/Lawyer X hearing told Simon Overland tried to stop investigator going to gangland murder scene

Lawyer X hearing told Simon Overland tried to stop investigator going to gangland murder scene


May 10, 2019 18:18:04

The Lawyer X royal commission has heard former Victoria Police chief commissioner Simon Overland tried to stop a corruption investigator going to the scene of a gangland double-murder because he feared the media would find out.

Key points:

  • A former police Ethical Standards Department member has given evidence at the royal commission
  • Peter De Santo told the hearing Simon Overland tried to stop him attending a double-murder scene
  • The hearing is probing the use of lawyer Nicola Gobbo as a source by Victoria Police

Peter De Santo, a former member of the police Ethical Standards Department, told the hearing that in May 2004, the son of murdered couple Terence and Christine Hodson asked him to go to their Kew home shortly after the bodies were found.

As Terence Hodson had been helping with an investigation into alleged police corruption, Mr De Santo decided he should go to the scene.

When he sought permission from a superior, he was told not to go.

He was eventually allowed to attend.

Mr De Santo told the hearing he later found out that a directive from then-assistant commissioner Overland was the reason he was held back.

“I later learnt that Overland didn’t want corruption investigators there because media would pick up that possible police corruption is involved,” Mr De Santo said.

Mr De Santo told the Commission he was caught in the middle of what he described as a “political” battle between Simon Overland and then-deputy commissioner Peter Nancarrow and his immediate superior, Commander Danny Maloney.

Peter De Santo: (After) a number of phone calls backward and forth I was eventually told to go.

Counsel Assisting Chris Winneke QC: By whom?

Peter De Santo: Danny said it had then been cleared by Overland that I could go but not to be seen.

At the time, Peter De Santo was investigating a 2003 burglary in Oakleigh where Terence Hodson and drug squad detective David Miechel had been caught at the scene.

Miechel and another drug squad detective, Paul Dale, were charged over the burglary.

The charges against Paul Dale were dropped after Terence Hodson’s death.

He was later charged with the Hodson murders but those charges were also dropped.

Mr Dale has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Hodson murders and a coronial inquest found there was insufficient evidence to charge him.

Mr De Santo was giving evidence at the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, which is investigating whether Victorian police acted improperly by using gangland lawyer Nicola Gobbo as a source.

Mr Overland is expected to give evidence to the commission later this year.