Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale charged with extortion amid CCC investigation

Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale has been arrested and charged with extortion amid an investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).

Mr Pisasale was arrested by the CCC this afternoon in Ipswich and was taken to the Brisbane police watch house where he was formally charged with extortion and two other offences.

The CCC said the investigation was ongoing.

Prior to being charged, acting Ipswich Mayor Paul Tully said he and his colleagues were shocked by Mr Pisasale’s arrest.

“As I understand it, these are strictly personal matters — have nothing to do with the Ipswich City Council,” he said.

“It is a matter for Paul and his legal advisors and the Queensland judicial system.

“We had no warning that this could happen, but the city must go on and we’re going to provide positive leadership into the future,” Cr Tully said.

“Our sympathies do go out to Paul’s family who are obviously very concerned at this difficult time.

“I think people will still remember Paul whatever happens as the person who put Ipswich on the map, did a lot of economic development for the city.


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 –

FEATURE The Bagman, the secret codes, and the payments to a secret brotherhood of bent cops by Mark Willacy | ABC News | 12 Jun 2017 –

Fact Check: Did Joh Bjelke-Petersen instigate the Fitzgerald inquiry? | ABC Fact Check | 20 Nov 2014 –

Journalism Matters: Fitzgerald inquiry resulted from basic reporting | The Courier-Mail | 7 Oct 2014 –

Moonlight Reflections by Chris Masters | Griffith Review | Aug 2008 – Chris Masters reflected on the making and remifications of the Moonlight State investigation.

Queensland: Ten Years After Fitzgerald | Background Briefing | 16 May 1999 –

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:

Police inquiry turns blowtorch back on accusers by Paul Bongiorno | The Bulletin Archives | 26 May 1987 –

Sir Joh says PM has dingoed out on electorate | SMH Archives | 28 May 1987 –


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

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

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.


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.


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.


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



  • 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






Tiahleigh Palmer: Foster father Rick Thorburn charged with murder over schoolgirl’s death

 BTW I have heaps of Video and court Docs just waiting to post  legally

Inside the idyllic rural property where 12-year-old Tiahleigh Palmer’s spent 10 months before her murder

Child safety service not told Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster father was ‘person of interest’ for months

Yahoo7 News on September 28, 2016, 5:53 am

Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster father and accused killer Rick Thorburn was permitted to run a daycare business for five months after the schoolgirl’s death despite being a person of interest in the investigation, it has been revealed.

Queensland’s Department of Child Safety and Education were not notified that Thorburn was a person of interest in the case until April 2016, and the 56-year-old held a blue card until then, The Courier Mail reports.

Tiahleigh, 12, disappeared on October 30 when Thorburn claimed he dropped her off at school and she failed to come home.

Tiahleigh’s remains were found on a riverbank in November 2015.

Her body was discovered five days later, washed up on the bank of the Pimpama River.

Police told News Corp last week that Thorburn was a person of interest “from day one”, however the child safety authority was not notified until April, Minister for Child Safety Shannon Fentiman confirmed.

Rick Thorburn has been charged over Tiahleigh’s murder. Photo: Supplied.

The department was told the Logan man was also facing allegations relating to an 11-year-old girl and four-year-old girl, the Courier Mail reported.

“In April, police notified my department and the Department of Education and Training of alleged criminal activity. This was the first time that concerns were raised about the Thorburns,” Ms Fentiman said last week.

Thorburn was charged over Tiahleigh’s murder and taken into custody on September 20, six weeks before the one-year anniversary of her disappearance.

Trent Thorburn was reportedly bashed twice in prison since his arrest. Photo: Supplied.

His son and Tiahleigh’s foster brother Trent Thorburn is also in custody accused of having an incestual relationship with the girl in their Chambers Flat home.

The 19-year-old dancer has reportedly been bashed twice by fellow inmates since being held in the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre.

The Queensland Government ordered a review into the foster care system and blue card services the day after the arrests.

IT WAS a house of misery where Tiahleigh Palmer spent 10 months of her life before her murder.

The schoolgirl was placed with former truck driver and muscle-car enthusiast Rick Thorburn and his family in the house on an isolated stretch of road at Chambers Flat, a rural pocket of strawberry farms and horse paddocks in the Logan area south of Brisbane.

The seemingly idyllic 2ha property where Tiahleigh made her new home with the Thorburn family is modern, with two bathrooms, a swimming pool, rolling green lawns and horses in the yard.

But inside the four-bedroom brick house just eight minutes from where Tiahleigh was last seen attending her high school, the young girl was allegedly preyed on by her foster brother Trent Thorburn.

The house in Chambers Flat in a rural area where Tiahleigh Palmer spent her last months in 2015.

The house in Chambers Flat in a rural area where Tiahleigh Palmer spent her last months in 2015.Source: Supplied

An occasional truant, Tiahleigh was well-liked at school.

An occasional truant, Tiahleigh was well-liked at school.Source :News Corp Australia

Tiahleigh Palmer attended school minutes from the Thorburn’s property.

Tiahleigh Palmer attended school minutes from the Thorburn’s property.Source:News Corp Australia

Tiahleigh came to live with the Thorburns, Rick and Julene and their sons Trent and Josh in the isolated family farmhouse south of Brisbane before she was murdered.

Tiahleigh came to live with the Thorburns, Rick and Julene and their sons Trent and Josh in the isolated family farmhouse south of Brisbane before she was murdered.Source: Supplied

The 19-year-old, who lived with his brother Josh, 20, and mother Julene has been charged with incest while Rick Thorburn, 56, has been charged with Tiahleigh’s murder.

Not all was well with the Thorburn family. Following a serious back injury which forced him to give up his job as a truckie, Rick Thorburn had tried a number of jobs to feed his family.

A car enthusiast, he had sold vehicle and engine parts from the property.

He was also a devotee of American culture and came up with the idea to sell US food from a truck he drove to festivals and other events in the Logan area.

A month after Tiahleigh moved into the Thorburn’s home, Rick Thorburn took his food van — which he named Nothing Healthy Here — and travelled around with his sons Trent and Josh selling hot dogs, hot jam doughnuts, churros and pancakes from the van.

This is the house in Flesser Rd at Chambers Flat where Tiahleigh lived with her foster parents.

This is the house in Flesser Rd at Chambers Flat where Tiahleigh lived with her foster parents.Source:News Corp Australia

The swimming pool at the house rented by the Thorburns.

The swimming pool at the house rented by the Thorburns.Source: Supplied

Rick Thorburn, at his Chambers Flat home before his arrest. Picture: Liam Kidston

Rick Thorburn, at his Chambers Flat home before his arrest. Picture: Liam KidstonSource:News Corp Australia

“We saw the quality of food at other places and decided we could do it bigger and better. We try to keep it unique and we have food you can’t get anywhere else,” he told the Jimboomba Times.

Mr Thorburn said he looked forward to being able to provide guests with a good old-fashioned feed.

“We do sell one healthy thing – water,” he joked in September last year.

Mr Thorburn made the comments almost eight weeks before Tiahleigh Palmer vanished.

While she lived with the Thorburns, Tiahleigh had been attending Marsden State High School, where Chaplain Ian Pratt said she was a free spirit who passionately threw herself into a range of creative pursuits.

The seventh grader was also described as “not always perfect” and an occasional truant from classes, but there was no suggestion of the alleged abuse that was unfolding at her new foster home.

Tiahleigh, 12, lived on the property which is among farms and horse paddocks south of Brisbane.

Tiahleigh, 12, lived on the property which is among farms and horse paddocks south of Brisbane.Source: Supplied

Rick Thorburn had lost his trucking job after a back injury and was selling American fare from a food truck. Picture: Liam Kidston

Rick Thorburn had lost his trucking job after a back injury and was selling American fare from a food truck. Picture: Liam KidstonSource:News Corp Australia

Tiahleigh Palmer allegedly kept a terrible secret while living at the Thorburn home and attending the local school.

Tiahleigh Palmer allegedly kept a terrible secret while living at the Thorburn home and attending the local school.Source: Supplied

The Thorburns property looked idyllic, but police allege Tiahleigh was being abused while she lived there.

The Thorburns property looked idyllic, but police allege Tiahleigh was being abused while she lived there.Source: Supplied

Tiahleigh had been placed with the Thorburns after spending a happy three years with a foster mother in Gympie, just over 200km north of the Chambers Flat house where she spent her final months.

The schoolgirl lived with Julie Pemberton in the Logan area for years until December 2014, when Ms Pemberton decided to stop acting as a foster carer.

Tiahleigh had been removed from the care of her biological mother, Cyndi Palmer, who was

in and out of police custody with drug problems between 2011 and 2013.

During that time Tiahleigh had experienced some of the lows of the Queensland foster care system, in which she sometimes stayed with carers for as little as 24 hours before being moved to another home.

Despite living in foster care, Tiahleigh remained close to her mother.

The 12-year-old lived with the Thorburns at this house between January and October last year before she was murdered and her body dumped.

The 12-year-old lived with the Thorburns at this house between January and October last year before she was murdered and her body dumped.Source :Supplied

Police divers found Tiahleigh’s shoe but not her uniform after fishermen discovered her body floating in the Pimpama River. Picture: QPS

Police divers found Tiahleigh’s shoe but not her uniform after fishermen discovered her body floating in the Pimpama River. Picture: QPSSource: Supplied

Rick Thorburn, above before his arrest, at the gate of the property his family shared with Tiahleigh Palmer. Picture: Channel 9

Rick Thorburn, above before his arrest, at the gate of the property his family shared with Tiahleigh Palmer. Picture: Channel 9Source: Supplied

At the time Ms Pemberton gave up her role as a foster carer and Tiahleigh was placed with the Thorburns, Cyndi Palmer had been trying to regain custody of her daughter.

Following Tiahleigh’s murder, Ms Pemberton said that Cyndi Palmer had “got it together” and that she “might have made a few mistakes but she is lovely and absolutely adores her daughter”.

Cyndi Palmer has posted on Facebook that she had endured an “evil” 2011, but had turned her life around but had “learned from it and … well prepared and educated for making 2012 the start of everything I want it to be for my family and I”.

But Tiahleigh’s return to her mother’s care never happened.

After almost a year with the Thorburns and allegedly involved in an incestuous relationship with her foster brother, Tiahleigh was dropped off at Marsden High School at 8.10am on October 30 by Rick Thorburn.

Witnesses say she entered the school briefly, but then left.

Six days later, fishermen found Tiahleigh’s badly decomposed body floating in the Pimpama River, 30km south of where she was last seen.

Police divers found one of Tiahleigh’s shoes, but her school uniform and pink backpack were missing.

Queensland Police have also charged Tiahleigh’s foster mother Julene Thorburn and her son Josh with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Rick Thorburn is in hospital in an induced coma after an alleged attempt at self harm following his arrest.

Tiahleigh Palmer’s 19-year-old foster-brother told a cousin he’d had sex with the 12-year-old and was worried she was pregnant, a court has heard.

In successfully keeping Trent Jordan Thorburn behind bars, prosecutors argued he had deliberately misled and lied to police throughout the 11-month investigation into the alleged murder of the Logan schoolgirl.

Foster brother admitted sex

The foster-brother of Tiahleigh Palmer is refused bail, charged with incest and lying to police. 7 News Queensland

Police prosecutor Sergeant Ellen French alleged a Facebook Messenger conversation between Mr Thorburn and his cousin two days before Tia went missing showed him disclosing that he’d had sex with her.

“He says he had sex with the victim on the prior Monday and he had only done so because she had threatened to kill his dog,” Sergeant French said, of a conversation that was allegedly handed over to police.

“The defendant said he was concerned about her being pregnant…” she told the court.

“The defendant further outlines the victim had spoken to his mother about it.”

Mr Thorburn’s defence lawyer John Ide argued he should have been granted bail on charges including incest considering his age, lack of criminal history and potential time behind bars awaiting trial.

“He’s a young man with no criminal history whatsoever,” he said.

Trent Thorburn.
Trent Thorburn.  

“In my submission it couldn’t be said he’s an unacceptable risk of any of the things that’s asserted by the prosecution.”

Sergeant French told the court Mr Thorburn had denied any involvement or sexual conduct with Tia on five separate occasions and colluded with his family to mislead police.

Tiahleigh Palmer's mother Cindy waits with supporters outside court.
Tiahleigh Palmer’s mother Cindy waits with supporters outside court. Photo: Glenn Hunt

“Eventually the defendant has admitted to the authorities that he had lied on multiple occasions in order to conceal the  sexual intercourse between himself and Tiahleigh,” she said.

A friend of Tia’s told police the young girl had approached her about a month before her alleged murder, saying “Trent tried to touch me”, Sergeant Ellen alleged.

Former foster carers Cameron and Wayne Pemberton speak to media outside court.
Former foster carers Cameron and Wayne Pemberton speak to media outside court. Photo: Glenn Hunt

“She further said that the victim claimed to have disclosed this to her foster-mother,” she said.

Mr Thorburn has been charged with incest, perverting the course of justice and two counts of perjury relating to Crime and Corruption Commission hearings in July and September this year.

Cindy Palmer arrives at the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning.
Cindy Palmer arrives at the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning. Photo: Jorge Branco

Prosecutors argued he was “highly likely” to interfere with witnesses and “would attempt in every way shape and form to evade and avoid every risk” of imprisonment.

Magistrate Pamela Dowse kept Mr Thorburn behind bars, saying he was “not a candidate for bail at this point in time” but another application could be made in the future.

Tiahleigh Palmer.
Tiahleigh Palmer.  Photo: Supplied

Outside court, Mr Ide said he would consider applying to the Supreme Court for bail.

Police allege Mr Thorburn’s father, Richard Thorburn, killed Tia in an attempt to cover up his son’s alleged crime.

