Victoria Police officers and gangland supersnitch Nicola Gobbo should be found to have committed crimes in the Lawyer X scandal, it has been recommended.
But after more than a year of public hearings, it has been revealed Commissioner Margaret McMurdo won’t recommend they face charges in her final report on the underworld saga.
Submissions by Chris Winneke QC, counsel assisting the royal commission into Ms Gobbo’s informing, were released on Tuesday night.
“The submissions included contentions that I should find various named current and former Victoria Police officers and Ms Nicola Gobbo may have committed criminal offences,” Ms McMurdo said in reasons for her decision.
“I decided not to make findings in my final report, which will be publicly available, that any named individuals may have committed criminal offences.”
The offences include perverting the course of justice, misconduct in public office and aiding, abetting or conspiring with Ms Gobbo to obtain property or financial advantage by deception.
Documents released at the royal commission this afternoon say Victoria Police relied on evidence from Nicola Gobbo that may have cost gangland figure Tony Mokbel the right to a fair trial. #LawyerX @DANNYTRAN reporting from @abcmelbourne
— Rachel Clayton (@Rachel_Clayton_) September 1, 2020
The more than 2000-page collection of documents also includes separate submissions from Victoria Police, former chief commissioners Simon Overland and Graham Ashton, Ms Gobbo, drug kingpin Tony Mokbel and others.
But the sections naming individuals who may have committed criminal offences or breaches of Victoria Police legislation will be blacked out.
Ms McMurdo said it was for prosecutors – including Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd QC – to make decisions on charges, and that public discussions could unfairly prejudice future trials and “will be detrimental to the reputations of those named”.
Submissions by Mr Winneke, Andrew Woods and Megan Tittensor, reveal the criminal cases of 1011 people may have been affected by Ms Gobbo’s informing.
Three of Mokbel’s cases may have been affected between October 2005 and May 2008 when she represented him and also was a registered human source.
The submissions say Victoria Police failed to take all necessary steps to ensure the use of Ms Gobbo in matters involving Mokbel was lawful and not improper.
“There was potential for the right of Mr Mokbel to a fair trial to have been interfered with,” the lawyers say.
Submissions also allege Ms Gobbo’s life was put at risk and Mr Overland’s reaction to her car being firebombed was “inadequate”.
“It is open to the commissioner to find that the circumstances in which Ms Gobbo was recruited, handled and managed by Victoria Police resulted in her being placed in grave danger of being murdered or seriously injured,” it suggests.
Discussions in 2007 about getting legal advice from a judge about Ms Gobbo’s use as an informer was “obvious, appropriate and sensible”, although not forthcoming.
The lawyers also say Ms McMurdo could find that Ms Gobbo gave deliberately evasive evidence to the inquiry in February, which “suggests she was aware she had deliberately lied, or at best knowingly misled the Supreme Court whilst she was on oath”.
Current Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius is also called out in the submissions over his failure to insist on legal advice when he learned in 2006 that Ms Gobbo was an informer.
Victoria Police in a statement conceded that allowing Ms Gobbo to give information about her clients was “profoundly wrong”.
“It was an indefensible interference in the lawyer/client relationship, a relationship that is essential to the proper functioning of the criminal justice system and to the rule of law,” a statement from the force said.
“Our failure at that time to ensure that these circumstances were identified and disclosed was also a significant and missed opportunity to right a wrong.”
The statement includes an apology to the courts and the community “for breaching its trust”.
Nearly a dozen people including Mokbel have appeals pending in Victoria’s Court of Appeal over the saga.
Ms Gobbo was registered as an informer three times, her longest stint between 2005 and 2009 when she helped police bring down a number of her former clients, including Mokbel and killer Carl Williams.
Zlate Cvetanovski was freed on bail while he awaits his appeal, after spending almost a decade in jail, while Faruk Orman had his murder conviction quashed by Victoria’s Court of Appeal last year.