– It was the call Chief Commissioner Ken Lay dreaded taking. Assistant Commissioner Emmett Dunne (Professional Standards Command) was on the line to tell him they had a major problem – a catastrophic one. Confidential police documents had been found at three addresses connected with outlaw motorcycle gang members.
And it wasn’t just a couple of documents. There were hundreds of pages from the police LEAP computer network – a system specifically built to avoid such breaches. Even more worrying, some of the force’s most sensitive intelligence holdings had also been infiltrated.
That some police were working as double agents for bikies came as no surprise to the Chief Commissioner – but the size of this betrayal was beyond what he could have feared.
Before Christmas, Lay made a decision to aggressively go after the rats in the ranks and establish the anti-corruption Taskforce Eagle to look at police links to bikies. Initially the taskforce had about seven suspects identified through curious links to outlaw gang members. Most were younger police believed to have met bikies at muscle-building gyms but one was a middle-aged senior constable working in a north suburban station.
About three weeks ago, Eagle investigators raided his home and seized drugs, guns and stolen property. The suspect had joined as a mature-aged recruit and built a good reputation as “a good crook catcher but a little unpredictable”. He was known to associate with crooks but that was explained as how he gathered information. Now police believe he was selling rather than collecting sensitive intelligence. Eagle investigators checked his phone records and found he had made more than 1000 calls to suspicious contacts. They have now established he had strong links to senior members of the Hells Angels gang.
This is not a case of a slightly nutty copper randomly sucking out confidential information for unknown reasons. It was cooly targeted. The material was carefully sourced and collated, identifying active investigations, suspects, witnesses and police investigators.
At Monday’s press conference, Lay resisted the temptation to try to spin the disaster, describing it as, “One of the gravest security breaches I have seen in my time.”
His response is to set up Taskforce Keel to investigate the leaks and to ensure no potential witnesses are targeted.
Keel will initially investigate if the main suspect was a rogue operative or acted with others.
Disturbingly, some of the documents were dated as far back as 2010, indicating the officer worked undetected as a bikie spy for at least three years.
Investigators have pulled his initial job application and will check his referees to try to establish if he was a bikie plant or was somehow recruited after he graduated.
Police sources say the suspect is believed to have sourced drugs from bikie contacts.
Senior police are revamping recruiting procedures to include stricter declarations of relationships that may be compromising. And some want to adopt the South Australian policy where applicants are told they must submit to lie-detector questioning on their illicit drugs history and links to bikies.
Keel is now the fourth taskforce set up to probe bikie-related crime – Eagle, into police links, Echo into organised crime connections and Razon into the infiltration of the nightclub industry.
And police have already thwarted an attempt to infiltrate Echo when a detective from another area tried to discover details of specific investigations.
The policeman, who has since resigned, was found to be a close friend of an outlaw bikie president.
Two months ago, Lay went public on his broad concerns telling Fairfax Media: “We have really good intelligence that draws strong links between a small number of our people with outlaw motorcycle members, amphetamines and performance-enhancing drugs. This is a real high-risk for us.
“What we have uncovered in the last three to four months is really worrying that some of our police are behaving criminally. They are either very naive or have been very carefully cultivated by members of outlaw motorcycle gangs. It is not just about compromising Victoria Police now; it is about compromising the organisation in five, 10 or 15 years’ time.”
The documents recovered in the recent raids identify victims, suspects, police and informers. Since the discovery police have invoked emergency measures to check the potential risks to those named.
Lay know the risks from such leaks are real.
When police arrested underworld hitman Rodney Collins in 2008, they found him in possession of a loaded handgun, a balaclava, burglary kit and surveillance equipment. He also had a confidential 58-page police report documenting the movements, habits and associates of a major drug dealer. Detectives believe Collins planned to use the information to set up a hit on one of the men named on the dossier.
Collins told police he found the report at a Northcote bus stop.
Police believe at least seven copies of the document have been leaked, copied and distributed to members of the underworld.
A 10-page excerpt was found in the possession of drug trafficker and former Black Uhlans outlaw motorcycle gang president John William Samuel Higgs.
Higgs is believed to have paid a corrupt policeman to burgle the Drug Squad in January 1997 and steal documents relating to his investigation, including a statement from a key informer.
In 2004, a Drug Squad information report identifying Terence Hodson as an informer was leaked to the underworld. In May that year, Hodson and his wife, Christine, were shot dead in their Kew home.
Collins was charged with the murders but the prosecution collapsed when key prosecution witness, drug boss Carl Williams, was bashed to death in Barwon Prison in 2010.
Corrupt coppers normally fall into two categories – veteran squad men beaten down by the system and lazy ones who were never any good. The latest revelations create a third. Drug-using coppers who will sell out their mates at the first opportunity. And the consequences can be fatal – John Silvester


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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