Richard Thorburn has been charged with the murder of his foster child.
Richard Thorburn has been charged with the murder of his foster child. Photo: Jorge Branco

The alleged killer was remanded in custody after his matter was heard on Wednesday morning as he remained in an induced coma in hospital after collapsing in the watchhouse on Tuesday.


A member of Tiahleigh Palmer's foster family arrives at Logan police station on Tuesday.
A member of Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster family arrives at Logan police station on Tuesday.  Photo: Glenn Hunt

The man accused of murdering Queensland schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer and dumping her body in a Gold Coast river is in an induced coma and won’t appear in court before a crowd of her mother’s supporters.

Foster father Richard Neville Thorburn, 56, was due in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning, ahead of an application for bail by his son on related charges.

But the father remained in the intensive care unit at the Princess Alexandra Hospital on Wednesday, after collapsing in the watchhouse on Tuesday afternoon.

Defence solicitor Kelly Thompson, from Robertson O’Gorman solicitors, told the court she’d spoken with doctors at the hospital.

“He’s currently in an induced coma and there’s no indication as to when he might be brought out of that at this stage,” she said.

A crowd of people expecting the appearance packed Beenleigh courtroom, leaving standing room only for a host of people due to appear on other matters, with supporters flanking Tia’s biological mum, Cindy Palmer.

Among them were Tia’s former foster father Wayne Pemberton and his son Cameron, who paid tribute to the “good girl”.

Wayne said the “feisty” 12-year-old lived with them for two and a half years and described his “total shock” at hearing the man who cared for Tia after him had been accused of her murder.

“You don’t expect that from a carer,” he said.

“That’s not what you’re here to do.

“To hear that and for everyone in the family to (allegedly) be involved it’s just unthinkable.”

Ms Palmer declined to comment as she made her way into the courthouse in suburban Beenleigh, just off the highway roughly halfway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Wayne, who remembered Tia’s love of waterskiing and other watersports, said it couldn’t be said Ms Palmer was happy but she was glad of an outcome.

Trent Jordan Thorburn, 19, has been charged with incest, perjury, and attempting to pervert the course of justice. He’s due to appear in court on Wednesday.

He was set to apply for bail after midday in a hearing his lawyer indicated would take about 45 minutes.

Richard Thorburn’s hearing went ahead without him and was adjourned for a committal mention on December 21.

He won’t be required to appear, meaning Ms Palmer again won’t have a chance to come face to face with her daughter’s alleged killer.

Mr Thorburn told police he dropped his foster daughter off at school about 8.10am that morning but police will allege that was a lie.

They’ll allege he instead murdered the 12-year-old at the family home in the Logan suburb of Chambers Flat on the night of October 29, before dumping her body in the river that night or the next.

The killing was sparked by a discovery made that night, which led Mr Thorburn to kill the girl in an attempt to cover up a crime Trent had committed against Tia, police will allege.

The younger brother was charged with incest, among other alleged crimes.

A missing person alert for Tia wasn’t put out until November 5, hours before her badly decomposed body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River.

The delay drew criticism, sparked wide-ranging changes to authorities’ responses to missing children in care and further condemnation from Wayne Pemberton on Wednesday as “very frustrating”.

“It’s not a good thing to have to wait around for someone to put an alert out but it finally got done,” Cameron said.

“It should have got done quicker. It shouldn’t have taken so long.”

Another supporter, who didn’t know the family, said she was “disillusioned” with the government’s handling of children in care.

Being charged with murder, Mr Thorburn must apply for bail to a higher court if he wants to be released.

The younger son, Trent, 19, described himself as a dancer, metal fabrication apprentice, and classic car builder.

Police believe the teenager sexually abused Tiahleigh. He was denied bail on charges for incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice in court this afternoon.

In court, the prosecutor argued he “took advantage of (Tiahleigh) as her big brother and as a result her young life has been taken”.

The foster brother was concerned he had impregnated the child, the court heard. Police are expected to allege the boy’s father killed Tia to cover for his son.

THE foster family at the centre of allegations into the death of Tiahleigh Palmer buried the Brisbane schoolgirl in a heartfelt ceremony attended by more than 600 people last November.

Back then, Rick Thorburn, 56, Tia’s foster father and accused killer, appeared to hold back tears as he solemnly carried her child-sized coffin, acting as a pallbearer.

He blended in to the crowd of purple, Tia’s favourite colour, which mourners had chosen to wear to pay tribute to the young girl. The colour also became a symbol of commitment to the desperate search for answers over what had happened to her.

His shirt read “in love memory of Tiahleigh R.I.P.” At the service, he comforted her grieving mother.

The truck driver turned food van proprietor and his wife had taken in Tia as a foster child while her biological mother, Cyndi Palmer, worked to get her life on track after struggling as a teen mum and spending time in the prison system.

Tiahleigh Palmer.Source:AAP

Tiahleigh Palmer.Source:Supplied

She lived with the couple and their two adult sons in their Chambers Flat home where Thorburn’s wife Julene, 54, also ran a home daycare service.

The eldest of the two boys, Josh, 20, was qualified to work as an assistant in the home business and had been unemployed in recent years while recovering from injury.

The younger son, Trent, 19, described himself as a dancer, metal fabrication apprentice, and classic car builder.

Police believe the teenager sexually abused Tiahleigh. He was denied bail on charges for incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice in court this afternoon.

In court, the prosecutor argued he “took advantage of (Tiahleigh) as her big brother and as a result her young life has been taken”.

The foster brother was concerned he had impregnated the child, the court heard. Police are expected to allege the boy’s father killed Tia to cover for his son.

A facebook photograph of Rick Thorburn and family Josh, Julene and Trent. Rick and Trent have been charged in relation to the murder of Tiahleigh Palmer.Source:Facebook

A Crime Stoppers tip led police to swoop on the family on Tuesday, arresting Rick, Julene, Josh, and Trent at various addresses in the Logan area.

Following police interviews Rick was yesterday formally charged with Tia’s murder. Trent, the youngest of Tia’s foster brothers, has been charged with incest.

Julene and Josh have been charged with one count each of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

All four family members are awaiting court, Trent’s today and Julene’s and Josh’s next month, though father Rick’s has now been delayed. The murder-accused was expected to face a bedside hearing at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital, but is in an induced coma following a suspected self-harm attempt while in custody.

When his case returns to court, now scheduled for December, police are expected to allege the foster father murdered the girl in his car to protect his teenage son according to the Courier-Mail. Police will allege Trent sexually abused Tia.

Trent Thorburn was Tiahleigh’s foster brother.Source:No Source

Trent Thorburn, 19, has been charged with incest, perverting the course of justice and perjury in relation to the death of Tiahleigh Palmer.Source:No Source

Tia’s foster father and relatives have long been persons of interest throughout the 11-month investigation of the schoolgirl’s disappearance and murder, senior police sources told the Brisbane paper.

Less than a month after Tia’s death, the foster father published a post on Facebook saying the family had accommodation for one or two people in their “happy home environment on acreage”.

He described the residence as a clean and safe home.

The case has prompted the Queensland government to review the approval process for foster carers and working with children checks.

Acting Premier Curtis Pitt says both will be examined by extending a review already under way, with a report expected back early next year. “We will be very, very careful to ensure that the young people who are in our foster system as well as, of course, the broader child protection system are given all the protections,” he said.

Announcing details of the review, Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman confirmed the foster parents continued to run a child care business from their home after Tia’s death.

Tiahleigh’s mother, Cyndi Palmer at Beenleigh court on Wednesday where Rick Thorburn was due to appear. Picture: Liam KidstonSource:News Corp Australia

Tia went missing at the end of October last year. Her foster father was reportedly the last person to see her alive, dropping her off near Marsden State High school just after 8am on October 20.

Despite calls for action from her biological family, Tia wasn’t reported missing for six days. The delay was explained away at the time as taking care with concerns around identifying a child in care.

The same morning an alert was distributed by police appealing for help finding the girl, a trio of fishermen discovered her semi-naked decaying body on the banks of the Gold Coast’s Pimpama River.

The water and dirt had washed away any signs of what had happened to Tia, and police had few clues to work with while going about investigating how she had died.

Investigators were worried they may never solve the case.

Tia’s biological mother and grandmother were outspoken in appealing for witnesses and calls to Crime Stoppers from members of the public who may have seen or heard anything that could assist with finding out what happened to their little girl.

But her foster family was silent.

Foster father Rick Thorburn has been charged with murder. He is in an induced coma in a Brisbane hospital. Picture: Jack TranSource:News Corp Australia

Again speaking out, Tia’s grandmother Sue Palmer last night revealed her shock and anguish over the Thorburn family’s charges.

She said the news had “knocked the wind right out of my sails”.

“When it happens to your own it just is like a twisted knife in your heart,” she told A Current Affair on Tuesday.

“I’m just absolutely addled with thoughts of how she died, and that’s something that I really want to know.”

Ms Palmer criticised the Thorburn family’s behaviour following Tia’s death, which was made all the more alarming following yesterday’s allegations.

“They took pride of place at the funeral which I didn’t think they deserved and people treated them as though they were parents of long standing which they weren’t,” she said.

“It’s really really scary. It’s awful trying to raise little girls and boys nowadays. You can’t fix kids once you’ve wrecked them. You can’t fix Tiahleigh.”

Ms Palmer said she gained no relief from the arrests and charges, bringing her and the rest of Tia’s family closer to finding answers.

“To be really truthful it’s not a relief at all, it’s not even closure, it’s pain on pain,” she said.

Rick Thorburn remains in an induced coma and is due to face court on charges of murder and interfering with a corpse in December. His son Trent will face Beenleigh Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday charged with incest, perjury and perverting the course of justice. He is expected to apply for bail.

Thorburn’s wife Julene and other son Josh have both been charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice, and have been bailed to return to court on October 10.

20/09/2016 Update
a charge of incest has also been laid against one of the young males arrested.

Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster father Rick Thorburn has been charged with murder over the 12-year-old’s death, hours after he and his wife were arrested by homicide detectives south of Brisbane, police say.

Thorburn arrived at Logan police station in handcuffs just before 11:30am.

His wife Julene Thorburn arrived at the police station separately a short time later.

Less than two hours later, Detective Inspector Damien Hansen emerged from the police station to tell the media Thorburn would be charged with murder at the Beenleigh Police Station watch house.

“He will be appearing in court tomorrow,” Inspector Hansen said.

Earlier today, homicide detectives arrested four people in connection with the murder investigation.

“A woman aged 54, as well as three men aged 19, 20 and 56 were taken into custody by officers attached to Operation North Mizzen — a joint Homicide and Logan District investigation,” a police statement said.

“All four are known to each other and were located at various addresses in Logan.”

The ABC understands the two younger men also arrested are related to the Thorburns.

The arrests came shortly after police confirmed Tiahleigh’s foster father was the former owner of a car seized by police last week.

The 12-year-old’s body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River last November, almost a week after she vanished.

A week ago, detectives seized a 2009 blue-coloured Ford XR6 sedan they believed was linked to Tiahleigh’s murder.

Police said last week the car’s current owner was not considered a suspect.

Today, Detective Inspector Damien Hansen confirmed Thorburn was the car’s former owner.

His link to the investigation had been revealed in the media, which Inspector Hansen said could have hindered the progress of detectives.

“It didn’t help us,” he said.

Inspector Hansen admitted the investigation had moved quickly in the past 24 hours.

“Due to certain factors we’ve moved quicker than than we possibly would have wanted to,” he said.

Car still under forensic examination

He said police had received no further information in relation to the car since it was seized.

“We’ve looked at every person who had involvement with Tiah in this investigation,” Inspector Hansen said.

He declined to say what police, if anything, had found in the car.

“It’s still being examined,” he said.

He said detectives had also updated Tiahleigh’s biological mother on the investigation.

“She’s comfortable with our response at this stage,” Inspector Hansen said.

“But I will take the opportunity to say that also with the family that there are certain times we can’t pass on information, when the information is at a critical stage.

“It’s possibly been one of the most difficult investigations I’ve been involved in.”

Brissy cop charged with murder over baby son’s death in 2014-Still not named

Update 1/02/16

Brisbane policeman Colin Randall appears in court over alleged murder of baby son

A senior police constable from the Brisbane region has been remanded in custody after facing court charged with the murder of his two-month-old son more than 18 months ago.

Colin David Randall, 38, faced the Brisbane Magistrates Court for a brief hearing this morning.

Police and the Crime and Corruption Commission have spent more than a year investigating the baby boy’s death, but it was not reported to the public until the weekend.

Randall was remanded in custody and the matter is due to return to court next month.

Cop’s murder charge a ‘tragic event’

POLICE are expected to allege an officer charged with murdering his baby son was having an extramarital affair with a woman in the Queensland Police Service.

A senior constable from Brisbane Region has been charged with murder.
Why the hell has is taking so long to name one of their own? Queensland Police Service pays its senior constables between $68,894 and $82,638 a year. I GUARANTEE Jo Blow doesn’t get these pathetic privileges for something no where near the crimes relating to a death of a child
By Matt Eaton

Sat 30 Jan 2016, 5:15pm

A 38-year-old Queensland Police senior constable has been charged with murder over the death of his baby son.

Police charged the man after a joint investigation by the child trauma task force within the child safety and sexual crime group, state crime command and the ethical standards command.

The investigation related to the death of a two-month-old boy at a property in Victoria Point on Brisbane’s bay-side on June 28, 2014.

The officer from the Brisbane region, who had already been suspended from duty with the Queensland Police Service, is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.

At a media conference on Saturday afternoon, Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said he could not release too many details about the case other but confirmed “there were fairly significant injuries to the baby”.

He said the officer involved was suspended about a month after the child’s death and defended the decision by investigators not to speak publicly on the officer’s alleged involvement before today.

