A man serving a 20-year jail term for his part in the killing of underworld figure Victor Peirce could be the first convicted murderer to make a bid for freedom in the wake of the Informer 3838 scandal.
- A jury found Faruk Orman drove the getaway car for Andrew Veniamin when he killed Victor Peirce in May 2002.
- Informer 3838 was once Orman’s lawyer, but also gave police information about him
- The barrister-turned-informer’s information helped police persuade a drug dealer to give evidence against Orman
Premier Daniel Andrews this week called a royal commission into Victoria Police’s use of the criminal barrister — also known as Informer 3838 and Witness EF — as an informer against her own clients during Melbourne’s bloody gangland war.
Ruth Parker, the lawyer for Faruk Orman — who was jailed in 2009 for his part in Peirce’s 2002 murder — said she was “astonished” when the lifting of suppression orders this week revealed the role played by Informer 3838 in her client’s case.
She said she was exploring Orman’s legal options following the revelations about Informer 3838.
“I immediately realised that this might affect my client, and from then it’s been a pretty whirlwind couple of days trying to figure out how this occurred and how we can make it right for Faruk,” she said.
Ms Parker said Informer 3838 acted as a defence lawyer for Orman when he was charged and at his first committal hearing.
Peirce — who was charged with and acquitted of the murders of two young police officers in Walsh Street, South Yarra in 1988 — was shot dead by Andrew “Benji” Veniamin while he sat in his car in Bay Street, Port Melbourne in May 2002.
A jury found Orman, then 20 years old, drove Peirce to the scene and watched as Veniamin got out of the stolen car and fired several shots at Peirce through the window of Peirce’s vehicle.
In sentencing Orman to a minimum term of 14 years, Justice Mark Weinberg said Orman had acted “in concert” with Veniamin in what was “a carefully planned execution”.
In a letter released among court documents this week, the barrister-turned-informer, whose identity is suppressed, lists Orman’s case among the ten most significant cases she assisted police with.
In the same letter, she said that as a result of information she provided, police were able to persuade a drug dealer known as Witness B to give evidence.
Witness B testified at Orman’s 2009 trial that Orman had admitted his role in Peirce’s murder.
In sentencing Orman, Judge Mark Weinberg said the case “depended heavily upon the evidence of [Witness B]”.
He added that Witness B’s “evidence was uncorroborated” and that the witness “stood to gain from his co-operation with the authorities”.
Ms Parker said Witness B’s evidence was critical to the prosecution case, but his account of events changed in the time after he gave his first statement to police.
She said it needed to be established whether Informer 3838 fed information to Witness B based on her involvement in the early stages of Orman’s defence.
“I want to know whether or not she shared the investigations that were occurring from the defence team, the inquiries that were being made, to try and strengthen a prosecution case that from the beginning was always weak,” she said.
“We have to understand exactly what she did, and how far her behaviour ingrained itself into the very conduct of the case and into the evidence itself so we can take the next step for Faruk, who has maintained his innocence of this from the day he was charged.”
“The police owe a duty to Faruk to release this information.”
The lifting of suppression orders on Informer 3838 on Monday followed a case decided in the High Court last month involving Victoria Police, the lawyer-turned-informer and the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The lawyer represented notorious underworld figure Tony Mokbel and six of his associates, while acting as a paid police informer against some of her clients.
She claimed to have assisted police on at least 386 cases.
The High Court judgement said that by acting as an informer against her clients, Informer 3838 had committed “fundamental and appalling breaches” of her obligations.
The High Court condemned Victorian police, saying they were guilty of “reprehensible conduct” in encouraging the barrister to give up information about her clients and were involved in sanctioning “atrocious breaches of the sworn duty of every police officer”.
“As a result, the prosecution of each convicted person was corrupted in a manner which debased fundamental premises of the criminal justice system,” the court said.
Following the revelations, former homicide squad detective Ron Iddles said up to 15 senior police officers turned a “blind eye” to the consequences of using the barrister as an informer against her own clients.
The High Court decision cleared the way for Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd QC, to write to 20 criminals including Orman whose convictions may have been affected by Victoria Police’s use of the barrister as an informer.
The royal commission will start its work within weeks, and will first determine how many cases were affected by the use of Informer 3838.
It will also make recommendations on how to deal with people whose cases may have been affected, including the status of their convictions and any claims for compensation.
It will also consider what changes may need to be made to the management of informants by police.