John Silvester reports: ” Paul Dale, the former policeman [now, a Wangaratta business owner] publicly linked to the jail murder of underworld figure Carl Williams, has been cleared of any involvement in the killing.
As the police taskforce probing the murder completes its final reports, investigators have concluded that while Dale was an ”unwitting beneficiary” of Williams’ death, he did not plan, authorise or know of the attack.
Acting Assistant Commissioner (Crime) Doug Fryer told The Age: ”We have found no evidence to support the theory that he was involved at all.”
He said the 25-month investigation by Taskforce Driver had found no evidence any prison officer or Corrections Victoria staff helped set up the attack.
Williams was bashed to death by fellow inmate Matthew Johnson inside Barwon Prison’s maximum security Acacia unit on April 19, 2010.
Williams had made statements to police implicating Dale in the 2004 murders of police informer Terence Hodson and Hodson’s wife, Christine. The statements were seen as vital in the prosecution of Dale and the hitman accused of killing the couple. Weeks after the jail murder, the charges against the two men were dropped.
The Driver taskforce has been told:
- An underworld hitman concerned that Williams would make a statement implicating him in a gangland killing helped plan the Barwon Prison murder.
- A third inmate in the Acacia unit, Tommy Ivanovic, had prior knowledge of the plot to kill Williams.
- Johnson decided at least a month before the attack to commit the killing.
- Underworld figures inside and outside of prison wanted Williams dead.
- Influential prisoners urged Ivanovic to distance himself from Williams when it became known the former gangland boss was trying to cut a deal with police.
Johnson, who was found guilty of the murder and sentenced to 32 years’ jail, claims he alone decided to kill Williams in an act of ”defensive homicide” because he believed Williams was planning to kill him.
”Things could be worse, maybe I could be dead. Better to be here, than on the floor with a hole in my head,” Johnson wrote in a poem seen by The Age.
Mr Fryer said Driver detectives had investigated every gangland murder in the past 10 years looking for links to the Williams killing. Driver detectives opened six cold-case organised crime investigations and two unsolved underworld murder probes.
”We have explored several theories that there was some external influence in the Williams murder and some of these appear to have substance,” he said. ”We have intelligence that Johnson did not act alone but not sufficient corroborative evidence to justify charges at this stage.”
He said the 30-strong taskforce would close on June 30, although the Hodson and Williams murder files would stay open. The cases will return to the homicide squad. Mr Fryer said there were plans to re-establish the taskforce if new information was found.
”Victoria Police has been committed for the last eight years to the investigation into the murders of Terence and Christine Hodson and we wanted to bring some form of closure for the family, but we simply do not have enough to justify laying charges,” he said.
Mr Fryer said the coronial brief would be completed within four weeks and police remained hopeful an inquest might provide new information. ”This case will not be closed until there is a conviction.”
The Driver taskforce reviewed 3000 prison letters, 40,000 jail phone calls and 20,000 pieces of jail information.
Mr Fryer said police were confident they knew who was behind Williams’ murder and would continue to investigate them. “
source: [John Silvester] theage.com.au