In terms of any sort of infant homicide, they aren’t necessarily made known to the media.

Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon

“Our community needs to have confidence, in fact great confidence, that no matter who is responsible for these types of crimes, that its police service will be relentless and committed in ensuring that the investigations are brought to conclusion and that the offenders are brought to justice,” he said.

“Now this is a very tragic event, with the loss of a young, innocent life and the devastation of a family.

“I’m a father — these sorts of crimes, irrespective of who commits them, are tragic and terrible.

“I can only say that we are committed, as we have been in this instance, to making sure the offender is brought to justice.

“Particularly in this one, we’ve [been] very careful, hence our involvement with the Crime and Corruption Commission to make sure everything has been done properly.”

Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon said they would have kept the investigation away from public attention regardless of who was involved.

“In terms of any sort of infant homicide, they aren’t necessarily made known to the media,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter whether there’s a police officer charged or a member of the community.

“They are extremely difficult, complex and protracted investigations where you have expert evidence involved and they take many, many months to resolve.”

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said the officer was suspended on full pay but now that he had been charged this would be reviewed.

Police officer still paid after baby’s death

Updated: 6:27 pm, Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Queensland police officer accused of murdering his baby son has spent the last year-and-a-half suspended from duty on full pay.

The 38-year-old senior constable was charged with murder on Saturday morning after his two-month-old son succumbed to ‘fairly significant injuries’ at Victoria Point in Brisbane’s east in June 2014.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the baby’s death was immediately considered suspicious and the officer was suspended ‘about a month after the incident’.

‘The usual procedure we have is when under investigation, before any charges are laid, the officers are suspended on pay,’ Mr Gollschewski told reporters on Saturday.

‘Now that he has been charged that will be reviewed and consideration will be given to suspension without pay.

‘That’s a technical legal matter that has to be considered properly.’

Queensland Police Service pays its senior constables between $68,894 and $82,638 a year.

But Mr Gollschewski defended the amount of time the investigation took, saying infant homicides were difficult to investigate because they relied upon medical expert evidence that could take months to obtain and verify.

‘This is a very tragic event with the loss of a young innocent life and the devastation of a family,’ he said.

‘These types of investigations are very difficult, challenging and, in this instance, quite protracted.’

He also defended the decision not to release any information about the incident before now, including the fact an officer was suspended on suspicion of a child’s murder, because detectives needed to maintain ‘the integrity of the investigation’.

The deputy commissioner said the lengthy investigation was aided by the Crime and Corruption Commission and various experts.

‘Our community needs to have confidence, in fact great confidence, that no matter who is responsible for these types of crimes, the police service will be relentless and committed to ensuring the investigations are brought to a conclusion,’ he said.

‘And that the offenders are brought to justice.’

Mr Gollschewski refused to provide any details about the incident itself, saying the matter was now before the courts.

The officer is due to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.


Brisbane cop to appear in court charged with baby son’s death

January 30, 2016 – 5:12PM

Queensland Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski addresses the media with State Crime Command Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon, after a 38-year-old senior constable was charged with the murder of his baby son.Queensland Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski addresses the media with State Crime Command Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon, after a 38-year-old senior constable was charged with the murder of his baby son. Photo: Kim Stephens

A Queensland police officer will face court on Monday charged with the murder of his baby son in 2014.

This is a very tragic event with the loss of a young, innocent life and the devastation of a family

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski

The senior constable’s two-month-old boy died after suffering “significant” injuries at his home at bayside Victoria Point, south-east of Brisbane, on June 28, 2014, Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said on Saturday.

The 38-year-old was stood down on full pay one month after the child’s death, when an investigation was launched.

He was not on duty at the time the boy died.

The Brisbane region senior constable was arrested and charged on Saturday after a protracted probe involving multiple investigatory agencies, including the police Ethical Standards Command and the independent Crime and Corruption Commission.

As the matter is before the courts, Mr Gollschewski declined to elaborate on how the baby boy is alleged to have died but said the injuries that caused his death were severe.

“It’s a complicated one, other than to say there were fairly significant injuries to the baby,” he said.

“This is a very tragic event with the loss of a young, innocent life and the devastation of a family.

“These types of investigations are very difficult and challenging and in this instance quite protracted.”

Mr Gollschewski defended Queensland Police Service not revealing one of their officers had been stood down subject to a murder investigation until he had been charged.

“As with any of these types of investigations, they are very difficult, it’s very important they are conducted in a way that the evidence is preserved and that we are able to present that to a court so a proper determination can be made,” he said.

“Our community needs to have confidence, great confidence, that no matter who is responsible for these types of crime, the police service will be relentless and committed to ensuring investigations are brought to their conclusion and the offenders are brought to justice.”

State Crime Command Detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon said all infant murder investigations were lengthy and detailed ones.

“In terms of any infant homicide they are not necessarily made known to members of the media, it doesn’t matter if there is a police officer charged or a member of the community, they are extremely difficult, complex and protracted investigations,” she said.

“Where you have experts involved and they take many, many months to resolve, this particular case is no different to other cases involving infant homicides.”

Mr Gollschewski said the alleged crime was a particularly tragic one.”I’m a father, these sort of crimes, irrespective of who commits them, are tragic and terrible,” he said.

“I can only say that we are committed, as we have been in this instance, to making sure the offender was brought to justice.”

The baby’s father has been remanded in custody to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday, February 1.




The mafia, metadata and me: the day Stan called me into an ecstasy sting

The mafia, metadata and me: the day Stan called me into an ecstasy sting

Nick McKenzie

Mafia in Australia – Drugs, Murder and Politics

The mafia continues to flourish in Australia despite major police operations, as this joint Four Corners/Fairfax Media investigation reveals.

When the phone vibrated in my pocket in September 2007, I had no idea the incoming call would plunge me into the middle of Australia’s biggest Mafia investigation in decades.

I was also unaware that the caller, who identified himself as “Stan”, was, in fact, a driven and entrepreneurial drug trafficker from Griffith, NSW, called Pat Barbaro.

Federal Police and Customs agents with some of the Ecstasy and Cocaine after the drug bust.Federal Police and Customs agents with some of the Ecstasy and Cocaine after the drug bust. Photo: John Woudstra

Barbaro had organised the world’s biggest ecstasy shipment into Melbourne in June 2007. But by the time he rang me, three months later, he was unable to locate the shipping container packed with his $500 million load.

Calling me, and then sending a series of texts from several mobile phones registered in fake names, was part of a desperate plan by Barbaro to either locate his shipment or confirm his suspicions that the police had seized his drugs.

He was hoping I would reach out to police or waterfront sources to do this, and then report my findings. To say his plan failed spectacularly would be an understatement.

Unbeknownst to either me or “Stan,” police were intercepting the text messages, which included detailed descriptions of the size and likely location of the drug shipment. These text messages, and analysis of the corresponding metadata, were used to prove Barbaro had organised the drug shipment.

But that was not the only implication. Over the past six months, federal police have used the scenario as a case study to convince the Federal Government of the need to pass laws ensuring telcos store the metadata generated when a person uses a phone or computer.

As the hulking Barbaro walked around Melbourne’s CBD, meeting bikies, South Asian money launderers and other Mafia bosses, he carried up to a dozen phones. One was his personal mobile, with a subscription under his own name.

The other phones were “burners”, which were registered in false names and regularly replaced with new phones. The problem for Barbaro is that these burners were hitting the same mobile phone towers as his regular phone.

Barbaro’s personal phone and the burners were pinging off the same towers so often that police were able to prove the burners belonged to Barbaro.

According to the Director of Public Prosecution’s Andrea Pavleka, the texts sent from the “Stan” burners “showed that Barbaro had critical knowledge of the contents of that container”.

“That was a terrific link for the prosecution to have in this particular matter.”

Back in 2007, I knew none of this.

In fact, had I known my communications were being intercepted, I would have been furious.

Many of my sources are banned by their employer from speaking to me, or any other reporter, so the prospect of any innocent whistleblower being outed would have concerned me greatly.

I only learned this many months later of the interception. From all the checks I have since conducted – and there have been many – no source of mine was compromised and the AFP agents involved acted professionally and with regard to the sensitivities of my trade.

That said, ever since 2007, I have implemented a range of measures to protect sources’ communications — steps not unlike those suggested by Malcolm Turnbull during the recent debate about metadata.

Ever since the phone buzzed that day in my pocket, and “Stan” briefly entered my life, I’ve been especially conscious about how a person’s communications leave a trail, no matter how careful they are. It is a lesson the now jailed Barbaro has, no doubt, also learned well.

Watch part two of a joint Fairfax and ABC Four Corners mafia investigation on ABC1 8.30 PM Monday.

Gerard Baden-Clay Appeal 7th August 2015-UPDATED 31ST AUGUST 2016

Mountains of stuff on here about the tragic death of Allison by her husband Gerard Baden Clay. To catch up here is a link to posts tagged with Allison below

ALSO feel free to use the menu up top to get the full picture.

UPDATE 31/08/2016

Gerard Baden-Clay murder conviction reinstated by High Court

Updated 6 minutes ag

Gerard Baden-Clay’s conviction for murdering his wife, Allison, in 2012 will stand, the High Court has ruled.

A Queensland jury convicted Baden-Clay of murder in 2014, but the state’s Court of Appeal last December downgraded it to manslaughter after his lawyers argued it was possible he could have unintentionally killed his wife during an argument.

Allison’s body was found on a creek bank in Brisbane’s west 10 days after she was reported missing on April 20, 2012.

Allison’s long-time friend and spokeswoman for the family, Kerry-Anne Walker, said the “decision comes with both relief and elation”.

“The law has acknowledged what we, who were closest to her, knew from that very morning Allison went missing — that is — that she was murdered,” she said outside the court.

“Gerard Baden-Clay murdered his amazing wife, Allison.”

She said the evidence in the original trial had displayed Gerard’s intent as well as his character.

“Today’s decision brings an end to Gerard’s attempts to smear Allison’s name,” she said.

“If some were in doubt as to his true nature, his behaviour after Allison disappeared and during the trial must have removed that doubt.”

Ms Walker said Allison loved being a wife and a mother, and had worked incredibly hard to do both to the best of her ability.

“Her legacy will be her beautiful three girls who, surrounded now by their memories of Allison and the love and support of Allison’s devoted family, are thriving in their busy lives,” she said.

“All who know them are confident they will go on to achieve great things.

“I am in awe every day of how well Allison’s parents Geoff and Priscilla and her sister Vanessa deal with their day-to-day busy lives.

“The girls are certainly a tribute to them.”

Judgment cites ‘unintentional’ killing hypothesis

In its judgment, the High Court said the Court of Appeal had “erred in concluding that the jury’s verdict of guilty of murder was unreasonable on the basis that the prosecution had failed to exclude the hypothesis that Gerard Baden-Clay unintentionally killed his wife”.

“By grant of special leave, the Crown appealed to the High Court,” the judgment said.

“It was common ground on the appeal that the respondent killed his wife.

“The High Court held that the hypothesis on which the Court of Appeal acted was not available on the evidence.

“In particular, the Court [of Appeal] accepted the respondent’s submission, made for the first time on appeal, that the prosecution had not excluded the hypothesis that there was a physical confrontation between the appellant and his wife in which he delivered a blow which killed her [for example, by the effects of a fall hitting her head against a hard surface] without intending to cause grievous bodily harm.”

Ms Walker also praised the authorities who helped with the case.

“I would like to thank and acknowledge again the Department of Public Prosecutions, the Queensland Police Service and all those that helped with the case,” she said.

“Your tireless work and passion for the truth will never be forgotten and you should be also very pleased with today’s decision.”


UPDATE 26/07/16

Gerard Baden-Clay, pictured with wife Allison, is fighting to have his murder charge downgraded to manslaughter.

GERARD Baden-Clay’s “cold-blooded” and “calculated” disposal of his wife Allison’s body, combined with his ongoing lies to police, point to a man more than capable of murder, a court has heard.

The Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions is fighting for the reinstatement of the former Brisbane real estate agent’s murder conviction in the High Court of Australia, after it was controversially downgraded to manslaughter on appeal last year.

The Court of Appeal ruled there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict of murder a Queensland Supreme Court jury reached in 2014, instead substituting manslaughter.

But on Tuesday, Walter Sofronoff, QC, for the Crown, argued that Baden-Clay’s cold-blooded disposal of his wife Allison’s body and the lies he told police and continued to tell throughout his trial made him a man capable of murder.

Mr Sofronoff said Baden-Clay also used one of his three young daughters in an attempt to conceal his guilt, telling her the scratches Allison left on his face as she fought for her life were shaving cuts, which he asked her to apply band aids to.

This image of scratches and cuts on Gerard Baden-Clay’s face was shown in court.Source:Supplied


“It’s not just the conduct itself but the character of conduct that might give rise to an inference of intention, Mr Sofronoff argued.

“His preparedness to use his children, one could conclude about him he is someone who is capable of murder.”

Mr Sofronoff argued the Court of Appeal erred when it considered a number of circumstantial factors that could point to an intention to kill Allison in isolation, rather than collectively.

He said pressure was growing on Mr Baden-Clay the night his wife died.

He had, without his wife’s knowledge, recommenced an affair with mistress Toni McHugh, who he had promised to leave his wife for by July 1, 2011, in the days leading up to Allison’s death on April 19, 2012.

He was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and had been refused loans by friends and acquaintances in the lead-up to Allison’s death, which had put him in danger of losing his real estate business.

There was also the looming prospect that the day after he killed his wife, she and his mistress were due to cross paths at a Real Estate Institute of Queensland lunch.

He said the Baden-Clays were undergoing marriage counselling and just a week before he killed Allison, he told Ms McHugh he loved her and that he had every intention of standing by his promise to leave Allison by July 1.

