Colin Winchester è stato il vicecapo della polizia federale, assassinato a Canberra il 10 gennaio del 1989 con due colpi di revolver alla testa. Rosario Zerilli viene indicato come l’esecutore materiale del delitto. Il superpoliziotto stava indagando su terreni acquistati dalle famiglie della Locride con i soldi provenienti da alcuni rapimenti in Lombardia nei quali erano rimasti implicati esponenti dei Perre, dei Sergi, dei Papalia, dei Barbaro, tutti originari di Platì, la cittadina calabrese che deteneva “il record assoluto dell’emigrazione italiana in Australia”. Negli anni Ottanta, l’Abci, l’anticrimine australiana, accertò l’esistenza di una struttura criminale estesa su tutto il territorio, dedita prevalentemente al traffico di droga. L’organizzazione era dominata da capi bastone: Giuseppe Carbone (Australia meridionale con l’eccezione di Sydney), Domenico Alvaro (Nuovo Galles del Sud, con l’eccezione di Griffith e Canberra), Pasquale Alvaro a Canberra, Peter Callipari a Griffith, Pasquale Barbaro a Melbourne e Giuseppe Alvaro ad Adelaide.
Tratto da: Fratelli di Sangue di Nicola Gratteri e Antonio Nicaso
The highest ranking police officer in Australia to be murdered, Assistant Federal Police Commissioner Colin Winchester was shot twice in the head at point blank range as he was getting out of his car outside his Deakin home on January 10, 1989. At the time of his death Winchester was the Chief of Police in ACT region. He had served in the law enforcement of 27 years, firstly with the Australian Capital Territory Police Force and then in the Australian Federal Police after its formation in 1979. The shock of his death and the long investigation which followed left a lasting imprint on his fellow officers as they struggled to bring the killer to justice.
Articolo dell’11 Novembre 2013 da heraldsun.com.au
The man convicted of murdering top cop Colin Winchester could be freed amid claims the mafia were behind the assassination
CONVICTED cop killer David Eastman could be freed after having serving 18 years of a life sentence for a crime he claims he didn’t commit.
Eastman hopes a judicial inquiry – which began hearing evidence in Canberra on Cup Day – will clear his name.
The former public servant is pinning his hopes on his claim there is evidence it was the Calabrian mafia that shot dead Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Colin Winchester in 1989.
Police will be arguing at the judicial inquiry, which is expected to run for several months, that the “mafia did it” angle was fully investigated and ruled out, and that they got the right man: Eastman.
Mr Winchester, 55, is the most senior public official ever assassinated in Australia.
There were no witnesses to the two quick shots that killed him, and the Ruger 10/12 self-loading rifle used in the slaying was never found.
The Winchester execution made headlines around the world almost 25 years ago.
And the judicial inquiry, which Eastman won by successfully arguing before the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court that there was new evidence casting doubt on his conviction, has now put it back in the news again.
Mr Winchester probably never knew what hit him as he prepared to get out of his cream Ford Falcon about 9.15pm on January 10, 1989.
He had just driven the unmarked police car into the driveway next door to his home in Lawley St, in the Canberra suburb of Deakin. He had an arrangement with his neighbour, an elderly widow, to park his car there to offer her some sense of security.
The waiting assassin had the cover of darkness, as well as the shelter of tall gums and shrubs, as he watched Mr Winchester’s car slow and stop, before creeping up from behind.
Bringing his .22 Ruger rifle to his shoulder, he waited for the father of two to open the car door and start getting out.
The first shot was fired into the back of Mr Winchester’s head from a distance of 40 to 60cm.
A second was fired into the side of the head, just above the right ear.
An autopsy later revealed either shot would have been fatal.
The killer fled without being spotted, and left nothing behind that might have identified him.
Two shell cases were unsuccessfully tested for fingerprints.
Gwen Winchester had heard the car arrive and within seconds heard what she described as two sharp cracks, separated by half a second or so, which sounded like “sharp stones coming up on to the front of the window”.
She went outside to investigate and saw her husband’s car parked in its usual spot. She noticed the interior light was on, that the driver’s side door was open, and that her husband was still seated in the driver’s seat, his right foot on the ground.
