July 2 2012
– A former long-serving Mildura policeman implicated in the murder of a transexual prostitute whose remains were found in a disused mine shaft at Bonnie Doon in 1995 says “new evidence” into the unsolved case should be “thoroughly examined”.
Gerry McHugh was quizzed by police over the death of Adele Bailey whose body was found on a property behind that of another former policeman Denis Tanner who was also investigated over that death as well as the shooting of his sister-in-law Jennifer Tanner.
Mr McHugh received a formal apology from then Victoria Police Commissioner Simon Overland after police bugged the former detective’s Mildura house and alleged he was with Mr Tanner when Ms Bailey, who disappeared in 1978, was killed.
In 1998, an unnamed source implicated Mr McHugh in Ms Bailey’s murder, however Victoria Police conceded that he was “in no way” linked to her death.
Mr McHugh spent 10 years fighting to clear his name after being questioned by police from the Kale Task Force established to re-investigate the deaths of Ms Bailey and Ms Tanner.
An inquest into Ms Tanner’s death in 1999 found that Mr Tanner shot his sister-in-law, while in the same year coroner Jacinta Heffey delivered an open finding into the murder of Ms Bailey.
No-one has been charged over either death.
Mr Tanner, former detective Ron Irwin, who conducted his own investigation into the deaths of Ms Bailey and Ms Tanner, and Mr McHugh have called for another inquest into the deaths of the women so that new evidence can be examined.
“The Adele Bailey matter was never properly investigated,” Mr McHugh yesterday said from Melbourne where he now lives.
“Police zeroed in on Denis Tanner and then they got me involved.
“The investigation was a witch hunt from the outset, including the use of false information on affidavits in order to bug my home.
“I’d prefer to see a Royal Commission, but if it was a question of a further inquest then of course I’d support that…absolutely, 110 per cent.”
Mr Irwin said Kale Task Force members approached him to provide information about telephone calls Mr McHugh had made to a club in Benalla where Mr Tanner was stationed at the Criminal Investigation Branch.
He said notes taken from task force investigators and shown to him by the State Ombudsman were a “fabrication”.
“The notes claimed that I had told (police names deleted) that Gerry McHugh and other I had never heard of went to a holiday shack at Bonnie Doon,” Mr Irwin said.
The holiday shack was at the centre of police investigations to link Mr McHugh and Mr Tanner with Ms Bailey.
Investigators alleged that prostitutes frequented the Bonnie Doon shack and that Ms Bailey was at the unit for sexual purposes when she died.
Allegations levelled at the former policemen were that Mr McHugh had been seen at the Bonnie Doon Caravan Park with Mr Tanner and that Ms Bailey was also there.
It was alleged that Mr Tanner “was involved in the death of Adele Bailey and that McHugh was present at the time, although he took no active part in the death”.
In apologising to Mr McHugh, Mr Overland said that during the Kale Task Force investigation information came to hand which suggested that Mr McHugh was involved with “one of the suspects”.
“Victoria Police now concedes that Mr McHugh was in no way linked to that suspect or either of these deaths,” he said.
Mr McHugh resigned from Victoria Police in 2005 after more than three decades in the service and was awarded a confidential, out-of-court payout by Victoria Police, but believed to be in the vicinity of $400,000.
Mr Tanner has maintained his innocence in relation to both deaths.
Mr Irwin has just released his first book looking into the deaths of Ms Bailey and Ms Tanner.
– Allan Murphy