“It was clear the defendant had found living with his wife intolerable and unendurable,” Mr Sofronoff said.

“In the case of this woman he made a promise to end his marriage he described as unconditional.

“We have cited in our outline a number of cases that evidence of motive, including evidence that a man’s longing to be with another woman other than his wife could be evidence of intent to murder.”

Interactive crime scene photographs, shown in court during the murder trial, go inside the western Brisbane home, including the main bedroom where Allison was last seen alive.Source:Supplied

The photos were taken by Queensland police officers at the Brookfield Road house four days after Allison was reported missing.Source:Supplied


But it was Baden-Clay’s conduct after his wife’s death that most pointed to the killing not being unintentional, Mr Sofronoff said.

Under the cover of darkness, he dumped the body of the mother of his three children in a creek, 14km from the family home.

Forensics experts were unable to determine a cause of death and it is still unknown whether Allison was dead or fatally injured when her body was disposed of.

Baden-Clay hid the continuation of the affair with Ms McHugh from police.

He told them scratches on his face were from a razor, as he had told his daughter, in a bid to give greater credence to the tale.

In fact, medical experts were unanimous in their agreement that there were two sets of marks on his face, one from a razor being dragged across, rather than down, and one most likely inflicted by fingernails.

And when it came to his trial, he continued to maintain he had no idea how his wife died.

“Did you kill your wife?” he was asked.

“No, I did not,” he replied.

“A reasonable jury could conclude (this behaviour) was inconsistent with the notion of a man who unintentionally killed his wife,” Mr Sofronoff said.

For Baden-Clay, whose presence was not required in court on Tuesday, Michael Byrne, QC, argued, as he successfully did on the Court of Appeal that there was insufficient evidence to point to intent to kill.

Unlike in the Court of Appeal, however, at least two of the judges seemed unconvinced.

“There is no evidence available that the accused intended to kill or do grievous bodily harm,” Mr Byrne said.

“All the evidence goes to show is there was an argument, then maybe a fight and she responded physically and she was dead.”

He dismissed the argument his client’s conduct after Allison’s disappearance pointed to him being guilty of intentionally killing her, saying thought there were “aspects of callousness” it did not prove murder.

“It’s important to note there was simply no evidence of violence between them and that came from their three children,” he said.

Justice Patrick Keane, one of the five judges who will decide Baden-Clay’s ultimate fate, appeared unconvinced by the change of tactic from complete denial of involvement in Allison’s death at trial, to admitting there was sufficient evidence to convict on manslaughter at appeal.

“He has had the opportunity to give the evidence, he has given the evidence, it is inconsistent with any notion at all that there was an unintended killing by him,” he said.

“Once he swears the circumstances of events were such the possibility of an unintended killing occurred … the evidence is inconsistent.”

Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder conviction for the death of his wife Allison has been set aside on appeal and a conviction of manslaughter substituted.Source:News Corp Australia

An overwhelming body of evidence points to the fact it was he who took her life — the scratches she left on his face, the foliage from their garden found in her hair and the drops of her blood discovered in the family car he used to drive her 14km to a creek bed, where he dumped her body.

When Allison Baden-Clay was reported missing by her husband on April 20, 2012, suspicion fell almost immediately upon him.

It intensified 10 days later when her body was found by a kayaker on the banks of the Kholo Creek.

It took a further six weeks for detectives investigating the mother-of-three’s death to charge him with her murder, a charge he has denied since.

Baden-Clay continues to deny he had any involvement in his wife’s death. But after a Supreme Court jury found him guilty of murder after a six-week trial in 2014, his defence team mounted a controversial change of tactic in the Court of Appeal, arguing there was sufficient evidence to make a finding of manslaughter but not of murder.

In a sensational ruling in late 2015, the Court of Appeal, led by Queensland’s Chief Justice, Catherine Holmes, agreed with the defence, setting aside the murder conviction and substituting manslaughter.

It prompted a massive public outcry, culminating in a public rally attended by thousands demanding “Justice for Allison”.

In a highly unusual move, the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the downgraded conviction in the High Court of Australia.

A five-member judicial bench will hear his argument for reinstatement of the murder conviction and the counter-arguments of Baden-Clay’s defence team.

The High Court has reserved its decision for a date to be set.

Allison’s parents Priscila and Geoff Dickie.Source:News Corp Australia

update 10/07/16

Gerard Baden-Clay: DPP files final documents in murder conviction downgrade appeal

Updated Fri at 6:48pm

The Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has submitted its final documents in the appeal case of convicted wife-killer Gerard Baden-Clay.

Last year, the Queensland Court of Appeal downgraded Baden-Clay’s murder conviction to manslaughter, saying the jury could not have proved beyond reasonable doubt the former real estate agent intended to kill his wife, Allison.

The DPP later lodged an appeal in the High Court against the manslaughter ruling, which it agreed to hear.

Baden-Clay’s lawyers argued there was no direct evidence to suggest their client caused Mrs Baden-Clay’s death or that he did so with intent.

But in reply, the DPP’s documents on Friday said Baden-Clay’s lawyers did not offer any explanation for Allison’s death throughout the murder trial itself and that their argument was that he did not kill her.

They said it was not permissible to now bring up “other possible explanations” for how she might have died.

The full bench of the High Court will now hear the appeal in Brisbane later this month.


update 12/05/016

Gerard Baden-Clay: Murder conviction downgrade appeal approved by High Court

Updated 35 minutes ago

The High Court has agreed to hear Queensland prosecutors appeal against the downgrading of Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder conviction for killing his wife Allison.

The court decided today, in Canberra, to hear the appeal, at a date yet to be fixed.

The Director of Public Prosecutions argue Queensland’s Court of Appeal got it wrong when they downgraded the conviction to manslaughter last December, saying there was a strong motive for murder.

The former real estate agent had yearned to be with his mistress, and he stood to gain a life insurance payout, the director said.

Allison’s badly decomposed body was found in Kholo Creek in May 2012, over a week after she disappeared from the family home.

Baden-Clay was jailed for life in 2014 but that was quashed in December.

Allison’s cousin Jodie Dann watched the High Court decision from the public gallery, but would not comment afterwards.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath broke news to sitting MPs shortly after the decision was announced, but also would not comment further as the matter was before the courts.

There was huge support for the Director of Prosecutions to appeal, more than 73,000 people signed a petition and thousands rallied in Brisbane’s King George Square when Baden-Clay’s conviction was downgraded in December.

His lawyers argued there was not enough evidence to prove he intentionally killed Allison, who may have fallen and hit her head during an argument.

They then suggested a hypothesis that he covered up the death, by dumping it in a local creek, out of panic.

‘Let justice do its course’

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said Queenslanders could be confident the High Court made the right decision.

“This decision represents the best interpretation of the law, unaffected by bias or the relentless press of the 24/7 media cycle,” he said.

“It is important now to allow the final chapter of the legal process to play out according to the practices and procedures of the courts, and without hyperbolic media commentary.

“We need to remember that whatever people think of the result, this is the final act of a tragedy in which three daughters have lost a mother, two parents have lost a daughter, siblings a sister and we should not, as a community, allow this to turn into a sideshow.”


From the moment Gerard Baden-Clay killed his wife Allison on April 19, 2012 – accidentally, Queensland’s highest court has now ruled – his focus was on just one thing: self-preservation.
His wife had vanished after going for a walk, he told the television cameras in the days after her disappearance, as he tearfully pleaded for her return.

In truth, he knew exactly where she was.

Under the Kholo Creek bridge, 13 kilometres from their home in Brisbane’s affluent west, where, under the cover of darkness on April 19, he drove her lifeless body and dumped it on the creek bed.

The presence of Allison Baden-Clay’s blood in the family Holden Captiva provided almost irrefutable proof that is what he did, while the scratches she left on his face as she fought him that night told investigators it was he who had killed her.

The foliage from their garden found in her hair told them he had done it at their Brookfield home.

The growing forensic evidence in the case overwhelmingly pointed to his guilt.

But Baden-Clay’s focus never wavered. It was self-preservation above all else.

Rather than confess he accidentally killed Allison after kayakers discovered her body on the creek bank, 10 days after she disappeared, he stood beside their three daughters at her funeral and played the grieving husband.

He protested his innocence when, six weeks later, detectives charged him with her murder and continued his protestations through his subsequent committal hearing and trial.

When Baden-Clay stood before a jury at his murder trial in 2014, he swore, under oath, he did not kill his wife.

Despite the physical evidence pointing to his guilt, the cocky prestige real estate agent who prided himself on his lineage to Scouts founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell had no doubt at the end of it all, he would be a free man.

So, it was a violently shaking Baden-Clay who sat in the Supreme Court dock after his trial jury returned their guilty verdict in 2014 and listened as Justice John Byrne sentenced him to life in jail.

His plan had failed. With a non-parole period of 15 years set, he was facing at least the next 13 years behind bars.

It was a time to try a change of tactic.

Just more than a year later, in the Queensland Court of Appeal, his lawyers publicly conceded for the first time that perhaps their client did kill his wife. Accidentally.

Defence counsel Michael Copley, QC, argued there was sufficient evidence available to conclude Allison died unlawfully but not to thrust it into the category of murder, which indicates some degree of intent.

“There was sufficient evidence available … that he had caused the death and done so unlawfully,” Mr Copley said.

“What evidence was there that elevated the case from unlawful killing to intentional killing?”

Queensland’s Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Michael Byrne, QC argued the extreme lengths Baden-Clay took to cover up his crime and the continual denials he was involved in his wife’s death elevated it out of the realm of manslaughter and into that of murder.

In the end, however, appeal judges Chief Justice Catherine Holmes, Justice Hugh Fraser and Justice Robert Gotterson had no choice but to agree with the defence argument.

While there was sufficient evidence to point to the now 44-year-old killing his wife of 15 years, the evidence did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that he had intended to do so.

They found the murder conviction was an “unreasonable verdict”.


update 01/02/16

DPP appeals Baden-Clay downgrade

Published: 01 February 2016


Queensland DPP lodges submission appealing Gerard Baden-Clay’s downgraded conviction

The Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will today file a submission appealing the downgrade of Gerard Baden-Clay’s conviction from murder to manslaughter.

Baden-Clay was initially sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife Alison in 2012, but the charge was since downgraded.

Today, the DPP will provide an outline of arguments as to why the High Court should reinstate Baden-Clay’s original murder conviction.

The Courier Mail also released an article today which reveals the opinion of a retired Supreme Court judge, who claims Queensland Court of Appeal “got it wrong”.

“The simple fact is the Court of Appeal got it wrong,” the former Supreme Court judge told the Courier Mail.

The judge’s identity has been concealed to avoid controversy.

More to come.


 update 30/12/15

QUEENSLAND’S Director of Public Prosecutions will appeal Gerard Baden-Clay’s manslaughter verdict.

Baden-Clay, who was last year sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife Allison, had his murder conviction downgraded to manslaughter in a shock appeal ruling earlier this month, sparking community anger.

DPP Michael Byrne QC will make an application to the High Court seeking special leave to appeal the Court of Appeal decision.

The Courier-Mail exclusively revealed yesterday that Mr Byrne had privately told the Queensland Government he will appeal to the High Court to reinstate Baden-Clay’s murder conviction.

“I have been advised that the DPP intends to file the application when the High Court registry opens on Monday 4 January,” Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said in a statement on Wednesday. (scroll down for her full statement)

This will give the DPP 28 days to lodge an outline of argument with the High Court.

The defence will then be given 21 days to outline its argument before the High Court schedules a date to hear the applications.

Mr Byrne had advised Allison’s family of the decision to appeal on Wednesday morning after finalising his decision on Tuesday, Ms D’Ath said.

In its shock ruling, the Court of Appeal argued the jury that convicted Baden-Clay of murder last year couldn’t have known beyond reasonable doubt that he intended to kill Allison.

The decision outraged the community, with more than 100,000 people signing an online petition requesting the Queensland Attorney-General to file an appeal.

Thousands of people have also gathered in Brisbane’s CBD over the past fortnight to protest against the manslaughter verdict

BADEN-CLAY: Case for murder revealed



Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said today: “I have been advised that the Director of Public Prosecutions has advised the Dickie family this morning that he will be making an application to the High Court seeking special leave to appeal the recent Court of Appeal decision that saw Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder conviction downgraded to manslaughter. This has been the result of the DPP finalising his decision yesterday.

Thousands have attended a rally to protest the downgrading of Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder conviction.

“I have been advised that the DPP intends to file the application when the High Court registry opens on Monday 4 January 2016. The process then provides the DPP with 28 days to lodge an outline of argument with the High Court. The defence will then have a further 21 days to do the same.

“Subject to these processes being finalised, the High Court will then schedule a date to hear the applications.

“Given this legal process is underway, I will not be making any further comment in relation to this matter.

Gerard Baden-Clay and the high bar for prosecution

Updated about 3 hours ago

How is Gerard Baden-Clay able to argue that he might have killed his wife accidently, when, at trial, he denied having anything to do with her death? Arlie Loughnan explains the appeal court’s decision.

The Queensland Court of Appeal has upheld Gerard Baden-Clay’s appeal against conviction for the murder of his wife, Allison Baden-Clay. The court overturned the jury’s verdict that Baden-Clay was guilty of murder, and substituted a conviction of manslaughter for Allison’s death.

From the time of Allison Baden-Clay’s disappearance from her home, and the discovery of her body in April 2012, this case has attracted significant media attention. The crime and the trial coincided with increasing public awareness about family violence in general, and the deaths of women at the hands of their male partners in particular.

All the elements of the Baden-Clay case – the death of a much-loved woman with young children, and a middle-class family struck by infidelity, marriage problems, depression and debt – propelled the case to the front page in newspapers around the country.

