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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Damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners-Don Dale detention centre


Despicable, we have seen this overseas and thanked GOD it could never happen here. I think by the immediate actions of the Federal Government in calling and Royal Commission says a lot. Disgusting, if this is how my child might be treated if he committed crimes in NT, bloody hell, help us all! NO human deserves to be treated as a DOG or worse. NO matter what…(Robbo)

I am compiling all the videos so they can be seen together, folks. Appalling, never in my dreams did I think we treat anybody like this. ALL these kids are underage.No matter what they did or why they are there we as a society are not violent. I personally am not surprised the individuals shown reacted they way they did. It is a matter of survival! At least a dozen clips on the way stay tuned (Robbo)


NT Government counter-sues boys who were tear-gassed at Don Dale

29/07/16

The Northern Territory Government is counter-suing two boys who were tear-gassed by prison guards at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.

The boys, whose names have been suppressed by the Northern Territory Supreme Court, lodged papers in June this year seeking damages for alleged mistreatment at the hands of staff at the facility.

But the NT Government’s response, filed on July 4, is seeking damages for an escape attempt in which the two boys stole a car, before using it to ram a roller-door and re-enter the prison.

The Government claims the two boys escaped from Don Dale on May 31, 2015, causing $89,000 in damage.

It also claims the boys caused $74,025.60 damage when they rammed a roller door at the prison using a stolen car on June 1, 2015.

The NT Government is seeking damages with interest and legal costs.

Both boys, and four others who are not being counter-sued, are seeking damages for the now-infamous tear-gassing incident in the old Don Dale centre as well as a string of other claims.

The writs filed by the boys seek general, aggravated and exemplary damages to “deter and punish” the NT Government.

One of the prisoners suing is Dylan Voller, who was the prisoner strapped to a restraint chair for hours with a spit hood placed over his head.

Another is Jake Roper, who was the boy who got out of his cell in the behavioural management unit of the old Don Dale centre, which instigated the tear-gassing of all prisoners in the area.

Here is the whole video in one go.I do prey that in the interests of the publics right to know and to educate our country I do NOT get a strike.

John Elferink sacked from Corrections in wake of Four Corners report; Adam Giles alleges culture of cover-up

Updated 19 minutes ago

NT Chief Minister Adam Giles has sacked his Corrections Minister John Elferink in the wake of the damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners, while alleging there has been a “culture of cover-up” within the Corrections system.

Key points:

  • John Elferink remains as Mental Health Minister, Attorney-General
  • Adam Giles alleges cover-up of video evidence
  • Staff seen in Four Corners report still in Corrections system

John Elferink, the minister responsible for young detainees in the Northern Territory, has been sacked in the wake of the damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners.

At a press conference today, NT Chief Minister Adam Giles announced he had taken over the portfolios of Corrections and Justice from Mr Elferink.

“Can I start by saying that anybody who saw that footage on television last night on Four Corners would undoubtedly describe it as horrific footage. I sat and watched the footage and recognised horror through my eyes,” Mr Giles said.

He said the footage aired in the Four Corners report had been withheld from him, Mr Elferink and “many officials in government” — with him only seeing it for the first time “on television last night”.

“I think over time there has most certainly been a culture of cover-up within the Corrections system,” he said.

“I think there’s been a culture of cover-up going on for many a long year. The footage we saw last night [went] back to 2010 — and I predict this has gone on for a very long time.”

He said his government had been “working very hard to try and fix many of those issues”.

“What we’re changing is a culture of an organisation within the youth detention system and I think we’ve come a long way in that time. That’s not to discredit any of that terrible footage we saw on Four Corners last night. It was terrible footage but we’re seeking to improve the system,” Mr Giles said.

When asked if he personally was comfortable with children being strapped into restraint chairs, Mr Giles refused to answer definitively.

“We’re going to have a look at that as part of the royal commission. We will have a review into that. I can’t talk about individual cases,” he said.

“There are kids who are trying to deliberately cause cranial issues by bashing their head against the wall.

“Prison officers need the ability to be able to de-escalate issues when children are not in … a calm environment within themselves and at all times those kids’ wellbeing is being put at the best possible place.

“Having said that, there is certainly footage last night, particularly the footage dating back to 2010, 2012 and 2014 where I don’t think the standards have been upheld.”

Mr Giles said the Northern Territory community was “sick of youth crime … they have had a gutful”.

“They’ve had a gutful of cars getting smashed up, houses getting broken into, people being assaulted. There’s no doubt. And the majority of the community is saying let’s lock these kids up,” he said.

 

Some staff from footage still with corrections

The Acting Commissioner of Corrections Mark Payne, who took over in 2015, admitted some staff seen in the Four Corners report were still working with NT Corrections.

“A number of the staff, particularly those who have become the subject of previous investigations, a number of those staff members are no longer with us in the organisation. They’ve either been terminated in their employment or have chosen to resign,” Mr Payne said.

“A number of staff members who may have been implicated to sustain charges, criminal or internal, remain with us.

“There were only two staff members identified in footage last night that still remain within the youth justice sphere.”

Asked if he held any concerns for the welfare of youth detainees, Mr Payne said he did not.

“I have no concern and, in fact, I should remind the public that we have the Children’s Commissioner and their staff come in to our facilities once a week,” he said.

“We have representatives and our elders visiting program coming into the facility.

“We invite people in tours of the facility so as I stated previously, when I came into the organisation I found certainly a different place and its certainly a different place today in 2016 to what was identified in the footage last night.”

