Drug baron sees 30-year sentence torn up
A drug baron’s conviction as been quashed thanks to fallout from the “Lawyer X” scandal, in which it was revealed that lawyer Nicola Gobbo had acted as a paid police informant for years.
Gobbo provided information to Victoria Police about her own clients, including suspected drug trafficker Tony Mokbel, according to a report by The Guardian.
Gobbo, who acted as a police informant since 1995 – before she even started practicing as a lawyer – first met with police about Mokbel in 2005, according to The Guardian. Gobbo acted as a lawyer for Mokbel and those in his drug-trafficking operation.
In 2000, Mokbel allegedly bankrolled a shipment of more than $750,000 worth of cocaine from Mexico. He’s been serving a 30-year prison sentence for his involvement in that importation since 2007, when he was captured in Greece after fleeing Australia.
But thanks to Gobbo’s involvement as a paid informant, that conviction has now been set aside in the Victorian court of appeal – and prosecutors say they will not seek a retrial, The Guardian reported. Mokbel’s conviction in the case is one of three separate instances in which convictions have been overturned thanks to Gobbo’s informing. In the other two cases, men were released from prison after the verdict.
For now, Mokbel remains in Barwon prison for other drug offences. However, he is appealing those convictions on the basis of Gobbo’s involvement. Justice Chris Maxwell said Tuesday that the court of appeal was “anxious” to hear the remainder of Mokbel’s appeal – but that its ability to do so could be delayed by resourcing issues caused by other appeals related to the Lawyer X scandal.
Gobbo told police about her knowledge of the Mokbel crew after one of the suspected drug lord’s underlings was charged with drug offences.
“She was 100% looking for a way out of that environment where she felt compelled to do these things on behalf of people that, let’s face it, were involved in serious organised crime for many, many years – homicides, large-scale drug trafficking,” Victoria police officer Paul Rowe told a royal commission into the state’s use of police informants. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying she doesn’t have a level of responsibility for her own behaviour, but she was under enormous pressure and looking for a way out, a hand of friendship.”