Mokbel claims Gobbo encouraged him to flee to Greece
Tara Cosoleto |
Drug kingpin Tony Mokbel claims barrister-turned-informant Nicola Gobbo told him to flee to Greece to evade murder charges, while Carl Williams smuggled him a burner phone so he could speak to her in jail.
Mokbel, 58, made the claims in his evidence to the Victorian Supreme Court on Tuesday as part of his attempt to appeal of drug trafficking and incitement to import charges he was sentenced for in 2012.
He told the court Ms Gobbo told him to “seriously think” about absconding while he was awaiting trial in 2006 on separate cocaine importation charges.
Mokbel said Ms Gobbo warned him the gangland-focused Purana Taskforce was about to charge him with three counts of murder.
The drug kingpin claimed he didn’t care about the impending murder charges because he knew it wasn’t true and he wasn’t involved.
But in March 2006, Mokbel absconded to Greece, days out from his trial starting.
He was eventually arrested at an Athens coffee shop in June 2007 but it took 11 months to extradite him to Australia.
During his evidence on Tuesday, Mokbel said he “fully trusted” Ms Gobbo and told her everything about his cases.
“I thought she was the staunchest person on earth,” he told the court.
A royal commission heard Ms Gobbo, known as Lawyer X, was acting as a registered Victoria Police informant between 1995 and 2010.
Mokbel maintained he still couldn’t believe she was a “dog” and informing to police.
“She was always against them (Victoria Police) … she didn’t trust any word that came out of their mouths,” he told the court.
“You would never pick her to be on the other side of the fence.”
Once back in Australia, Mokbel told the court he continued to seek legal advice from Ms Gobbo while in custody at Barwon Prison.
He even enlisted fellow gangland figure Carl Williams to smuggle him a burner phone, which was left in a punching bag at his cell unit.
“(Carl and I) had a lot of discussions and he said how he had information that Victoria Police were listening directly to our legal phone calls,” Mokbel told the court.
“He said if I wanted a mobile he could arrange one for me.”
Mokbel was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2012 for the drug trafficking charges, as a result of police operations dubbed Quills, Orbital and Magnum.
He pleaded guilty to the offences on the eve of his first trial after his lawyer purportedly told him he no longer had a defence and he would need to represent himself if he wanted to fight.
“I had no choice,” Mokbel told the court.
“I was shocked – me pleading guilty? You’ve got to be kidding.”
Mokbel’s 30-year sentence was ultimately cut down to 26 years with a non-parole period of 20 years following a Court of Appeal decision in 2023.
Mokbel is now challenging the convictions but before a substantive appeal hearing can start, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton needs to rule on several legal questions.
The justice has been brought down from NSW to oversee the determination hearings, which are expected to run for 12 weeks.
Mokbel will be cross-examined on Wednesday.AAP