Elferink office target of attack

Asked where the Mr Elferink was, Mr Giles answered: “I don’t know.”

“I imagine he’s are probably in his office. I’ve advised John that I am assuming the Corrections responsibility immediately and that occurred five minutes before I walked into this office,” he said.

Mr Giles said Mr Elferink would retain his other portfolios, including Health, Children and Families and Mental Health.

This morning, Mr Elferink’s Darwin electoral office was the target of a vandal graffiti attack with police attending the scene.

Mr Elferink is yet to speak publicly since the Four Corners report, in which he is featured offering ABC journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna a lift on his motorcycle to the Don Dale area where the so-called “riot” took place in 2014.

The ABC revealed the riot never happened and was concocted by prison authorities as an excuse for the use of tear-gassing of six boys.

The report has resulted in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today announcing a royal commission into the Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system.


Evidence of ‘torture’ of children held in Don Dale detention centre uncovered by Four Corners

Video: LANGUAGE WARNING: Watch the video obtained by Four Corners (ABC News)

Vision of the tear-gassing of six boys being held in isolation at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin in August 2014 has been obtained by Four Corners, exposing one of the darkest incidents in the history of juvenile justice in Australia.

The vision is part of an investigation featuring a chilling catalogue of footage revealing a pattern of abuse, deprivation and punishment of vulnerable children inside Northern Territory youth detention centres.

The tear-gassing incident was described as a “riot” at the time, with media reporting multiple boys had escaped their cells in the isolation wing of the prison, known as the Behavioural Management Unit (BMU), and threatened staff with weapons.

But CCTV vision and handy-cam recordings made by staff, obtained exclusively by Four Corners, show only one boy escaped his cell after it was left unlocked by a guard.

Former corrections commissioner Ken Middlebrook last year defended the officer’s actions in the wake of a damning report by the Northern Territory Children’s Commissioner.

“I am not in the business of overuse of force. There were two sprays from an aerosol in the area. Now it wasn’t overuse of gas,” Mr Middlebrook told the ABC at the time.

But CCTV vision from the incident shows 10 bursts of tear gas being sprayed into the enclosed area over the space of one-and-a-half-minutes.

All six boys were exposed to the tear gas, five while still locked in their cells.

Not all the children were misbehaving — two boys can be seen on CCTV calmly playing cards before being exposed to the fumes. Another can be seen repeatedly smashing the wall of his cell with a broken light fitting.

The 14-year-old boy who escaped his cell can be heard repeatedly asking how long he had been in isolation and requesting to talk to staff.

Instead of negotiating with the boy, prison staff can be heard laughing and mocking him, calling the boy “an idiot” and a “little f****r”.

Four Corners has managed to track down several of the boys who were tear gassed. They describe being highly distressed, afraid for their lives, and say that two years on they are now suffering from disturbing flashbacks and nightmares from the ordeal.

The CCTV vision also shows the children’s reactions as they are affected by the gas, running to the back of their cells, hiding behind sheets and mattresses, gasping for air, crying, and bending over toilets.

One boy is left in his cell and exposed to tear gas for eight minutes. He is seen lying face down on the floor with his hands behind his back, before being handcuffed by two prison officers wearing gas masks and dragged out of his cell.

‘Ticking time bomb’ of potentially unlawful solitary confinement

The use of tear gas at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in 2014 came after months of tension, repeated escapes and incidents at the centre, which was staffed with under-trained Youth Justice Officers, in what has been described as a “ticking time bomb” by former staff.

Three weeks before the tear-gassing incident, five boys had escaped from Don Dale.

When they were recaptured, they were placed in the isolation wing of the prison for between 15 and 17 days, in what were described by both children and staff as appalling and inhumane conditions.

They were kept locked in their cells for almost 24 hours a day with no running water, little natural light, and were denied access to school and educational material.

The boys being kept in isolation were accidentally discovered by a group of lawyers, including solicitor Jared Sharp, when they were taken on a tour of the facility in August 2014.

“We all sort of looked at each other in shock that there was kids in these cells, because there was signs of life in there but we didn’t know who was in there or what was happening, or how long they’d been there,” Mr Sharp told Four Corners.

“To what extreme is that, is to my view is torture. To my view that is treating kids in a way that is just entirely unacceptable,” he said.

Human Rights Lawyer Ruth Barson said the isolation of the children was a clear violation of the United Nations Convention against Torture.

“The UN’s expert on torture has said there are no circumstances that justify young people being held in solitary confinement, let alone prolonged solitary confinement,” Ms Barson told Four Corners.

“I think the NT and in particular Don Dale has a long way to go to ensure their practices are compliant with Australia’s obligation on the convention against torture and against the right of the child.”

Government says improvements made

In the days after the tear gassing, NT Corrections Minister John Elferink praised the actions of his staff and the prison security dog used on the night of the incident.

“I congratulate again, and place my support behind, the staff who made this decision. The staff worked hard, Fluffy the Alsatian worked hard and, as far as we are concerned, it was a problem that was solved quickly,” Mr Elferink told Parliament.

In the wake of the incident, the Don Dale centre was closed and the children were moved to the run-down, old Berrimah adult prison.

The NT Government commissioned an independent report into the incident by former Long Bay prison boss Michael Vita, which was released in January 2015.

Mr Elferink told Four Corners the Government had learned from the mistakes of the past.