Gerard Baden-Clay was tried for murder in 2014. As it was not possible to determine what caused Mrs Baden-Clay’s death, the trial hinged on circumstances surrounding her disappearance and death – the evidence of her blood in her car, the scratches on Gerard Baden-Clay’s face, and his account of his actions at around the time of the crime. A jury convicted Baden-Clay of Allison Baden-Clay’s murder. He was sentenced to life in prison and required to serve a minimum of 15 years’ jail time.

Baden-Clay appealed the decision. Arguing that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable, and questioning the trial judge’s summing up of the evidence, Baden-Clay sought to have his conviction overturned. Baden-Clay claimed that the jury could not have been satisfied to the criminal standard of proof – beyond reasonable doubt – that he had the necessary intent for murder.

In Queensland, murder requires a lethal act, and an intent to kill or commit grievous bodily harm. The issue on appeal was whether the evidence introduced at trial could support the jury’s conclusion that Allison Baden-Clay’s death was murder, not manslaughter – an unlawful killing that falls short of murder.

Allowing Baden-Clay’s appeal, the Queensland Court of Appeal concluded that the prosecution case had not ruled out the possibility that Gerard Baden-Clay killed his wife without intending serious harm, and that he disposed of her body at Kholo Creek, and lied about the causes of the marks on his face to cover up his actions. This meant that the jury’s conclusion that the killing was murder could not be sustained.

Although the finding that Baden-Clay was responsible for his wife’s death has not been questioned, his successful appeal has raised questions about our criminal justice system. It seems hard to understand how Baden-Clay is able to argue that he might have killed his wife accidently, when, at trial, he denied having anything to do with her death, and knowing nothing about how her body ended up at the creek.

It’s important to recall that, under our laws, the accused does not have to prove his innocence – it’s up to the prosecution to prove guilt. The presumption of innocence is a cardinal feature of our criminal justice system. It means that the accused person can test the case against him, and that his ‘defence’ can be that the prosecution have not made out the charge against him. This sets a high bar for the prosecution, but it is a protection against wrongful convictions.

Our criminal court system has to strike a balance between two fundamental goals. On the one side is the principle of finality – whereby a trial court’s adjudication of a matter concludes the legal issues for the accused and the victims. On the other side, the court system must also provide for review of any errors made by courts in trial or sentence.

This is where appeal courts come in – reviewing decisions where there may have been a mistake that affected the outcome, and safeguarding the high esteem in which our justice system is held.

The action of an appeal court overturning a jury decision is not that common, and does not cast doubt on the integrity and the value of jury decisions in criminal trials in general. Juries are central to the operation of criminal trials and the involvement of lay people in criminal justice is regarded as a positive feature of our system. Juries participating in criminal trials, and courts of appeal reviewing decision-making, are each key aspects of the legitimacy of our criminal laws and processes.

Arlie Loughnan is Associate Professor in Law at University of Sydney.


Major update 8th December 2015.

The day the Justice System proved it is BROKEN. please share your thoughts in the comments section!

 What justice? There’s none for Allison

NOW we know when a woman’s murder is not a murder.

It’s when a man who swore throughout his five-week trial that he had nothing to do with it and gets convicted of murder changes makes an appeal to argue his wife’s death was ‘unintentional’. And wins.

It seems incredible that while Gerard Baden-Clay insisted he had no hand in his wife’s 2012 death during a trial involving hundreds of witness statements, he can say on appeal that he did cause it — by accident — and be believed.

You can’t have it both ways — be completely uninvolved but also have killed someone — but now you can, apparently. What a joke.

Where is the justice in this decision for the dead mother of three young girls? Where are the consequences for a man who may now be free in five years.

The shock felt by those close to the late Mrs Baden-Clay as they learned her husband would get away with manslaughter is echoing across social media as Australians react angrily.

Many are justifiably struggling to believe that Queensland appeal judges found there was not reasonable evidence Baden-Clay intended to kill his wife because it wasn’t proven he meant to do it.

One Twitter user summed up the sentiments of many when he wrote: “That’s one small step for low-life, one giant leap backwards in the fight against domestic violence #endviolenceagainstwomen”.

How disgusting that just a few years is all a woman’s life is worth if the injuries on her body are not bad enough to implicate intent to kill or there’s not enough blood in the house to imply a struggle, or no recorded history of domestic violence.

Newsflash Queensland justice system: Many woman never report abuse, and can you blame them when they see outcomes such as this.

As Australia grapples with an epidemic of violence against women that has claimed an average two women’s lives a week this year, this verdict is an insult to every woman killed by a partner or ex.

It’s a mockery of the pain of relatives of dead women and a message to women living in fear of death at the hands of their partner that the justice system has holes the size of Uluru.

As Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty and former Victorian police chief Ken Lay have kept family violence high in the public consciousness in 2015, prompting grumbles about too much talk of it dominating media.

But with findings like this potentially opening the cell doors after an obscenely short stretch for someone who killed their partner can there ever be enough?

Gerard Baden-Clay may soon be free to resume normal life with the children he caused to be motherless. Allison is still dead.

The fight for real justice for victims of violence against women in Australia must now go up a gear. This finding shames the lot of us.

Gerard Baden-Clay: Murder conviction downgraded to manslaughter over death of wife Allison

Updated 22 minutes ago

Former Brisbane real estate agent Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder conviction for killing his wife Allison has been downgraded to manslaughter.

Court of Appeal Justice Hugh Fraser set aside the murder finding today.

During Baden-Clay’s appeal four months ago, his lawyers argued he panicked and unintentionally killed the mother-of-three during an argument at their home in Brookfield, in Brisbane’s west.

In delivering their findings, the Court of Appeal judges found that while Baden-Clay lied about the cause of the marks on his face and tried to hide his wife’s body, there was a reasonable hypothesis he was innocent of murder.

They found the jury could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the element of intent to kill or do grievous bodily harm had been proved.

Baden-Clay, 45, reported his wife missing in April 2012 and her body was found 10 days later beside a creek.

He was convicted last year and jailed for life, with a non-parole period of 15 years.

Baden-Clay’s lawyer Peter Shields said there was immense public interest in the case, and urged the public to read the findings before they criticise the decision.

“They were very considered reasons of a very experienced court,” he said.

“I do think the public understand that it is open justice.

“They can make their own view, based on the facts.”

Allison’s family said they were disappointed by the decision and remained supportive of the original findings of the court.

“[The family] await the legal process to play out in the hope that justice for Allison will be served,” a statement released by the Dickie family said.

“As always, the efforts of the family remain centred around the wellbeing of Allison’s daughters, who now face a further period of uncertainty.”


Appeal begins for Gerard Baden-Clay

Lawyers for Gerard Baden-Clay will argue his conviction was ‘unreasonable’


LAWYERS for Gerard Baden-Clay will today argue that his conviction for the murder of his wife Allison Baden-Clay should be quashed on the grounds it was ‘unreasonable’.

12.25pm: The appeal hearing has finished and the three judges have reserved their decision. They will give a written judgement, expected within three months.

12.23pm: Mr Copley, for Baden-Clay, said Allison’s blood in her car could have been from “some innocent incident” on another day.

12.21pm: Justice Catherine Holmes put to Mr Byrne the scenario that there had been an argument between Baden-Clay and his wife and that she had fallen, hit her head and died and that he had panicked.

“What’s wrong with that as a reasonable hypothesis,” Justice Holmes said.

Mr Byrne said the trial judge left murder open to the jury because there was such a long period of denials by Baden-Clay including his lengthy court testimony. Mr Byrne has concluded his arguments and defence barrister Michael Copley is addressing the court again.

12.05pm: Michael Byrne QC, the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions said the evidence suggested it was likely Allison was put in the third row of seating of her Holden Captiva and transported to Kholo Creek Bridge after a fatal attack.

“It’s a short series of dots to connect the proposition he drove her there but it is still not one that needed to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.”

He added that if the jury inferred the blood in her car was from after the fatal attack, it indicated there had been an injury to hide that may have been undetectable due to decomposition.

Olivia Walton, center, sister of convicted murderer Gerard Baden-Clay arrives at court wi

Olivia Walton, center, sister of convicted murderer Gerard Baden-Clay arrives at court with defence lawyer Penny White. Source: News Corp Australia

11.55am: Mr Byrne said the lack of conclusive opinion from experts on the finer scratches did not affect the jury’s ability to reach their verdict.

Moving on to the other defence arguments, Mr Byrne went through some of the key evidence against Baden-Clay.

He said the former real estate agent must have known of the possibility his wife and mistress would meet at a conference they were both to attend on the day he reported her missing.

“There are scratches to his face that were not there on the 19th (the day before she was reported missing).

“There is the leaf litter which is in our submission significant.”

The fact there were six different types of leaf all of which could be found in or adjacent to the couple’s property was a telling feature, he said.

When all the factors were put together, it was not necessary for the Crown to show Baden-Clay moved his wife’s body to the bridge for a murder verdict to be open.

11.44am: Gerard’s defence barrister has concluded his arguments and Michael Byrne QC, the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, has begun addressing the court about the Crown case.

Mr Byrne, addressing the defence grounds for the appeal, said there had been evidence the broader marks on Baden-Clay’s face were older than the finer injuries.

It was open for the jury to accept the broader marks were from fingernails and the finer marks from a razor at a later time, and to infer Baden-Clay had attempted to disguise the scratch marks.

11.32am: Allison Baden-Clay’s death could have been from an unintentional killing arising out of an argument, making a murder conviction unreasonable, her husband Gerard’s defence barrister has told the court.

The argument could have been related to his affair with former staffer Toni McHugh and may have escalated to violence, resulting in the scratches on Baden-Clay’s face.

He was then left with a “dead wife”, and the situation of people knowing about the affair and his promises to Ms McHugh that he would leave his wife by July 1.

“And he’s panicked,” Mr Copley said.

“A jury could not rationally conclude he murdered his wife based on the fact he told a lie about how the injuries were inflicted.

“The possibility is open that everything he did in the days after the killing was attributable to panic.”

11.22am: Continuing his argument that the verdict was unreasonable, defence barrister Michael Copley said the couple’s daughters had not heard any screaming or fighting on the night and no blood was found in the house.

“There were scratches to his face but the contention is and was those scratches don’t reveal anything at all about the intention that he had when he was engaged in some sort of (altercation) with his wife.”

The scratches revealed only that Allison was “close enough” to inflict them and that there was some sort of altercation.

The “fact the doctor can’t determine the cause of death” was strongly in favour of a conclusion the death was other than intentional.

Prosecutors had argued the scratches were inflicted by Allison in self-defence “fighting for her life”.

But there were other possible explanations including that they were inflicted in anger or in the course of a struggle, Mr Copley said.

There was nothing to show if Alison had scratched her husband at the start or an argument or during the middle, with all possibilities open.

11.13am: The defence says the prosecution had asserted there was an accumulation of pressures on Baden-Clay, including from his long-running affair with his former staffer Toni McHugh.

But the evidence did not support that Baden-Clay was going to leave his wife, Mr Copley said.

“He told his wife in 2010 he no longer loved her. But…he didn’t act on the absence of love.

“He stayed in the marriage.”

The affair with Ms McHugh was discovered in 2011 and Baden-Clay still stayed at the home.

“The notion he was moving towards a departure from his wife is not sustainable.”

Prosecutors had also cited the business pressures on Baden-Clay and the fact he had borrowed money from friends and not paid them back.

“Sure there were financial pressures but my contention … is that hadn’t increased dramatically. That hadn’t changed substantially.”

11am: Baden-Clay’s defence barrister has told the court the murder conviction was unreasonable.

“What evidence was there that elevated the case from an unlawful killing to one of an unintentional killing?” Mr Copley said.

He said a premeditated killing had not been alleged, with prosecutors stating “there was uncharacteristic conduct engaged in by my client”.

There was no evidence of prior violence in the relationship and no evidence either party were abusers of illicit drugs or alcohol, he said.

10.50am: The next element of the appeal was that the jury should have been directed they needed to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt Baden-Clay put his wife’s body at the creek where she was found, before they could rely on that conduct as capable of proving he killed his wife.

Justice Holmes asked Mr Copley: “How do you get there?”

“Why couldn’t you come to the conclusion he was the killer without needing to know how it was the body arrived at the creek?” Justice Holmes said.

“Why couldn’t he have called someone … to aid him to take the body away?”

Gerard Baden-Clay’s father Nigel arrives at court.

Gerard Baden-Clay’s father Nigel arrives at court. Source: News Corp Australia

10.45am: Before moving on to the other grounds of the appeal, Mr Copley concluded that experts had not agreed definitively that the smaller marks on Baden-Clay’s face were caused at a different time and by a different implement.

The jury had been invited to infer guilt from evidence which had not been established, he said.

“The evil of that is for all we know the leading of that circumstance could have … tipped the balance in favour of a verdict of guilt in the minds of some or all of the members of the jury. We just don’t know.”

10.30am: In terms of the timing of when the facial injuries occurred, an expert gave evidence at the trial that he could not separate the various injuries from photos, Mr Copley said,

“If the experts couldn’t say whether those injuries … had been inflicted at a different time … how could the jury have been capable of resolving (the matter)?”

The prosecution had to show the injuries on Baden-Clay’s face were inflicted at different times and by a different implement, otherwise there wasn’t a disguising element, he said.

Justice Catherine Holmes suggested both sides agreed at trial that the smaller red marks on Baden-Clay’s face were razor marks, as Gerard had said he cut himself shaving.

10:20am: Defence barrister Michael Copley QC opened the appeal by discussing injuries on Baden-Clay’s face.

He said prosecutors left it to the jury to conclude he tried to disguise scratches on his face by making further smaller injuries with a razor, and that this was evidence he had murdered his wife.

