Friday, May 28, 2010

Justice in Victoria buried in a shallow Collins-Street grave

Yesterday’s news – that ex-policeman Paul Dale is having murder allegations against him withdrawn – came as a surprise in just one way. Dale’s committal proceeding was already underway, but there has been no media mention of even this fact (let alone substantive coverage) of this whatsoever, bar today’s Herald Sun.

This suppression culture is farcical in the Google News age. I’ll let you join the dots here:

“Two key people had turned Crown witness against [Dale].” (ABC)

"The decision, which is believed to have been made by the Office of Public Prosecutions yesterday, follows the death of a key witness." (Herald Sun)

"A murder charge against Dale became possible only after key witnesses agreed to give evidence in the case. The witnesses included one of Melbourne's best-known criminal barristers, Nicola Gobbo, . . . George Williams, ''Little Tommy'' Ivanovic and the Hodsons' son Andrew." (Age. Note that the elision is merely back-story about Gobbo, i.e. does not express or imply any further witness names.)

Still unsure? Here’s a hint: the last three witnesses mentioned by the Age are all alive, and so can’t be the unnamed, deceased second key witness. Here’s another hint: this other key witness is presumably relatively recently deceased, as suggested by the Herald-Sun’s use of “follows”. The Age (and all others covering the story) couldn’t bring itself to even mention the fact of this second key witness being deceased, but the otherwise erring-on-the-safe-side Age couldn’t resist throwing in a couple of pantomime-subtle clues, in the names of two of the three living, non-key witnesses.

As for Nicola Gobbo, she has certainly been a useful fool for Paul Dale’s cause between 19 April and today. I sympathise with her mental illness, which would have considerably worsened her recent plight - as well as probably having caused her ill-judged decision in the first place, to wear a police wire in 2008. But of all people, as a lawyer she should know the Good Cop, Bad Cop game - her role, while fraught from the beginning, was patently unsustainable after the game was up with the death of her co-witness.

"A former Victoria Police anti-corruption investigator, who is familiar with the Dale case, described the lead-up to the current situation as a circus. ''In the murder of the Hodsons, Victorians should know that justice has gone missing in action.'" (same URL).

Actually, Victorians should know that the justice system takes them for fools - our justice system in 2010 is neither "missing" nor "in action", but an all-too visible, stinking corpse.

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