“It was a system that needed improvement. It was a system that had fundamental problems, which is why I’ve worked so hard to improve it and it has been improved,” he said.

“That was a circumstance that clearly demonstrated to me that something had to be done, which is what the Vita Report was all about.

“Those circumstances have now been changed… we hope that they won’t be repeated.”

NT Children’s Commissioner Colleen Gwynne confirmed to Four Corners there are still ongoing issues with youth detention in the Northern Territory, with many of her 2015 report recommendations still not implemented.

“The response has not been as urgent as we would have liked. The issues raised in that report are extremely serious and I would like to see a more full response,” she said.

“[We need] some urgency and some dedicated resources thrown at this.”

Outrage forces backflip over jailed hit-and-run driver’s job as prison delivery driver


Here is another great example of the pathetic system…Guilty in relation to the death of a person in a hit and run and dumping his body and perverting the course of justice in 2013!!! driving around unsupervised outside jail in 2014…WTF is going on.


Update 11/02/15

One of the hells angels finest has memory loss that would make Alan Bond proud to be an Aussie…

Alleged Hells Angels associate making ‘mockery’ of inquest, Coroner says

Wed 11 Feb 2015, 4:47pm

A man allegedly associated with the Hells Angels motorcycle gang has been making a mockery of an inquest in Darwin because he repeatedly refuses to answer questions, the Northern Territory coroner says.

Mark Simpson, 38, who is currently in jail for other matters, was called to give evidence on the third day of the inquiry into the death of Levi Griffiths.

Mr Griffiths was killed walking home from a party on a road in Darwin’s rural outskirts in June 2011.

The Coroner, Greg Cavanagh, said Simpson’s evidence “made a mockery” of the inquest.

The comments came after Counsel Assisting the Coroner Dr Peggy Dwyer asked Simpson questions about the night of the death and his association with Hells Angels.

Simpson repeatedly answered: “I don’t recall”.

Dr Dwyer asked Simpson if he was a “patched” member of Hells Angels in 2011.

“I don’t recall,” Simpson said.

Simpson was also questioned as to the code of conduct for Hells Angels members when talking about each other and said he did not know.

In 2013, Nicholas “Shonky” Cassidy was found guilty of perverting the course of justice for covering up Mr Griffiths’ death.

Cassidy was never prosecuted for traffic or hit run offences in relation to Mr Griffiths death.

Dr Dwyer then played two police recordings to Simpson, one of a conversation between him and his girlfriend in 2011, Brooke Candida.

“Shonky … killed someone,” Simpson said in the recording.

He also made a reference to the body of Mr Griffiths flipping into the back of Cassidy’s ute.

“I’ll give you a … 9.5 for … the acrobat f**k that you did on the bonnet to the windscreen to over the boot into the tray,” he said

In the second recording, Simpson joked with Scott Eaton, also an alleged Hells Angels associate, about Mr Griffiths body lying flat in the tray of Cassidy’s ute.

“I guess he wanted to go planking,” Simpson said.

There were also references in the recordings to Cassidy driving erratically and drink driving.

“Shouldn’t have been in the … car, right, cos (sic) [Cassidy] was f**king blind, driving up the road,” Simpson said.

Tue 18 Nov 2014, 9:29pm

Nicholas 'Shonky' Cassidy
While serving out his sentence, Cassidy has been doing a driving job transporting food.
Related Story: ‘Shonky’ jailed for hit and run death cover-up

Public outrage has forced the Northern Territory Government to remove a former Hells Angels bikie, who was involved in the hit-and-run death of a man, from his prison job as an unsupervised food services delivery driver.

Nicholas Frank ‘Shonky’ Cassidy, 51, was found guilty in 2013 of perverting the course of justice in relation to the death of 25-year-old Levi Griffiths.

The court found Cassidy, a former Hells Angels member, hit Mr Griffiths with his ute before dumping his body on the side of a road at Coolalinga in Darwin’s rural area in June 2011.

Justice Peter Barr said Cassidy’s attempts to cover-up the accident misled police, and prolonged the grief and suffering of Mr Griffith’s parents.

While serving out his sentence, Cassidy had been doing a driving job transporting food between Darwin’s new prison precinct at Holtze and the old jail at Berrimah.

The revelation sparked outrage from Mr Griffith’s parents.

“It’s wrong, it’s shameful and disgraceful,” Kathy Griffiths told Nine News.

Mr Griffith’s father Ron Laycock said he could not understand how Cassidy was allowed in the role.

“How does a convicted drink-driver involved in the hit-and-run death of somebody get a licence and drive around in a government truck?” he asked.

NT Corrections Commissioner Ken Middlebrook yesterday stood by the decision to allow Cassidy behind the wheel.

But in a statement released late today, Mr Middlebrook said he had reviewed the situation due to public concern and had removed Cassidy from the driver’s position.

“While I have every confidence that my staff have adhered to all requirements for the security classification and the suitability of the prisoner to work unsupervised outside the prison, there has clearly been a level of concern, not the least from the parents of Levi Griffiths, about this particular case and we have responded,” he said.

What a crock of shit, the department had no idea what was going on and had been conned by another crim

“NT Correctional Services is committed to making the Territory a safer place for all Territorians and to further expanding our successful prisoner work programs.

“We are already fitting low-security prisoners in Territory work camps with electronic monitoring devices and it is our intention to extend that to prisoners working unsupervised on outside employment in addition to GPS units on all prison vehicles.”

