The glamorous lawyer who represented some of Australia’s most notorious criminals during Melbourne’s Gangland War has lashed out at her former colleague – known as Informer 3838.
Zarah Garde-Wilson, who was portrayed in the original and best Underbelly series by actress Kestie Morassi, became aware the lawyer had turned rogue years ago.
‘I knew she was playing both sides back in 2006 – it just took a while for it to come out,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Zarah Garde-Wilson has lashed out at her former colleague known as Informer 3838, saying she knew she had turned ‘dual agent’. Pictured arriving at court in 2005
Ms Garde-Wilson said the lawyer had ‘absolutely’ stitched-up some of her own clients over the journey.
Dozens of convictions in Victoria are now in doubt after the High Court raised concerns about the legality of the gangland lawyer being used as a police informant.
Premier Daniel Andrews has announce a $7.5million Royal Commission into the issue.
One of those clients was convicted drug trafficker Rob Karam, whom she acted as a solicitor for.
Karam’s conviction is among a who’s who of alleged villains whose convictions are now being questioned.
Zarah Garde-Wilson worked closely with the informer who has brought on a Royal Commission
Zarah Garde-Wilson leaves the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in 2007
Actress Kestie Morassi portrayed Zarah Garde-Wilson in the original Underbelly tv series
Ms Garde-Wilson said Informer 3838’s clients were oblivious to the fact they were talking to a police stooge.
The bombshell revelations can finally be revealed after years of court-imposed gag orders protecting the lawyer were lifted.
The lawyer, who acted for gangsters including dead crime boss Carl Williams and Tony Mokbel, began working for police in mid-2003 when she met approximately six times with a Detective Sergeant of the Purana Taskforce, which was investigating gangland crime.
‘Having worked with the lawyer on other cases, it came to my attention in 2006 she was a dual agent so I ceased working with her,’ she said.
Others remained oblivious that there was rat among their ranks.
‘It took other people a lot longer to realise,’ Ms Garde-Wilson said.
Dozens of convictions against some of Australia’s most notorious criminals such as Tony Mokbel are now in doubt
Ms Garde-Wilson’s boyfriend Lewis Caine was shot during the Gangland War in 2004
No stranger to controversy, Ms Garde-Wilson became a household name in Melbourne when her boyfriend Lewis Caine became a victim of the Gangland War in 2004.
Then in 2011, her former partner, Lansley Simon, was charged with murdering Paul Thornell in Cockatoo.
The pair have three children together.
He was subsequently cleared.
During the Gangland War, she became the lawyer of choice for many of Melbourne’s underworld figures.
Ms Garde-Wilson, who remains a regular sight at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, said she had been critical of the lawyer behind the scenes.
‘I’ve been pushing for a Royal Commission on this for the past four years,’ she said.
‘We’ve issued subpoenas and the like. We did everything we could do at the time to bring it to the surface but we were just hit with brick walls.’
Zarah Garde-Wilson in 2008 after being cleared of charges of giving false evidence
Ms Garde-Wilson said it was mind boggling as to how a criminal lawyer could ever have been allowed to have acted as a police informer.
‘Like the High Court says, it’s unprecedented. It’s unheard of. It is not allowed to happen,’ she said.
Her comments follow criticism of the scandal by former Homicide Squad detective Ron Iddles on morning radio.
Mr Iddles said he warned top brass almost 10 years ago using the lawyer as an informer would end in tears.
‘I had a further conversation with senior police, including a superintendent, and I said: ‘You don’t get this. I can tell you now this will cause a royal commission’,’ he said.
‘I was concerned about it and it was raised within the office about how a lawyer could be registered as an informer.’
Mr Iddles told 3AW radio’s Neil Mitchell he was instructed by former Police Commissioner Simon Overland to take a statement from the lawyer in relation to the Shane Chartres-Abbott murder.
The case allegedly involved both serving and ex police officers, but no charges have ever been laid.
‘It was clear if I took the statement this was going to expose 3838 as a police informer,’ Mr Iddles said.
Zarah Garde-Wilson outside the Melbourne Supreme Court in 2005
The veteran detective contacted his superintendent, who spoke to Mr Overland.
‘The message came back: ‘you are directed to take a statement’,’ he said.
Mr Iddles did as he was told, but never got the statement signed.
‘I was fairly firm in my conversation (with his bosses). I just couldn’t get that they didn’t understand the ramifications of deploying and registering a solicitor,’ Mr Iddles said.
The former detective said Mr Overland was informed of his views by at least two of his superiors at the time.
A committee consisting of a superintendent and possibly an assistant commissioner authorised 3838 as being registered as an informer, Mr Iddles said.
‘It’s not going to withstand scrutiny and it’s not ethical,’ Mr Iddles said of the decision.
‘So it’s those senior members who need to be held to account.’
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