There was no gloating when disgraced detective Roger Rogerson learnt of the death in prison of once feared gangster Neddy Smith, his longtime accomplice turned ferocious foe.
Smith and Rogerson – both serving life for murder in Long Bay jail – had known each other 45 years and once formed the most infamous partnership in Australian crime.
Rogerson, now 80, was in Long Bay’s aged and frail unit last Wednesday when a prison officer told him 76-year-old Smith had died in the jail hospital.
His wife Anne Melocco told Daily Mail Australia that Rogerson had mentioned Smith’s death but there had certainly been no celebration or revengeful one-liners.
‘He did mention that he probably would have been dead long before if he hadn’t been in jail but that’s about it,’ Ms Melocco said.
Notorious gangster Neddy Smith died aged 76 in Long Bay jail last week while serving a life sentence of murder. Former detective Roger Rogerson, 80, was in Long Bay’s aged and frail unit when a prison officer told him Smith had died in the jail hospital. Smith is pictured
Rogerson’s wife Anne Melocco told Daily Mail Australia her husband had mentioned Smith’s death but there had been no celebration or revengeful one-liners. ‘He did mention that he probably would have been dead long before if he hadn’t been in jail but that’s about it,’ she said
Rogerson and Smith could often be found drinking at inner-city pubs including Alexandria’s Star and Iron Duke, the Captain Cook at Millers Point and the Lord Wolseley in Ultimo. They were photographed by a federal police surveillance unit in the Covent Garden at Chinatown
‘He’s never seen him in prison because Neddy was in the hospital and Roger hasn’t been there. He hasn’t seen him for however long he’s been in jail.’
Rogerson and Smith’s joint exploits were immortalised in the award-winning 1995 television series Blue Murder and their notorious association helped eventually bring each man down.
Smith, who survived Sydney’s 1980s gang wars, had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for the past four decades and spent his last 33 years behind bars.
Rogerson has been in custody since May 2014 for the murder that month of 20-year-old student and wannabe drug dealer Jamie Gao.
He and fellow former detective Glen McNamara were jailed for life in September 2016 and lost appeals over their convictions in July.
Rogerson had once been the brightest star in the New South Wales Police Force and Smith one of the heaviest criminals that Sydney has known.
While Rogerson was locking up – and sometimes shooting dead – crooks in the 1970s and 1980s, Smith was distributing heroin and pulling off major armed robberies.
Smith’s exploits with Rogerson featured in the 1995 television drama series Blue Murder. Pictured left to right are Gary Sweet playing hitman Chris Flannery, Peter Phelps as Henry, Richard Roxburgh as detective Roger Rogerson and Tony Martin as Smith
Rogerson has always maintained Smith was no more than a valuable informant for the Armed Hold-Up Squad. Smith insisted the pair became partners in crime. Tony Martin is pictured left playing Smith and Richard Roxburgh as Rogerson in the television series Blue Murder
The pair met in November 1976 when Rogerson arrested Smith as he was reporting for bail at Rockdale police station and charged him attempting to snatch the Fielders Bakery payroll at Granville.
Rogerson has always maintained from that time on Smith was no more than a valuable informant for the Armed Hold-Up Squad. Smith insisted they became partners in crime.
The pair could often be found drinking with other police and criminals at inner-city pubs including Alexandria’s Star and Iron Duke, the Captain Cook at Millers Point and the Lord Wolseley in Ultimo.
They were famously photographed slapping each other with wads of $50 notes for the benefit of federal police surveillance unit at Chinatown’s Covent Garden Hotel.
While Smith was virtually untouchable as he ran amok across Sydney many of his criminal associates on the 1980s died violently.
It was Smith who in 1981 drove drug dealer Warren Lanfranchi to an appointment with Rogerson at which the policeman shot Lanfranchi dead in a Chippendale lane.
That shooting hastened the detective’s downfall after Lanfranchi’s girlfriend Sallie-Anne Huckstepp publicly stated her lover was meeting Rogerson to pay him a bribe.
Rogerson claimed Lanfranchi was armed and he shot him in self-defence.
Smith was a major heroin distributor in Sydney when the city’s streets were awash with that drug. He once claimed to be a cash millionaire. While dealing narcotics he was also pulling off brazen armed robberies worth hundreds of thousands of dollars
Smith, who was once the most infamous crook in Australia, was serving life for murder. Smith (left) is pictured with ex-wife Debra and brothel keeper Harvey Jones, who he was convicted of having murdered in 1983
Smith said his assistance to Rogerson at a coronial inquest into Lanfranchi’s death led to senior police granting him a ‘green light’ to commit major crimes.
Huckstepp’s body was found floating in a pond at Centennial Park in 1986 and Smith would later be charged with murdering the sex worker, with unproven suggestions Rogerson had been involved.
Smith’s final downfall had begun in October 1987 when he and another criminal killed tow truck diver Ronald Flavell during a road rage incident at Coogee.
He was granted bail but in December the next year was arrested with two others outside Botany Council preparing to snatch its Christmas payroll drop.
With Rogerson dismissed from the force in 1986 and Smith’s other police friends no longer able to help, he was refused bail and spent the rest of his life in jail.
Rogerson had publicly accused Smith of informing on other criminals in media interviews and in the early 1990s the crook spectacularly turned on the copper.
In 1992 he gave evidence at an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into the relationship between police and criminals, implicating Rogerson and others in organised crime.
Smith’s final downfall had begun in October 1987 when he and another criminal killed tow truck diver Ronald Flavell during a road rage incident at Coogee. He is pictured in 1980
A year later his autobiography Neddy was published with even more damning claims against Rogerson and the book became the basis for Blue Murder.
Smith was by then a pariah in the underworld and despised by the detectives he said had allowed him to make millions of dollars from dealing heroin and staging armed robberies.
Languishing in Long Bay he was paired with a police informer dubbed Mr Brown who secretly recorded him confessing to a string of 1980s murders, all of which he later denied having committed.
In 1995 he was charged with the murders of Huckstepp, brothel keeper Harvey Jones (1983) and drug dealers Lewton Shu (1983), Danny Chubb (1984), Barry McCann (1987), Barry Croft (1987) and Bruce Sandery (1988).
Smith would claim that before Jones disappeared – his body was not found until 1995 – the sometime used car salesman had been arranging to pay Rogerson $60,000 to make gold bullion theft charges go away.
Rogerson has always maintained Smith was no more than a valuable informant for the Armed Hold-Up Squad. Smith insisted the pair became partners in crime. Rogerson is pictured in 2004
Rogerson, who was called to give evidence at the seven murder committals, denied ever taking money off Smith or that Jones had been paying him a bribe.
He had been at Merrylands Bowling Club the night Huckstepp was killed, and said he had never told Smith it would be ‘best to get rid of Croft’.
The Chubb, McCann, Croft and Sandery cases were dismissed at committal and the Shu case was no-billed. Smith was convicted of the Jones murder and acquitted of killing Huckstepp.
With Smith jailed for life Rogerson took to the speaking circuit for a while, telling wild stories of his days on the force, and wrote a memoir.
Since joining Smith at Long Bay there have been occasional reports from criminal and police sources of the pair being sighted together which Corrective Services always denied.
Ms Melocco said Rogerson had been disappointed by losing his murder conviction appeal but had not given up hope and would take the case to the High Court.
Smith’s long relationship with the since disgraced detective sergeant Roger Rogerson caused both men ongoing difficulties. Rogerson (in handcuffs) is serving life for the murder of 20-year-old drug dealer Jamie Gao