GUNNING FOR TROUBLE ALL HIS LIFE – Tuesday September 25 2012

Rodney Collins

Rodney Collins

– As a young man he lacked an imposing build.
But Rodney Charles Collins quickly learnt that with a gun in your hand, you’re bigger than just about anyone.
To some he was Cherokee, or Rod Earle. Others knew him as The Fox, The Duke or even Uncle.
But all knew him for what he was: a killer.
Raised by loving grandparents until the age of eight, he had a happy childhood by his own account until the day he was returned to his alcoholic parents.
By his early teens he was alone on the streets of Richmond and quickly had his first convictions.
By 22, he was doing five years for a shooting and would go on to be convicted for rapes, robberies and finally murder.
A woman who knew Collins in the mid-1980s recalled him as “about five foot seven, grotty-looking, unkempt. Wiry build with drawn features. he was scowly and always had a mean look on his face”.
When police came for him in 2008, they found a hitman’s tools of trade – surveillance gear and a loaded gun. They also found a confidential police report on another criminal.
But there was little deterrent in the sanctions the courts handed Collins for firearms offences.
Despite having convictions for shooting people and possessing guns illegally, he was fined in 1985 when he faced court for possessing a pistol without a licence.
That year he faced charges of murder and attempted murder over the shooting of two men at a party in Reservoir on February 5th, 1983.
When police raided a house in Footscray looking for him, they found a loaded Uberti Gardone revolver under his pillow.
That was in 1987, the year he murdered drug dealer Ray Abbey and his wife, Dorothy, at their West Heidelberg home.
Collins and his accomplice, Mark McConville, used stolen police uniforms and a fake warrant to gain access to the house.
They left empty-handed, having killed Abbey before they’d gotten him to open his safe. Dorothy Abbey was then killed in her lounge room, Collins cutting her throat as her children lay in their bedrooms.
Police caught up with McConville, but the 25-year-old refused to give up the man he knew as Uncle Rodney.
McConville stood trial and was found guilty, but still did not dob in Collins. He was released after a retrial cleared him of the killings, but later spoke openly to his girlfriend about his role in the murders.
McConville has since died.
In 1990 drug dealer Michael Shievella and his de facto wife, Heather McDonald, were murdered at their St Andrews house. The couple’s hands were bound and their throats cut.
Their children, aged eight and nine, were at home and the killers tied them up in their rooms. They were left to discover their parents’ bodies. The crime took place on a Sunday between 8am and 10:30am.
A coroner’s findings in 1995 found payback or robbery were the likely motives, and that the victims knew their killers.
It appears even a $100,000 reward on offer isn’t enough to entice anyone to incriminate Collins in the execution of standover man Brian Kane.
Collins and Russell “Mad Dog” Cox are the two veteran criminals believed responsible for the 1982 killing, one of a string of shootings linked to the gang that carried out the Great Bookie Robbery.
An investigation was secretly relaunched into the Kane murder after police received new leads – shortly after Collins was charged for the Abbey murders. It was around that time Collins flagged his interest in talking to Detective Sergeant Sol Soloman, who was investigating the murders of police informer Terence Hodson and his wife, Christine.
Making his approach to police via his partner, Collins discussed making a deal and the million-dollar reward on offer.
No deal was made and Collins was charged with the Hodson murders.
Hodson and his wife were tied up and shot in the head at their flat in Harp Road, Kew, on May 15th, 2004.
Slain gangland boss Carl Williams would later allege he was asked to have Terry Hodson killed, and paid Collins $150,000 for the job.
Williams claimed that he met up with Collins after the murders, leaving the money in a bag between their seats.
Williams claimed he did not tell either Collins or the person who wanted Hodson dead of each other’s involvement. Those charges were dropped, but a jury convicted him of the Abbey murders partly on incriminating comments Collins had made while discussing the Hodson deal – conversations police had covertly taped.
In November CCTV footage from Barwon Prison showed Collins being manhandled by another inmate. He later appeared with a black eye.
According to a statement by Brendan Money, the director of the Sentence Management Branch of Corrections Victoria, Collins has become “unpopular with other prisoners” – Elissa Hunt, Mark Buttler & Anthony Dowsley


About Jumpin' Jack Cash
This entry was posted in Armed Offences, Crime Culture, Homicide, Organised Crime, Serious Assault & Recklessly Causing Serious Injury, Shootings, Standover, Unsolved Murders, Violent Crime, Weapon and Firearm Possession and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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