Saturday, May 28, 2016

Guilty or not guilty? Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara murder trial nears end

FOR those involved in the murder trial of former detectives Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara, there will soon be little to do but wait.
Police, lawyers, the families of both men and their accused victim Jamie Gao, as well as the two accused themselves, have been suspended in time, frozen since a few moments inside a Padstow storage shed on the afternoon of May 20, 2014 when three people walked in and only two came out.
The trial is nearing its end, with the jury expected to begin considering a verdict in coming days, as soon as the barristers involved for the Crown, Rogerson and McNamara finish their closing address, their last chance to convince the jury.
At present there are still 13 members of the jury, as extra members were empaneled due to an estimated trial length of three months, and one will be removed through a ballot system just before consideration of the verdict begins.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to murder and taking part in the supply of 2.78kg of ice brought by Gao to the storage unit for a planned lucrative drug deal.

While both men have a right to silence and were under no obligation to give evidence, they chose to take the witness stand and give their accounts over several gruelling days of questioning by their own lawyers, as well as cross- examination. 
What emerged were two very different stories, told in starkly contrasting manners.
McNamara, his voice often becoming distressed, says Rogerson shot Gao while “seething with anger” over the handover of drugs and cash, and then threatened the safety of McNamara and the lives of his daughters if he didn’t co-operate with the disposal of the body.
Rogerson, whose voice remained steady as he gripped the witness box with both hands each day, said that by the time he entered the storage unit Gao was dead on the floor, with his friend McNamara telling him the young man had “shot himself” during a “real struggle” between the pair for the gun.
Crown prosecutor Christopher Maxwell QC told the jury — as he did in his opening address in the early days of February — that they do not have to determine which man was the shooter in order to return verdicts of guilty to murder, as the two men are being tried under a joint criminal enterprise.
Mr Maxwell presented to the jury lists of circumstances he said prosecutors have revealed in the evidence as proof of the Crown case of beyond reasonable doubt.
For McNamara, they include the more than 20 meetings he had with Gao in the months before the execution, documented by CCTV footage and text message exchanges, and internet searches on his laptop for the type of firearm that police believe was used to kill the 20-year-old — the murder weapon has never been found.
McNamara said in his evidence he was meeting with Gao because the university student was a source for a planned true crime book on drug syndicates and Asian triad gangs, but Mr Maxwell said there has been no evidence of written notes made by the 57-year-old for this book.
Prosecutors have also pointed to Rogerson making a trip to Rent A Space the day before the murder to remove office furniture from the shed that had been leased by his friend Michael Maguire, who has since died.
Rogerson’s lawyer George Thomas has rubbished the suggestion the 75-year-old acted in a “joint criminal enterprise” with McNamara, drawing on a window of three minutes and 19 seconds when his client was not inside shed 803.
Mr Thomas also suggested to the jury — who he said should consider themselves like “bees ... bees working in a hive” towards a verdict — that if there had been a plan all along to kill the university student, then both Rogerson and McNamara would have waited inside to “ambush” Gao.
Mr Thomas told the jury that “Glen McNamara intended to kill Jamie Gao”.
“That was why the surfboard bag (in which Gao’s body was removed from the shed) was there (in McNamara’s car). It was how the body was to be taken out,” Mr Thomas said.
He said that, if there had been a plan to kill Gao all along on Rogerson’s part, he would have been in the shed at the same time as the other two — “not arrive later”.
“What is the point of that?” Mr Thomas asked the jury.
“(If that was the plan) you would have Rogerson (already) in there to do the killing, you would have the surfboard bag ready ... have the site properly prepared if there is a planned execution.”
Mr Thomas urged the jury to “reject outright” the claim by McNamara that, when they took Gao’s body out to sea the day after the shooting, Rogerson fired two shots from the boat as he warned him not to contact police.
McNamara’s barrister Gabriel Wendler will begin his closing address next week, and will be followed by a summary from Justice Geoffrey Bellew.
The jury will retire and return only to ask a question or deliver their verdicts.
For those involved in the case, there will be nothing to do but wait inside the historic King St court complex — nearly four months of witnesses, submissions and often tense cross-examination boiling down to one word or two.
Guilty or not guilty.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rogerson hasn't lied to jury: lawyer

