Co-written by: Bethany Kickert
KEY TAKE OUTS
- Two convictions have now been quashed in the aftermath of the Nicola Gobbo saga, also known as ‘Lawyer X’.
- The High Court has stated that the prosecution of criminals on which Ms Gobbo informed ‘was corrupt in a manner which debased fundamental premises of the criminal justice system’.
- The Royal Commission into Police Informants is still investigating the corruption between Ms Gobbo and Victorian Police and is set to release its full report on the 30th November 2020.
Nicola Gobbo acted as ‘Lawyer X’ for a period of 18 years, doubling as lawyer and informant for her clients. Victorian Police recruited Ms Gobbo in the height of the Gangland War to report on the criminal activity her clients were engaging in, including the infamous Tony Mockbel.
Gobbo is now arguably the most recognisable face of legal misconduct in Australia.
The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants was established to examine the number of, and extent to which, cases have been affected by Gobbo’s conduct.
It has two tasks:
- to investigate the effectiveness of informants who also have confidentiality obligations
- decide whether these informants should be used at all and, if so, how they can better be used in the future.
Their Findings So Far
The Commission released a Progress report in July 2019, six months into the investigation.
So far it has found that the corruption between Gobbo and Victorian Police has impacted over 1000 cases, finding that those convicted were subjected to an unfair trial and a great miscarriage of justice in Gobbo’s mistreatment of the lawyer-client relationship. This extends to the infamous Tony Mockbel, who is currently working on getting his conviction overturned.
In a statement, the High Court has said that the prosecution of criminals on which Gobbo informed ‘was corrupt in a manner which debased fundamental premises of the criminal justice system.’ These fundamental principles state that criminals also have a right to ethical and confidential legal representation, and if they are deprived of this, ‘convictions may be overturned, and alleged offenders set free.’ As Gobbo was found to have neglected duties to her clients, and duty to not mislead the court, this is not as outrageous as it seems.
Two of those convicted under Gobbo’s representation have had their convictions quashed. Last year, Faruk Orman had his murder conviction overturned and walked free.
The second, Zlate Cvetanovski, recently had his high-level drug trafficking conviction overturned after spending nearly a decade behind bars. The Commission found that Gobbo had persuaded an inmate to act as a witness to incriminate Mr Cvetanovski. Gobbo and Victorian Police also provided ‘moral support’, and secret payments into his prison account, in exchange for the cooperation. More convictions are expected to be overturned as the investigation continues.
A full report on the Commission’s findings and recommendations is due on the 30th November 2020.
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ABOUT LUISA GAETANI:
Luisa is a Senior Associate at Coutts and head of our Family and Criminal Law divisions. Luisa has practiced solely in the areas of criminal and family law. It is her sensitive yet pragmatic approach that has allowed her to develop a strong rapport and build trusting relationships with her clients. Should a client’s matter proceed to court, Luisa has the skillset and experience to assist her clients through this process and where required, will draw upon her network of barristers to further benefit her client’s outcomes.
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