He says the evidence didn’t establish that the smaller marks on Baden-Clay’s face were made at a different time than larger scratches.

Gerard Baden-Clay’s sister Olivia Walton (centre) arrives at court with defence lawyers P

Gerard Baden-Clay’s sister Olivia Walton (centre) arrives at court with defence lawyers Peter Shields and Penny White. Source: News Corp Australia

Earlier: At least 150 people have gathered in the public gallery of the Banco court, a half an hour before Gerard Baden-Clay’s appeal.

Geoff and Priscilla Dickie, Allison Baden-Clay’s parents, are in the front row with s large family contingent wearing yellow ribbons.

 Gerard Baden-Clay: Court of Appeal reserves decision over murder conviction

7th August 2015

Allison Baden-Clay and Gerard Baden-Clay

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane has reserved its decision on a challenge against Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder conviction.

Lawyers appealing against Baden-Clay’s life sentence, with a 15-year non-parole period, for the murder of his wife Allison Baden-Clay in 2012 today said it was possible he unintentionally killed her.

The appeal decision will be handed down at a later date.

Ms Baden-Clay’s parents, Geoff and Priscilla Dickie, were among the 200 people present in court as legal counsel for the former real estate agent appeal on four grounds, namely that:

  • The verdict of murder was unreasonable;
  • A miscarriage of justice occurred because the jury was not directed on evidence relating to the presence of Allison’s blood in the car;
  • The trial judge erred in law in not directing the jury over evidence relating to the placement of Allison’s body at Kholo Creek;
  • The trial judge also erred in leaving to the jury that Baden-Clay attempted to disguise marks on his face by making razor cuts.

Barrister Michael Copley QC, who alongside high-profile solicitor Peter Shields, was representing Baden-Clay, argued the fourth appeal ground first.

There’re no injuries on the body consistent with an intentional killing.

Michael Copley QC, representing Gerard Baden-Clay

Police had noticed scratches on the right-hand side of Baden-Clay’s face when they visited the family’s rented Brookfield home in response to his triple-0 call in April 2012.

Baden-Clay insisted he had cut himself shaving, but experts told the court during the six-week trial, they were more “typical of fingernail scratches” not “a razor blade injury”.

Mr Copley questioned the crown’s claim that scratches on Baden-Clay’s face were signs of Allison fighting for her life.

He said the scratches revealed that Allison had been close enough to scratch her husband and that their relationship was not in good shape.

But he said the marks did not reveal why she scratched him.

Mr Copley said there were no injuries on Allison’s body consistent with an intentional killing, which he said favoured an unintentional killing.

“A jury could not rationally conclude that he murdered his wife based upon the fact he told a lie about how the injuries were inflicted,” he said.

“There’re no injuries on the body consistent with an intentional killing.”

Earlier in the appeal hearing, Mr Copley argued that experts could not say whether two sets of marks on Baden-Clay’s face occurred at different times or were made by different implements, yet the jury was asked to do so.

“The jury was invited to infer a path of guilt to murder on the basis of conduct the evidence did not establish the appellant engaged in,” Mr Copley said.

Prosecutor Michael Byrne, who was acting for the Crown, said an expert did testify at trial that marks to Baden-Clay’s face were done at different times and open to the jury to consider.

He said medical witnesses were entitled to use their common sense and experience, and jurors were entitled to decide for themselves.

Mr Byrne said a lack of conclusive evidence from the experts was not prohibitive for the jury to act on.

‘No evidence that there had ever been violence between the parties’

In arguing the first point of the appeal, that the verdict of murder was unreasonable, Mr Copley said: “There was no evidence in this case that there had ever been violence between the parties.”

Mr Copley said part of the Crown’s argument at trial was that pressure from Baden-Clay’s mistress contributed to Allison’s death.

He said evidence in regard to Baden-Clay’s intentions concerning his wife and mistress were at best equivocal.

He said the notion that Baden-Clay was moving towards a departure from his wife was not sustainable from evidence at trial.

Mr Copley then moved on to financial pressures.

“Sure there were financial pressures … but they hadn’t increased substantially, they hadn’t changed dramatically,” he said.

Allison Baden-Clay was last seen on April 19, 2012.

Her husband reported her missing the next day, sparking a major police and SES search.

Ten days later her body was found on the banks of the Kholo Creek at Anstead.

Suspicion centred on Baden-Clay but it was not until nearly seven weeks later he was arrested and charged.

He has always maintained his innocence.

Baden-Clay was not at today’s hearing.

He remains at Wolston Correctional Centre where he has been since last year’s sentencing.

More on this story:

  • Baden-Clay launches appeal against murder conviction
  • Allison Baden-Clay’s family detail their pain and devastation
  • Allison Baden-Clay murder: family members detail pain and devastation in statements to court

    Timeline: Baden-Clay murder trial

    By Josh Bavas and staff

    Tue 15 Jul 2014, 2:53pm

    Former Brisbane real estate agent Gerard Baden-Clay has been found guilty of murdering his wife Allison in April 2012.

    Her body was found on a creek bank 10 days after her husband reported her missing from their home in nearby Brookfield.

    Baden-Clay was charged with murdering his wife and interfering with a corpse, pleading not guilty to both charges.

    And so began a month-long trial involving hundreds of witness statements and garnering massive public interest.

    Take a look back at how Allison Baden-Clay’s disappearance and the resulting murder trial unfolded.

    April 20, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay calls police about 7:30am to report his wife missing.

    Police seek public help to find 43-year-old Allison Baden-Clay, reported missing since the previous night.

    Authorities say she was last seen at her house on Brookfield Road wearing grey tracksuit pants and a dark top.

    April 22, 2012

    Inspector Mark Laing confirms Gerard Baden-Clay crashed his car into a bus terminal outside Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.

    April 23, 2012

    A major incident room is set up at Indooroopilly police station for investigation into Allison Baden-Clay’s disappearance.

    Her parents make a public appeal for help to find their daughter.

    Allison’s mother Priscilla Dickie makes an emotional plea to the media.

    “Please, please help us to find our dear Allison,” she said.

    Police ask local residents to search their properties for even the smallest piece of information.

    Superintendent Mark Ainsworth says Allison Baden-Clay’s disappearance is being treated as a missing person case; not a criminal investigation.

    He says Gerard Baden-Clay is not a person of interest.

    Allison Baden-Clay’s father Geoff Dickie praises efforts of police and SES in trying to locate his daughter over the previous weekend.

    “We are overwhelmed by the support in trying to locate Allison,” he said.

    “Please help us because there are three beautiful little girls – of Allison’s – wanting to see their mother as soon as possible.”

    April 24, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay speaks to the media outside his house.

    “I’m trying to look after my children at the moment, we’ve got three young girls. We really trust that the police are doing everything they can to find my wife,” he said.

    April 26, 2012

    A prayer vigil is held for Allison.

    Reverend Beverley Bell from the Anglican Parish of Kenmore says it is a difficult time for the community.

    “Just not knowing what’s happened and there’s that sense of helplessness; what can we do?” he said.

    Detectives seize bags of material from the Baden-Clay house and Gerard Baden-Clay’s office.

    April 27, 2012

    Brisbane police step up efforts to find Allison Baden-Clay by setting up a mannequin outside her family home at Brookfield.

    The mannequin is wearing clothing similar to what the 43-year-old was in when she was last seen by her husband.

    Emergency crews widen their search area.

    April 28, 2012

    Allison Baden-Clay has been missing for more than a week.

    Police say they still have few leads despite the major investigation.

    Gerard Baden-Clay releases a brief statement to media thanking the public for their support, saying his priority is the welfare of his wife and their three daughters.

    April 30, 2012

    A canoeist discovers a woman’s body on a creek bank under Kholo Bridge Crossing at Anstead in Brisbane’s west, 11 days after Allison Baden-Clay disappeared.

    Police remove the body and confirm they are now treating Allison Baden-Clay’s disappearance as a homicide investigation.

    Investigators wait for formal identification.

    Superintendent Mark Ainsworth says police are taking seriously the possibility that the body belongs to Allison Baden-Clay and her family is notified.

    “They’re devastated. You can’t explain it any other way,” he said.

    Police appeal for information from anyone who may have seen anything in the area the night she disappeared, including either of the family’s cars.

    May 1, 2012

    Police confirm the body found is that of Allison Baden-Clay.

    Superintendent Mark Ainsworth says her death is officially being treated as a murder investigation.

    “At this stage we are looking at an unlawful homicide investigation – we have been looking at that for some time now; we believe it has reached that level some time ago,” he said.

    Gerard Baden-Clay says he is devastated by the loss of his wife.

    In a statement released by his lawyer, Baden-Clay says his primary concern now is the care of his three daughters.

    He says he just wants to provide his children with some stability and normality given the tragic news and despite “the unrelenting media barrage”.

    A few kilometres away at Kenmore, Baden-Clay’s parents emerge from their home and lower their Australian flag to half mast.

    Neighbours do the same before they all hug each other in grief.

    Meanwhile, a SIM card is discovered in bushland near the search area.

    May 2, 2012

    Police say they are confident they will find the killer of Allison Baden-Clay.

    Investigators say a mobile phone SIM card found at the scene has no link to the case.

    Police say a post-mortem examination on the body will determine the next phase of the investigation.

    Gerard Baden-Clay asks the media for privacy and to let police do their investigations.

    May 10, 2012

    Police are stationed at a roundabout near the Baden-Clays’ Brookfield home.

    Police set up a roadblock on Brookfield Road and speak to drivers, hoping to glean information which may help with their investigation.

    Detectives want to hear from anyone driving in the area the night before Allison Baden-Clay was reported missing.

    May 11, 2012

    A funeral service is held at St Paul’s Anglican Church at Ipswich, west of Brisbane.

    Hundreds of mourners come to pay their respects, including Allison’s immediate family and husband Gerard Baden-Clay.

    Her sister Vanessa Fowler says there are still many questions left unanswered about the circumstances surrounding the 43-year-old’s death.

    “We, your family, pledge to you that we will have these questions answered. We will bring you justice because you deserve nothing less,” she said.

    “Allison, your loss has been felt throughout the entire country by people who do not know you.”

    Mourners are asked to donate to an appeal to support the Baden-Clays’ three young daughters.

    The cause of her death remains unknown.

    May 18, 2012

    Police again say they are confident they will make an arrest over her murder, four weeks after she was reported missing by her husband.

    Police say the killing was not random and the killer was known to Allison but they are yet to make an arrest.

    It is believed police are still awaiting autopsy and toxicology results to confirm her cause of death.

    May 25, 2012

    Police say they are continuing to examine a wide range of evidence.

    May 29, 2012

    Detectives investigating receive the toxicology results but will not release them publicly.

    June 13, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay talks to police at the Indooroopilly police station for several hours.

    His lawyers say he is expected to be charged with her murder later tonight. They say he is devastated and will vigorously defend the charge.

    Baden-Clay tells police Allison disappeared after going for a late night walk from their home.

    He is remanded in custody, formally interviewed and charged with murder and interfering with a corpse.

    June 14, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay appears in Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with murder, about two months after first reporting his wife missing.

    Prosecution grants a forensic order to allow police to obtain a DNA sample from him.

    His lawyers say the charges will be vigorously defended, and lodge a bail application in the Supreme Court.

    Residents around Brookfield tell the media of their shock.

    June 21, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay’s bail application begins in the Supreme Court.

    June 22, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay loses his bail application in the Supreme Court with Justice David Boddice saying the accused posed a significant flight risk.

    Prosecutor Danny Boyle earlier argued that Baden-Clay had a financial motive for killing his wife and also cited entries in Allison’s journal suggest the couple may have discussed an affair he had been having with a co-worker.

    Mr Baden-Clay’s barrister, Peter Davis SC, says the Crown’s case is circumstantial and weak.

    June 24, 2012

    A fundraiser is held for Baden-Clay’s three daughters.

    Mike Kaye from the Brookfield Uniting Cricket Club says the fundraiser is important to the family.

    “It’s an opportunity for Allison’s parents Geoff and Priscilla and brothers and sisters to thank the community for their support and also for all those who were out there searching,” he said.

    July 9, 2012

    The case returns to Brisbane Magistrates Court for a hearing.

    Magistrate Chris Callaghan says he is “flabbergasted” upon hearing it will take five months for police to fully examine the financial affairs of Gerard Baden-Clay.

    The court hears there will be 330 statements tendered to the defence but the prosecution says it will not have a forensic accountant’s report until November.

    The prosecution has been ordered to provide most of the brief of evidence to Baden-Clay’s lawyers within six weeks.

    September 3, 2012

    The matter returns to court where Baden-Clay’s lawyers express frustration that prosecutors still have not provided them with all of the witness statements.

    Prosecutor Danny Boyle tells the court 446 witness statements have already been provided to defence team but five statements, described as crucial, remain outstanding.

    The prosecution is ordered to provide outstanding documents by the end of the week.

    September 5, 2012

    A Supreme Court Judge, Justice Glenn Martin, gives Allison’s father Geoffrey James Dickie temporary control of her estate, including her life insurance policy.

    If Baden-Clay is acquitted of his wife’s murder he will resume his role as executor of her will.

    If he is convicted, Allison’s parents will be able to go back to court for a permanent order granting them control of their daughter’s estate.

    December 14, 2012

    Gerard Baden-Clay’s defence lawyer lodges a bail application in Supreme Court for the second time.

    His lawyer argues the Crown case has been weakened by the results of a post-mortem examination.

    They say it shows Allison Baden-Clay had traces of an anti-depressant drug in her blood – leaving open the possibility that she took her own life.

    But Justice Peter Applegarth dismisses the application, ruling there was no material change of circumstances and the strength of Crown case was unaffected by the results.