He did not respond to her shaking and appeared unconscious, so she ran back inside and rang 000, saying she thought her husband had had a heart attack.
Frantically rushing back outside, she put her hands behind his head to start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, felt wetness, and saw blood.
She noticed a pack of bullets on her husband’s lap and “for one crazy minute I thought he must have committed suicide”.
Mrs Winchester later learned he had picked up the ammunition for a hunting trip.
Hands covered in blood, Mrs Winchester ran back indoors to ring 000 again.
What followed became one of the highest-profile murder investigations Australia has seen.
Within three days the Federal Government announced a $250,000 reward, and offered protection to informants – including a change of identity – and possible indemnity from prosecution in return for the capture of the killer.
The then justice minister, Michael Tate, said the murder had the hallmarks of a paid execution.
Italian organised crime figures were hot suspects even before the body was cold.
Mr Winchester was a key figure in one of policing’s most controversial operations against a Calabrian mafia gang, and 11 of them were about to face trial on charges related to marijuana crops in the NSW town of Bungendore.
Some of those charged had been led to believe Mr Winchester was protecting them in return for money and felt double-crossed.
But Mr Winchester had actually been working with police informer Giuseppe Verduci to try to penetrate the gang.
That association with Mr Verduci led many police to presume members of the Australian-based Calabrian mafia, which was responsible for ordering the death of Griffith anti-drugs crusader Donald Mackay in 1977, were also responsible for this murder.
Information passed to the National Crime Authority from police in Italy within days of the Winchester murder further convinced some police the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta was responsible.
In interviews with the Herald Sun before the current inquiry began, Winchester murder investigation head and former AFP commander Ric Ninness said he was initially unaware a team of investigators was pursuing information provided by the Carabinieri, the Italian police, that a Calabrian crime figure had flown to Australia from Italy shortly before Mr Winchester was killed.
The Carabinieri told the AFP the crime figure was notorious for his connections to the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta and an accomplished handler of weapons.
AFP checks revealed the crime figure had indeed travelled to Australia with another Italian born in Plati – the Calabrian city that is the world headquarters of the ‘Ndrangheta – just before the Winchester murder.
The pair were met at Melbourne airport by two uncles, both of whom had been charged over the Bungendore drug crops.
It shaped as the most promising lead in the early days of the murder investigation.
Mr Ninness said the Winchester investigation was initially split into two camps with very little co-operation: the one he headed with Commander Lloyd Worthy, and another team at AFP headquarters investigating the Italians after the Italian police tip-off to the NCA.
“There was a lot of friction,” Mr Ninness said. “There were two divided camps and it was a very bad move.
“We were the primary investigation team that was reporting to the Coroner and ultimately the courts.
“We were responsible for preparation of the evidence, and unbeknown to us there was a team set up at headquarters running off doing things that we weren’t aware of.
“I went over and had a meeting with the commissioner (Peter McAulay) and voiced my strong disappointment at what was happening, as the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing.”
Mr Ninness said things then improved.
“The Italians were logical suspects, and I would never refute that. But you have to get factual evidence that can go before a court and be admissible, and that never came out,” he said.
“There was never any credible evidence that came out at any stage in relation to the Italians. Every suspect was exhaustively examined, and we gradually whittled away all the also-rans until there was only one person left.”
That person was former Treasury clerk David Harold Eastman.
Eastman won the current inquiry after losing appeals in the Federal and High Courts.
ACT attorney-general Simon Corbell established the inquiry after ACT Supreme Court judge Justice Shane Marshall ruled there was fresh doubt about Eastman’s guilt that raised significant risk that the conviction was unsafe.
The inquiry will look at issues including Eastman’s fitness to plead, the accuracy of the forensic evidence, and the conduct of police and prosecutors.
It could lead to Eastman’s murder conviction being quashed without a retrial, quashed with a retrial, or a confirmation that the conviction stands.
Part of a secret police dossier that blames the Sergi Calabrian mafia cell for executing Mr Winchester was recently revealed during the Martin inquiry.
The Sergi clan was identified in the confidential document as the group probably responsible for the Winchester murder.
Several Sergis based in Griffith, New South Wales, were named by a royal commissioner in 1979 as being Calabrian mafia members.