Cassidy was originally charged with hit-and-run driving causing death.

That charge was dropped because the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal ruled last month that a driver cannot give assistance to someone who is already dead.

In Cassidy’s case, Justice Barr determined that Levi Griffiths was killed on impact.

In sentencing Cassidy at the end of the 12-week trial, the judge said: “I am making it clear that I am sentencing you for the cover-up of the death of Levi Griffiths.”


‘Shonky’ jailed for hit and run death cover-up

 1 Nov 2013, 4:31pmFri 1 Nov 2013, 4:31pm

After one of the Northern Territory’s longest-running court cases, a former Hell’s Angels bikie has been sentenced to two years in jail for covering up the death of a man he hit while driving his ute.

A jury last week found Nicholas Frank Cassidy, 50, guilty of perverting the course of justice in relation to the death of 25-year-old Levi Griffiths.

It found Cassidy, a former Hells Angels member nicknamed ‘Shonky’, hit Mr Griffiths with his ute before dumping his body on the side of a road at Coolalinga in Darwin’s rural area in June 2011.

In the Northern Territory Supreme Court today, Justice Peter Barr said Cassidy’s attempts to cover-up the accident misled police and prolonged the grief and suffering of Mr Griffith’s parents.

Cassidy’s two-year sentence includes a non-parole period of 14 months.

When that sentence ends, he will have to serve another 15 months because he committed the offence while on parole.

The family of Levi Griffiths expressed disappointment about the sentence handed out to Cassidy.

His father, Ron Laycock, says the two-year sentence did not meet community expectations.

“I think the judge has let us down in the end,” he said.

“That is an offence at the top end of the range of seriousness.

“I think the judge and the justice system may have let us down.”

Cassidy had faced a maximum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment for the offence of perverting the course of justice.

He was originally charged with hit and run driving causing death.

That charge was dropped because the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal ruled last month that a driver can’t give assistance to someone who is already dead.

In Cassidy’s case, Justice Barr determined that Levi Griffiths was killed on impact.

In sentencing Cassidy at the end of the 12-week trial, the judge said: “I am making it clear that I am sentencing you for the cover-up of the death of Levi Griffiths.”


Two men jailed for importing $122 million worth of ecstasy from Italy in tomato tins


The drugs were found packed in more than 3,000 tomato tins.
The drugs were found packed in more than 3,000 tomato tins. (Australian Customs)
Related Story: Trio jailed over world’s biggest ecstasy haul

Two men involved in the importation of more than four tonnes of ecstasy hidden in tomato tins have been sentenced to more than 10 years in jail.

Customs officers at the Port of Melbourne intercepted the ecstasy in the form of 15 million tablets hidden in 3,000 tins arriving from Naples, Italy, in 2007.

The drugs, found packed in a shipping container, weighed more than 4.4 tonnes and had an estimated street value of $122 million.

It was the largest haul of ecstasy in the world at the time of the seizure.

In 2012 the drug ring’s leader Pasquale Barbaro was sentenced to life in prison.

South Australian Carmelo Falanga, 49, was today sentenced to 23 years in prison with a minimum sentence of 16 years and six months.

Jon Visser, 63, of New South Wales, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison with a minimum eight years.

Trio jailed over world’s biggest ecstasy haul

Updated Wed 1 May 2013, 8:15am

Trio jailed over ecstasy haul
Jailed drug smugglers (L-R) Salvatore Agresta, John Higgs, and Pasquale Sergi.

Three men have been jailed over their attempt to smuggle the world’s biggest haul of ecstasy into Australia.

A Victorian Supreme Court jury found the trio guilty of conspiring to smuggle more than 15 million ecstasy tablets into Australia from Italy in 2007.

The drugs weighed more than 4.4 tonnes, had an estimated street value of $122 million and were hidden inside tomato tins.

At the time of the seizure, it was the largest haul of ecstasy in the world.

Pasquale Sergi, Salvatore Agresta and John Higgs were sentenced to a combined total of 40 years in jail.

“You were all involved in a crime in which every one was playing for the highest stakes we have ever known in this country,” Justice Betty King said.

“That of obtaining possession of 15 million plus tablets of ecstasy

“You must have all been aware of the risk and the consequences of [your] involvement.

“You chose to take that risk and now you must all bear the consequences.”

Higgs, 65, who has a criminal history including a conviction for manslaughter, was sentenced to 18 years in jail with a non-parole period of 14 years.

Agresta, 44, who ran an Ascot Vale Deli where gangland identity Des Moran was shot dead in 2009, was sentenced to 12 years in jail to serve at least 8 years.

Sergi, 49, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, to serve a minimum 6 years and 9 months.

A fourth man who can not be named has also been jailed over the conspiracy.

The two ringleaders, New South Wales men Pasquale Barbaro and Saverio Zirilli, have already been jailed.

Drug dealer sentenced to life for world’s largest ecstasy haul

Updated Fri 25 May 2012, 9:05am AEST

It can now be revealed that drug king-pin Pasquale Barbaro, of Griffith, in New South Wales, is serving a life sentence for importing the world’s biggest ecstasy haul into Australia.

A suppression order on the sentence was lifted today, after a jury found four of his co-accused guilty of conspiracy to possess a commercial quantity of MDMA.

Barbaro, 50, originally of Griffith, in NSW, pleaded guilty to charges including the importation of 15 million ecstasy tablets.

The drugs, which were estimated to be worth at least $122 million, were hidden in cans labelled as “peeled tomatoes” from Italy.

