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This Page Last Updated 8-23-2010



The Hillbilly Dictator



7. Gulbransen Sets a Trap


Shirley Brifman was charged in Sydney in 1971 with procuring her daughter, 14, for prostitution. She took the view that police in Queensland and New South Wales had 'the power' to stop the prosecution, and had improperly neglected to do so. In June 1971, she went public on the ABC's 'This Day Tonight' with allegations that she had committed perjury at the Gibbs inquiry on behalf of Brisbane police and had paid police in Sydney.

According to Brifman, Anthony Murphy rang her sister the next day and said: 'Where is your sister? Has she gone completely mad? There will never be another Royal Commission in this state. We will not allow it.' Brifman claimed that Murphy said to Lewis: 'One woman I could trust with my life. She has now brought me undone.'

Superintendent Norman Gulbransen, with Constable Gregory Early, of Whitrod's office, taking shorthand notes, interrogated Brifman in September and October 1971. Murphy was transferred out of the Licensing Branch to Lewis's Juvenile Aid Bureau. Hodges submitted to Cabinet a plan to set up an anti-corruption squad. The Police Union executive said Hodges was an unsuitable Police Minister.

Whitrod said a Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) would investigate police corruption and organised crime, and put Gulbransen in charge. Born on 16 September 1916, Gulbransen joined the force in November 1938, and the CIB in 1943. A former detective, His Excellency the Hon William Hayden, Governor-General of Australia, who was a member of the Queensland police force from 1953 to 1961, has stated that Gulbransen was his hero. Gulbransen became a detective sergeant in 1956 and was out of Brisbane for much of the Bischof period. In January 1970, he was promoted to Inspector fourth class and almost immediately, over 69 others, to Superintendent. As a Churchill fellow, he studied and reported on organised crime and police corruption overseas in 1971. He became Assistant Commissioner (Crime) in 1973.

As head of the CIU in October 1971, Gulbransen put Sergeant Basil 'The Hound' Hicks, who had been out of favour with the Bischof administration, into the CIU. Hicks says that Murphy spoke to him on the roof of police headquarters before he was told of his appointment.

According to Hicks, Murphy said: 'There's no need for us to be always fighting. Why don't you join us? There's nine of us; Terry, Glen and I are the main three. If you join us, you will be one of the main ones.'

'How about Whitrod?' Hicks asked.

'We'll surround him,' Murphy said.

Whitrod laid some two dozen charges of malpractice against police. In what must have given vast encouragement to the enemy, all failed. This may suggest that good intentions are not enough.

Action of one sort or another was taken against members of the so-called Rat Pack. Murphy, represented by Desmond Sturgess, was charged with perjury before Justice Gibbs. A witness, Brifman, died, possibly by suicide, shortly before the committal hearing in March 1972. A magistrate dismissed the charges. Hallahan, also represented by Sturgess, was charged with counselling Donald Ross Kelly to rob a bank, and of extorting from a prostitute. Both charges failed; departmental charges were then preferred against him. The charges were dropped when Hallahan resigned in October 1972. The Bischof innovation, the juvenile Aid Bureau, was perceived by the administration as being overly lenient towards wayward youths. Lewis was transferred out of the bureau in 1973.

Bjelke-Petersen was opposed to the use of poker machines in Queensland licensed clubs, but a variant, called in-line machines, came in via the back door in 1974. In April, Don Lane was a member of a parliamentary justice committee which examined an in-line machine manufactured by Jack Rooklyn, a Sydney gambling machine impressario. The machines were legalised for use in clubs on condition they were not used for gambling. Justice Department bureaucrats had the major oversight of policing the machines. Rooklyn's Queensland Automatics Pty Ltd became a major supplier of the devices.

Rooklyn was born in London of Russian-Jewish parents on 11 March 1918; the family migrated to Australia in 1921. Rooklyn arranged entertainment, including the use of illegal poker machines, for US servicemen in Australia during World War 2. He started an Asian pinball empire in 1952, and began distributing the pinball products of a United States company, Lion Manufacturing, about 1957. In 1963, Lion was absorbed by Bally America, a company that had as a secret partner Gerardo Catena, future head of the Genovese Mafia family.

In 1972, Bally America acquired Rooklyn's Australian and Asian business in a deal in which Rooklyn acquired shares in Bally America and remained managing director of the Australian business. Bally Australia was investigated by Sydney police, including Sergeant Jack McNeill and Sergeant Douglas Knight, in 1972. Rooklyn offered McNeill and Knight an interest in a business, Metropolitan Club Services, about November 1972. A solicitor's name was entered on the business documents as a dummy for Knight, but Knight said he later decided not to join the business. From 1973, the affairs of Rooklyn and Bally Australia were among matters investigated by Justice Athol Moffitt's Royal Commission on alleged organised crime in Sydney clubs. Gregory Needham QC and Roger Gyles, counsel assisting Moffitt, submitted that there was no evidence that continued or future operation of Bally Australia Pty Ltd offered a risk that organised crime would infiltrate licensed clubs in New South Wales.

Moffitt, however, found in August 1974 that Bally did represent such a risk. He said that 'one instrument of organised crime is to corrupt officials . . . it is difficult to imagine conduct more calculated to undermine confidence in the police investigations than Knight's conduct.' The Queensland licensing authorities, if they were aware of either view, appear to have preferred Needham-Gyles analysis.

Most clubs used the in-line machines for illegal gambling. A further section of the community was thus criminalised in a petty way. Such people may see misdemeanours by politicians and police as similarly insignificant. The clubs split the cash proceeds with suppliers. Rooklyn operatives admit to skimming large sums of untaxed money from the proceeds.

Bischof's hypertension and paranoia appear to have become complicated by kleptomania in July 1974. Now 69, he was charged with shoplifting goods, including tobacco, to the value of $6.12. He was committed for trial in December 1974, but the Crown decided in April 1975 that it was not in the public interest to proceed.

In the four years to July 1974, the Licensing Branch had managed three prosecutions for illegal (SP) bookmaking. Gulbransen conceived a plan to finally smoke out the corrupt in the 28 force. In July, he moved out Jack Herbert, who says he was getting $800 a month from illegal bookmakers at the time, and put in Arthur Pitts, 56, as Inspector in charge. Pitts, whose wife had recently died, was rough and ready but honest, and an unusual detective. In his up-country days at Miriam Vale, north of Bundaberg, he sat on the police station verandah and watched the cars go by on the Pacific Highway. If he felt there was something dubious about a particular car and its occupants, he signalled to his constable down the road. Their convictions were remarkable.

Gulbransen told Pitts to bear down on SP bookmakers. He judged that bookmakers charged after paying bribes would put pressure on Herbert; that Herbert would then attempt to corrupt Pitts; and that Herbert would implicate others. Acting on information supplied by Basil Hicks's informers, Pitts laid 17 charges in three months.

Hicks was also busy in August 1974 on an affair of State. Detective Constable Graham Leadbetter, a member of the Licensing Branch since June 1970 and who was friendly with Murphy, reported that a prostitute said she had had an assignation with Bjelke-Petersen at the Zebra Motel. Hicks traced a man to Melbourne and found he looked like the Premier, then 63. Hicks informed Bjelke-Petersen of the allegation, and that he had confirmed there was nothing in it.







The above post in from the Networked Knowledge website who’s aim is: To publish legal materials and to investigate and provide information on alleged serious miscarriages of justice – God bless them!















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