Lawyer X royal commission hears Nicola Gobbo defied police to represent drug trafficker


July 31, 2019 15:08:38

The Lawyer X royal commission has heard a police officer considered arresting gangland lawyer Nicola Gobbo when she defied police orders to stop representing one of her clients.

Key points:

  • The policeman said he considered Ms Gobbo might have been perverting the course of justice
  • He revealed he first approached her when she was recovering from a stroke in hospital
  • Separately, the commissioner accused police of deliberately withholding documents from the commission

The Royal Commission into Management of Police Informants is hearing evidence from a member of a secretive police squad, the Source Development Unit, that dealt with high-risk informers like Ms Gobbo.

He told the hearing that in the mid-2000s, Ms Gobbo provided information that led to the arrest of a drug trafficker who was also her client.

Recognising a clear conflict of interest, Ms Gobbo’s police handlers ordered her to stop acting for the man.

Under questioning from counsel assisting the commission, Chris Winneke QC, the police handler, known by the pseudonym Sandy White, said he considered arresting Ms Gobbo because by defying the order she might have been perverting the course of justice.

“It did cross my mind that [an arrest] might have been an option,” Mr White said.

Ultimately he did not go ahead with the arrest because he thought there were insufficient grounds.

“The obvious thing to do would be to seek advice from a senior officer,” Mr Winneke said.

“Yes,” Mr White said.

“Did you speak to any officers?” Mr Winneke asked.

“I can’t recall,” Mr White said.

The commission also heard Victoria Police saw an opportunity to recruit Ms Gobbo as an informer when she was ill in hospital after suffering a stroke.

Mr White said in 2004 he had identified that Ms Gobbo could provide valuable information because of her extensive list of contacts in the criminal underworld.

“When she had a stroke I thought she might have been vulnerable to an approach by police,” he told the commission.

Ms Gobbo was registered as a police informer the following year and gave information until 2009 in an arrangement the High Court has described as “reprehensible”.

Commissioner accuses police of withholding information

Earlier today the commissioner, Margaret McMurdo, accused Victoria Police of deliberately withholding documents.

She said metadata underlying some of the documents showed they had been discovered by Victoria Police many months ago but had only been handed over this week.

“Victoria Police was clearly aware of these documents at the time [but] only produces them on the weekend,” she said.

Ms McMurdo said the failure of Victoria Police to quickly hand over relevant documents is making the work of the commission extremely difficult.

“Could I remind Victoria Police yet again of their continuing obligation to disclose relevant information in a timely manner,” she said.









First posted

July 31, 2019 14:22:57

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