Barbaro will serve a minimum term of 30 years in jail.

In sentencing, Justice King said he was at the top of a “very well organised worldwide criminal group”.

“You, Pasquale Barbaro were at the apex of that criminality, at the very top of the tree in this country,” she said.

“Your purpose in attempting to possess the goods was to ensure financial riches of a quite astronomical order.”

Barbaro’s co-accused, Saverio Zirilli, 55, was sentenced to 26 years in jail with a minimum of 18 years.

Both men were also convicted of attempted possession of nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine, hidden in bags of Columbian coffee beans.

Four others have been found guilty of one count each of conspiracy to possess a commercial quantity of MDMA.

Ecstasy life sentence appeal rejected

Posted Thu 20 Dec 2012, 4:40pm AEDT

A man who was involved in Australia’s biggest ecstasy haul has failed to have his sentence reduced by Victoria’s Court of Appeal.

Pasquale Barbaro was charged after millions of ecstasy tablets hidden in tomato cans, were intercepted by Australian Federal Police in 2008.

Barbaro was given a life term in February with a non-parole period of 30 years, but appealed against the severity of the sentence.

The appeal was rejected last month, and can be reported now because a non-publication order has been lifted.

NOTORIOUS recaptured rapist Cameron John Graham allowed privileges at Christmas? WTF


What the hell was a recently jailed rapist (for 11 years )  doing being flown to be “Near family” at Christmas in the first place? What sort of jail system do we have?Bloody law abiding folks often only WISH they could afford to see family…Absolute joke…What are your thoughts readers?

Jail transfers halted, prison escapees captured overnight

A NOTORIOUS rapist allowed privileges at Christmas and another fugitive were captured overnight after their shambolic escape saw Corrective Services chief James McMahon yesterday cancels all non-essential prison transfers.

CCTV from BP Cue petrol station showing escapee Cameron John Graham wearing orange cap and dark T shirt with “LA” in large letters on the front.
CCTV from BP Cue petrol station showing escapee Cameron John Graham wearing orange cap and dark T shirt with “LA” in large letters on the front.

Cameron John Graham, 22, sentenced in November to 11 years jail for brutally raping a mother, escaped from custody after being flown from his Perth prison cell to Geraldton to be close to his family for Christmas.

Kelden Edward Fraser, 23, who escaped from a prison van in Geraldton
Kelden Edward Fraser, 23, who escaped from a prison van in Geraldton

Graham and another prisoner, Kelden Edward Fraser, 23, were captured after police used a plane to find their bush camp in the Mullewa area, near Geraldton.

Officers were deployed to the camp where they arrested Graham and Fraser just after 1am this morning.

The pair were taken to Geraldton Police Station.

The escape has increased heat on Serco, the private company responsible for prisoner transfer.

After refusing to front the media yesterday, Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis told The Sunday Times last night when asked about Serco: “Of course I am disappointed in Serco. They are skating on thin ice.”

 In the wake of the security failure, Commissioner McMahon also ordered a review of the prisoner transfer process, as the State Opposition called for a parliamentary inquiry into the debacle.

CorrectIve Services Commissioner James McMahon faces the media today
CorrectIve Services Commissioner James McMahon faces the media today

Acting Premier Kim Hames and Mr McMahon were left to face a barrage of questions yesterday.

Mr McMahon said that as a result of the incident only prison transfers approved by him would go ahead.

 “At the department we take this very seriously. Our ultimate job is to provide safety to the community,” he said. “We failed. The ultimate responsibility for that is me. Let me very clear about that.”

He added: “I think it is an outrage. I am going to get to the bottom of it.”

Mr McMahon also put Serco on notice. Serco was transporting the escapees.

“There have been a number of incidents that have come across my desk that have involved Serco,” he said.

“Do I have concerns? Absolutely I do. And I am reviewing that in its entirety.

“I will be making my point very strongly and clearly to Serco that the minimum requirement I require of any organisation that are trans-porting people from a custodial perspective is that it needs to be done securely.”

Opposition spokesman for corrective services Paul Papalia said yesterday Labor would move a motion calling for the inquiry when parliament resumes next month.

Mr Papalia said it was “inconceivable” that one month after starting his jail term Graham would be transferred from maximum security at a Perth prison – believed to be Hakea – to medium-security Greenough Regional Prison to be closer to his family for Christmas.

Mr Papalia said that Graham did not deserve the festive season perk and the “risks were too high”.

 When Graham broke into the woman’s home on January 15 last year, he threatened to murder her children.

He then forced her to undress before repeatedly raping his terrified victim in her walk-in robe.

Afterwards he ordered her to drive to a nearby cash machine and withdraw $400.

At sentencing, District Court judge Christopher Stevenson said Graham’s offending was of “such gravity” that it was difficult to find words “as a human being to describe the nature and depravity of it”.

But one month later, ­Graham was rewarded with a taxpayer-funded flight to see his family in Geraldton.

Asked by the media yesterday why Mr Francis was missing in action, Dr Hames said: “I don’t know where he is. He is not my responsibility.”

“I don’t know the circumstances behind Joe not being able to talk today. The Minister has a full understanding of the implications of his responsibilities as a Minister. It’s up to him to make those decisions and up to the Premier to make judgments on whether those decisions are accurate or not.”

Mr Papalia said: ” Corrective Services minister Joe Francis needs to provide the community a full explanation as to why this perk was allowed.

