This blog has previously reported on former barrister Nicola Gobbo aka “Lawyer X”, who was also a police informant, often informing on her own clients and helping the police secure convictions against them.
During the Royal Commission centred around her antics, the topic moved to her motives.
Why did she do it?
Why did she betray her own clients, many of whom are extremely dangerous, egregiously breach legal ethics and throw the legal profession in Victoria into disrepute? Continue reading “Why Nicola Gobbo informed against her own clients”
Nicola Gobbo, the barrister at the centre of the scandal that sparked the Victorian Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants has been publicly identified, after orders made to conceal her identity were lifted today.
Ms Gobbo’s history:
“A former legal counsel to some of Australia’s most notorious criminals, Ms Gobbo is understood to have helped Victoria Police in at least 386 cases involving Melbourne’s underworld during her time acting as a paid police informant, following her initial recruitment in 1995.
The information she provided helped lead to the arrest and conviction of many, including some of her clients such as gangland boss Tony Mokbel, who in 2012 was sentenced to 30 years’ for his head role in the infamous multimillion-dollar drug syndicate known as ‘The Company’.
Following the December announcement that there would be a Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, largely centred around a female barrister who the public now knows to be Ms Gobbo, Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd QC, wrote to 20 criminals — including Mokbel — to tell them their convictions may have been affected as a result of Ms Gobbo’s role in acting as a police informant.
“EF [the barrister’s pseudonym], while purporting to act as counsel for the convicted persons, provided information to Victoria Police that had the potential to undermine the convicted persons’ defences to criminal charges of which they were later convicted”, the December High Court judgment noted.
“EF’s actions in purporting to act as counsel for the Convicted Persons while covertly informing against them were fundamental and appalling breaches of EF’s obligations as counsel to her clients and of EF’s duties to the court.
“Likewise, Victoria Police were guilty of reprehensible conduct in knowingly encouraging EF to do as she did and were involved in sanctioning atrocious breaches of the sworn duty of every police officer to discharge all duties imposed on them faithfully and according to law without favour or affection, malice or ill-will.
“As a result, the prosecution of each convicted person was corrupted in a manner which debased fundamental premises of the criminal justice system.”
In first announcing the royal commission, the Andrews government issued a statement, saying that the integrity of the criminal justice system is paramount, and all people charged with crimes are entitled to a fair trial, no matter who they are.
The same statement acknowledged that while Victoria Police assured the state government that “its practices have changed since the barrister’s recruitment as an informant”, the Victorian community “has a right to further independent assurance that these past practices have been stamped out, as well as an understanding of what happened in this instance”.
“The royal commission will provide that assurance,” the state government said.”
A Victorian Supreme Court jury has found Bourke Street driver James Gargasoulas guilty of murder.
On 20 January 2017 James Gargasoulas accelerated a car he was driving down a footpath in Bourke Street Melbourne, deliberately targeting pedestrians. He killed 6 people and injured many others during his rampage.
Gargasoulas was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and drug induced psychosis at the time of the offences.
Section 3 of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to Be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic) provides:
“offence” includes conduct that would, but for the perpetrator’s mental impairment or unfitness to be tried, have constituted an offence.
Section 20 of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to Be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic) provides:
Defence of mental impairment
(1) The defence of mental impairment is established for a person charged with an offence if, at the time of engaging in conduct constituting the offence, the person was suffering from a mental impairment that had the effect that—
(a) he or she did not know the nature and quality of the conduct; or
(b) he or she did not know that the conduct was wrong (that is, he or she could not reason with a moderate degree of sense and composure about whether the conduct, as perceived by reasonable people, was wrong).
(2) If the defence of mental impairment is established, the person must be found not guilty because of mental impairment.
At the trial, the jury listened three days of evidence and watched harrowing CCTV footage of the rampage.
Gargasoulas gave evidence about his state of mind at the time of the offences:
“I had a premonition and I followed my instinct to do what I did… I wasn’t intending to kill anyone as I was driving to the city.”
Gargasoulas apologised for his actions but said saying sorry or a lengthy sentence would not “fix what I have done”.
His barrister Dr Theo Alexander started his three minute closing submission with a quote from Hamlet:
“Our wills and fates do so contrary run
That our devices still are overthrown
Our thoughts are ours
their ends none of our own.”
In her closing, Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC said it was a clear case of criminal liability:
“There’s no issue of identity, the conduct itself is captured on the CCTV. The CCTV really in this case says it all.”
The jury were sent away this morning at 11.43am to deliberate.
In less than an hour, the jury found Gargasoulas guilty of 6 counts of murder and 27 counts of reckless conduct endangering life.
Gargasoulas displayed no emotion as the verdicts were announced while family members of the victims who were in the court wiped their eyes. Later, Gargasoulas appeared to be twitching his leg and rocking slightly in his seat.
The jury’s verdict should not have come as a surprise given there was no dispute that Gargasoulas was the driver of the car and had intended to kill or injure, and a jury had earlier found that he was fit to stand trial.
There is no doubt that Gargasoulas’ mental illness was a cause or contributing factor to the crimes he perpetrated on 20 January 2017. This case shows that even when someone is suffering from a mental illness and/or a drug induced psychosis, they ordinarily still are held criminally responsible for their actions. The legal question for a jury or judge is whether they knew what they were actually doing, or whether they knew that what they were doing was wrong. The jury’s answer to both questions was in the affirmative.
Litigation is very tough on litigants. They find themselves in an environment where in spite of their strong feelings about their case, their emotions carry no weight and are seldom acknowledged by the court. Furthermore, their fate at trial is the hands of a third party who may rule against them, with disastrous consequences. Adverse findings can be made against them. There is an incredible amount of stress associated with such risks. And of course, there is the massive amount of money they have to pay towards their own legal costs. Continue reading “Judge Sandy Street denounced by Federal Court”