Lawyer X revealed: ‘Why I turned on my clients’
THE gangland lawyer in the middle of Victoria's biggest ever legal scandal won't be heard from today, but a letter she wrote in 2015 reveals why she did what she did.
Nicola Gobbo, unmasked today as the underworld solicitor-turned paid police informer, wrote at length about the saga in a letter to then Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner, Steve Fontana.
The letter, part of court documents revealed when suppression orders on Gobbo's identity were lifted in February, explains when she met with detectives and how they convinced her to turn.
"My actual assistance to Victoria Police began informally via (gangland taskforce) Purana not long after it was initially formed in 2004," Gobbo wrote.
"I met as he then was, (a Detective Sergeant), on a number of occasions starting in early 2004, which of course was at the height of Melbourne's gangland war, and at a time when the refusal to assist police by anyone involved or with any knowledge was frustrating investigators.
"What led me to do that was my own frustration with the way in which certain criminals - Carl Williams - were seeking to control what suspects and witnesses could and could not do or say to police via solicitors, who were not in my view, acting in the best interests of their clients because of the undue influence and control of 'heavies' such as Williams.
"I provided (police) with information that was of value to investigators in the months prior to late July 2004 and again afterwards."
She went on to say that she was "motivated by altruism, rather than for any personal gain", but it's believed she was paid a significant amount of money as compensation.
In total, the lawyer who would become known to police as Informer 3838 informed on at least 386 cases.
She said that once the Lawyer X scandal was uncovered by the Herald Sun in 2014, she had "struggled to cope with the fact that my reputation has been completely destroyed and my ability to obtain employment within the legal profession or even utilising my four degrees and experience is hopeless".
"A Google search of my name is quite literally sickening (to me), let alone googling 'Lawyer X scandal'.
"I also struggle to deal with the fact that any of this has happened given all the assurances I was given (by police) that my assistance would never be a matter of public knowledge.
"I have been forced to live day-to-day with a degree of hyper-vigilance and fear as to what will come out next and what impact it will have on my life.
"My anxiety and fears are compounded by the fact that but for some contact I maintain with a handful of former clients (now convicted offenders), neither I nor, more importantly, Victoria Police, would be aware of just how dangerous the leaking remains."
Informer 3838's arrangement with police came about at the height of Melbourne's gangland war, when Victoria Police made a desperate decision to try and end the cycle of violence by enlisting the defender of drug kingpins as an informer.
Some of her former clients received letters in December telling them she had acted as a police informant in breach of client confidentiality, possibly clearing the way for them to have their cases returned to court for new trials.
Among the clients she allegedly turned on are Rob Karam, a drug dealer sentenced to 37 years behind bars, Tony Mokbel, and Calabrian mafia boss Pasquale Barbaro.
Gobbo said in her 2015 letter that "everything fell apart" by 2009 but not before she had provided police with over 5000 information reports.
Chief Police Commissioner Graham Ashton defended police when news broke of their involvement. He said the use of Informer 3838 was a necessary weapon in an escalating war on Melbourne's streets.
"Over the preceding 12 months, numerous people had been murdered, some in very public locations and high-profile criminals were vying for control of drug operations that were inflicting serious harm on the Victorian community. It was accordingly a desperate and dangerous time," Mr Ashton said.
A suppression order preventing the publication of Lawyer X's identity was lifted at 4.15pm today.