Monday, April 19, 2010

Carl Williams, police informer

That’s a headline that was merely implied in this morning’s hardcopy Herald Sun (front page splash) – the official line was “that for legal reasons it is unable to detail why the payment [of daughter’s school fees and father’s tax-office debt] was made” (next URL). The school-fees/ police-informer story has since been expunged from the Herald Sun website. A case of blood on their hands, it would seem.

However, most other media outlets have been remarkably reluctant to point their finger at the tabloid attack dog. A Google News search at 7 pm AEST produced only two extant re-reports of the Herald Sun story. Neither of these was the Melbourne Age, supposedly the Herald Sun’s arch-rival. Neither of these commented/speculated further on the police-informer implication, but tonight’s 5 pm Channel 10 (national) news did.

Rather than go after one of their own, the media pack have instead generally gone for the opposite jugular – sanctimoniously pointing out that Williams, murdered in prison about 8 hours after the Herald Sun hit the streets, had it coming (“no surprise”), and duly re-hashing Williams’ lengthy criminal record. That Williams may have had at least one redeeming quality (a major one, IMO) – agreeing to be a police informer, in spite of the obvious risks – is the love (of daughter and father) that dare not speak its name, it would seem. All too human for a “serial killer”*?

Williams’ faith in the (presumed) strong assurances of Victoria Police that his police-informer status would be rock-solid confidential – despite all his instincts no doubt telling him the opposite – is touching. Or maybe, facing thirty years plus in prison, he was just resigned to the inevitable - that a corrupt police force and an amoral tabloid would sooner or later conspire to murder him, one slow-news Monday. At least, as a sort of pre-emptive legacy, he could provide for his daughter and father, come what may.

Either way – naïveté, or self-sacrifice (with possibly some self-interest** too) – in death, Williams looks mighty good in comparison to Victoria’s other underworld – our seamless, sordid media/government complex.

Update 23 April 2010

While looking for a reference for Simon Overland’s 2007 “serial killer” jibe, I came across a revealing comparison. Googling "Victoria's worst serial killer" comes up with a couple of 2007 references to Williams, and a whole lot more references to other killers clearly nastier than Williams. I could not find a direct Overland citation, however – for the record, my source was something I read online (probably the Age or Herald Sun) that afternoon (19 April). The context of Overland’s hysterical jibe (which if it were made, would have been immediately after Williams’ sentencing in May 2007) was apparently as a counter-balance to his public defensiveness two months earlier over Williams’ March 2007 plea deal with Victoria Police (a fact surprisingly little-reported in the last few days). In any event, Premier John Brumby has since taken on the “serial killer” hysterical jibe as his own. Presumably Brumby also has something unpleasant to expunge by so doing.

I wrote the post in a hurry, and should elaborate on what I meant by police corruption and Williams’ death. What I then meant by “corrupt police” was not mostly in a speculative sense. The leak of highly-protected information to the Herald Sun presumably came from deep within the Victoria Police. As early as Monday afternoon, it would surely not be difficult to, if not easily identify the leaker, narrow the field to a handful of police. The fact that several days later, AFAICT no progress (and quite possibly, no attempt at) has been made at prosecuting this serious crime – leaking strictly-confidential information, so as to perhaps (at least) incite a murder – speaks volumes.

The much-reduced life expectancy of high-profile criminals unmasked as police informers is well known. But in Victoria, you don’t need to rely on this as a general truism. Since the 2004 murder of Melbourne police-informer/criminal Terrence Hodson (and his wife), there has been an apparent strong link – still the subject of criminal proceedings – not just involving unmasking police-informers leading to murder, but also plain police corruption involving leaking highly-protected confidential information (straight to Hodson’s gangland rivals, not to the media as intermediary as in Carl Williams’ case), and far more else besides.

Former Victoria Police detective Paul Noel Dale (and his alleged hired gun Rodney Charles Collins) were charged with the Hodsons’ murders in March 2009. Progress on the prosecution since appears (see next para) to have been glacial, although Dale was granted bail on 11 September 2009. This was an extraordinary allowance made for a murder accused, who according to one of two separate pre-appellate judges denying Dale bail, “posed too great a risk to witnesses” (same URL).

Media reports on Tuesday (20/4) referred to a high-profile, unnamed criminal prosecution that, as a result of Williams’ death, would now almost certainly not proceed. It would be a striking coincidence – but also a very Melbourne, small-world thing – if this prosecution were that of Dale. I emphasise that this is pure speculation on my part; all factual information for this post comes from Google; i.e. the public record (which, from its scantness on the Dale prosecution, suggests sweeping suppression orders are in place over reportage of the case).

Speaking of the public record and suppression orders, Williams’ lawyer Rob Stary said this on ABC2 News on Tuesday (20/4):

“There have been 46 successful prosecutions of corrupt police in this state, but the public would have no idea about that". (video replay)

There is no transcript of this segment, and text reportage of what Stary said has wilfully omitted this surely important, succinct piece of fact.

You read it here first.

Further update 24 April 2010

From today’s Australian:

“It is already understood that one association that has appeared on the radar of the OPI and Task Force Driver is a decade-long link between one of Williams's fellow prisoners, Thomas Ivanovic - who was in the day room and reportedly on the telephone during Monday's attack - and a former detective on murder charges”.

and Age:

“It is fair to say that police have established Taskforce Driver to investigate the broader issues over the killing because they fear that corrupt police or former police may be involved. It is also fair to say that a high-profile case may have suffered a fatal blow at the same time as Carl was suffering his”.

You do the math.

And to Thomas Ivanovic, as the operator says – Hold the line (Friends aren’t always on time).

* In 2007, then Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Simon Overland (previously, between 2003 and mid-2006, leader of the Purana Taskforce on organised crime) labelled Williams a serial killer (see also Update 23 April 2010, above), despite the fact that (AFAICT) Williams only killed within his own criminal fraternity. Ivan – now that’s a serial killer – Milat would no doubt be chuffed at Overland’s insult to Milat’s innocent victims, and the corollary beatification of Williams’ fellow-underworld victims. (Why didn’t they “have it coming”?)

** Assuming that Williams thought an early death preferable to serving his sentence.

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