The Sydney solicitor shot dead at a cafe on Tuesday afternoon had a long list of clients engaged in organised crime in the city’s south-west.
Ho Ledinh, who was gunned down at Bankstown City Plaza in what police have described as a targeted hit, was also well-known in the Vietnamese community for his strong political views.
New South Wales Upper House Opposition Whip Shaoquett Moselmane, who had known Mr Ledinh since their university days, said he was ‘shattered’ and ‘sickened’ by his friend’s killing.
Witnesses reported a gunman approaching the 65-year-old about 3.30pm and shooting him up to four times as he sat at a table in the Happy Cup cafe which Mr Ledinh had part-owned.
Slain solicitor Ho Ledinh pictured with his wife Ngo Thu Huong, pregnant with their third child
Bankstown criminal lawyer Ho Ledinh was shot dead sitting at a cafe on Tuesday afternoon
Solicitor Ho Ledinh’s blood can be seen on the step of the Happy Cup cafe at Bankstown
The gunman, who was possibly of Pacific Islander appearance, is still on the run.
The New South Wales Police Force’s homicide squad commander, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, said investigators did not believe the shooting was random.
‘We’re confident the shooting was targeted,’ Detective Superintendent Cook said.
‘He was a criminal solicitor, in the sense that that was his business to practise.
‘He has a lot of clients who are engaged in organised crime and other offences, so that is absolutely a line of inquiry in terms of his business.’
Mr Ledinh had three young children with his 30-year-old second wife Ngo Thu Huong, who once worked for Asiana Airlines, and two adult children from his first marriage.
Mr Ledinh’s wife and children, who live with him in a modest brick home at Bankstown, are returning from Vietnam.
Ho Ledinh pictured with his wife Ngo Thu Huong and children, who are reportedly in Vietnam
A man fitting descriptions of the shooter (pictured in green) was seen running from the scene
Slain Bankstown solicitor Ho Ledinh pictured while representing cop-killer Philip Nguyen
Detective Superintendent Cook said police were unaware of any threat to Mr Ledinh or his family before the shooting.
‘We’re searching for motives at the moment,’ he said. ‘Our focus at the moment is on speaking to witnesses who will provide that sort of detail.’
‘We’re still learning about him, learning about his background outside of his business. That will take us some time and that will require us to engage with the family more deeply.’
The killer was described as having an olive complexion – possibly of Pacific Islander appearance – with a medium build.
Vietnamese-born Mr Ledinh was the principal of Ledinh Lawyers which has its offices in Bankstown’s Old Town Centre Plaza and was admitted as a solicitor in 1999.
He was well-known for his legal work and as a supporter of the Labor party. He also wrote columns on legal issues for the anti-communist Saigon Times news website in Sydney.
The scene at the Happy Cup cafe at Bankstown where solicitor Ho Ledinh was shot dead
Bankstown solicitor Ho Lindh pictured with his pregnant wife Ngo Thu Huong and children
Ho Ledinh can be seen in the this picture after he was shot dead at the Happy Cup cafe
The president of the NSW chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia, Paul Huy Nguyen, described Mr Ledinh as ‘a very well-known criminal lawyer.’
‘It’s a moment of horror,’ Mr Nguyen said of the solicitor’s killing. ‘It’s a big loss in our community.’
‘We haven’t come to terms with why it’s happened. We cannot understand how it would happen.’
Six years ago Mr Ledinh was photographed in the Jubilee Room at NSW Parliament House in the company of politicians including Labor’s Shaoquett Moselmane, who had been a university friend.
‘Ho and I studied law at the University of NSW in the late 90s,’ Mr Moselmane told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Ho was a good father and a kind-hearted man. He wanted to help his community and the community respected him.
‘The news of his killing sickened me. I was shattered by it. He didn’t deserve to die like this.’
Opposition Upper House Whip Shaoquett Moselmane (left) and president of the NSW chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia, Paul Huy Nguyen, (right) praised Ho Ledinh
Police at the scene of Ho Ledinh’s shooting at the Happy Cup cafe in Bankstown on Tuesday
Solicitor Ho Ledinh, 65, had a young wife and children (pictured) who have been in Vietnam
Solicitor Ho Ledinh, shot dead at Bankstown, was married to Ngo Thu Houng (pictured)
In 2013 Mr Ledinh was photographed meeting Federal Labor’s Blaxland MP Jason Clare while the politician was campaigning in his electorate, which includes parts of Bankstown.
Mr Ledinh was then described in a newspaper report as the owner of the Happy Cup cafe and a long-time Labor supporter.
At the time the solicitor warned Mr Clare that voters would abandon Labor over the proposed carbon tax and the rising cost of living.
‘They will vote [for the Coalition] because it affects their daily life, it affects their family and their wealth,’ Mr Ledinh said.
A spokeswoman for the Labor mayor of Bankstown, Councillor Khal Asfour, said he did not wish to comment about the shooting ‘because it’s under investigation’.
Police have launched a manhunt for the gunman (pictured in green), who fled the scene
Criminal lawyer Ho Lindh’s wife and children (all pictured) are reportedly in Vietnam
Mr Ledinh was one of several lawyers who represented Philip Nguyen, who in March 2013 was jailed for seven years over the death of Constable Bill Crews in September 2010.
Constable Crews, 26, was shot by a colleague at Bankstown as police returned gunfire from Nguyen when they executed a search warrant in relation to a drug investigation.
Nguyen’s sentence was successfully appealed and his minimum term for manslaughter was increased in August 2013 to 12 years.
Investigators from Strike Force Eugene are seeking any video footage from shops, dash cams, or mobile phones taken between 2.30pm and 4pm in the vicinity of Chapel Road, Marion Street, North and South Terraces, Greenfield Parade, Restwell Street, and Bankstown City Plaza.
Lawyer Ho Ledinh lived in this Bankstown house with his second wife and three children