Sunday August 25 2013
– A special taskforce will investigate the cold case car-bomb execution of Melbourne businessman John Furlan.
A 10-month review of he killing has unearthed fresh clues and more suspects in the murder mystery, which happened 15 years ago this month.
The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal Mr Furlan told a mate he believed he was being followed in the period before his death.
And a family member has also told of receiving a late-night telephone call in which a fearful Mr Furlan said he had been threatened.
Four detectives from the Arson and Explosives Squad will be assigned to chase down unexplored leads in the Furlan case.
The case review, which began in October last year, has identified two surviving strong suspects and up to 15 other people who may have peripheral involvement in the crime.
Two other suspects are dead.
They are gangland figure Domenico Italiano, who died in a drug-fuelled sex session with a prostitute, and career criminal Philip Lander, who took his own life.
One theory was that Italiano – a member of the famous Melbourne mafia family – ordered Furlan’s death because he feared he would assist police investigate corrupt raffles he was running. But investigators are now looking at other potential motives.
Police say a friend of Mr Furlan had told investigators his mate thought he was being followed prior to his death.
Mr Furlan died when his Subaru Liberty exploded under the massive force of a bomb as he drove along Lorensen Avenue, Coburg North, on his way to work on August 2nd, 1998.
Lander, who also used the surname Matthews, is suspected of building the bomb, then planting it directly under Mr Furlan’s seat.
The vehicle had been parked unattended behind a gate at his home in the days prior as he took a trip to Tasmania.
Detective Senior-Sergeant Jeff Maher of the Arson and Explosives Squad, who as a Homicide Squad officer led the initial investigation, said the crime was shocking and could have killed many more people.
“We don’t forget the jobs and I didn’t forget that one,” he said. “It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings. People should know these things don’t go away.”
Senior-Sergeant Maher said, for investigative reasons, he could not outline the kind of explosive used or whether it was detonated by remote control or a timing device.
But he said a closer look at the involvement of Lander could yet push the inquiry along.
“That has been explored but I don’t think its now been filly explored. There’s more we can do on that,” he said.
Mr Furlan owned a vehicle salvage business in Glenroy and lived on Sydney Road, Coburg – Mark Buttler