Cast of the original Blue Murder series portraying, left to right, Chris Flannery (Gary Sweet), Graham Henry (Peter Phelps), Roger Rogerson (Richard Roxburgh), Neddy Smith (Tony Martin).
Cast of the original Blue Murder series portraying, left to right, Chris Flannery (Gary Sweet), Graham Henry (Peter Phelps), Roger Rogerson (Richard Roxburgh), Neddy Smith (Tony Martin). News Limited

The real story behind Blue Murder

BLUE Murder was the original true crime TV blockbuster with scenes so shockingly thrilling about the lives of Sydney's cops and gangsters that it was a hit even while it was still banned.

In the pre-digital era, illegal bootleg video cassettes of Blue Murder I and II were jealously guarded, surreptitiously leant and massively copied.

Made in 1995, by the time all the court cases, ICAC and royal commission hearings about the cops and crims had been cleared for the ABC to broadcast in 2001, countless people had watched it.

And on free to air, they watched it again.

As the Seven Network prepares to air the show's sequel Blue Murder: Killer Cop this weekend, has prepared a guide to what you need to know from the original.

If your parents don't have a dusty old video cassette of the original - or the machine to play it on - this is a must read which also includes a handbook to the real characters of the new series.

Blue Murder burst onto the screens with scenes of Detective Sergeant Roger Rogerson in a bulletproof vest stalking crims in a line of Sydney traffic with an assault rifle.

It was a career-defining performance for actor Richard Roxburgh.

Richard Roxburgh as Roger Rogerson 1995. Still from TV show 'Blue Murder' with actor Richard Roxburgh as Roger Rogerson.
Richard Roxburgh as Roger Rogerson 1995. Still from TV show 'Blue Murder' with actor Richard Roxburgh as Roger Rogerson. Contributed

Given the lead role of Rogerson, brave cop and bad cop rolled into one, Roxburgh played the Roger on the move, taking care of Sydney's most dangerous and violent criminals.

From shooting heroin dealer Warren Lanfranchi in Dangar Place, the now notorious city back lane, to living it up with a violent underworld identity, Rogerson is Blue Murder's dramatic focus.

And so are the Sydney gang wars of the mid 1980s, when criminals turned on each other in a shooting feast over dominance in the Sydney heroin trade.

Violent and sinister characters populate the script: Neddy Smith, played by Tony Martin, is the charismatic big man of Sydney's gangland.

Christopher Dale Flannery (Gary Sweet) is the Melbourne hitman known as "Mr Rent-A-Kill" whose entry into the seamy underbelly miles away from his home territory doesn't end well.

Actors Steve Bastoni and Peter Phelps play the roles of Detective Michael Drury, who survived an assassination attempt, and Smith friend Graham "Abo" Henry.

The female roles of Neddy Smith's wife Debra (Joy Smithers) and Lanfranchi's prostitute girlfriend Sallie-Anne Huckstepp (Loene Carmen) give this story depth

And fabled underworld tales are recreated, such as the scene of Sydney lawyer Brian Alexander on a boat trussed up and chained to a stove, being pitched overboard outside the Sydney Heads.

Similarities to the true life scenes played out in Sydney and involving the real Roger Rogerson and a body in the ocean in 2014 must have had Blue Murder's producers' minds reeling.

The outcome is now both history and the script line for Blue Murder: Killer Cop, which debuts Part 1 on Sunday, August 6.

This is a list of the real life characters and what they did in the first Blue Murder.


Rogerson, played by Roxburgh, and Neddy Smith (Tony Martin) in a famous scene from the first Blue Murder in which crook and cop enjoy the spoils of crime.
Rogerson, played by Roxburgh, and Neddy Smith (Tony Martin) in a famous scene from the first Blue Murder in which crook and cop enjoy the spoils of crime. News Limited

Roger Rogerson was a decorated and skilful detective sergeant of the NSW Police Force who worked on some of the 1970s major cases, including the Whiskey Au Go Go fire and the Toecutter gang murder.