Roger Rogerson lied to witnesses after Sydney student Jamie Gao was killed, but has never lied to the jury, his lawyer has claimed in closing submissions for the former policeman's almost four-month murder trial.
Rogerson and former colleague Glen McNamara have both pleaded not guilty to the shooting murder of Mr Gao in a Padstow storage unit on May 20, 2014.
The crown alleges the duo spent several months conspiring to rip Mr Gao off by stealing 2.78kg of the drug ice in his possession, then dump his body in the ocean near Cronulla to make him disappear.
George Thomas on Wednesday told the NSW Supreme Court jury Rogerson had admitted that after Mr Gao was killed - shot, he claims, by McNamara - the pair went to Kennards Hire to get equipment to move the body.
"He freely admitted he had spoken to the shop attendant about the lathe they wanted to move," Mr Thomas said, referring to the lie Rogerson told the witness.
"What was he supposed to tell the man - that he had been parachuted into a situation that involved a man being killed and that he was parachuted into this situation of the body having to be moved and lifted into a boat?"
Mr Thomas has also rejected evidence that Rogerson entered the Padstow storage unit where the murder is said to have taken place, three minutes after McNamara and Mr Gao, as evidence of a joint criminal enterprise.
"Why not just have Rogerson in the shed to start with so that he's in the shed ready for Gao to arrive and kill him, ambush him?" he said.
Mr Thomas urged the jury to reject claims by McNamara his involvement in Mr Gao's death was under duress because Rogerson had threatened his life and his family's lives.
He instead said McNamara's duress defence was a "fabrication" to explain both why he was seen on CCTV in the aftermath of the murder, and in possession of ice allegedly stolen from Mr Gao.
Defence closing submissions are continuing.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Former NSW cops guilty of murder: crown

Former NSW policemen Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara engineered a fake drug deal in order to steal almost 3kg of ice and make their supplier vanish, the crown says.
Crown prosecutor Chris Maxwell QC finished his three-day closing submissions on Monday, wrapping up the crown's evidence in an almost four-month murder trial.
He urged the jury to convict both Rogerson and McNamara of the shooting murder of 20-year-old university student Jamie Gao in a Padstow storage unit on May 20, 2014.
Both have pleaded not guilty of killing Mr Gao, stealing 2.7kg of ice from him and dumping his body in the ocean near Cronulla.
Mr Maxwell said it didn't matter who fired the two fatal shots because they had been planning the murder together since sometime after January 2014, convincing Mr Gao to meet them for a major drug deal.
Instead they ripped off the ice and tried to make Mr Gao vanish, he said.
"The only way for this to be achieved was by killing him and getting rid of him in a way that would mean he could never be found - like on the bottom of the sea," he said.
Mr Maxwell presented 29 pieces of evidence that he said amounted to a circumstantial case against the pair.
This included a lack of notes to support McNamara's claim he had been meeting with Mr Gao to write a book; that both McNamara and Rogerson took items that were used to wrap up Mr Gao's body to the storage unit the day of the murder; and gunshot residue on Rogerson's clothing.
"The crown presents this case in the way I have outlined and having considered the evidence carefully as I'm confident you will, it would be, in the crown's submission, your solemn obligation to return a verdict of guilty in relation to both counts against both accused."
Both face charges of murder and supplying a commercial quantity of drugs, while Rogerson is facing a third, alternate charge of being an accessory after the fact.
Rogerson's barrister, George Thomas, began his closing submissions by saying it would be easy for the jury to draw "an erroneous conclusion" from the circumstantial evidence.
"The crown wants you to conclude certain circumstances from the evidence," he said.
"They are but some of the conclusions that can be drawn from circumstances."
He reminded them that Rogerson is innocent until proven guilty, and that they must believe the crown case beyond reasonable doubt in order to convict him.
"Anything less is not good enough," he said.

29 reasons why a jury should find Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara guilty of the murder of Jamie Gao: court told

Three men walk into a shed. Only two men come out alive. They were former detectives Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara.