“When parliament resumes we will attempt to have this investigated and (we) want the government’s support.

“In this case, it would appear the prisoner was transferred to Greenough so that his family could go and see him in prison – just one month after he was sentenced.

“This is a guy (Mr Francis) who chases publicity for self promotion and spin but is shy when there is an issue. I will be writing to the Minister and asking him for the specific process that occurs for transfers of Mr McMahon said a detailed investigation was also being conducted by Serco.

Mr Papalia said Serco should also be part of the inquiry.

“Serco has had a series of failures in the past few months,” Mr Papalia said.

Graham was being transferred back to Perth on Friday when he kicked the door out of a prison van at Geraldton airport and stole a rental car at 1pm.

Fraser, 23, on remand at Greenough for alleged armed robbery, also escaped with him.

The car allegedly stolen by the pair was found bogged 39km north of Mullewa.

Police officers had resumed the search at first light yesterday after reports the escapees were seen refuelling at a BP service station in Cue, 651km northeast of Perth, about 8.30pm on Friday.

They were seen by police travelling along Great Northern Highway but disappeared 15km north of Mount Magnet.

About 2.30am, police spotted the car on the Geraldton-Mount Magnet Rd heading east. A car chase ensued but officers lost them.

Police last night used helicopters and night-vision equipment to locate the men.

 Serco declined to comment

Queen of Con, Jody Harris


Australia’s Queen of Con, Jody Harris

Paul Anderson

IF CONWOMAN Jody Harris had used her extraordinary nous and talent for good instead of criminal gain she could have been anything.

Dubbed Australia’s greatest con-woman by police for good reason, Harris committed an amazing con-job spree along the eastern seaboard; fleecing women’s bank accounts and stealing policemen’s hearts.

Police who investigated Harris – and those who slept with her – have grudgingly admitted she is the best female confidence swindler this country has ever seen.

Her methods were so impressive, and her vixen-like persona so elusive, that one senior Victorian police officer likened her to the famed US conman Frank Abagnale – the man who inspired the hit film Catch Me If You Can.

As a young man, Abagnale cashed millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent cheques while posing as a pilot, doctor, lawyer and professor.

A major thorn in the side of the FBI, he seduced a handful of women before he was finally arrested.

During her run, Harris (now known by the surname Harding) posed as an air hostess, doctor, psychiatrist, policewoman and even the niece of slain Melbourne underworld figure Mario Condello as she befriended women and gleaned documents and information necessary to impersonate them and plunder their banks accounts.

Born in Queensland, Harris was the daughter of a violent father and now well-known human rights activist turned lawyer Debbie Kilroy (nee Harding).

Harris had an abused and disrupted childhood.

 

Conwoman Jody Harris bled victims’ bank accounts dry in three states.

Judge Felicity Hampel would confirm in Melbourne’s County Court: “You were denied in your childhood the safety and stability which family life should provide children.”

Debbie was only 17 when she gave birth to Jody.

After she and her daughter were assaulted, Debbie left her violent husband.

“(Jody’s) father had always inflicted violence on me and I stayed in that, but the day that he hit her with a broom handle in the chest because she was crying, I actually left the relationship,” Debbie explained in the County Court.

Barrister Julie Sutherland told the same court that, after being abused by an uncle, Harris started committing crime at the age of 14.

She was even able to change all my personal details on the cards to hers to the point where, when I tried to change them back to mine, I could hardly prove who I was any more

“Even at 14 she’s making out she’s a policewoman and committing frauds, and so it goes on – year after sorry year,” Ms Sutherland said.

Years on, and using clever cover stories – while sometimes disguised in wigs and sunglasses – Harris got chummy with chosen victims and stole their identities before making a mockery of bank security by withdrawing thousands.

 

Jody Harris used all her charms to rack up debts under other peoples’ names.

She lived it up, sating her taste for luxury goods buying jewellery, designer clothes and accessories (her favourite brand was Louis Vuitton).

She stayed in five-star hotels where, on occasion, she stole personal documents from staff and guests at the gym facilities.

On one occasion on the streets of Melbourne, she pretended to be a detective and pulled over a 21-year-old woman named Alysha Searle.

Flashing a badge, she tricked Ms Searle into handing over her licence.

“She was very convincing,” Ms Searle would later say in court.

Using the licence, Harris withdrew $3000 from Ms Searle’s bank account and changed the password.

That was not the first time Harris had successfully posed as a copper.

According to court testimony from Victoria Police internal affairs investigator Det-Sgt Frank Torcasio, there was an allegation that Harris impersonated a policewoman and gained access to the Roma Street police complex in Brisbane in 1998.

Det-Sgt Torcasio also confirmed an allegation that Harris had lived with a Sydney detective for about six months.

 

Jody Harris is arrested in Sydney in 2006.

He also told the County Court that Harris had socialised with Victorian policemen in 2001 while pretending to be a visiting detective from New South Wales.

The Victorian cops had not doubted her story.

“They took it on face value on the flashing of a badge,” Det-Sgt Torcasio told the court.

About 12 years before she hooked up with Acting-Sgt Andrew Twining, Harris had met another Victorian policeman who worked at the Russell Street police station.

Harris told that officer that she was the daughter of an advertising executive and had attended a prestigious Brisbane girls’ school.

A relationship blossomed between the two; a relationship that ended that policeman’s career.

“I think she just had a fixation with me because I was a copper,” that former officer told the Sunday Herald Sun.