    February 6, 2013

    The Federal Court orders nearly $800,000 from two life insurance policies for Allison Baden-Clay will be held in trust by the court.

    Justice John Dowsett agrees the court should hold the money until after Gerard Baden-Clay faces trial.

    March 11-20, 2013

    Gerard Baden-Clay’s committal hearing begins.

    The Crown alleges Baden-Clay killed his wife because he wanted her insurance payouts to clear his debts and to be with his mistress.

    The court hears his wife had suffered from depression and had used medication to cope and that her marriage was troubled.

    Witnesses tell the court about hearing a woman yell the night Allison disappeared.

    A forensic expert says he believes injuries to Gerard Baden-Clay, which were photographed by police after he reported his wife missing, were caused by fingernail scratches.

    Allison’s friend Kerry Anne Walker is the first of more than 40 witnesses to testify.

    Queensland MP Dr Bruce Flegg tells the court he heard a woman scream on the night before Allison was reported missing.

    Speaking outside the court, Dr Flegg explains his decision not to report it to police that night, saying: “There was nothing to suggest it would be a criminal or police related matter.”

    Dr Flegg says he has known Gerard Baden-Clay “for a long time”.

    A senior Queensland Health forensic expert says some of Baden-Clay’s facial injuries may have been scratch marks but says it is possible some were caused by shaving.

    Two former real estate partners testify Baden-Clay was in debt and was warned to leave his wife or mistress or he would lose their business association.

    Queensland Police Service forensic accountant Kelly Beckett tells court Gerard Baden-Clay’s net financial position was about $70,000 and he owed more than $300,000 to family and friends.

    Baden-Clay’s former mistress Toni McHugh tells the court he told her to lay low in the days after his wife’s disappearance and that he could not afford a divorce.

    His lawyer says he is determined to clear his name.

    Outside court, Baden-Clay’s sister Olivia Walton defends her brother after speaking to the media for the first time.

    “Gerard is an innocent man and I’m here because I continue to support him,” she said.

    Outside court, Baden-Clay’s lawyer Darren Mahony says he believes the cross-examination of 40 witnesses went in his client’s favour.

    “We’re of the view that the evidence against Mr Baden-Clay has been significantly weakened by cross-examination during the court process,” he said.

    December 19, 2013

    Supreme Court Justice James Douglas argues marriage counsellor Ms Carmel Ritchie from Relationships Australia should give evidence at a pre-trial hearing about anything said during counselling sessions.

    Ms Ritchie tries to prevent evidence from the sessions being used in court, arguing it is protected by confidentiality provisions of the Family Law Act.

    February 3-4, 2014

    Gerard Baden-Clay’s re-trial hearing begins in Supreme Court.

    The court hears from pathologist Dr Nathan Milne who conducted the autopsy on Allison Baden-Clay.

    Counsellor Carmel Ritchie also gives evidence, saying Allison told her she had taken an anti-malarial tablet during her honeymoon that had caused psychotic episodes, depression and panic attacks.

    Ms Ritchie tells the court Allison spoke of: her husband’s affair with an employee; how she had confronted him when she found out; and he was now honest and taking responsibility.

    Ms Ritchie also speaks of a separate counselling session with Gerard Baden-Clay where they discussed the affair.

    June 2, 2014

    The pre-trial hearing continues.

    The court hears potential jurors will be polled prior to their selection and will be asked:

  1. If they or their immediate family lived in Anstead, Bellbowrie, Brookfield or Chapel Hill in April 2012;
  2. If they have ever contributed funds relating to the disappearance or death of Allison Baden-Clay;
  3. Whether they have ever expressed a view as to the guilt or innocence of Gerard Baden-Clay.
  • June 9, 2014

    A jury of seven men and five women, plus three reserves, is selected.

    June 10, 2014

    The murder trial begins.

    Gerard Baden-Clay officially pleads not guilty in the Supreme Court to murdering his wife more than two years ago.

    Justice John Byrne tells jury members to ignore all media coverage of the case during the next four weeks.

    July 9, 2014

    After a month-long trial, the prosecution and the defence finish wrapping up their final arguments.

    Justice John Byrne begins summing up the case for the jurors.

    July 15, 2014

    Baden-Clay is found guilty of murder.

Flowers for Allison, may justice has been served
Flowers for Allison, may justice has been served

Appeal date set August 7 2015 for Gerard Baden-Clay over murder of wife Allison

Many hundred pages and thousands of comments have been made about GBC on this site. Use the Menu up top follow the history folks or start here…

May 19, 2015

Gerard Baden-Clay will appeal his conviction over his wife Allison’s murder in August.

The Queensland Court of Appeal has confirmed the year’s most hotly anticipated hearing will take place on August 7.

A jury convicted the former prestige real estate agent of his wife’s murder following a high profile trial last year.

Police photograph of Gerard Baden-Clay.Police photograph of Gerard Baden-Clay. Photo: Supplied

He was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 15 years.

Mrs Baden-Clay’s body was found under the Kholo Creek Bridge 11 days after her husband reported her missing on April 19, 2012.

Gerard Baden-Clay has always maintained he is innocent of his wife’s murder.

Following a 21 day trial in the Supreme Court of Queensland last year, Baden-Clay was found guilty of killing his wife at their home in the leafy western Brisbane suburb of Brookfield.

Her body was dumped about 14 kilometres away, on the banks of Kholo Creek at Anstead.

Baden-Clay’s trial heard he was embroiled in an affair with his long-time mistress Toni McHugh and was under significant financial pressure, owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to friends, family and ex-business partners at the time of his wife’s disappearance.

His murder conviction marked a dramatic fall from grace for the former real estate agent, who prided himself on his lineage as the great-grandson of famed Scouts movement founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell.

His lawyers lodged an appeal two days after the guilty verdict was returned.

Baden-Clay claimed he was the victim of a “miscarriage of justice”, in the appeal papers lodged by his solicitor Peter Shields.

He has appealed his conviction on four grounds, including that the verdict of murder was “unreasonable”, because the jury was incorrectly directed about evidence relating to blood found in the boot of Mrs Baden-Clay’s four-wheel-drive.

“A miscarriage of justice occurred because the jury should have been, but was not, directed that the presence of the deceased’s blood in a motor vehicle was only relevant if the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the presence of the blood was attributable to an injury sustained to the deceased’s body on the evening of 19 April 2012, or the morning of 20 April 2012,” the application reads.

Baden-Clay has also claimed that presiding judge Justice John Byrne misdirected the jury about the injuries which appeared on his face on the morning he reported his wife missing, as well as evidence relating to the discovery of Mrs Baden-Clay’s body on the banks of Kholo Creek at Anstead.

“The trial judge erred in law in not directing the jury that they needed to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant placed the body of the deceased at Kholo Creek in order to use such a finding as post-offence conduct going to guilt,” the application says.

“The trial judge erred in leaving to the jury that the appellant attempted to disguise marks on his face by marking razor cuts.”

The prosecution alleged Baden-Clay cut his right cheek with a razor in a failed attempt to disguise the scratch marks his wife had left on his face while fighting for her life.

Baden-Clay has maintained the injuries on his face were shaving cuts, but four forensic experts told his trial the abrasions were more consistent with fingernail scratches.

Baden-Clay’s trial, and his eventual conviction, was one of the biggest news events of 2014.

The father-of-three wept and shook violently after the seven men and five women of the jury delivered their guilty verdict.

His three young daughters with Allison, who are now being cared for by her parents, were not in court to hear the jury foreman declare their father guilty of their mother’s murder.

In February, it emerged the three girls remain unable to access their mother’s dual life insurance policies, collectively valued at nearly $800,000, until their father exhausts his legal avenues to have his conviction overturned.


The Job Seeker Training Con- New legislation on track to stop the RIP OFFS

Plenty to come with this huge scam, no wonder private training “Colleges” and the like are popping up like flies to a pile of shit.

Money for nothing, scrounge as much money as you can from the hopeless job seekers and the desperate with pathetic unneeded useless courses unsuitable for their needs, and signing them to huge debt,  all for the gov kickbacks.

Falsifying applications, interviews, outcomes for more gov bonuses. What is yet to come, is the people behind some of these companies are retired or ex Federal and State MP’s who were smart (silly) enough to jump on the band wagon! These payments amount to billions over the time, and most in need get nothing out of it, nor have their circumstances improved.

The bloody rich get richer and the poor stay poor. Some involved with ICAC are yet to be exposed on gov contracts to house these gov job seeker services. Wrapping up long over valued leases.

UPDATE 11/03/15

New legislation to ban training providers from offering ‘miraculously’ short diploma courses

Training providers will be banned from offering “miraculously” short diploma courses, and from offering students incentives to sign up, under new legislation to be introduced by the Federal Government.

Assistant Training Minister Simon Birmingham said he was “very concerned” the Government’s vocational education loans scheme (VET FEE-HELP) was being abused and announced a range of measures to crack down on rogue providers.

“I’m very concerned about the range of distortions and abuse of the VET FEE-HELP scheme that’s occurring around Australia,” he told the ABC.

“I’ve had all too many examples of students who are being ripped off, vulnerable people taken advantage of, all of it being put on a tab for the taxpayer.

“So these reforms are designed to clamp down on dishonest behaviour, unethical behaviour amongst vocational education and training providers and make sure we restore integrity to a very important system.”

VET FEE-HELP is a HECS-style loans scheme that requires students to repay the Commonwealth once they earn a certain amount.

Senator Birmingham said he had heard “horrible stories” about dodgy training providers offering students laptops, meals, prizes and cash to sign up for courses that they did not need or would not lead to a job.

In some cases, he said students had been told the course in which they enrolled was free, when it was not.

“There’s no doubt that especially in relation to incentives and inducements for sign up, that has been a widespread activity over the last few months, if not couple of years since Labor opened up this system in 2012,” he said.

“Our reforms will shut the door on that.”

Under the changes, training providers would be required to have a minimum number of units of study in their diplomas and advanced diplomas, they would be banned from offering inducements or incentives to encourage students to sign up for courses, and they would be required to “properly assess” a student’s educational abilities before enrolment.

If the cost of these reforms is we see some dubious providers go out of business, then I’ll be quite happy to see that occur as long as we see a system that’s sustainable for the long haul.

Assistant Training Minister Simon Birmingham

Training providers would also be banned from accepting course fees in a single up-front transaction, to give students more time to consider their options.

“We are addressing the gaping holes that existed in the guidelines when Labor opened the scheme up in 2012 and making sure that through doing that, we restore some quality to the system,” Senator Birmingham said.

The Government estimated the changes would prevent students from taking out $16.3 billion in bad loans over the next 10 years, but Senator Birmingham admitted it would come at a cost to the sector.

“That will come at some cost to the industry, but ultimately I’m determined that these measures will shut down bad business models,” he said.

“If the cost of these reforms is we see some dubious providers go out of business, then I’ll be quite happy to see that occur as long as we see a system that’s sustainable for the long haul.”

According to Government figures, more than 180,000 students accessed the VET FEE-HELP scheme last year, taking out more than $1.6 billion in loans.

Update 4 Mar 2015

Evocca College under investigation by the Australian Skills Quality Authority after reports of low graduation rates

Update 4 Mar 2015

Figures obtained by the ABC show Evocca College has a graduation rate of about 10 per cent despite claiming more than $290 million in government funding via the VET FEE-HELP student loan scheme.

The figures show out of 38,213 students who signed up to its diploma courses in the past four years, only 2,058 were handed diplomas by October 2014.

There were 16,567 students who officially cancelled and 3,897 who timed out of the course.

The college said about 15,000 were still on track to graduate.

More than 20 former Evocca employees spoke to the ABC about questionable practices at the college after concerns about the training provider were first aired in January.

Since then the graduation rates of the college have been the subject of debate.

Now more allegations have come to light including that it enrolled students ill-equipped for diploma level courses without enough support, that it enrolled students who did not pass the required literacy test, and that it backdated tutor qualification forms to pass federal government audits.

Former staff claimed the college actively sought to hamper students who wanted to leave the college and cease adding to their government training debt.

An email obtained by the ABC shows the college sent an email to staff stating that “cancellation is a banned word”.

There’s a large amount of tax-payers’ money going into these colleges, it’s crucial tax-payers are getting value for money.

Australian Skills Quality Authority chief commissioner Chris Robinson

The college rejected suggestions it was taking advantage of the the VET FEE-HELP student training loan scheme, which was opened up to diploma courses in recent years.

In a statement, a company spokesman said they had a team of people dedicated to reaching out to students who were not attending.

“In cases where we have been through all possible processes endeavouring to re-engage a student, but have not been able to do so, we will cancel their enrolment, and have many thousands of documented cases to back this up,” he said.

The spokesman said the enrolment figures were not accurate and did not take into account “the flexible model that we deliver in allowing students more time than many other providers to complete their courses at no additional cost, which provides for differing levels of ability and also a variety of personal circumstances”.

It comes after a senate inquiry into the training loan scheme handed down its interim report on Monday.

Under VET FEE-HELP students can borrow up to $96,000 from the government for training, plus a 20 per cent loan fee, but not make repayments until they earn more than $53,000.

The loans attract interest in line with inflation (indexation) and the level of debt accrued can affect people’s ability to take out some types of loans in the future.

Free iPads ending up at pawn shops

One of the key criticisms of many new players in the diploma-level training market is the use of incentives such as free laptops and iPads to sign students up to courses, and ultimately training debts.

In Sydney’s west the Mega Cash pawn shop around the corner from Evocca’s Mt Druitt campus sees up to five students a day trying to pawn their computers.

“I was getting about five a day, last week,” manager Dean Rasmussen said.

“We can’t take the iPads because as the college tells us, they still own them until the student finishes the course so they cannot legally sell it or loan [it].”

There are similar reports in other states.