In his closing address to a NSW Supreme Court jury, Crown Prosecutor Christopher Maxwell QC argued there were 29 reasons why the pair should be found guilty of the murder of Jamie Gao and stealing the drugs he had brought to a meeting.

"These are the main or important circumstances that the Crown relies upon," Mr Maxwell said before starting his list below.

1. Glen McNamara had 27 meetings with the deceased Jamie Gao in the lead up to his death on May 20, 2014.

2. Mr McNamara claims the meetings were for research on his next true crime book on Asian gangs and drugs in Sydney. The Crown says his lack of notes taken prove this is not the case. 
3. Roger Rogerson obtained six keys to the shed where Mr Gao was killed from a friend in early March and only returned five keys.

4. The arrival of two Asian men in Australia - who the Crown allege were there to facilitate the drug deal - and their presence on Arab Road where Mr Gao gets into a car with Mr McNamara.

5. Mr Rogerson visits Rent a Space – the storage facility where Mr Gao is killed -  on April 2 and again with Mr McNamara on April 4.

6. Google searches found on Mr McNamara's computer of the same calibre firearm that would later be used to shoot and kill Mr Gao.

7. The frequency of telephone calls between Mr Rogerson and Mr McNamara between January and May 2014, particularly around the times when Mr McNamara meets with Mr Gao.  

8. The purchase of BV67PX – a white Ford Falcon station wagon that the Crown alleges was acquired by Mr Rogerson and Mr McNamara on April 27. This was later used to transport the body of the deceased.

9. The statements Jamie Gao made to his friends and associates – he once told his cousin Justin Gao that he was going to take part in an ice deal and "he said it was going to be massive".

10. Mr McNamara removes his boat from storage the day before Mr Gao's death and returns it the day after. The boat was used to dispose of Mr Gao's body at sea.

11. Mr Rogerson goes to Rent a Space the day before the killing and removes two chairs from unit 803. He returns them two days later.

12. Mr McNamara parks his blue Ford Falcon on the street on May 19.

13. The way Mr McNamara was dressed on May 20 – he was wearing a dark hooded jacket and sunglasses.

14. Mr McNamara had the gate code and keys to unit 803 on May 20.

15. The way in which Mr Rogerson and Mr McNamara parked their respective cars on Arab Road minutes before Mr Gao was due to arrive.

16. The way Mr McNamara parked the white station wagon BV67PX outside unit 803 and shielded  Mr Gao so that he would not been seen on CCTV as he entered the shed.

17. Mr Rogerson enters the storage shed three minutes and 19 seconds after Mr McNamara and Mr Gao enter.

18. Mr McNamara brings a silver Ocean & Earth surfboard bag which is used to place the deceased's body inside.  

19. Mr Rogerson brings ropes and tarpaulin to the storage shed on the day of the killing.  

20. Mr McNamara's garage was used to transfer the deceased into a boat.

21. Mr Rogerson was present at Kennard's Hire and assisted in hiring a chain block to move Mr Gao's body.

22. Mr Rogerson's actions inside Mr McNamara's Cronulla apartment after Mr Gao is killed. 
Mr McNamara's daughter Jessica claims that she saw Mr Rogerson tapping a dark coloured object in his pockets.

23. The gunshot residue on Mr Rogerson's hat and from the pockets of his black tracksuit pants.

24. The disposal of the body of Mr Gao at sea on May 21. It was found floating off the shores of Cronulla by fishermen on May 26.  

25. Mr McNamara disposes of a bag of clothing on May 21.

26. Two pillowcases, a jug and a measuring spoon were bought from Kmart on May 22 - these items are used to repackage the three kilograms of ice.

27. The involvement of a man named Adam Borg and the attempts made to get the untraceable car BV67PX towed after it is used to transport the deceased's body.

28. A meeting at Sydney Airport on May 28 between Mr McNamara and Mr Rogerson.

29. After the police tow away the car BV67PX with the drugs inside, Mr McNarama uses a payphone to call Karl Bonnette, a man who the Crown argues helped the two accused to purchase the car. 

Mr Maxwell ended his closing address by looking at the jury and saying: "It will be your solemn obligation to return a verdict of guilty in relation to both counts against both accused."