Harris became the focus of Victorian detectives in early 2006.

On May 19 that year, detective Paul Bertoncello spoke to this author and provided full details of Harris’s crime wave for a front-page story.

 

Jody Harris looked much more innocent in her pictures, even when she was snapped at Brisbane’s Correctional Centre in 2000.

“It’s like chasing a phantom,” Sen-Det Bertoncello said.

“She’s using different names and has proved very hard to track down.”

Victims included women such as Anita Mulligan, who fell and hit her head in the Melbourne CBD one night.

Harris swooped and drove Ms Mulligan to hospital, where she stole her licence and credit card before ringing her father to glean personal information.

“She told my dad she was a nurse and that her de facto was a police officer,” Ms Mulligan later told the Herald Sun.

“She conned my father and got whatever information she needed out of him.”

Harris changed Ms Mulligan’s bank account password and stole $10,500 from her account.

Posing as the daughter of a wealthy businessman, the “Queen of Con” tricked boutique clothing store owner Nova Gordon.

Using Ms Gordon’s stolen licence, Harris stole $37,870 from the bank – despite Ms Gordon freezing her account.

 

Police seized a huge array of photos of fake licences, credit cards and other IDs in the possession of Jody Harris, aka Jody Pearson-Harding and Jody Kilroy.

“She had all the trappings and pulled up outside my shop in a new four-wheel drive Lexus, dripping in jewellery,” Gordon would later say.

“I found out that Jody had been in the branch and convinced them she was me, and had the block removed. Her systems were better than ours.”

Another of Harris’ victims told police: “She was even able to change all my personal details on the cards to hers to the point where, when I tried to change them back to mine, I could hardly prove who I was any more.”

Another victim, Amanda Urquhart, stated: “You can remove yourself from it if people are using your ID, but if they start pretending to be you – that’s when it starts getting creepy.”

Less than a week after the first Herald Sun story appeared in May 2006, Harris rang Sen-Det Bertoncello’s office to bait her hunters.

She told investigators that she had been living in South Yarra.

It was a taunt: catch me if you can.

Detectives raided the vacated unit and found a Queensland police badge, a Victoria Police shirt and a Virgin Blue hostess outfit along with name tag, pin and crew bag tags.

Andrew Twining was on a cruise-ship holiday when a mate of his informed him about the true identity of his girlfriend.

 

Frank Abagnale (Leonardo Dicaprio) surrounds himself with stewardesses, who have no trouble believing he is an airline pilot in the film Catch Me If You Can.

Upon his return to Melbourne, Mr Twining helped a joint interstate police operation arrest Harris.

On July 6, 2006 he drove to Sydney to trip the trap.

Police swooped and netted the conwoman.

In Harris’s possession they found wigs, police property and more than 100 items of identification including a false Australian passport, driver’s licences, bank and credit cards, birth certificates, Medicare cards and even two Californian driver’s licences.

In the custody of NSW detectives, a drab and defeated-looking Harris spoke her mind to her captors, saying she must have been in “f—ing Hicksville full of f—ing two-headed c—s.”

“No offence,” she added facetiously.

In September 2006 at the age of 28, Harris pleaded guilty to 43 charges in NSW where she had bought more than $175,000 worth of goods and services using credit and bank cards stolen from 33 victims.

Items included a $3950 TAG Heuer diamond watch, a $1600 designer “bichoodle” poodle pup, bags, expensive clothes and shoes, hair extensions and a pearl necklace.

In sentencing her to four years’ jail with a minimum of 3 1/2, Magistrate Allan Moore said: “There is little doubt you are a person of intellect; a person of skill. One would have to suggest strongly that this was a matter of greed.”

In the Melbourne County Court, Harris pleaded guilty to a 36-count presentment relating to 15 victims.

Between January and May 2006, she stole a total $120,180 cash from various Victorian banks.

She used that money, in part, to purchase plane tickets, fancy dinners, hotel rooms, Louis Vuitton gear, clothing and lingerie.

Judge Hampel was told that Harris wanted to change her ways and replicate the shining example of her mother – a prisoner support advocate and solicitor with an Order of Australia honour to her name.

Harris also provided police with a video interview revealing her methods of operation for fraud investigators to study.

Just like Frank Abagnale, she had shared her criminal expertise with law enforcement agencies.

In sentencing Harris on December 19, 2008, Judge Hampel told her: “Your (record of) interview makes it clear that you took pride in the audacity of your activity, that you revelled in the publicity and that you used the money and credit to provide yourself with an ostentatiously luxurious lifestyle.”

It was a lifestyle that cost Jody Harris much more than she gained during her reign as the queen of con.

 

 

 

Prison officers arrested on drug trafficking ring with crims at Barwon Prison


This comes as no surprise actually folks but the ramifications will be wide and far…MORE TO COME

UPDATE 11/07/12

EXCLUSIVE: KILLER bikie Christopher Wayne Hudson and one of Australia’s most feared hitmen were allegedly able to run a drug ring with corrupt guards inside Victoria’s most secure jail.

 

Three Barwon Prison officers were arrested during raids in Geelong and the northern suburbs yesterday, after an eight-month investigation. Two have since been charged with drug offences.

Sources close to the operation claim one of the guards, a 40-year-old man from Grovedale, had formed a close relationship with the two killers and had been monitored having long conversations in their cells, as well as passing notes and other items under their doors.

Authorities are also concerned about information passed between the cells and out of the prison.

