Rest My Case: The gangland lawyer turned police informant

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Screenshot of Nicola Gobbo from Sky News documentary 'Lawyer X: The Untold Story'
It’s difficult to envision a more grotesque breach of lawyer/client privilege than what has been revealed in the case of Lawyer X. Hundreds of alleged offenders in Victoria were betrayed by their lawyer, criminal defence barrister Nicola Gobbo, who was known to Victoria Police as Informer 3838. 

From the mid-1990s to 2010, with the more intense interactions occurring in 2003, Gobbo extracted whatever incriminating information she could from her unsuspecting clients, whom she cultivated as friends and confidants. She eagerly relayed information to her handlers, the Victoria Police, who used it against her clients to penetrate the gangs’ illegal infiltration into Melbourne. 

This epic breach of common sense, ethics and justice is likely to cost Victoria Police and the state of Victoria millions of dollars, not to mention public trust in the police and the legal system. On 29th July 2019, one of Gobbo’s former clients Faruk Orman was released after his gangland murder conviction was quashed in the Court of Appeal due to Gobbo’s involvement. He intends to sue the Victoria Police with the likelihood of others to follow.

When people such as jailed drug trafficker Tony Mokbel and his imprisoned henchmen Rob Karam and Zlate Cvelanovski are eyeing the chance to go free along with financial compensation due to this grotesque perversion of justice, the nation should be asking serious questions about how widespread this duplicitous practice is.

Carl Williams, Nicola Gobbo and Tony Mokbel (left to right)
Source: ABC/AAP

It questions why no one with judicial authority within the Victoria Police denounced the use of Gobbo and other informants of a similar profession as incomprehensibly improper. Furthermore, when higher authorities within the Victoria Police did become aware of this, why did they cover their actions? This could be explained in the case of Mark Perry, who admitted to Gobbo that he murdered self-professed vampire gigolo Shane Chartres-Abbott. However, Perry was found not guilty in 2014 for the crime by a jury as Gobbo’s unsigned and undated statement detailing the confession was never used at trial. This statement would have outed her as an informant and would have opened a full investigation, similar to what is being experienced today.

Whatever covert double-agent gallantry Gobbo thought she was undertaking, her actions along with the Victoria Police grossly weakened the criminal justice system in Victoria. While she now has many enemies in the underworld, most of them want her alive to testify at the Royal Commission. Consequently, her testimony may well help some of her clients get out of jail, leaving many in fear of an open door policy. 

This appalling miscarriage of justice should not have been allowed to fester in any jurisdiction, being state or federal. Accused individuals have the right to be represented in court and the right to a fair trial, including the right to be properly defended.

 

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