An inquest into the 1975 execution-style killing of Shirley Finn has heard a chilly case evaluate in 2014 uncovered police corruption linked to the brothel madam’s homicide.
Ms Finn was shot 4 occasions within the head, her physique discovered on a Monday morning in June, slumped over the wheel of her white Dodge Phoenix parked on the Royal Perth Golf Course.
She was killed simply two days earlier than a tax listening to the place she had been threatening to blow the whistle on illicit dealings by high-profile politicians, businessmen and police.
Sergeant Brent Fletcher was the investigating officer in command of the 2014 chilly case evaluate and subsequent investigation.
He informed the Perth Coroner’s Courtroom that there had all the time been rumours of police corruption surrounding the case and, when requested what he found, mentioned one case of corruption was discovered.
He mentioned the officer in query had been referred to the police inner affairs unit, nevertheless no extra particulars got, together with their id.
Sergeant Fletcher mentioned the preliminary evaluate led his group to establish three essential strains of inquiry that might result in figuring out Ms Finn’s killer.
Section one was to return to the entire witnesses who claimed to have seen Ms Finn’s automobile on Melville Parade the night time earlier than her physique was discovered.
The subsequent section was to go over all calls made to Crime Stoppers concerning the case.
The third section was trying into what got here to be thought of excessive precedence suspects, which included former head of the Vice Squad Bernie Johnson, infamous Sydney underworld determine Arthur Stanley “Neddy” Smith and different strains of inquiry in NSW.
Sergeant Fletcher mentioned between 1975 and 2014, 110 suspects had been recognized.
When questioned he agreed not one of the suspects had been definitively excluded and lots of had since died.
He mentioned of the numerous suspects, “there was actually, I would not say extra weight, however extra hearsay and hypothesis, surrounding Johnson than among the others”.
Mr Johnson died in April this 12 months and Smith is a convicted double-murderer, serving a number of life sentences in a Sydney jail.
When it turned clear a coronial inquest into the homicide can be going down, Sergeant Fletcher mentioned he “put the brakes” on the investigation.
He did interview Mr Johnson previous to his loss of life however no particulars have been revealed in court docket right now.
Senior police figures not examined
Matthew Crowley, the lawyer representing Ms Finn’s daughter Bridget Shewring, grilled Sergeant Fletcher on why some components of the case had not been investigated.
Specifically he was requested why witness accounts that named three police figures — former head of the Prison Investigation Department Don Hancock, former senior detective Arthur Simms and former officer James Boland — because the assassin had not been explored.
Sergeant Fletcher mentioned it was a matter of balancing assets and so if an individual of curiosity had died, as within the case of Mr Hancock and Mr Simms, or if the proof referring to these individuals have been from rumour, as with Mr Boland, they weren’t prioritised.
Mr Crowley additionally requested why forensic proof, together with fingerprints and hair samples from Ms Finn’s automobile, had not been re-examined.
Sergeant Fletcher agreed that whereas bodily proof was vital, he believed it was a line of inquiry that was but to be pursued.
The court docket additionally heard Sergeant Fletcher had been unable to seek out any proof that the boot of Ms Finn’s automobile had ever been opened.
Mr Crowley mentioned this was regarding, particularly contemplating earlier proof from Rose Black, Ms Finn’s live-in girlfriend, that she had seen baggage of cash positioned within the boot earlier on the night time she was killed.
When requested whether or not forensic officers driving the automobile away with out gloves or precautions was “ineptness or one thing extra sinister”, Sergeant Fletcher mentioned it was a distinct time for forensics again then.
Ms Finn’s white Dodge Phoenix has since disappeared.
Proof was additionally revealed a map, drawn by a police sketch artist, of the place Ms Finn’s automobile had been discovered included a street that didn’t exist as proven.
The court docket additionally heard of an intensive report on Mr Johnson, written by former deputy police commissioner Les Ayton, who investigated police corruption between 1987 and 1992.
Sergeant Fletcher mentioned he had been unable to verify the doc’s existence and a request to the workplace of inner affairs to entry the report had been denied.
As was later clarified in court docket, Sergeant Fletcher’s duty whereas main the evaluate was to seek out proof that will result in the arrest of a suspect, not conduct a coronial investigation into the loss of life.
Name for extra witnesses
Since starting in September final 12 months, greater than 50 witnesses have given proof on the inquest.
Those that have testified ranged from former cops, family and friends of Ms Finn to eyewitnesses linked to occasions over the weekend earlier than her physique was discovered.
Allegations of police corruption have lengthy dogged the case, with many witnesses labelling Mr Johnson a key participant in her homicide.
Different names typically talked about embrace former WA premier Ray O’Connor — the police minister in 1975 who was allegedly having an affair with Ms Finn — and Mr Hancock.
This week the court docket once more heard tales of Mr Johnson main a bunch often known as the “Purple Circle”, described by former police officer Gary Timms as a set of cops and different influential individuals who had energy above their rank.
On Thursday former officer Michael Regan mentioned Mr Johnson led the purple circle.
“You do not ‘f***’ with Bernie,” he informed the court docket.
“When he mentioned bounce, you mentioned ‘how excessive?’.”
Regardless of the numerous witnesses who’ve testified up to now, the inquest seems no nearer to figuring out who pulled the set off.
On Friday the inquest was adjourned. It was revealed quite a lot of inquiries have been going down, together with a scientific investigation as a result of be handed down in September and additional forensic investigations of the proof.
Coroner Barry King made a plea to the general public for anybody who has not already come ahead with data on Ms Finn’s homicide to take action.
No date was set for the following hearings however Mr King mentioned the inquest would probably resume in six months’ time.