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Charlie Bezzina: Risk of mixing with the dark side

Barwon Prison security faces fierce scrutiny

Hudson, a Hells Angel, is serving a minimum of 35 years in jail over the 2007 CBD shootings of father of three Brendan Keilar, who died, and Dutch backpacker Paul de Waard.

The contract killer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is serving 32 years for the murders of Dorothy and Ramon Abbey in 1987.

Charges against him over the murders of police informers Terence and Christine Hodson were dropped.

The veteran trigger man is linked to some of Australia’s most infamous underworld figures and is suspected of multiple murders.

Last night a 40-year-old Grovedale man was charged with trafficking a drug of dependence, misconduct in public office, possessing an unregistered firearm, possessing a prohibited weapon and possessing and using a drug of dependence, while a 40-year-old Norlane man was charged with possessing and using a drug of dependence.

Both were bailed to appear in the Geelong Magistrates’ Court on 26 September.

A 31-year-old female prison officer from Norlane was interviewed and released pending further inquiries.

A 46-year-old Norlane man and an 18-year-old Delahey man, who were not Corrections Victoria staff, were released pending further inquiries.

Operation Puli, run by Victoria Police drug taskforce detectives, started in November after intelligence was passed on by Corrections Victoria.

Houses were raided in the Geelong area and at Delahey, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, from 7am yesterday.

Cannabis and prescription medication were seized.

Victoria Police acting Deputy Commissioner Jeff Pope said the suspect behaviour was confined to Barwon Prison, the state’s highest-security prison.

“It does seem to be isolated to this core group of prison officers,” Mr Pope said.

“One or two of these guards has formed a relationship with a small group of inmates that is inappropriate.”

Acting Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard said the guards worked across the prison and were not restricted to one particular section

An aerial shot of Barwon Prison WHERE SCREWS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AMID A drug trafficking RING INSIDE THE PRISON!

UPDATE 3.15PM 10/07/12

Those arrested were a 40-year-old Grovedale man, a 31-year-old Norlane woman, a 41-year-old Norlane man and a 46-year-old Norlane man.

Victoria Police officers swooped on several properties in the Geelong region connected to Barwon Prison from 7am, completing searches a short time ago.

Four prison officers have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by police and Corrections Victoria which has linked guards to inmates.

PRISON officers accused of running a drug trafficking ring with criminals have been arrested in a series of co-ordinated raids.

Victoria Police officers swooped on several properties in the Geelong region connected to Barwon Prison from 7am, completing searches a short time ago.

The Herald Sun understands four prison officers have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by police and Corrections Victoria which has linked guards to inmates.

Barwon Prison, near Geelong, houses the state’s worst convicted criminals, among them influential organised crime figures.

Gangland killer Evangelos Goussis, drug boss Tony Mokbel, and middle-eastern crime gang members are all housed at Barwon Prison, however no identities of inmates connected to today’s raids have been revealed.

Inappropriate relationships between staff and inmates at Corrections Victoria’s jail are considered a major security risk.

Staff at Barwon came under unprecedented levels of scrutiny following the death of  Carl Williams.

More to come …

Gerard Baden-Clay-How does the Puzzle look?


Murder shall be taken to have been committed where the act of the accused, or thing by him or her omitted to be done, causing the death charged, was done or omitted with reckless indifference to human life, or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person, or done in an attempt to commit, or during or immediately after the commission, by the accused, or some accomplice with him or her, of a crime…

This high profile case has captured the imagination of everybody it seems. From the day Allison went missing,  the suspicious behaviour of her husband, to the search, The discovery of her body, The funeral, The investigation, The media, and Arrest which came from nowhere and then the Bail application, the Bomb Threat, then Bail was denied and now GBC is on remand in Jail

So here we are many months later and what do we have. We obviously have a highly circumstantial case of Murder against Gerard Baden-Clay at the moment.

I think any ONE aspect taken in isolation could be seen to be suspicious.

But as one links all the pieces together they start to paint a much bigger picture.

Means, Motive, and Opportunity is a popular cultural summation of the three aspects of a crime needed to convince a jury of guilt in a criminal proceeding. Respectively, they refer to: the ability of the defendant to commit the crime (means), the reason the defendant had to commit the crime (motive), and whether or not the defendant had the chance to commit the crime (opportunity). Opportunity is most often disproved by use of an alibi, which can prove the accused was not able to commit the crime as he or she did not have the correct set of circumstances to commit the crime. Ironically, motive is not an element of many crimes, but proving motive can often make it easier to convince a jury of the elements that must be proved for a conviction. Furthermore, a showing of the presence of these three elements is not, in and of itself, sufficient to convict beyond a reasonable doubt; the evidence must prove that an opportunity presented was indeed taken by the accused and for the crime with which he or she is charged.

Motive, that being the massive financial debt, the affairs and the promise to leave his wife to his mistress, Toni McHugh.

Opportunity, did Gerard have the opportunity to murder his wife. Could of someone else done it? Was he helped in anyway?

Means, if he did murder her, How did he go about it. How was she killed?, where was she killed?, When did it happen?, Where was she taken? The list goes on.

The pieces of clues to this puzzle are significant and reach wide. We are going to have a go at documenting them right here folks UNDER THE FOLLOWING HEADINGS

MOTIVE thread

OPPORTUNITY thread

MEANS thread

This thread you are reading has comments CLOSED

The RED THREADS above will come online at 6AM Friday 29/06/12

Robbo