He was the master of the "police verbal", an unsigned confession from a suspect, and operated in an era later classified as corrupt.

In 1981, in a back lane called Dangar Place in Sydney's Chippendale, in front of a large group of police officers, Rogerson shot dead heroin dealer Warren Lanfranchi.

The death of Lanfranchi, whose girlfriend was heroin-addicted prostitute turned police corruption whistleblower, was ruled in the line of duty.

It was later claimed that Rogerson shot Lanfranchi for robbing a heroin dealer under the detective's police protection.

It was also alleged that Rogerson gave heroin dealer and underworld killer Arthur Stanley "Neddy" Smith the "green light" to commit crimes, in exchange for being an informant and a slice of the heroin trade.

Blue Murder covers the height of their relationship, which ended with Smith being charged for the murders of (among others) Huckstepp and Harvey Jones and with Rogerson leaving the force.

Blue Murder shows the attempted murder of detective Michael Drury - who was shot twice through his kitchen window - alleged to have been taken down by Melbourne hitman Christopher Dale Flannery at Rogerson's behest.

Drury alleged that Rogerson had tried to bribe him to changes his evidence in the heroin trial of Melbourne dealer Alan Williams.

Rogerson was acquitted of Drury's shooting, but was convicted of perverting the course of justice over a false bank account.

Rogerson and his second wife Anne Melocco were convicted of lying to the Police Integrity Commission, and this is portrayed in Blue Murder: Killer Cop.

In September last year, Rogerson was jailed for life for the murder of young drug dealer Jamie Gao, 20, and supplying almost 3kg of ice.

Rogerson and fellow former detective Glen McNamara were caught on CCTV removing Gao's body in a surfboard bag from a storage facility.

Unlike the remains of lawyer Brian Alexander, which has never been found, Gao's body wrapped in a blue tarpaulin bobbed to the surface off Cronulla beach in May, 2014.

Rogerson, 76, is incarcerated in the aged and frail unit at Sydney's Long Bay prisons, where his old friend Neddy Smith is also serving a life sentence.


Tony Martin as Neddy Smith under arrest in the first Blue Murder series made in 1995.
Tony Martin as Neddy Smith under arrest in the first Blue Murder series made in 1995. News Corp

Arthur Stanley "Neddy" Smith is a big force of character in the first Blue Murder series.

Based on the years before Smith was jailed for life for murder it depicts the armed robber and heroin dealer as a charismatic player on the Sydney scene.

Married to his then wife Debra, with whom he had four children, the physically imposing Smith is both a wiley gangster and a big-hearted family man.

The first Blue Murder series is largely based on Smith's book Neddy.

In Blue Murder, Smith is shown murdering Sallie-Anne Huckstepp, although in real life he was charged but acquitted of that murder.

Smith has spent much of his life in prison for earlier crimes, but despite his reputation as a killer, he was convicted of only two deaths.

One was the murder in company of tow truck driver, Ronnie Flavell and the other of brothel owner Harvey Jones.

Smith became a star witness for the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Wood Royal Commission, revealing Rogerson and others' alleged corruption.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and, more recently dementia, and lives in a prison unit for aged and frail inmates.

Smith's loving family and his ex-wife Debra, with whom he has remained friends, have continued to visit him in prison, where the 72-year-old is set to die without being released.


Gary Sweet as ‘Mr Rent-A-Kill Chris Flannery in a scene from Blue Murder, the first series.
Gary Sweet as ‘Mr Rent-A-Kill Chris Flannery in a scene from Blue Murder, the first series. News Corp

Melbourne hitman Christopher Dale Flannery was a career criminal who became known as "Mr Rent-A-Kill.

An armed robber, nightclub bouncer and convicted rapist, he moved into contract killing and is said to have murdered a Melbourne barrister and later a Sydney brothel owner.

