Notorious Melbourne organised crime kingpin Tony Mokbel has made his first appearance in Victoria’s highest court, where he is making a bid for freedom after the Lawyer X scandal.
- Mokbel is appealing his 30-year drug trafficking conviction over the involvement of barrister-turned-police informer Nicola Gobbo
- His lawyers told the court Mokbel, who was arrested in 2007, was “very anxious” to bring the proceedings to a hearing swiftly
- Prosecutors told the court they needed eight weeks to sift through 14,000 pages of material and respond to Mokbel’s legal team
Mokbel, who is serving 30 years behind bars for drug trafficking, today appeared briefly via videolink in the Court of Appeal, where an administrative hearing was held to determine the next steps of his case.
He is challenging his conviction over the duplicity of Nicola Gobbo, who was both a high-profile criminal barrister and secret police informant during Melbourne’s bloody gangland war.
“We have finally got to a point where we think we have enough at least to proceed to the stage of the hearing for leave [to appeal], and wish to do so as quickly as possible,” said his barrister Richard Maidment QC.
“He was arrested in early June of 2007,” Mr Maidment said.
But Mokbel’s desire to bring his case on sooner hit a small snag today, with the court granting a request by state and federal prosecutors who wanted more time to respond to the kingpin’s case.
Barrister Rae Sharp told the court that the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions wanted eight weeks to respond to Mokbel’s legal team.
“The material runs to some 14,000 pages,” she said.
Victoria’s Chief Crown Prosecutor, Brendan Kissane QC, said his office was in the same position and that an extension of time was “not unreasonable”.
The request was granted by Judicial Registrar Ian Irving.
Royal commission lawyers found Mokbel’s right to fair trial potentially affected
Mokbel’s legal challenge comes after reams of documents were released by the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, which is probing the role of Ms Gobbo.
The royal commission lawyers have spent more than a year investigating the nature of the relationship between Ms Gobbo and the force, which helped bring about an end to Melbourne’s bloody gangland war, but also forced the state’s justice system to its knees.
Over the course of about eight years, Ms Gobbo acted as Mokbel’s lawyer on three major cases, even as she was secretly working for Victoria Police.
Royal commission lawyers said Mokbel’s case “may have been affected by the conduct of Ms Gobbo as well as the conduct of members of Victoria Police”.
“There was the potential for the right of Mr Mokbel to a fair trial to have been interfered with,” they wrote.
“The above conduct by Ms Gobbo … may constitute breaches of her duty to the administration of justice, her duty to the court, her duty to her client.”
Mokbel will return to court later in the year.
The Lawyer X royal commission will hand down its findings at the end of November.