

Police and paramedics at the scene.

Police and paramedics at the scene.Source:News Corp Australia

A visibly distressed woman was helped from the scene by police and an unknown man..

A visibly distressed woman was helped from the scene by police and an unknown man..Source:News Corp Australia

Police had to earlier hold back this distraught man who was trying to gain access to the crime scene.

Police had to earlier hold back this distraught man who was trying to gain access to the crime scene.Source:News Corp Australia

A man wearing a hoodie was also seen pleading with police to be let into the crime scene, shouting the victim was his brother.

Police were also seen leading an older woman from the scene, but it is unclear if she is related to the man.

Chief Inspector Grant Taylor said the shooting was “targeted” and unfolded in a matter of seconds.

He confirmed the man had ties to Middle Eastern crime gangs.

“He was moving one car out of the driveway when he was shot multiple times,” he said.

“His mother was home at the time. She is hysterical as you can imagine.”

Insp Taylor said the victim was being “observed” by the shooters before the attack.

“The motivation behind this murder is not really known and it would not be the right thing for us to speculate,” he said.

“The family is very distraught.”

An employee of nearby Pool and Spa Warehouse, Robert, told The Daily Telegraph he heard eight to 10 shots, and ran outside to see a car speed from the location.

“We heard the shots going off and walked out and saw I’m pretty sure a black Mercedes fly up the road,” he said.

Police have since confirmed the vehicle was a black Audi sedan.

Robert said it sounded like more than one gun was used in the shooting.

“It sounded like there were six (shots) from one gun and then I heard another shot that sounded like it came from another gun,” he said.

Dozens of police raced to the scene after reports of the shooting.

Dozens of police raced to the scene after reports of the shooting.Source:News Corp Australia

Neighbours said the man moved into the home about six months ago with a wife and young children.
Neighbours said the man moved into the home about six months ago with a wife and young children.
Police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are among those at the scene.

Police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are among those at the scene.Source:News Corp Australia

His colleague Raj Goundar, 50, agreed.

“I think it was an automatic weapon because it went dudududud really fast,” he said.

“It was not a simple one shot, there were a lot of them.

“It is scary but if you hang with the wrong crowd this happens.”

The shooting took place at Sturt Ave, Georges Hall

The shooting took place at Sturt Ave, Georges HallSource:The Daily


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Man shot dead outside a Sydney house in drive-by attack

  • A man, 29, was gunned down in Sydney’s south-west on Tuesday morning
  • Emergency services were called to a house on Sturt Ave in Georges Hall about 9.20am
  • Paramedics treated the man for multiple gunshot wounds but he died at the scene
  • A black ‘sports type’ sedan was seen leaving the scene, NSW Police said

The victim was a key suspect in the murder of gangland figure Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad gunned down in April

  •  WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW 

A man gunned down outside his house in Sydney’s south-west on Tuesday morning was known to police and was believed to be a key suspect in the execution-style murder of a prominent gangland figure.

Hamad Assaad, 29, was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting on Sturt Ave in Georges Hall at 9.20am.

Police said they believe the victim was leaving his house when two shooters in the back of a black sports car shot him dead in board daylight.

Assaad was a suspect in the shooting of gangland figure Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad, who was gunned down in April this year, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ahmad’s murder at a Bankstown shopping centre was thought to be retribution for the killing earlier that month of another man, Safwan Charbaji.

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A man in his 20s has been gunned down outside a house in Sydney’s south-west

He was shot multiple times outside a house on Sturt Ave, Georges Hall, about 9.20am on Tuesday

Police are seen here speaking to onlookers at the scene

The victim was a suspect in the shooting of gangland figure Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad (pictured)

In 2010 Assaad was charged with murder in another drive-by shooting, relating to a love triangle, but was found not-guilty of killing Mohamad Alahmad, 37.

On Tuesday after Assaad was shot, he was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics for multiple wounds, however he died at the scene.

‘These individuals obviously wanted to kill him. There’s no doubt about that. He was the target,’ Detective Chief Inspector Grant Taylor said.

The man’s distraught mother was home at the time of the attack, however it is not yet clear if she witnessed her son’s murder.

Ahmad’s murder at a Bankstown shopping centre (pictured) was thought to be retribution for the killing earlier that month of another man, Safwan Charbaji.

Nearby residents and shops said they heard multiple gunshots

A black Audi sedan was seen leaving the scene

Man shot dead in execution-style hit in his Sydney driveway

He was well known to police, and detectives from the State Crime Commisison, Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad and officers from the south-west Sydney region are investigating.

Officers described the attack as a ‘targeted shooting’, and are currently scouring CCTV footage from businesses and homes in the area.

Photos showed the man’s body laying in the driveway covered by a white sheet, and a large amount of blood could be seen on the concrete beside him.

Police from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad are reportedly at the scene

Officers are seen here speaking to bystanders

A distraught man was held back by friends and police after arriving at the scene

The man was comforted by a friend as police blocked his entrance to the crime scene

Earlier it was reported police were hunting for a black Audi seen in the area, however it was later confirmed they were hunting for a black ‘sports type’ sedan.

A hairdresser at Tamed Hair by Rose, around the corner from the house, heard the gun shots.

‘It does happen but it hasn’t happened quite so close to us,’ Rose told AAP.

‘It was pretty frightening.’

Disturbing footage showed paramedics performing CPR on Ahmad after he was  fatally shot in April 2016

A man was treated by paramedics at the scene of Walid ‘Wally’ Ahmad’s shooting in April for gunshot wounds to his leg before being taken to hospital

An injured bystander after the April 2016 shooting of Wally Ahmad