Evocca has 40 campuses around Australia and enrols about 15,000 students.

Evocca said the computers were loaned to students in line with a scheme with Federal Government approval.

“They are provided as a necessary tool with which students may become familiar with technology and also complete their studies, especially as many do not have the immediate wherewithal to purchase their own,” a spokesman said.

Former employee Steven Fogerty said the computers were useless as learning tools because they did not come equipped with relevant learning software such as Microsoft Office.

“The concept of giving students an iPad is purely an incentive because they’re a toy,” he said.

Regulator to investigate

The federal regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority, said it has been investigating a number of complaints about Evocca.

Chief commissioner Chris Robinson said some related to recruitment practices and others related to its operations.

He said the ABC raised new allegations the regulator was not aware of.

“We certainly are concerned about some of [the allegations],” he said.

“It would be very good if people have information and concerns in the way Evocca has operated to come through ASQA.”

He said the regulator audited 4,000 colleges in the past three years and suspended or chose not to renew many providers.

“Certainly not enough providers are fully compliant at all times,” he said.

“There’s a large amount of tax-payers’ money going into these colleges, it’s crucial tax-payers are getting value for money.”

Staff come forward

More than 20 former Evocca employees have come forward to the ABC with concerns about the college’s operation.

Mr Fogerty was a business management tutor at Mt Druitt campus for six months.

He said they regularly discussed at morning meetings the low educational ability of students recruited by the company’s sales agents.

“We’d all say we know this is wrong,” he said.

In vocational training, students typically progress through Certificates I to III or IV before undertaking a diploma level course, unless they have extensive workplace experience.

Mr Fogerty said he had one student who had vision and hearing impairments who was enrolled despite not writing 100 words as required by the Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) entrance test.

This student was then given little or no extra support despite his impairments.

“They would let anyone into this college. Your intellectual abilities were not even considered,” he said.

“If you were an Australian citizen and you could sign your name, you’re in.”

Other students included migrants with poor English skills, single mothers and elderly people, many of whom he said did not get appropriate learning support.

Evocca said it had a thorough pre-enrolment process that ensured students understood the requirements and were capable of completing the course.

“It is due to these self-imposed standards of closely vetting any potential student that, although we receive many thousands of inquiries annually, only 14 per cent of these result in enrolments,” a company spokesman said.

Claims of backdating forms

Former Queensland branch manager Michelle Naylor said when the college was audited by the Australian Skills Quality Authority it deliberately backdated staff qualification paperwork to pass the audit.

“We were asked to go through everyone’s qualifications,” she said.

“If they didn’t have qualifications we were asked to sign a form called Working Under Supervision and unfortunately I had to backdate a couple of those to the term the tutors commenced work.

“I didn’t know I was supervising them, I thought they had qualifications and experience.

“I knew I was doing the wrong thing.”

The college denied any wrongdoing and said it would “update” paperwork of those who were required to be supervised while they were in the process of obtaining their Certificate IV in Workplace Training.

“This was an internal administrative process, which was in part designed to ensure some transparency and accountability for those who were undertaking this training, to ensure that it was completed in a timely manner, and that those being supervised were of an acceptable standard,” a spokesman said.

Students say they lose out

Dylan Palmer would travel three hours each day to study digital gaming at Evocca’s Brisbane campus.

He was referred to the course by a friend who received $100 cash from Evocca and Dylan received a free laptop.

“It was a lot of fun at first but as I went on it kind of jumped from point A to point C without ever really explaining point B and it just got really confusing for me,” he said.

I did struggle. It was very, very hard. There’s nothing for disabilities. They’ve got nothing in place, no protocols, nothing.

Leanne Fraser

The 21-year-old has Asperger’s syndrome and said he did not receive sufficient support.

“Sometimes they’d just say ‘watch the video again’.”

He now has a $27,000 VET FEE-HELP debt.

Also in Queensland, single mother Leanne Fraser would travel two hours each day for a diploma in tourism.

She has multiple sclerosis and said there was no help for students with a disability.

“I did struggle. It was very, very hard,” she said.

“There’s nothing for disabilities. They’ve got nothing in place, no protocols, nothing.”

A college spokesman said the Evocca teaching model was based on doing everything it could to support students.

“[There is] a robust system in place for the ongoing management of students, including regular one-to-one catch ups with tutors, to ensure that these objectives are achieved.”

23rd February 2015

Unemployment in Australia is at its highest in 12 years. The Government’s solution is an innovative billion-dollar scheme called Jobs Services Australia. But the initiative is failing.

Now, a Four Corners investigation shows how the scheme is being manipulated and, at times, systematically exploited. Reporter Linton Besser reveals the corruption at the heart of the program aimed at helping some of this country’s most vulnerable people.

He travels to suburbs where unemployment is a way of life. He meets Kym, struggling to find work and pull her daughter out of a cycle of poverty.

There to help are private and not-for-profit job agencies, paid by the Government to help find work for Kym and others like her. These agencies have blossomed thanks to the privatisation of the Commonwealth Employment Service in 1998, and are thriving on contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Unemployment is now big business in Australia. Each year the Government spends about $1.3 billion on its welfare to work scheme.

But what happens when there are simply not enough jobs to go around?

What Four Corners discovers is a system open to abuse where the unemployed have become a commodity. Some agencies bend the rules, others break them.

“I would say about 80 percent of claims that come through have some sort of manipulation on them.” – Agency whistleblower

Four Corners goes inside the industry, finding shocking evidence of fraud, manipulation, falsified paperwork, and the recycling of the unemployed through temporary jobs.

Hours are bumped up, wages are inflated, and in many cases, vital evidence to support claims from the taxpayer appears to have been falsified. One former jobseeker tells Four Corners her paperwork appears to have been completely forged.

In recent years Government checks have forced some companies to pay back millions of dollars, but few are sanctioned. Former job agency employees say crucial internal records are adjusted in preparation for government audits.

“That, I guess, caused alarm bells for me… Claims that have been claimed, signatures that weren’t on them, and we were sort of told, you know, if the signature’s not on it, get it any way that you can.” – Former job agency employee

As the nation grapples with rising unemployment, Four Corners raises uncomfortable questions about the charities and profit-takers making a buck from Australia’s jobless.

“THE JOBS GAME”, reported by Linton Besser and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 23rd February at 8.30pm on ABC. The program is replayed on Tuesday 24th February at 10.00am and Wednesday at midnight. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview

Government recovers over $41 million worth of false claims after ‘rorting’ of Job Services Australia scheme


The Federal Government has clawed back more than $41 million worth of false claims by private employment agencies in just the past three years.

The agencies are contracted by the Government under a privatised welfare-to-work program called Job Services Australia, a sprawling $1.3 billion-a-year scheme designed to get the unemployed into work.

A Four Corners investigation has found rorting of the scheme is rampant. Forgery, manipulation of records and the lodgement of inflated claims for fees are widespread.

One former agency employee said he had seen “thousands” of jobseeker records doctored by his agency to support suspect claims against the taxpayer.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, have been recouped at times by the department.

Rupert Taylor-Price

The managing director of a private employment agency told Four Corners: “There are incentives to be involved in sharp practices from a financial and performance perspective.”

“We had to do the same thing [because] everyone was doing it,” the source said.

“The Government does not want to expose the whole industry.”

Three years ago a top-level inquiry into just one type of fee found spectacular rates of failure, forcing cancellation of that particular fee and prompting industry-wide ructions.

Ominously, the inquiry noted that just 40 per cent of the claims it examined could be confirmed by documentary evidence, or by the testimony of jobseekers and their employers.

The Abbott administration has made some changes to the scheme that take effect mid-way through this year.

But critics say these changes will do little, if anything, to stop widespread gaming of the contract.

Only one in 10 enjoy ‘a better chance of gaining employment’

The ABC has learned that fraud investigators attached to the Department of Employment have launched probes into many of the major agencies contracted to the program since its inception in 1998.

For-profit companies, including the market leader, Max Employment, have been investigated for particular allegations, as well as well-loved Australian charities including the Salvation Army.

There are a variety of means by which the contract is exploited.

The ABC is not suggesting that any particular agency is engaged in the full range of rorts, or other means by which the contract can be optimised.

But despite a long parade of whistleblowers detailing allegations of the misappropriation of taxpayer funds by some agencies, and highly questionable practices by others, the government has declined to detail instances where it has ever sanctioned any single agency operating under the scheme.

But what the department does is only reclaim those from the failures it finds. So even if you are going to put in claims that have a failure rate, you’re still going to have a lot of them not found and keep the money … there’s still an incentive to make the claim.

Rupert Taylor-Price

In one case to be examined on Four Corners, investigators were forced to shelve their inquiries when they discovered a departmental official had explicitly told the agency that it could still collect fees for services the Government knew had never been delivered.

Rupert Taylor-Price, whose software company analyses government data generated by the program, says the scheme is being routinely “optimised” to the detriment of jobseekers.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, have been recouped at times by the department,” Mr Taylor-Price said.

“But what the department does is only reclaim those from the failures it finds.

“So even if you are going to put in claims that have a failure rate, you’re still going to have a lot of them not found and keep the money … there’s still an incentive to make the claim.”

He says he believes only one in 10 participants in the program enjoy “a better chance of gaining employment”.

The program was created 17 years ago, when the Howard government effectively privatised the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES).

The new policy created a pseudo-marketplace of jobseekers who were forced under Centrelink’s rules to attend private agencies, which would be paid to find them work.

Since then, more than $18 billion has been spent on the welfare to work program – first labelled Job Network, and now known as Job Services Australia.

It has been a cheaper scheme than the CES, but critics say it has also been far less helpful at assisting long-term unemployed people back into work.

‘You can’t make people search for jobs that aren’t there’

Academics and experts have repeatedly pointed out the glaring paradox at the heart of the program: how can these agencies have any impact on the unemployed when the number of jobless far outstrip the number of job vacancies?

“[The welfare to work program] patently hasn’t worked,” said Professor Bill Mitchell, director of Newcastle University’s Centre of Full Employment and Equity.

“It’s an impossible task … there’s not enough jobs to go around. You can’t make people search for jobs that aren’t there, and that’s the dilemma of the whole system.

“We’ve had a demand-side constraint – not enough jobs – and all this vigorous energy and money being poured into a supply-side initiative as if that’s the problem.”

Periodically, the jobs program has been mired in scandal. A major Productivity Commission inquiry in 2002 made adverse findings about the program, including that the long-term unemployed were being “parked”.

It’s absolutely vulnerable to exploitation.

Former senior departmental investigator

Just three years after Job Network was launched, one prominent job agency was accused of shovelling thousands of people into phoney jobs.

In what has become a pattern, a subsequent inquiry cleared the agency of fraud but demanded the repayment of thousands of dollars.

Insiders have told Four Corners that department managers have been reluctant to tighten up the program’s governing contract to prevent blatant rip-offs.

“It’s absolutely vulnerable to exploitation,” said a former senior departmental investigator.

He said he had significant doubts about the will of successive governments to root out the fraud perpetrated against the contract.

“The department was more interested in getting its money back [than sanctioning agencies] … it’s very politically-driven,” the former investigator said.

The Department of Employment provided figures to Four Corners which showed that millions of dollars are routinely recouped from agencies, as a result of audits, self-identification by agencies and other “program assurance activities”.

In 2011–2012, $8.34 million was recovered.

The figure spiked to $23.81 million the following year after the inquiry into one particular type of fee.

And last year, another $9.12 million was reclaimed.

A department spokesman said typical repayments by agencies amounted to “less than 1 per cent of the amount paid each year”, and said it had “robust systems” to detect inappropriate claims for fees.

He would not answer a series of specific questions about past or current investigations conducted by the department.

“In cases of suspected fraud, matters are referred to agencies such as the Australian Federal Police and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions,” the spokesman said.

“Since 2006 the Department has made 38 referrals to the appropriate authorities.”

Background Information


Statement by Catholic Care in response to Four Corners

Statement in response – Four Corners Interview Request | 30 January, 2015

Statement by Salvation Army in response to Four Corners | 5 February, 2015

Statement by the Department of Employment in response to Four Corners

Statement from the Assistant Minister for Employment, the Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP in response to Four Corners


Letter of concern regarding the Job Network | November 1999

Job Services Australia review and evaluation | Department of Employment | 2014

Labour Force Figures, January 2015 | Australian Bureau of Statistics

Management of Services Delivered by Job Services Australia | Australian National Audit Office | 2013/14

ACOSS submission to APESAA | 2012

Rethinking Australia’s Employment Services | Whitlam Institute | UWS | 2011

A review of developments in the Job Network | Research Paper | Paliamentary Library | 24 December, 2007

Centerlink Quarterly Breach Data | Participation and activity test requirements and penalties for workforce age payments | 20 September 2003

Wage Subsidies | Job Access

Parliamentry Debate | Job Network question to Tony Abbott then Minister for Employment Services | 7 December, 1998


Unemployment | Topic Page | ABC News | Regularly Updated

Young Australians are not giving up on work, despite high unemployment | The Guardian | 17 February 2015

REMINDER: Why employment and unemployment are both rising in Australia | Business Insider | 16 February 2015

Social Service Agency Reacts to Welfare Contractor’s Controversy | Voice of OC | 17 June, 2014

Australia Unemployment Rate 1978-2015 | Trading Economics | 12 February, 2015

Job seeker funding still open to fraud, despite fee reforms | Sydney Morning Herald | 22 April, 2013

Federal Agency Finds Workfare Contractor Violated Wage Law | New York Times | 1 September, 2000


Job Services Australia | The Australian Government employment services system that supports job seekers and employers.

Jobs Australia | The national peak body for nonprofit organisations that assist unemployed people to get and keep jobs

Max Solutions Training

%d bloggers like this: