A retired barrister who represented underworld figures says the risk to Nicola Gobbo’s safety has increased “enormously”, after the lifting of a suppression order on her identity as Informer 3838.
The suppression lifted after Ms Gobbo and Victoria Police failed in the Court of Appeal last week to keep her identity hidden.
Retired Melbourne barrister Peter Faris QC, who has represented underworld figures including Carl Williams, said the publication of Ms Gobbo’s image will put her life in more danger.
“She’s under great threat, as one could imagine, and making it public means that it’ll be all over the front of newspapers, all over the media, her photographs will be everywhere,” Mr Faris told ABC Radio National.
“So yes, I think it increases the risk enormously.”
Court finds ‘no evidence’ of attempted harm
In its reasons for last week’s decision, the Court of Appeal found there was “no evidence of any actual attempt having been made to harm [Ms Gobbo] or her children”.
The court said it was “highly likely that those with the most interest … in doing her harm already know her real name”.
“There is no doubt that a number of people with convictions for serious offending have known for some time about the activities of [Ms Gobbo],” the court’s full decision said.
“In these circumstances, we are not satisfied that the orders sought are necessary to protect the safety of [Ms Gobbo] or her children.”
Ms Gobbo herself once told her police handlers to “say nice things at my eulogy … and enjoy the royal commission” if her role as an informant was ever made public.
In a 2015 letter to Victoria Police, she claimed that police had arrested and convicted at least 386 people based on the information she provided.
Nicola Gobbo’s clients urged to come forward
The lifting of the suppression order was welcomed by the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, which had joined Victoria’s Office of Public Prosecutions in legal fights to name Ms Gobbo.
“The Commission is now better placed to ascertain the full extent of Ms Gobbo’s conduct as a police informer between 1995 and 2009 and the identities of the persons potentially affected,” the commission’s chair, Margaret McMurdo, said.
“We are calling for submissions from individuals who were legally represented by Nicola Gobbo between 1995 and 2009 and who were found guilty or convicted, and sentenced.
“If you were represented by Ms Gobbo and believe the outcome of your case may have been affected by her role as an informant with Victoria Police, we encourage you to make a submission.”
The use of Ms Gobbo as an informant against her own clients during Melbourne’s gangland war has put at risk the convictions of several high-profile criminals, including drug trafficker Tony Mokbel.
Gobbo family ‘disturbed by the revelations’
Ms Gobbo hails from an influential family and is the niece of former Victorian governor Sir James Gobbo, who was a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria from 1978 to 1994.