Extracts from the police document which fingers the Sergi clan for the Winchester hit were revealed in a recent submission to the Martin inquiry by the ACT’s DPP.
Eastman is trying to convince the Martin inquiry it was the Calabrian mafia, not him, that shot Mr Winchester.
The DPP’s submission to the inquiry included a letter written by Eastman in which Eastman quotes from secret police documents which explored the possibility of the Calabrian mafia being responsible for executing Mr Winchester.
It was written by Eastman in 2005 and formed part of his plea to the ACT Supreme Court as to why there should be an inquiry into his conviction.
Eastman’s letter to the Chief Justice said the grounds for ordering an inquiry included “strong hypotheses consistent with my innocence”.
“These hypotheses concern the strong likelihood that the murder was drug-related and was committed by organised crime,” Eastman’s letter said.
“I enclose a copy of MFI-130, which is a police report which concludes in its Executive Summary that the murder was committed by the Sergi organised crime group.
“MFI-130 was not used at my trial because my barrister, Mr Terracini, did not know that it was among the many documents in his possession and I also did not know of its existence.
“I also enclose a copy of MFI-23, which is another police report, that says, in paragraph 1.5, that investigation of the organised crime leads should continue and ‘this could eventually provide information or evidence directly linked to the murder’.
“One of the detectives centrally involved in conducting those further inquiries, the late Detective Cliff Forster, told my lawyers in 1998 that those inquiries were never satisfactorily completed.
“I enclose a 3-page document recording those conversations.”
It is believed Eastman was mistakenly sent the confidential police documents during the legal discovery process while he was fighting to get the judicial inquiry.
The Herald Sun has been told later documents produced by police following further investigation discount the “mafia did it” theory.
Those documents, and the confidential MFI-130 and MFI-23 documents Eastman is relying on to try to prove his innocence, will be examined in depth in coming months by the Martin inquiry.
Sergi clan members have been murder suspects in the past.
They were accused by a royal commissioner of arranging the 1977 murder of budding politician Donald Mackay because of the effect the Griffith businessman’s public anti-drug stance was having on the Calabrian mafia’s lucrative marijuana business.
The mafia blamed Mr Mackay for tipping off police about two huge drug crops in the Griffith area. The resulting busts cost the organisation $42 million in lost marijuana sales.
So a decision was made that the troublesome Mackay had to go.
The mafia’s Mr Fix-It, Robert Trimbole, was given the job of ensuring Mr Mackay disappeared off the face of the earth.
Mr Mackay vanished on July 15, 1977, and his body has not been found.
The hitman, Melbourne painter and docker James Bazley, served time over the shooting, but Trimbole was never charged and neither was any member of the Sergi clan.
Police informer Gianfranco Tizzoni told detectives in a statement tabled in a royal commission that he attended a meeting at Tony Sergi’s Griffith winery in May 1977 where the execution of Mr Mackay, 43, was plotted.
Tizzoni said Mr Sergi – now 78 – was one of several people at the meeting and that disposing of Mr Mackay in the Calabrian style using “el lupari” – a shotgun – was discussed.
He retracted the statement two days later and made a second statement that did not implicate those he initially named.
The Griffith winery owner told the Herald Sun in 1997 he was not involved in the Mackay murder or any other crimes.
Carl Mengler, a former Victoria Police deputy commissioner and the detective who headed the Victorian investigation into the Mackay disappearance, believes Tizzoni’s first statement was the true one.
He said Tizzoni withdrew it after sitting in a cell with time to think of the possibility of retribution for having named a number of people as having conspired to murder Mr Mackay.
Mr Sergi denied to the Herald Sun in 1997 that he had attended any meeting that discussed executing Mr Mackay.
“I’m innocent. Why does my name keep coming up?” he said at his home, which is at the rear of his winery.
“I didn’t even know Mackay. I never met Tizzoni either.
“This is awful for my family, to have all this brought up again.”
Drugs royal commissioner Justice Woodward’s 1979 report described Mr Sergi as “the operator” of Griffith’s marijuana growing operation.
Justice Woodward named Mr Sergi as being a member of the Calabrian mafia.
The Woodward report also named five other Griffith-based Sergis as being members of the Calabrian mafia.