He was known for his hothead and tendency to "go off" and empty his gun into the victims.

His doctor, the prominent Sydney medico Geoffrey Edelsten, gave him a medical certificate saying he was unfit to go to trial for the Sydney murder.

In 1984, Flannery moved his family up to Sydney and went to work as a bodyguard for crime figure George Freeman.

He became involved in a violent Sydney gang war over the heroin trade and Flannery tried to align himself with Neddy Smith.

But the cool-headed Smith was not impressed with Flannery, who made powerful enemies among Sydney gangland's other factions and police alike.

On 6 June 1984, Flannery was allegedly the shooter who fired two rounds through the kitchen window of the home of Sydney Drug Squad detective, Michael "Mick" Drury.

Drury almost died and the attempted murder changed the course for Roger Rogerson, who Drury claimed sought revenge.

Drury said Rogerson had tried to bribe him to change his evidence over a heroin trial and when Drury refused, he was shot.

It was the beginning of the end for Rogerson's police career, and Flannery's hot heatedness and ready gun toting would be his own demise.

In late January, 1985 Flannery's family home was sprayed with rounds from a rifle.

On April 23, 1985 Flannery is said to have been responsible for the gangland shooting of drug dealer Tony "Spaghetti" Eustace by his gold Mercedes.

Flannery may have shot up to a dozen people before he was called to a meeting with George Freeman On May 9, 1985.

He was last seen catching a taxi in the city, and never seen alive again.


Sallie-Anne Huckstepp was a Sydney private schoolgirl who fell into heroin addiction and prostitution and in 1981 began a relationship with Sydney dealer Warren Lanfranchi.

Lanfranchi was something of a wild man who shot at police and robbed other dealers, and also a standover man who worked for Sydney gangster Neddy Smith.

On June 9, 1981, according to Smith, he was ordered by Rogerson to drive Lanfranchi a meeting at Dangar Place, a back lane in the inner city Sydney suburb of Chippendale.

Smith said Lanfranchi had asked him to organise a payment to Rogerson so that the dealer wasn't charged with the police shooting.

Smith later said that Rogerson ordered him to disarm Lanfranchi en route.

In the company of 18 other police officers, Rogerson waited in the lane.

He claimed that he was trying to arrest Lanfranchi for five suspected armed robberies.

When Lanfranchi stepped out of the car, Rogerson shot him dead, claiming self defence.

Following the shooting, Huckstepp became an anti-police corruption whistleblower.

She went on television and gave extensive interviews about allegedly crooked police, including Rogerson who she claimed murdered Lanfranchi and stole the $10,000 bribe he was carrying to be let off the police shooting.

She also claimed that Neddy Smith had lied at Lanfranchi's inquest and was in cahoots with Rogerson.

Huckstepp's media profile blossomed, but she couldn't give up heroin. She began a relationship with a police officer.

On February 6, 1986 she told her flat mate that she would be back home shortly after an evening phone call.

The following day her body was found floating in Busby Pond, in Centennial Park.

Neddy Smith stood trial for her murder, but was acquitted.


Drury was a Sydney detective whose dramatic attempted murder in 1984 - believed to have been carried out by Melbourne hitman Chris Flannery - brought an end to Roger Rogerson's career.

Rogerson was suspected of having organised the hit after former undercover agent Drury's surveillance resulted in charged against Melbourne heroin dealer, Alan Williams.

The murder attempt at Drury's Chatswood home makes for dramatic scenes in Blue Murder and the aftermath when Drury almost died from his gunshot wounds.

Rogerson was tried but acquitted on conspiracy to murder charges.

But Drury believed the shocking truth that Rogerson was involved, and could only publicly admitted it after the disgraced detective was convicted for Jamie Gao's murder in late 2016.

Drury is now retired from the police force and a respected philatelist and collector of rare stamps.

Blue Murder: Killer Cop continues tonight at 8.45pm on Channel 7.

News Corp Australia

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